Surviving Breakup Hell

Your world is shattered, your guts are wrenched, your soul is crushed, your ego blown, and your heart is broken into a million pieces.

Welcome to Breakup Hell, the absolute worst place on earth.

Before I got married for the first time at 50, I must’ve visited Breakup Hell a thousand times, and every time I was there, I thought it would be forever. I feared I’d never get out; that I’d never see sunshine or feel happy again. The pain of feeling unloved/unlovable was so heavy, and the anxiety so gripping, my whole body would shut down.

I wouldn’t be able to eat, I couldn’t sleep, my hair would fall out, and I’d be running to the toilet every five seconds. It was pure hell.

There’s a reason why break-ups hurt like hell: because the brain hates rejection (especially mine). Show me a brain that doesn’t!

There’s science to back this up. In the study “Reward, Addiction, and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated with Rejection,” conducted by Dr. Helen Fisher, Chief Scientific Officer at Chemistry.com, researchers found that areas of the brain associated with nicotine, cocaine addiction, and physical pain—as well as romantic love—were all activated after a breakup.

Which means that “When you’re going through a breakup, you’re feeling romantic love, you’re feeling physical pain, and you’re in a state of constant craving,” according to Dr. Fisher.

This is why breaking up is hard to do–you love and hate your ex at the same time. You despise AND romanticize. It’s a total mind fuck.

Rejection sucks, loss is painful, abandonment is traumatic, and unfortunately it all comes with the territory. You will also feel like a big, fat failure, and take everything personally, because that’s what you do when you’re in Breakup Hell. You don’t just lose a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, you lose your damn dignity too.

I told you it was the absolute worst place on earth!

If you’ve just broken up, get ready for some intense anger, serious soul searching, and non-stop obsessing and replaying in your head. Everything feels like a nightmarish OCD loop. “What did I do wrong? What could I have done better?” P.S. If you didn’t know, your head is a bad place to be.

The thing I’ve learned with Breakup Hell, is that you can’t escape it, you just have to work through it—sometimes with large amounts of wine and pot, like I did.

In addition to Sativa and Sauvingnon Blanc, I would also consume large amounts of talk therapy, junk food, bad cable movies, massages, and hanging with good friends who didn’t judge.

After a little pampering, I’d get ruthless with my own tough love. Here are a few things I highly suggest for immediate emotional triage:

  • Remove ex from contacts, delete all emails, and unfollow (not unfriend) on social media.
  • Destroy all physical reminders of ex (photos, gifts, etc.)
  • Stay away from exe’s mutual friends so as not to be reminded of him/her.
  • Choose new places to eat and visit, so you won’t run into ex.
  • Stay incredibly busy, make plans from morning to night, exhaust yourself with fun.

Start with these, and something will happen. You’ll start to heal. You won’t just feel better, you’ll start feeling better about yourself again. In other words, you’ll regain your dignity again.

It takes strength not to text your ex in moments of weakness; it takes discipline not to replay or romanticize; it takes power to take the high road; it takes effort to find happiness elsewhere; it takes courage to go it alone; it takes forgiveness to heal; and it takes self-worth to love yourself more than your ex.

If you can do this, you can do anything.

Here’s how another writer Taylor Garland dealt with her Breakup Hell:

“My grief was the impetus for powerful introspection and self-discovery. In the past, I turned towards alcohol and wild nights out to avoid the pain, but I knew this time must be different. I took the opportunity to let the heartache wash over me. I found myself pondering, nearly always, what it meant to be a good person, to offer value to others. I examined, in great detail, my shortcomings. I learned to meditate. I opted out of boozy nights with pals. I connected with my friends and family on profound levels, enabling me to offer deep empathy and connection that had been missing for years. I found forgiveness for people I’d been holding grudges towards. I found release.”

After a thousand trips to Breakup Hell, I’m here to tell you, you will be fine. You will be more than fine. You’ll survive, see sunshine, and love again. Slowly but surely, you will catch yourself smiling, hear yourself laughing, and realize you haven’t thought of your ex all day.

And that my friends, is pure heaven.

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To get my full list of breakup tips, plus other dating wisdom, please visit trevabrandonscharf.com.

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