The 12 Steps of Getting Over A Break-Up
By Amy Gabriel on October 02, 2012
BlogHer Original Post
Relationships. Last chapter: The Breakup. How the hell do you get over one when you're in recovery and supposed to be all "healthy" and whatnot? Good grief. Why am I writing about this? Besides the fact I've been reduced to a 14 year old emo teenage girl, whining and crying and pining and listening to sappy love songs? Yeah. That's plenty good enough of a reason.(OMG, can you spell pathetic? Gah.)
So. We’re not delving into the reasons for breakups or fault or blame or any of that malarkey. We're gonna talk about how to deal with one. Recovery style. (You people do know I write things I need to hear about yes? Yes. Whew.) Now, I know we've all been there: where there once was another person to talk to, laugh with, make love to, or even fight about stupid stuff with, now there is no one. A blank space. A void that feels bigger than it may actually be in reality. Our emotions have a funny way of playing tricks on us you know. How? Let's walk through this thing.
Photo by HidingHeart. (Flickr)
Break up. Tears of epic proportions usually, sadness and reminiscing while holing yourself up and listening to Chicago or Phil Collins or Barry Manilow or, god forbid, Neil Sedaka (? Oh my) or pick almost any song on the radio today (emo. Right). There's a reason why all those songs were written, people. Love hurts -- oh, another good one: Nazareth, I think. Trust me I've listened to them all. The back of your throat fills up with remembering your ex and it feels like you can't breathe it hurts so much.
News flash. Feelings aren't facts. Not all the time. Biggest thing to remember in the first stage of grieving is that you are grieving a loss. Doesn't matter if you wanted it or not so much. Everything has changed. Time will tell you that it will be better someday but our emotions are powerful. Questions like "Am I ever going to get over this?" and "Did I make the biggest mistake of my life?" and "Why doesn't he/she/it (well, I'm not hatin', people can love lots of things) want me anymore?" -- you do know questions like that will make a person nuts. So let me answer them for you.
Yes. You will get over it. Millions of people are going through exactly the same thing you are at this very moment. Millions. Did you make a mistake? Maybe. Maybe not. One thing I know for sure is that real love forgives mistakes. And if the object of your affection/despair doesn't think you're worthy and won't forgive a mistake? Then they're not the one for you anyhow. Think about that for a moment -- do you really want to live the rest of your life with someone that can't work through the hard times? Uh. No.
Angry? Sure. Who wouldn't be? But figure out exactly what it is you're angry about. This is tricky. If someone left you, then the answer is obvious. But if you walked away, what are you angry for? Because that person couldn't be what you needed? Couldn't handle the heat? Couldn't be who you wanted them to be? Yowch. That sounds a bit like wanting people to think and act your way.
Recovery teaches me that I'm not to try to control. I'm not to think selfishly which is pretty much wanting people to do what you want, which is why you might have walked away in the first place. Anger is a cover up for pain -- and it too shall pass.
And then there's the other piece, the next phase if you will, the romanticizing. Only seeing what the good things were about the other person. The happy times. Funny how our minds forget why we broke up in the first place. Thoughts such as "I'll never love anyone else. He/She/It (ahem) were the ONLY ones for me." Yadda yadda blah blah. Everyone thinks these things. It's part of the process. But if these thoughts are hurting your mojo, it's time to get busy. Inventory time. Challenge those thoughts (Yes, on paper! Sheesh.) You need to get back into reality based thinking versus emotional psycho.
List all the things about your relationship. Take an honest look at the whole thing. What do you wish you did differently? What was your part in it? Because -- sigh -- unfortunately being healthful-living seeking folks, we cannot get into the "I hate him" game. Man it'd be so much easier to just think "What a jerk. I hate him/her/it." Then all our problems would be solved yes? No.
We don't have the luxury of having resentments. In my research for this post I stumbled across thousands of websites (it was just research, I swear. Honest.) about HOW TO GET HIM TO WANT YOU or HOW TO GET OVER HIM or HOW TO MAKE YOUR WOMAN WANT YOU BACK AND DIE FROM LUST AND BE HOT FOR YOU FOREVER. Or something like that. Seriously, thousands. The few that I read for research purposes (ahem) said, "just hate him. think of all his flaws and why you're glad to be rid of him." Yeah. Not gonna work. Fine line between love and hate here, folks. What we're looking for is the lack of emotional overload. The letting go and not caring to the point of personal devastation.
So we work the steps. Step 10 for sure (which involves continuing to take personal inventory and attempt to set right any new mistakes as we go). Do it just like step four (which involves taking the aforementioned fearless inventory).
First, list your resentments towards your ex: what did he/she/it do to really make you mad, hurt, upset, angry? Include everything.
Okay here’s the part where the rubber meets the road -- just like the Big Book says for step four: In every one of those resentments, what was your part?
Where did I want my ex to think and act my way? How was I selfish? How did I react to the situations in the relationship? How was I self-seeking? How was my behavior? Did I change to make him/her/it happy? Was I dishonest? Was I true to myself?
OMG. Imagine that. Working the steps in every area of our lives including relationships and keeping the focus on you, which is the only thing we can really change anyway. That is the learning curve, people. That is what keeps us sober and clean and sane. And really the whole relationship experience will be for naught unless we learn something from it, yes? Yes.
Oh and don’t even think about making amends right away! Not until you're a bit less raw. Sometimes the best amend we can make is to leave someone alone. True story. Besides, any amends made early on will just come across pathetic and belittling towards yourself (trust me. I did it. More than once).
Me? I've written a ton of sappy poetry as an outlet. Find an outlet. And yes it's okay to sit in your jammies and cry and eat ice cream. And yes, it's okay to talk to your friends until you're even sick of hearing yourself talk about it. Think of all the times your friends leaned on you!
Matter of fact, I highly suggest talking it out. When you hear things come out of your mouth, you can then gauge them more clearly and possibly get much needed reality-based feedback. Remember: this grieving thing is a process.
And who knows? This could be the start of a new awakening for you. Love love. Do the things you like without having to barter for it. This is your time. And before you know it, you'll spend several hours not thinking about her/him/ it. And then days. And then weeks. And then? When you think about your ex again, you'll be in reality and see what a growth process it was for you. And you'll be a better person for the growing pains. Turn the sappy songs off. Take a walk. Talk to a trusted person (friend, sponsor, family) You can always cry again tomorrow.
You're beautiful and deserving of love. This breakup may clear the way for you to get more than you'd ever hoped for because when it comes to predicting the future? We suck. Get rid of the Magic 8 Ball from hell and live in this moment right now. My arms are tired from shaking it and it just keeps saying "Answer unclear. Ask again later"!
I need to stop asking questions for which I already have the answer. Will I be okay? Yes. Time and experience and the steps tell me that this is true. And if it's true for me? Then it's true for you, too.