Friday, September 23, 2016

The Art of Letting Go: A Guide to Moving On With Style

Love breaks my
bones and I
- Charles Bukowski

Relationships have the potential to redefine how we look at the world around us, how we view people and how we value them.

When we get attached to people - that is "fall in love" with them to use a more poetic term - nothing else stays the same. We magically surrender our individuality for the sake of a perceived happier duality. Suddenly we do not become the center of our existence that role now belongs to the Significant Other.

Relationships are beautiful. They provide us with an opportunity to grow and know ourselves a bit more than when we are simply by ourselves.

However, despite the romantic descriptions I've already written down when it comes to relationships, it is not as idyllic as it seems.

Relationships require hard work and a great deal of command in using the power of distance and nearness to make it work. It requires you to compromise on things that are honestly quite hard to compromise. It forces you to face issues that you never really encountered while alone. It makes manifest certain attitudes and behaviors that you never really knew you have! Seriously, I never knew how clingy I was until I found myself in a relationship!

And sometimes, even if we've invested the hardest amount of work we could, when our partners call it quits we can't do pretty much about it.

I could not help but look back on the past break-ups that I had to undergo as I am writing these things. They were terrible experiences as I was going through them.

It destroyed me, and each of them redefined how I looked at love and other people.

Who would think that a few hours of talking in a cafe to "clarify things " because "it's not you, it's me", would haunt you for months to come? The break-up is terrifying but it's never as terrifying as the rough months that you have to weather to move on.

Losing someone could be difficult, even if you know that rationality tells you that it's best to end it there you still get fixated with the idea that they would come back to you or that everything else would be different.

The drama of break-ups are indeed frightening and when all hell break loose - we don't really know what to do.

I will be honest, I am not an expert when it comes to relationships much more keeping sane after a break-up! But hopefully these tips that I had to learn the hard way and from the gentle yet sometimes forceful advice of my friends would help you.

1. Cry

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.” 
― Charles DickensGreat Expectations

You lost someone. They hurt you in so many ways. Their absence is haunting and your self-esteem is crushed. You deserve to cry.

Crying has a lot of benefits, not only does it relieve your eye from bacteria, it can also improve your mood and relieve stress. It is perfectly natural to cry. There is nothing worse than trying to be all stoic after a break-up because you do not want to let people see that you are hurt.

But be honest. Aren't you hurt?

Just cry it out.

My advice is that you call your friends. Gather the gang together, have dinner or lunch or whatever - just go out where you could have some privacy. Tell them what you're going through so that they know what to expect from your encounter. Friends usually have the tendency to give advice or trash-talk the person who broke your heart.

In your state right now, you don't need any advice from anyone. Any advice would be stupid and you're not even going to do it. What you need now is to vent out every single particle of pain you're going through and you're friends are there to listen. Tell them all you need is a listening ear. If they're really your friends, they'll listen.

2. Delete everything that reminds you of them. Delete their number, block them from your social media accounts or if you can, de-activate for a while. 

"When he texts you, he’s thinking about you. When he calls you, he misses you. When he shows up, he wants you. When he suddenly stops doing all of the above for you, he’s doing it for someone else." 
— Amari SoulReflections Of A Man

You might be reasoning out right now "I don't want to block them. They might think that I'm bitter. I won't have them have the last laugh.".

Okay, okay. I get what you mean.

But let me ask you - aren't you bitter at them for breaking your heart, for making you feel like you are not that attractive enough, for shattering what was left of your already-shattered self-esteem?

If you are, then do it.

I also know that right now you feel that you are confident enough to "stand" because you are "better than that".

I hate to rain on your parade, but I can assure you that you will relapse. You will miss them in time, you'll want to re-connect with them, you'll stalk them. And when you do, you'll spiral back into the hellhole and you'd probably wallow in there for a while.

I tell you, it will help if you don't try to make a contact with them. If you are familiar with their route to school or to the office, make sure that you avoid that route yourself if possible. If you have pictures of them in your phone, be sure to delete it.

I know it's hard. But if you want to move-on, then you really have to do this.

