How to keep the ghosts of boyfriends past from haunting your future
In the life of every single woman, occasionally a brief, or sometimes extended, hiatus from singledom will occur. This phenomenon is commonly known as a “relationship.” Yes, for one, brief, shining moment, our Prince Charming gallops into our lives and into our hearts on his brilliant white horse and we just know that all is right with the world and that our Happily Ever After has officially begun.
But then, inevitably, your world comes crashing down when you discover that the horse he’s been riding is on loan, the castle he lives in is really a house of cards, and the words he’s been whispering in your ear were from someone else’s script. Yes, you have fallen victim to the Prince Charming imposter, also known as a “frog in Prince Charming’s clothing.” Weary from the game, losing faith in fairytales, you hang up your glass slippers and vow “Never again!” before descending into a heap of flannel pajama-clad, tear-stained, Ben and Jerry-eating hopelessness – a dark cloud from which you are certain you will never emerge.
Here’s the key to unlocking yourself from the chains of misery that ensnare you after a failed relationship: this unfortunate turn of events not only doesn’t have to define you, but your response to it can (and will!) change your life for the better – if you are open, willing, and ready to read between the lines of your past to extract the lessons for your future. Here are some ways to avoid RSVP’ing to your own “Breakup Pity Party:”
1. Allow yourself time to feel the grief and let it wash over you – but take a quick shower in it, not an extended bubblebath. There’s no need to start wearing head-to-toe black and refusing to wash your right hand because that was the last hand that he held. Absolutely allow yourself to be sad, but keep it in perspective. NO wallowing allowed! Sit with your sadness for a little while then show it the door. Sadness is a houseguest similar to that annoying, ever-unemployed friend of yours (you know the one) – it will hang out as long as you let it. Also similar to that friend, it will deplete you of your time, your energy, and your will to be fabulous. And never let anyone take away your fabulous without a fight!
2. Purge the constant reminders from your living environment. You don’t have to hold a “cleansing ceremony” and burn all his belongings a la the infamous Friends episode circa 1995, but if you’re still sleeping in his favorite sweatshirt and spraying yourself with his cologne every night – girl, you gotta let go. Pack up all pictures, clothes, CD’s, stuffed teddy bears…anything that keeps you tied to his memory and store it away somewhere safe. I recommend not throwing it away, because there might come a day when these tokens elicit smiles instead of sadness; but I would also steer clear of a big, dramatic “return the things” meeting with him, also known as “an excuse to see him one last time.” If you tuck everything away in a safe place, you can always go back later when you’re feeling stronger and decide what to do with it without having to stare at it on a daily basis. There really is something to the whole “out of sight, out of mind” theory.
3. Call your girls and tell them to circle the wagons. When your soul is in need of a little chicken soup, there is nothing more comforting than the presence of your soul sisters. Go dancing, go see a movie (a comedy – not a sappy chick flick!), go get a pedicure, consume large amounts of chocolate, and let the warm sunshine of friendship dry your tears. Chances are if you’ve been wrapped up in a serious relationship for the past six months, you might have been neglecting your girl time anyway, so there’s no time like the present to reestablish those bonds of sisterhood! After all, as Carrie Bradshaw once said: “No matter who broke your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you’ll never get through it without your friends.”
4. Absolutely no stalking allowed! Step away from the Facebook, the Myspace, the Twitter, the Google, or any other mechanism you might be using to track his every move. In fact, delete him from your social networking circle all together – at least for the time being. You cannot move on from someone by staying glued to your computer screen for fear he might be moving on from you. Let go. Breathe. When you’re feeling tempted to call him, call a friend instead. When you’re feeling tempted to drive by his house to see if he’s home (Yes, we’ve all been there. And if you say you haven’t, remember that Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt), drive to Starbucks or the gym or the bookstore instead. Once the relationship’s over, it’s over, and revisiting it in the form of a restraining order is not exactly going to bring you closure. Besides – you’re too classy and sassy for that kind of behavior! True divas refuse to lower themselves to chasing a man through cyberspace (or anywhere else, for that matter).
5. Get reacquainted with YOU. What have you been putting on the back burner while you’ve been fanning the flames of love? Get back in touch with YOUR passions, YOUR dreams, YOUR goals. Start a new hobby. Pursue a new interest. Try yoga. Join a book club. Volunteer. Do something to contribute to the greater good of the world and the greater good of your soul and before you know it – you’ll be smiling again. Focus all the energy you’ve been focusing on him on something you’re passionate about, and the Universe will start rolling out the red carpet for you. Amazing, unbelievably good things start to happen when you follow your gut, your truth, your passions…your heart. Isn’t our heart always more reliable than GPS, anyway?
At the end of the day, in the words of Greg Behrendt, “It’s called a breakup because it’s broken.” (Great breakup book, by the way. Buy it!) God and the Universe clearly saw that the man behind the curtain wasn’t the man for you and steered you back onto the Yellow Brick Road to L-O-V-E. Someday soon, you might even look up and say “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Because wouldn’t you much rather surrender your life to the hands of God and fate (and the occasional tornado!) and have wonderful, Oz-like adventures with fabulous new friends and a life in color…all the while while risking the occasional encounter with some grumpy trees and some overly grabby flying monkeys…than spend a lifetime in black and white?