Dispatches From The World Of Broken-Up

Amazing blanket

Dispatches From The World Of Broken-Up: If you read my blog regularly, you will know that I have been navigating a break-up over the last year and a half. It’s been a pretty horrendous time, with other complications thrown in for good measure (!) and while it can feel like the worst thing ever, of course so many others have gone through their own version of something similar. Which is awful, yet bolstering to know.

The world of broken-up is full of terrible and good things, but one thing that never seems to change is the  notion that we are ultimately half of a relationship and that we will “find love” again. (Hello The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Love Island etc.)

“Finding love” or a soulmate is something that many people focus on as a long term goal, but it’s so often offered up as a sort of reassuring option that’s just within reach when someone says they’re navigating a break-up.

“You’ll find someone again when the time is right.”

It’s well-intentioned and a very ingrained part of the human story …

But don’t you think it’s interesting that the focus isn’t more on caring for and knowing yourself a little better? Because, gosh, I truly do.

I think that having a companion or husband or wife or boyfriend or lover or girlfriend is possibly (!) a good thing, don’t get me wrong. GO.FOR.YOUR.LIFE.

But wouldn’t it be great if we focused more on being our own best companion, for starters?

I truly do.

I’m guessing lots of people reading here will have navigated a significant breakup over the years, and wonder if they’d care to think about it a little more and share a bit? If so, some questions …

  1. What were the worst and best thing/s as you pushed through your breakup/divorce?
  2. What would you say to others who are looking for some light at the end of the tunnel?
  3. How did you/did you become your own best companion?

(Feel free to use a pen name, as you comment, if you’d like some privacy! Feel free to answer all or one or your own question, if you fancy chatting!)

Chatter from the World of Broken-Up …

I am going to answer the above questions at another time, when I can hide behind a pen name and protect myself a little, but what I can say about working through a break-up are these things:

  1. Rest, nourishment and retreat is vital. Enforce a new quiet life routine for a while.
  2. Talking about things can sometimes re-traumatise you, so know that and adjust accordingly/seek expert help.
  3. Trust yourself. Other people will have opinions but you know yourself and your life best.
  4. Paracetamol can help with the physical pain of heartbreak in the early days. So can hot baths. And lying under a heavy doona with a hot water bottle watching comfort TV (or the Summer equivalent).
  5. Add a spiritual practice to your day, whatever that might mean to you, even if you don’t believe in any gods. Think about the ‘bigger’ forces that are swirling about to provide perspective. Maybe it’s nature? Or buddha? You do you.
  6. Write down all the terrible things and get them out of your head. Related: it’s okay to sob it out as much as you need to. Don’t bottle it up.
  7. Focus on today (or this hour) not the life you thought you might have. I know this is very hard, so go gently.
  8. Grow or make things. Herbs, bread, blankets, jam. Have something that is progressing on the go, because when you feel stuck you can see that at least SOMETHING is happening.  (Starting a slow project is a good option too – I am writing two books).
  9. Add movement to your day. It’s amazing how creaky you can get when you’re freaking out/sobbing your heart out. Even 5 minutes of stretching on the lounge room floor is better than no minutes.
  10. Remember it won’t always be like this. Time will pass and things will change. Perhaps in unexpected ways or perhaps in predictable ways, but it won’t always be like this.

x pip

And again – those questions for people who don’t mind sharing about their break-up …

  1. What were the worst and best thing/s as you pushed through your breakup/divorce?
  2. What would you say to others who are looking for some light at the end of the tunnel?
  3. How did you/did you become your own best companion?

image: via here

24 Comments

  • Reply
    Hope (pen name)
    September 5, 2018 at 1:40 PM

    What were the worst and best thing/s as you pushed through your breakup/divorce?
    The worst was facing the up to a new life that I hadn’t expected and being heartbroken – it’s shitty no matter which way you look at. Being young with two small babes (3month & 21month) was daunting and scary. I wondered how I could survive not only financially, but also how could I emotionally provide my babes with a stable home life when I felt so utterly broken.
    The best was dredging up an inner strength that I didn’t know was in me, and the resolve to be an awesome mother and not have ill behaved children that was the assumption for any child of a single mother (we’re talking a couple of decades ago!) . I was also determined to have a great life, partly fueled by revenge, which I know is not healthy but I used it for good (Like yep, watch me live my best life buddy!!!). Partly fueled by wanting to have a beautiful loving home and mother for my kids and I knew that I had to get my shit together if the kids were to have a happy home. And also partly fueled by wanting a good life for myself and knowing I deserved it even if life wasn’t coming to the party at that particular time.

