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How to heal a broken heart

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Image: heart

Hearts  aren't stones. Because stones are hard to break.

Breakups are never easy. I recently split with the man I saw myself marrying. The worst thing is that it was my decision — he wasn’t in the right place to give me a whole relationship, so, as much as it hurt, I had to walk away. And believe me when I say it hurt.

So I’m faced with the task of finding my way back to happy again. I’ll get there. I was happy before I met him, so I’ll be happy again in the future. And this is how I’m planning to get there:

1. Put it in a box

Amy Winehouse got it right with her song, Take The Box. Some may disagree, but I say cut contact and remove all those reminders that, for now, are going to stop you from moving on.

Delete them from Facebook/Twitter (but tell them nicely why). Take all those photos of them off your phone, un-sync “your” songs from your iPod, change your phone’s screensaver. Put everything in a folder on your computer and set that folder to ‘hidden’.

Don’t get rid of it all though — don’t delete things or throw them away, just put everything out of sight where it can’t hurt you, and come back to it at a time when you can view it more objectively.

It’s like setting a broken bone in a cast. Your heart is raw and open and needs time to heal, and you need to protect it while it does that.

2. Don’t try and second guess them

You can only go on what you know, and all you know right now is that you’re not together. Don’t drive yourself insane trying to guess what’s going through their mind, because you just don’t know. So concentrate on the stuff you do know.

And don’t try and find out either. You’ll make people uncomfortable, and you’ll also look like the freaky-ex-who-isn’t-over-it. So have some dignity.

3. Listen to music

And no, I don’t mean wailing along to Celine Dion’s All By Myself . I mean, seriously, is she even still alive? And if she is, why hasn’t someone shot her?.

Screw all those crappy power ballads about lost love and being heartbroken, Sarah Maclachlan’s I Will Remember You sums up perfectly the notion that you can let someone go, but still have them in your heart.

For the pop fans, I recommend Jennifer Lopez: I’m Gonna be Alright. It’s a strong song,  full of grim, grit-your teeth resolve, and it’ll make you lift your head up and walk with a purpose.

To lift a mood, you can’t beat the shiny, disco-pop perfection of Agnes: Release Me. So sing along with her as she proudly proclaims “I’m better off without you” — even if you don’t feel like you are yet.

And for the times when you’re so furious you could put your fist through a wall, Apocalyptica’s I Don’t Care and Three Days Grace’s I Hate Everything About You are awesome, angry rock songs to scream along to.

Just don’t put your fist through a wall. It hurts. Take it from me.

4. Get distracted

Go on some dates. Enjoy being single again. Flirt back with the guy at the gym who’s been eyeing you up for ages.

Jeez, have a sweaty, no-strings fuck with a random stranger if that’s what you feel you need.

But accept you’re on the rebound. You’ll be comparing others to your ex for a long while yet, so accept that for now, dates are just a distraction. And be honest with them. Say you’re just getting back in the dating scene after a breakup, but leave it at that — they want to have a drink with you, not console you.

And whatever you do, don’t hurt a nice person by using them as a replacement. You might meet someone fantastic, who’s ready for a relationship, but you’re not in that place yet — and starting something on an unequal footing, where they stand more chance of getting hurt, is just not fair.

5. Count your blessings

A friend recently suggested I take a couple of minutes every day to acknowledge the five nice things that have happened to me that day. It doesn’t matter how big or small they are, just make yourself aware of them.

So today:

  1. The sun was shining and I was in my shorts in the park at lunch
  2. The sandwich lady gave me a free portion of carb-tastic pasta with my chicken roll because I said I was going for a run later
  3. I had an uninterrupted half an hour alone with a great book
  4. My friend Dillon is treating me to 30 Seconds To Mars at the O2 in November
  5. My other friend Paul took me out for a run this evening to prep me for the Asics Great London 10K Run (see next section)

And in addition to all that, I’m grateful to have found an amazing set of friends who are there with a smile and a hug whenever I need it.

When people are there for the drama as well as the fun, you know you’ve found your gang. Guys, you know who you are.

6. Run

No, it’s not a metaphor, and no, I’m not referring to that god-awful Leona Lewis desecration cover of the Snow Patrol song, I mean actual running.

A friend said to me: “Running is great. There comes a point where all you’re thinking about is putting one foot in front of the other and your mind is totally clear — it’s like mediation.”

So I tried it, and he was right. Bring on the endorphin high.

7. Hope, but don’t live in hope

There’s a difference. A big one. Some people put their life on hold waiting for that person to come back to them.

Hope isn’t a bad thing — as long as it’s not all you’re living for. So it’s okay to hope, but eventually, there will come a point when you realise you’ve stopped hoping — but it’s alright — because all it means is that you’re over it.

8. Let go.

Mourn it, and miss it, but let it go.

If you can put your hand on your heart and say you did everything you could, you just have to accept it and move on.

You split up for a reason, and yes, it hurts, but there’s no use going back to something just because it’s easier to be with them than to be without them.

Your problems would still be there if you got back together, you’d just be pushing them under the rug for a while longer.

Be grateful you’ve had the chance to be close to that person, remember them and take on board the lessons you’ve learned from them and from the relationship in all its stages.

And as my very wise and wonderful mother always says to me when life kicks me in the teeth:

“Don’t look back — you’re not going there.”