3. Accept that the break-up was final
“Never waste your time trying to convince someone else of your worth. If they can't see it, they are not worth the effort.” 
― Amari SoulReflections Of A Man

There will be moments wherein you would overthink on your past relationship. You'd think about the things that you could have done differently. You'll play scenarios in your mind on what you could have done differently and you would begin to ask what-if questions.

Then, you'd muster the courage and then find a way to contact with them.

My advice is simple: If you find yourself overthinking, I want you to just stop thinking for a few seconds. Just breathe deeply and count to 10. Focus on your breathing. Notice how heavy you weigh and just let your lungs fill itself with life-giving oxygen.

If you still find yourself thinking about them after 10, then do this exercise again and again. The key here is to give your mind space.

You see, just as it is the nature of the heart to pump blood and just as it is the task of the kidneys to filter out your toxins, it is also the nature of your brain to think. Our mind is addicted to thinking and it loves to do it.

But when we breathe, it gives a pause in between thoughts and this gap breaks the chain of thinking. This is a key not to overthink.

When you are settled, go back to the experience of your break-up. Repeat the words they said and believe it.

When they said: It's not you, it's me - believe it. When they said: "I really just need to work on myself" - believe it. When they said: "You deserve someone better than me" - believe it.

Do not allow yourself to color out what they really meant when they said those things. Take it at face value and just believe it as it is.

4. It was not just your fault, it was also theirs.

"The marks humans leave are too often scars." 
— John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

Break-ups also make us feel like crap to the point that we come to thought that it was our fault why they left us. But it's not just your fault - it's also theirs.

There is no need to blame yourself for something that they chose to happen. It's okay to be hurt with what has happened, but to constantly blame ourselves is just a waste of mental and physical energy.

If you find yourself thinking about the good times, think about the bad times too. Your relationship ended because it had problems that could never be fixed by the two of you, otherwise if there weren't, why break up in the first place?

Both of you had issues. Both of you had lapses. It's not just your fault. It was theirs too.

5. You will relapse - and that's okay
"Part of recovery is relapse. I dust myself off and move forward again. "
- Steven Adler

There will also be moments that you would miss them so terribly that you just can't help but find out how they're doing. When you find out that they're already happy with someone else for example, you'd get pretty hurt that it'll just eat you from the inside out.

This is the reason why I gave the advice in number 2.

It is a guarantee that relapses happen even if we think that we're already okay.

It just takes a small trigger and the self-esteem we tried so much to repair crumbles like a house of card or a sandcastle being eaten by the waves.

When you do relapse, don't think that it's the end of the world. Don't blame yourself . It's perfectly normal in the moving-on process to relapse once in a while.

6. Be single for a while

“We hide our pain to keep us from getting hurt again. In the process we hurt people who never aimed to hurt us.” 
― Pierre Alex JeantyUnspoken Feelings Of A Gentleman

Moving-on is not a contest. If your ex-partner already has someone in their lives, so be it. If they've moved on faster than you, so let them. It's not a contest.

Take this time to process yourself and grow from the experience that you have just undergone. I assure you, at the end of the journey, you'd find yourself better than you were before.

Always remind yourself with the mantra "hurt people, hurt people".

As long you are still hurt, you are bound to hurt people. As long as you do not process the experience that you had to undergo, you will not be able to find the genuine relationship that you are really searching for. Would you like to hurt the next relationship with your unprocessed emotions?

If this were a plot line of any famous heroes' tale, this is the part when the hero has to venture alone. Take this time to grow and just be you. You would be surprised on all the things you have missed out.

I remember attending a spoken word poetry event in Handuraw Restaurant - Mango once. Aside from the great pizza and the bottles of beer, a young poet's piece struck me as I was listening.

The piece expressed the poet's frustration why her mother made her eat ampalaya (bitter gourd) growing up. Her mother would reason "Bitter things are surprisingly good for you". Now, as an adult, she knows exactly what her mother meant.

Break-ups are bitter things. It's one of the most bitter experiences that you have to pass through in your life.

But always remember that you survived all the hardships until this point - what makes you think that you won't survive this? I survived it to be honest and let me tell you that I broke most of the advice I gave until I came to terms to actually follow it.

Moving on is an art. As an art-form, it takes practice, dedication and embracing the experience as if you have chosen it yourself.

At the end of the experience, we become better people - even better than what we've never expected. If we must falter, then at least we falter in style.