    What would you say to others who are looking for some light at the end of the tunnel?
    There really is light, and that old thing that people say about one day this will make sense and you might actually be glad that it happened. (I am so grateful it happened to me and I didn’t end up spending my life with that man although at the time that seemed preposterous!) . Even though it can sound ridiculous at the time, life really does have your back LONG TERM, and the shit fights are all part of the master plan to get you there.
    And ‘change is the only constant in life’ a quote from the Dalai Lama. This painful traumatic time WILL pass, and you WILL feel better one day, it may not be soon, but it WILL happen. You don’t have to worry about how to get there or when you’ll get there (there being the happy easier life part), just know that it WILL come, all you have to have is get through each day, week, moment and nurture yourself as best you can in the meantime.
    Sit in the corner and lick your wounds for as long as you need to. There’s no time frame, you’ll know when you’re ready to leave the corner when you feel there’s more to life than siting in corners. Yes definitely write your thoughts and feelings out, there’s a magical process that happens when you look at those thoughts/feelings on a bit of paper – an invisible distance and perspective – plus it’s cathartic and healing in a profound way. Write it all out in the knowledge that no one ever see what you write, pour your dear little wounded heart out in ink. Then one day, when your ready, burn those writings in a fire and kiss them goodbye. Thank them for the lessons learnt (possibly with tears) and think about how far you’ve come since writing them. Burning the writings might be a month later or it might be 10 years later. There’s no time limit. You’ll just know when you’re ready to do it. This seems to put a ‘the end’ to the shitty breakup phase and allow you to really truly move forward without mentally carrying the break up baggage around.
    When you’re out of the initial crushing debilitating pain and shock, and moved out of the corner, and done lots of heart in ink writing, start looking for things in your life that make you happy. If you don’t know what they are then start anything / everything that you can. Anything at all, books, movies, craft, walks, baking, motorbikes, gardening, whatever floats your boat when no one is looking. Then pursue those things as a hobby with all the passion you can muster.
    Try not to make looking for a new love the main focus, that stuff is going to happen naturally when you are busy living your life and enjoying yourself and your own company. Then it’ll be the icing the happy cake rather than the main happy cake ingredient.

    Never stop dreaming and hoping for a wonderful contented life. NEVER.

    How did you/did you become your own best companion? Kinda answered in the above.

    hugs to all the hearts with wounds, dents, holes and breaks xx

    • Reply
      Pip
      September 6, 2018 at 5:16 PM

      I love this. It makes a lot of sense, and will help a lot of people! There are quite a few things here that I have already included in my book about working through hard times, so it’s heartening to see they really did work for you too! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, as I know it can be hard and take a little time to capture them. xx

  • Reply
    Maggie Mason
    August 30, 2018 at 2:31 PM

    Hi Pip,

    I’m so sorry we have this experience in common. I’ve been separated/divorced for almost six years now and am remarried to Brad, who you met when we were in Melbourne. Ok, my answers:

    1. What were the worst and best thing/s as you pushed through your breakup/divorce?

    The grief in general was terrible, but the worst part was that I had really loved and valued my identity as a traditional wife and mother. I missed the general coziness of having a partner, the idea of it rather than the actuality. The real deal was pretty grim or I wouldn’t have left. I was really at sea at first, especially on nights when it was just me.

