This post was written for our blog by Sam Barton (@_sambarton on insta). She's a local confidence queen, body positive warrior, and all around amazing gal. Enjoy!
There was a time that I was thoroughly convinced I’d never have to go through heartbreak. Being with the same person all through high school and for almost four and a half years, on top of being young and in love, made me naive. That of course bit me in the ass once college came around. There’s no reason for me to go into the gory details, but the moral of the story is that, despite my beliefs, I went through the worst heartbreak I could ever imagine. Being so young and to have found such a special relationship is a rare thing to happen, and I was lucky. I can’t ignore the fact that the time we had spent together was incredibly special, for so many reasons. I gained a best friend, a whole new family, and someone to share a lot of firsts and memories with. If I’m going to be honest, I lost myself as time went on because I was so focused on them and my love for them, rather than myself. BUT, enough of that sad shit. I’ve been asked so many times how I managed to bounce back from it, since it was such a serious relationship and it really didn’t end well. First and foremost, I had to be able to see myself as the boss-ass-bitch everyone else had seen me as and also understand that it wasn’t my lack of worth that lead to the break up, nor anything that I did or did not do. And now that I’ve given myself time to grieve, I am starting to be able to see all of the lessons through the pain, which have helped me bounce back, too. And mainly, when they ask me how I was able to build myself back up, I share with people what I learned from my pain.
That brings me to the first lesson I learned: self-worth is determined by YOU and YOU only.
The moment you decide to love yourself for who you were born to be is the moment the world opens up to you. And in the long run, the only person’s approval you need is your own. You don’t need a significant other to prove to anyone (especially yourself) that you are worthy of love, and you are worthy of love.
Lesson 2: self-care is of the utmost importance.
This is a big one for me. When the break up came, I was in the most pain I had ever been in in my entire life. This pain was emotional, physical, and mental. My anxiety spiked to levels it had never been to before and brought nausea that caused me to essentially starve myself for about a month and a half. It also brought panic attacks and episodes of depression that would make it hard to breathe and sometimes even function. The amount of crying I did lead to dehydration, which only made everything worse. Lucky for me, I had others who looked after me. But, once I started to also look after me, the healing process was so much easier. Eating and drinking (water) gave me energy to be able to not only do my schoolwork, but also exercise, which both became my outlets for distractions and stress. I also wanted to mention that self-care does not always mean that you have to only rely on yourself. It also means asking for help when you know you need it. My parents and my close friends were the first people I went to, but I also went to see a therapist. And to be outwardly honest, I don’t think I could’ve made it without that help from others.
Lesson 3: though it’s cliche, time and space do heal.
I did my best to jump right into being just friends with my ex. I thought I needed only a week or two to heal and then I’d be fine just talking to them again. Wrong. The best way to describe my life at that point would be manicked and panicked (not sure if manicked is a word but we’re rolling with it). I wanted so bad to make everything okay so I could ignore the amount of pain I was still in that I literally went crazy. Luckily, my ex resisted my attempts at making things snap to a new norm. I say that because it forced me to take the time I knew deep down I needed but couldn’t bring myself to take. And that space they created lead me to realize that I needed more space, too. So, I removed myself from them on social medias and I feel like the space I created has given me space to spread my wings and grow. So, yes, I promise, this is a cliche for a reason: time and space heal more than you know!!!
Lesson 4: LET YOURSELF GRIEVE!!!
Break ups are a type of trauma and after any trauma there is a period of grief. The length and intensity of each stage is different, so be lenient with yourself and let everything come. And sometimes there aren’t even clear cut stages. My point is: let go of your expectations of how you’re supposed to heal.
There is no handbook on how exactly to get over a break-up, but I promise it gets better. Find self-love Twitter accounts, read some poetry, ask for help, exercise so you can become that hot ex everyone always talks about. But most of all, take care of yourself.