I’m reminded of how good I’ve got it with my friends every time I manually sign into Twitter or Instagram. I think for a second of the passwords and realize they’re not my own creations. My friend Rebecca made up my Twitter password. My friend Hayley concocted an Instagram password for me.
I went through a breakup several years ago. At this point in my dating journey, I was pretty much burnt out. I’d reached the point where I was more devastated by the blow of being single again than the breakup itself. Any single person knows what a gauntlet the dating world can be. There are dating apps. There is the question of “where do I meet someone if I am not on a dating app?” There’s the awkward first dates. There’s the ghosting (which seems to be a real epidemic these days). There’s all this extra “stuff” that seems to come with trying to meet someone to spend the rest of your life with. It’s enough to make you check into a nunnery, really.
So there I was, sitting at my friend’s table and crying to my closest people about how I just didn’t know how to handle singleness anymore. I was sad over this breakup. I was sad over my relationship status. I felt the hardest thing for me was this constant itch to get on my phone and check him out. I wanted to know what he was doing. I wanted to know if he was having a hard time, too. I wanted to know if maybe he’d moved on.
I’m sure you’ve been there before too— so much of you wants to give it up and let it go but there are other parts of you— parts that seem stronger at this point in time— that want to be a detective. You want to know where he’s going, what he’s doing, and who he is hanging out with. Even if you initiated the breakup, you want confirmation that they’re struggling and finding it hard to go on without you.
That’s one of the weirdest parts about social media. Ten years ago, you let go and you maybe bumped into one another at the grocery store. Today, you can still see a person out even if they’ve ghosted you. You can know where they’re going. You can see who tags them. You can become a virtual stalker. Letting go and moving on is a weird process in 2019 when your ghosts still post pictures of their smoothies on Instagram.
I didn’t want to keep looking him up. As I chose to, I kept feeling lower and lower. I felt like I was pouring concrete into my own shoes and giving myself another reason not to move forward.
So I told my friends I needed help. I needed them to keep me off social media. I needed time to breathe and, more than anything, just sit with my heartbreak. It’s easy to avoid grieving these days. There is always something available to distract you from your thoughts, your regrets, your pains and your deferred hopes. If ever I didn’t want to think about the sad stuff, I could spend an hour scrolling through faces of people who seemed happier than me. This never gave me peace but it kept me occupied.
We deleted the applications from my phone. To take it a step further, my friends each took over a social media account and changed the password so I had no way of accessing the accounts.
And it was total bliss. Total, total bliss. For the first time in a long time, I had no reason to check my phone. I didn’t have to spend minutes-turned-hours focusing on aspects of life which made me feel like I was constantly missing out. In reality, I wasn’t missing out at all. I did so much in that one month. I attempted my first Whole30 and made it 28 days (yea, don’t even ask how I failed so late in the game… it’s embarrassing). I learned how to roast eggplant. I babysat for friends and let small children nurse my heart back to health. I watched several health documentaries and actually paid attention. I dug deeper into my faith and uncovered a new level of it. I cried but something really beautiful transpired: I sat with my heartbreak. I learned from it. It became a teacher to me in that solitary month. I sat with my heartbreak long enough to realize it wouldn’t eat me alive, it would rip down some weak walls and build in me a new room for deeper strength.
All of this to say: you might need to change your passwords. Better yet, you might need some good friends to come along and change your passwords for you. You might need a break. You might need some rest. You might not even realize you need anything of sort up until the point of reading this post with coffee in hand.
A few things you might do with this day that would help you, heal you or make you a little more whole:
Turn off your phone for a few hours.
Call those beloved friends and just say the words, “I need you to change my passwords for a month. I need a break.”
Take a walk.
Treat yourself to a coffee or do something that looks like self-care to you.
Take 20 minutes today (just 20 minutes) to read for pleasure.
Call a friend whose voice always comforts you.
This world needs you. I can’t bet on much but I know that is a fact. If you’re still here, reading this email, then that means there is purpose in your presence. Do the things it takes to be healthy and whole. Do the things that will make you come back to life when the heartbreak tries to wipe out your anthems.
Your heartbreak doesn’t have the power you think it has. It cannot eat you alive or evict you from the space you’re standing it. Your heartbreak is loud because it wants to be heard and understood. Don’t keep turning up the volume of your distractions. Listen in. Get real close, turn down the noise, and listen in.
Hannah is author of the book Come Matter Here and founder of More Love Letters. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Lane.