    The best thing was the relief. The night he moved out, I just felt all that conflict and fear lift off my shoulders. That was also my first reaction the day the papers were finalized. I felt real joy, though there was sadness and poignancy too. Those spontanoeous emotions helped me through the inevitable times when I worried about making a mistake in leaving.

    2. What would you say to others who are looking for some light at the end of the tunnel?

    I’ll say what a friend said to me that really encouraged me. I’m excited for you. After the pain of this has dissipated, you have space to make a sweet, fresh life for yourself. You’re such a kind, interesting person, there are bound to be other loves even if it’s too soon to think about that yet. But first kisses and butterflies are fun, and so is having more time for girlfriends, and saving up for special things you want for yourself. And making your own space is incredible. There’s so much freedom now to feather your own nest.

    3. How did you/did you become your own best companion?

    I used to see things very black and white. It helped me have good boundaries in some ways, but was a handicap in others. Now I’m much less judgemental. You have no idea what people are going through, everyone has their personal Greek tragedies to tend. Cutting other people slack has had the effect of making me so much less critical of myself. Perfectionism used to cloud my life, but now I’m better able to like and accept who I am, and most importantly to forgive my own missteps. I’m softer on myself and the world. That has been the greatest gift of the whole ordeal.

    I hope this helps. I’m sorry you’re going through it, but I know you’ll come out the other side. I have a lot of faith in you.

    • Reply
      Michelle H
      September 1, 2018 at 11:06 PM

      Yes, breakups are hard. But we ALL have gone through it and lived. I think living in a broken relationship is harder than the breakup.
      2 years ago I had a devastating break up, I had never in my 47 years ever felt such pain ( and I was twice divorced before this breakup!) I did not believe at the time that I would ever be normal again. My memories were haunting me every second of those long days and honestly….I was broken like never before.

      Jump forward 2 years… I’m in a new relationship (it’s not the best, but that’s life..nothing is perfect) I survived that breakup, I grew and my pain of loss is still there but the pain of missing that person is gone. My memories are now of the bad things, the reasons we broke up and I am thankful that we did break up, because hindsight…. We were toxic.

      Everyone goes through this… It’s part of life. If we don’t want the hurt, we would all be living in a bubble and would never love either.

      Time does heal, it’s an amazing thing to hear your own voice and not miss the echo of another’s. Accept the loss, feel the pain and you will move forward. Life is just like that and it does take care of the rest.
      ?

    • Reply
      Pip
      September 2, 2018 at 9:46 AM

      Thank you, Maggie. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience SO MUCH. IT DOES HELP. xxx

  • Reply
    Tara
    August 29, 2018 at 10:23 PM

    What were the worst and best thing/s as you pushed through your breakup/divorce?
    My ex had anger issues before we I left him. Yet I was blindsided by his continued anger after I left. It’s going on 2 years and he’s intent in making my life as challenging as possible. The actual worst thing though is my daughter who’s just 7 has seen so much she didn’t need to see, and I absolutely hate the 2 days that she’s not with me. That does not get easier. I can’t imagine it ever will.
    What would you say to others who are looking for some light at the end of the tunnel?
    Just keep going. Understand another’s anger is not about you, and that you’re still happier without them. As hard as the past couple of years have been, I’m somehow better for it.
    How did you/did you become your own best companion? I finally stopped disliking myself and started seeing that those bits of me that I thought others hated, were actually the bits that kept me going. I like myself now, which I struggled with before. People seem to think that it’s so easy for the one that leaves. But for me, it wasn’t. I felt so much guilt for leaving, for how he reacted, for how it made my daughter feel. I’m now studying and living off a student payment at the age of almost 41. This is not what I expected for myself yet it still feels ok. I’ve finally just accepted how things are and that makes me a much better companion for me, and at some point, someone else.

