Ice cream and exercising—every breakup article I have ever read has included both of these activities. When I was in a committed, loving relationship I would read articles like these and wonder why women didn’t just…suck it up?
If all it took was mint chip and some sit-ups, heck, I was doing that already and I wasn’t even single. Nobody ever really talks about the turmoil you have to go through after a breakup to find balance. Everyone handles heartache differently, and it makes sense that no one would ever really want to publicize the deeply personal trauma that arises from a really bad breakup.
However, I think that as intimate an experience as it is, it pretty much happens to everyone. What’s strange is that nobody really talks about it, but everyone has an answer to it. The aftermath of a breakup is probably one of the ugliest, depressing, and mostly annoying times in one’s life, and it is frustrating that, as women, we’d rather hide it than talk about it.
The aftermath is another topic that people like to just glaze over. That frustrating period between being not okay and okay gets covered up by a whole bunch of vague, cliché blanket sentiments like, “there are other fish in the sea” or “it is better to have loved and lost, etc.”
Aside from these overwhelmingly unhelpful phrases, another way people think they’re being helpful is by thinking it’s okay to tell you how to live your life. Nobody can solve their own problems, but when it’s someone else’s problem, everyone has all the answers. One of these ‘answers’ is to pursue the coveted “revenge body.”
First off, this doesn’t even make sense. Eating kale every day and doing squats isn’t going to magically make years of your life that you were bonded to someone just magically disappear into thin air (Although I wish it would). Another terrible piece of advice I’ve heard is to “pick up a hobby.” News flash—reading Eat Pray Love and trying new pasta recipes also does not act as a magic eraser for heartbreak.
What is so frustrating about reading things like this is that they don’t encourage women to feel okay about what they are feeling. It is absolutely great to keep busy if that is something you enjoy. But what isn’t so great is ignoring your emotions, and doing these activities because you think somehow dropping a size, learning a trade, or traveling a country is somehow going to change the way that specific person saw you.
I know this because I fell into this trap myself. I worked out, traveled, became well-read, and picked up hobbies I’d never been interested in before. But I didn’t do these things because I wanted to. I didn’t do it for me. I did it for him. I did it because that is what I was told to do. Instead of grieving and taking my time, I was supposed to be bettering myself–for him.
One day I stopped and asked the question, “What for?” Where did this notion come from that I needed to do more or be more? When I was in a committed relationship I was content with who I was. So why was I any different now?
The truth is, you will never be enough for that person. You can travel the world, be a size zero and speak forty languages and you will never be what they want. It took me another try with my ex to realize that after correcting all the mistakes I thought I made, after making myself basically as perfect as I possibly could, that there was a reason why the relationship ended, and that it wasn’t my fault. It took me all that trouble to realize that I was never the problem in my relationship, and that he was.
Today I better myself because it is something that I want. I know that one day someone will come along that will appreciate all that I am. This is where that last stage of grief, acceptance comes in. From a girl who had her heart broken and lived to tell about it, ice cream isn’t going to cut it.
Understanding your feelings will, however, and the only real thing that will get you through it is time. With time, and maybe without even really doing anything, you become a better person, and in time you find that balance.
Balance will come to your life when you least expect it. There will come a day when you go the whole day without thinking about him. There will come a day when you stop checking his social media, or you start listening to a song on the radio that you’d usually avoid. It comes with time.
So, while rocky road might make your day, ultimately a nice helping of time will get you where you want to be.