January 26th 2021
What happens when you take the rose-colored glasses off and realize that there was way more to unpack than you thought? Keep reading to learn more about small ways to overcame a rough breakup and the revelations experienced in the aftermath. Healthy coping mechanisms and advice to help you more onto bigger and better things.
In the latter half of 2019 and early 2020, I was in a relationship. I recall mentioning this relationship a few times in the past on my blog and had always viewed it fondly under the influence of love and the guise of rosy imagery I created in my own head. However, upon being removed from the situation for about 8 months now, I have come to see the trauma it has caused me and the long term impacts of my romantic life and personal life that have followed this relationship.
Without spending all day rattling off the shortcomings of my last relationship, I am just going to sum everything up by saying, while I wasn’t abused in my last relationship and while my ex is not at fault for every problem we had, I do feel I experienced significant neglect and gaslighting during the course of our 10 months together that I have only just begun to realize after spending a few months in a healthy relationship with someone new.
So, how does one overcome a relationship that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth and bad thoughts in your head? Well, the process is different for everyone. For me, overcoming the trauma associated with a toxic relationship started with me returning to myself and focusing on myself for a while. I spent almost a straight month alone, working in my apartment, spending time with my family, talking on video chat with friends whenever possible, and getting back in touch with my passions such as tarot reading and, for a little while, writing. I think that taking the time after a breakup to focus on you and who you were prior to this person entering your life is a super important step in reminding yourself of your own worth. As soon as I started seeing my greatness, I began feeling less attached to the outcome of my breakup and stopped turning towards my ex for validation.
After I leveled out within myself, I began digging deeper into what specifically traumatized me in my last relationship and how it manifests itself now. For one, I realized that my ability to trust was through the floor and my insecurity was through the roof. While I loved myself, I did not trust anyone else’s ability to love me which was a hard hurdle for me and still is from time to time. But, to work on this, I did 3 things:
- I spoke candidly to my therapist about all of my thoughts, even the ones I thought were really stupid. Actually, ESPECIALLY the ones I thought were really stupid. Hearing myself say the things my ex used to do out loud, candidly, made me realize how blind I had been to things that were very clearly wrong. And talking about the dumb paranoid beliefs I held as a result made me realize how odd my situation was and how unlikely I will experience that exact thing again. And, if I did, I was now hyper-aware of what behaviors to look out for.
- I remind myself that I cannot penalize others for the mistakes of one person. If I went into every new connection with the expectation that they were going to hurt me in the ways my ex did, I probably wouldn’t be in the relationship I am in now. This definitely won’t come as easy to every single person, depending on the nature of your last relationship and how things ended, but I definitely think treating each person as something new is super important to help you keep moving forward.
- Get off the hook. One thing I see quite often with people and their exes is that they stay on that hook and talk to their ex whenever they come back around. I believe that that is the worst way to move beyond trauma. Obviously, every case is different but I think if you show the person who hurt you that you’re just willingly going to be there whenever they want to come back around, you’re opening yourself to a repetitive cycle of uncertainty and hurt. My ex requested we still keep in touch after the break up, but as soon as he fell out of contact, I let him loose. He tried to come back around and I said I wasn’t interested in talking to him and that was that. I rid myself of the hook and have chosen to move forward.
With those 3 things in mind, I think the key takeaway that you should remember when trying to heal your relationship trauma is that you are not your trauma. Do not identify with it. Acknowledge it as something you live with and something you will overcome, but do not let it be a part of your identity. When you start identifying with your trauma, you go from a cool person with hobbies and interests and fun quirks to “that person who was hurt in their last relationship”. By identifying with the hurt, you present that part of yourself to new people before you present the fun person you truly are.
And most of all, remember your feelings are valid. If you feel trauma or hurt, do not let anyone tell you how long you are supposed to feel it, what you are supposed to feel, or how you should react. Everyone is different. And while I have found methods to overcome things that have been working for me, something different may work for you and THAT IS OKAY. Honor yourself, trust the process, and know that it won’t always hurt like this.
What is your best advice for overcoming a traumatic romantic connection?