  • Reply
    Julia
    August 26, 2018 at 11:38 AM

    I can’t say enough HELL, YES!’s to this post. My ex and I broke up 11 years ago. Our son was 4 1/2 years old at the time. It’s tough being a single mum, there’s no doubt about it. It’s tough not having someone by your side to hold and comfort you through the bad times – six months after we broke up I was diagnosed with aggressive stage three breast cancer – probably THE time in my life I really needed a partner.
    I haven’t had a relationship since that break up – yes, partly because of my body image now I have had breast cancer, but mostly because I feel I don’t NEED to. I wonder about other women my own age who are so desperate to find a partner – as if life isn’t worth living without ‘a soul mate’ – it puzzles me … now. I used to be like that myself. And I am relieved I don’t feel that need any more.
    I have never been happier. Having a full life helps – work, singing, conservation groups, lots of knitting and crocheting, friends … but it’s meditation and mindfulness that really helped me through. That constant knowing that when things are tough, all you need do is ride the wave. It will eventually be over. There is no constant. All things, like you said, change.

    • Reply
      Pip
      August 27, 2018 at 4:12 PM

      Hey Julia. Thank you so much for commenting here. Sorry it took me a while to approve your comment, I am a little behind. That sounds like a pretty BIG 11 years you’ve been navigating, and it’s very heartening to hear that – despite what must have been some harrowing challenges – you have come out the other side feeling more like yourself. I, for one, am very inspired and motivated by what you have written here. Thanks so much for sharing something so personal. I am going to keep coming back to read this. Love to you and your (now bigger) boy. xx

  • Reply
    Laura Findlay
    August 25, 2018 at 9:56 AM

    Hi Pip,

    I haven’t been through a break-up but in April I lost both of grandparents in the same week. It was devastating. At the time I did a lot of sleeping and felt pretty shit. Now that I am through the very darkest part of that grief I am trying do lots of positive things like swimming and reading. Sometimes I still feel quite out of sorts. I just want to let you know that this week your blog was a really big help. I felt a bit lost on Thursday and spent a while scrolling through your posts. Your post about writing your fiction book propelled me to do some creative writing for the first time in ages. I also picked up some good book recommendations and started reading H is for Hawk. I’ve bookmarked some podcasts and now I feel a renewed sense of direction, so thank you. I hope your week is going okay. Sending you many good thoughts and virtual hugs and cups of tea.

  • Reply
    S
    August 20, 2018 at 10:54 AM

    Thank you for raising this Pip. I am a step behind, where things aren’t right for me, but we have a young child and I have been hanging in there, trying so hard, but like Moois says above “But for him there was no problem and nothing needed to change”… I am afraid of the consequences for my child but hearing people getting to the other side is enabling. I’m grateful and renewed that you, in your tough time, constantly bring your thoughtfulness and light to others, we need so much more of that in this world.

    • Reply
      Pip
      August 25, 2018 at 8:37 AM

      Sending lots of love in your direction, S. Take your own time to do what is right for you and your kiddo. You know what is best for you. x

  • Reply
    Kate
    August 18, 2018 at 3:19 PM

    I’m trying to recover from a recent and heartbreaking divorce. The hardest part has been losing half my time with my young children, and how the divorce has changed all my other relationships (friends, family) for the worse. I’m still in the tunnel but I hope there will be light later. Wishing everyone who’s hurting a little peace.

  • Reply
    moois van mie
    August 17, 2018 at 7:58 PM

    Hi Pip!
    My most painful break up is now 10 years ago. it was the first and only time in my life I had lived together with a lover. Before that I lived on my own for 12 years – with occasionally a lover but we lived apart.
    I was not happy in my relationship with that man, but I had the feeling he was the man of my life (although before I met him I didn’t believe in the concept ‘man of your life’) and I wanted to work on our relationship to become happy again. But for him there was no problem and nothing needed to change. When I tried to, he dumped me. And I didn’t see that coming…. .

    What I found difficult was that I had tried soooooo hard to find a way to be happy again and I was already having a very ‘low battery’ because of that . And then the hardest thing – the break up – came above that. It was just to much.

    I also found it very hard that in the beginning of our relationship he made me choose between children and him. I choose him and as a result don’t have children. I’m not sorry I haven’t children, but at that time I felt betrayed because I made a choice and ended up with nothing.