So look to the future — your future — and embrace it.


Written by guy_interrupted

July 9, 2010 at 10:45 pm

15 Responses

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  1. Thanks for such a wonderful piece!

    A lot of what you said reigns true when it came to dealing with my past breakups, and I can definitely vouch for the whole ‘putting things in a box’ and learning to, in effect, walk again. You’re also spot on when it comes to removing links to their profiles and putting away photos of them because they can serve and nice and painful reminders and the same time.
    The time that I knew that I truly ‘moved on’ from my exes was when I could look back on those photos with a smile, and no regrets.

    As an added tip, I also made a point of telling myself each day that:

    ‘I’m strong and I can get through today!’

    I heard this so much that I began to believe it, and that helped me get back on my feet.

    I’m glad you’ve got a great support network of friends, because they can be worth their weight in gold when they’re there for you – in times of both happiness and sadness.

    Thanks again!

    Ed Bonilla

    July 10, 2010 at 10:11 am

  2. Very wise advice indeed and nicely written.

    (The Google-placed ad inviting me to take a quiz to see if you can ‘get my ex back’ is unfortunate though! 😀 )

    Daddy or Chips?

    July 10, 2010 at 10:31 am

  3. Great blog post. Music is such a big help. Makes you feel better knowing that someone else has been through what you are going through. Some other songs that helped me were Lucie Silvas – what you’re made of, Rachel Stevens – So Good and Yes, Celine Dion – misled.. Camp as tits but a great ‘you’re out of my thoughts’ tune.

    If I was to add anything to your list it would be to laugh. Find anything that you can that will make you giggle. Just like in the first SATC movie when Carrie laughs at Charlotte. It just immediately gets you out of your funk and forces you to smile and break the cycle of being down which is all too easy to revel in when you’re in this situation.


    July 10, 2010 at 10:58 am

  4. Excellent post mr.
    You forgot to mention “So what” by Pink – all time great, “fuck you, I’m getting on with my life” track.
    Whoever said running was like meditation is a genius… 😉


    July 10, 2010 at 11:22 am

  5. Thank you for the lovely compliments! My other favourite saying is “Pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start all over again” which is what I did 20 years ago when your father left me and now I am married to a wonderful man. So yes, you are right, I can now look at photos and there is no pain and I can even have fond memories of happier times.

    Life is like a jigsaw, sometimes the pieces fit and sometimes they don’t and sometimes the piece that you thought was in the right place turns out to be wrong! So yes, ” don’t look back you’re not going there” and one day you will find that missing piece of the jigsaw that will make life complete.


    July 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm

  6. I agree it is never easy to end a relationship, especially if you’re the one that’s ending it for good. I like step number 7 the most. The perspective we have on hope is very common to anyone who is emotionally consumed. We cling on and live for it, which shouldn’t be the case. Hope is hope, it is nowhere near reality, nowhere near to our existence. When we learn what hope is all about, this is when we are willing to let it go. Thanks for sharing your part. Best, J.Hamilton


    July 10, 2010 at 4:15 pm

  7. Thank you for your unyielding positivity in this post that really speak to many people in many different ways.

    I myself have never been in a relationship nor in a break up, but I’ve been deeply hurt along the way, and these types of posts are things that help people to see the good in everything, and to really try to get over, or ‘release’ negative feelings or thought.

    It’s all more painfully easier to say than do!

    As a side note, Agnes’ “Release Me” is a fantastic song that I like to wake up to for no other reason than it gets my hips shaking! =)


    July 11, 2010 at 12:29 pm

  8. thanks for that, it helps. #6 works especially well. 🙂


    July 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm

  9. As someone who’s just come out of a 11 year long relationship (6 of them married) with two kids yeah, it sucks!!!

    But amazingly, it doe (eventually) start hurting less.

    2 great songs that I still listen to “This ain’t a love song” Scouting for girls – was perfect for me, and my situation and “Give’s you hell” from glee soundtrack. This one has more of a Pink “so what” vibe, and builds me up.

    However I have to be careful with no. 1 – my kids still want reminders of their Dad around (and obviously I cannot shove them into a box either!).

    Thanks for the post though, helps to know I’m “normal” lol.


    July 13, 2010 at 1:24 pm

  10. Whatever age we are it just shows from your words, what an Inspiration we can be, Thanks!

    I too often have made the mistake of Hope as you say. I surely count my blessings and am happy but the other point you can teach me clearly is to let go! though I don’t find it easy.


    July 13, 2010 at 4:46 pm

  11. Excellent Post! All very sound, useful advice that its worth keeping handy. Maybe you should add another suggestion: “get a piece of writing you’re proud of published and go down a storm while reading it at a literary festival”! I’m sure that must be helping you keep your mind on the present – congratulations x

    Josh Hunt

    July 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm

  12. Haha! I bloody love you, Josh!


    July 22, 2010 at 8:17 pm

  13. […] relationship ends, I don’t go looking for another one to use as a bandage for the wound. It takes time for me to heal, trust and let my guard down again, so you can imagine my surprise when I looked at my date and […]

  14. Wish i had read this a year ago..makes alot of sense l.


    October 25, 2010 at 6:44 pm

  15. […] said than done! I came across someone else’s blog today – he had an article on how to get over a broken heart. There are some great tips in there so I’m gonna try some of them myself.  Not sure if I can do […]

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