A Tough love guide to getting through a breakup

Two summers ago, I went through a breakup that left me staring at my hands and wanting to loop Wendys drive-thru over and over again until they restrained me from buying french fries. I sat on my couch with my nuggets in my lap and I called any person willing to listen to my ugly sobs.

I yelled. I screamed. I was bitter. Real bitter. In the deep of me, I was sick of heartbreak. I was sick of feeling like I was a loser when it came to love.

What people dont tell you in the thick of heartbreak is that heartbreak is all about choices. Its basically a Choose Your Own Adventure with more tears and Rachel Platten ballads. You make choices every day until the pain is either gone or it becomes you. Either stalk him on Facebook or get a hobby. Either wallow in your bed watching Greys Anatomy or get up and go for a walk. Either declare perpetual singleness and become a bird lady (way more underrated than a cat lady) or get back in the dating game. Choices. We all get them.

I can confidently say that in 2015 I experienced the healthiest breakup of my life. I made some of the healthiest choices Ive ever made in my life. Period. Game forever changed.

Was I perfect? No. Was I brooding for a while? Duh.

But heres the biggest thing I learned through the highs and lows of getting over a person: you must do the things that will get your heart back into alignment. Youre not lost, youre just camping out in a swamp for a few days. Pack up your bags. Its time to go.


One of the reasons why letting go is hard? We feel the need to hold onto every last thing we ever had of that person. Sweatshirts. Coasters. Love notes. Etc. Etc. Burn it. Throw it away. Donate it. Just get it out of your sight, no matter how painful the release may be. You will never be over it if you are always holding on relentlessly to tangible memories.

His sweatshirt, sleeping in your bed every night, is not going to bring him back. Thats the sad truth I hate saying but I wouldnt be a good friend if I didnt say it.


Meaning, its okay if you are at the beginning of this breakup hangover and you feel miserable and pitiful. Think about running. Everyone is always miserable at mile 1 of a jog when they havent run in a long time. Embrace it. Embrace it and dont give up because of how icky it feels.

Its okay if you cry yourself to sleep at night. Its okay if you dont feel like getting out of bed. These are natural symptoms of a breakup. The beginning is always the hardest. The middle will take a lot of work. The finish line will be sweet though.


Or find good friends who will change your passwords for you and then be merciless when you ask for them back. I took a month-long break off of social media last summer after a breakup. Truth told, it hurt too much to be online. It was too much temptation to want to look him up and see how he was doing. His progress, though I am thankful it was happening, was no longer my business. Something inside of me wanted to be mad or bitter if he did make progress and that wasnt my heart or my agenda.

Social media rarely helps our wounds. If you dont have the power to block him or her, block yourself. Get a few friends to build a wall around you. Pick up the hobby of reading instead of stalking.


When is the last time you did that? I mean it. We send thank-you notes after a party, a shower, or after someone donates. Thank-you notes should be a regular occurrence. I find they are one of the biggest ways for me to get outside of my own thoughts and think about other people. Thats what is going to save you from heartbreak: remembering others.


Prayer doesnt need to be eloquent. It doesnt need to be fancy. No need to put white gloves on to get on your knees and pray. You dont even have to get on your knees. God likes you casual and God doesnt preference a posture. I love how Anne Lamott says it, My belief is that when youre telling the truth, youre close to God. If you say to God, I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I dont like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You,that might be the most honest thing youve ever said. If you told me you had said to God, It is all hopeless, and I dont have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand,it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real-really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.

Your prayers are allowed to be imperfect, short, sporadic, violent, and jumbled. Thats the beauty of prayer. He hears all the mess.


Thats the best thing that ever emerged from a breakup for me. By sitting with my own emptiness, and not filling the holes with another guy, I learned where I placed my trust. It wasnt in God. It was in guys. I found my worth in guys. I found my hope in guys. All my emotions hinged on whether someone found me good enough to keep forever. I claimed I wanted to be this kick-butt independent lady but I was missing the most important thing: independence begins by allowing yourself to be on your own and not become afraid of it.

Hannah Brencher

Hannah is author of the book Come Matter Here and founder of More Love Letters. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Lane.   

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