    I had nothing when we broke up. I gave away all my belongings when I moved in with him, in his house. And suddenly at my 40th birthday I had to start al over again. He gave me a bit of financial support – I had a job but no savings – but it was very hard to make decisions about what kind of wall paint I wanted and which bed I should buy when I was so heart broken I couldn’t feel anything else but pain. I really found it very hard to make decisions.

    For a while I had the feeling I wasn’t important for anyone. A feeling I never had before, even in times I lived on my own and didn’t have a man in my life.

    I was glad I could go to work, it took my mind away from my feelings. But every day when I came home, I couldn’t stop crying. I lost a lot of weight because of the way I felt. People told me I looked so good when I never felt worse.

    After a year my psychiatrist said it had been enough suffering. He suggested I would start taking AD (again) and that was a relief.

    I new from the very first moment that man dumped me, it really was the end of that relation. So I wanted to go on with my life. But the pain and grief kept me from doing that. I had the feeling I got stuck in my grief and pain. And I wanted to go on, wanted to make a new life. With the AD I could finally start living the rest of my life.

    Now we are 10 years later. I still live in the same place I went to after the break up. I am living on my own and won’t change that. I like living on my own, I always did. I have a boy friend, but he lives on his own too. I had a hard time getting over the break up, but the one thing that went very well very soon, was living on my own. A month after my moving away from him my new place felt more like home than his house ever did.

    During and after that relationship, I had the feeling I couldn’t take care of myself. But I rediscovered my strength and feel a lot more self assure .

    In the years I was with him I neglected my own social life because I had no energy left for them. And one of the most joyful things after my break up was that a lot of my old friends showed up again to help me. I feel sooooo blessed with friends like that!

    It is difficult when you are going through a break up. But I think your writing is pointing at the most important thing: it is not about if or when you will meet someone else . It is about how to start living with yourself again. And in my experience I can tell you that it is getting better after a while. I have learned a lot about my relation with that man, and from the break up. And even nowadays there is almost not a single day I think back at that time. But I a so glad he ended it. Because there was no way I could be as happy as I am now when we stayed together. And I now a lot better than before what I want and what I don’t want.

    oops. I wrote a lot more than I planned. Sorry … And big hug!

    • Reply
      Pip
      August 17, 2018 at 8:21 PM

      Aw. This is so helpful to me and I am sure to others too. Thank you so much for revisiting what was obviously such a hard time – and sharing how it felt to go all the way through it and come out the other side. Super kind of you to take the time to do that. Congratulations to you on the new and happy part of your life. xx

  • Reply
    Jaffa
    August 17, 2018 at 7:48 PM

    I remember the worst things about heartbreak was waking up really early, the pain and sadness would set in and I couldn’t sleep. I found it hard to eat too. Friends taking sides was very difficult to cope with. Feeling rudderless, aimless, lost, like life had lost all purpose and direction. Feeling like a failure. Feeling ugly and unlovable. All the gossip about who did/said/left etc etc. I dreaded going down the street (small town life) as I knew I’d bump into someone who would want to know all the juicy details. I became almost a stalker of my ex ( thank god this was pre social media).
    The best things were my closest two friends, one of whom I moved in with temporarily, who cared for me and looked after me. Also my family, who listened to me endlessly banging on about it all. Also, my dog saved me. Walks with him saved my sanity, without a doubt.
    It’s hard to see a way out when your heartbroken. But like everything, time helps. You need things to look forward to, book a little getaway with friends, just little things to keep you positive. You will come out the other side a stronger and happier, yes true, person. Battle scarred yes, but with renewed purpose and goals.
    I became my own best companion by working towards new career goals, having a great dog at my side, living in a cosy home near the river that was so peaceful and walking/running a lot. Exercise and renewed purpose in that really helped. I still love running now.
    All the best xx

    • Reply
      Pip
      August 17, 2018 at 8:22 PM

      Thank you so much for talking about how it all felt for you. It’s such a hard time, and it really helps to hear how it worked for other people – and how it feels on the other side. BLESS YOU for sharing. So appreciate you taking the time to write this. xx

  • Reply
    Anissa Ljanta
    August 17, 2018 at 6:18 PM

    Oh Pip, how can I be a longtime reader and admirer of your blog and not know? I am sorry things have been hard.
    Grief is a peculiar beast. It pops up when I least expect it. Two and half years post break up I can say that it does get better. I had, er, complications in my break up too and lost a dear friend so it’s hard to say what heartbreak fits in what box, but I cried rivers, had countless early nights and long baths and said no alot. My mantra was ‘This too shall pass’. Which is helpful, because when you’re deep in it, you forget. Lately, when people ask how I am, I reflect, then smile and literally jump up and down realising that YES! I do feel good, things ARE good. I walked away with $200 in my bank account and my kid and a badly paid 10 hour a week job and have created an awesome life. Go me! My sparkle is back on. Yours will be too.

    • Reply
      Pip
      August 17, 2018 at 8:23 PM

      I am so glad you are FEELING GOOD!! Thank you for talking about the hard times and sharing a bit of your life here. I so appreciate you doing that. x

  • Reply
    Annie
    August 17, 2018 at 4:52 PM

    My heart is so sore now, couple of days short of 4 months now.
    Not broken up, because I refuse that, because I made a vow before God, but…
    – worst: The trust in my husband that was broken. The illusion of what I had is shattered. The friend that I let in that betrayed me.
    – best: one can physically survive this. And your your hope and validation is not in a person – though I’m still struggling not to shut down to him.
    – hold on. The light is still far and flickering, but I’m praying and hoping I’ll get there.
    – I’m still learning to become my best companion. I’m making time for MY interests, reading a lot, including the Bible, where I’m finding a LOT of guidance, exercising, taking a pill when needed – because it exists to help.

    • Reply
      Pip
      August 17, 2018 at 8:24 PM

      Sending lots of love and light and hugs in your direction, Annie. It’s such a hard time. So sorry you are going through this tough stuff. xxx

  • Reply
    Lucy
    August 17, 2018 at 3:26 PM

    I’ve been divorced 5 years now, after 18 years with 4 kids. We were not getting in well, which was unusual, so the decision to spilt was so difficult until I found out he had been cheating. It explained everything. The hardest part was the loss of trust and the difficulty adjusting to my future without him in the picture. The easiest part was the freedom. No more waiting, cleaning up after, acquiescence. I have revelled in my independence. I was so scared I couldn’t go it alone, but now I look back and realise how much of ‘me’ I had suppressed in order to make ‘us’ work.
    The hardest decision is to sign the forms, to make the break. After that, you decide everything for you. There are rare nights where I think a new companion would be nice, but I realised early on that I never want to go back to where I was. I call up friends and get them over, organise dinner with the girls, drop in on people for a cuppa. I talked to everyone about what happened. No secrets, no shame, just me, fighting for me and my kids. I have thrived on my own, I am now the best version of me I’ve seen in years.

    • Reply
      Pip
      August 17, 2018 at 8:25 PM

      What a big shift for you, Lucy. Thank you for sharing the good and bad bits here. I know it’s not easy to talk about this stuff, so again, a very large THANK YOU, to you. x

  • Reply
    kate
    August 17, 2018 at 9:08 AM

    oh Pip such helpful advice you have shared.
    Kindness – be very very kind to yourself and take all the time you need, because you are so right, it won’t always feel like this.

    hugs Kate

  • Reply
    Donna Bridges
    August 17, 2018 at 8:44 AM

    Oh Pip 🙁 , my daughter and her long term boyfriend broke up . He sent a text to her at work to tell her . It was totally unexpected. She’s gotten some help . I told her it’s goid to rant and scream about it to someone you don’t know because they have insight . Family and friends can empathise usually though it’s along the “ that bar steward “ line . Finding your joy is important do what you love and it will come. She’s back at Uni after mid break , having something to occupy time helps too . Hugs all round really though . BTW I love love the rug you are making for your bed .

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