By Leah Sheppard
By Leah Sheppard
There is an illusion we create for ourselves that drinking and going out will make everything better: It’s fun; It will lift you out of the depression; You might meet someone special…When we drink the world seems fun and free of constraints, and in a way you feel more alive than ever. You speak freely, you express how you really feel and the people drinking with you are often doing the same.
Herein lies the problem: EVERYTHING comes to the surface; Not only the fun- loving, funny, and sexy side of you, but any pain, loneliness, anger, sadness and desire to be with someone comes out too. A lot of this stuff you may have thought you had dealt with and moved on from, but deep down inside, the stuff we hide even from ourselves, is in full view for yourself and anyone around you.
Getting over a breakup should be treated just like driving when it comes to alcohol: Stay under the limit. Being drunk means our ability to stop or manage the Pandora’s box of emotions running amok in your brain right now is severely diminished, and getting drunk will only end in heartbreak and deeper pain for yourself all over again. We allow a very private and vulnerable side of ourselves to be broadcasted to the world in an environment that is not geared for healing. All of our emotions, painful or otherwise are also heightened in our minds, and we become painfully aware of the perceived voids in our lives, and our desire to fill them. We over share to people we shouldn’t, we overreact to things we don’t need to, we hit on work colleagues or people already in relationships; and we go home with strangers just to feel wanted again, only to be left all over again in the morning. And worse, as we assess the ‘damage’ in the morning, an overwhelming sense of guilt, shame and regret floods in, and delays your healing progress until you can forget it ever happened.
Obviously we are not always blind drunk, with our emotional pain/insecurities on display for the world to see. Often we can stop at one or two and leave it at that. The issue here however is not about your ability to ‘hold your liquor’, but more about your emotional strength at the time. We can go past the ‘tipsy’ stage into ‘off-your-face’ very easily at any normal time in our lives, but when we go through an emotional trauma, the euphoria of not having it at the forefront of our minds makes us want the night to never end. So we drink more, feel less, & repeat.
I know it hurts being alone, and I understand the waves of emotions you feel every single day. It is easy to think that drinking and going out will fix it, but it won’t. In order to deal with these emotions, you need to create an environment safe enough to do so. Drinking will make an already challenging emotional situation much worse, no matter where you do it or whom you do it with. So here is my advice: take some of the challenge away and don’t drink at all for a while. Deal with the very real pain you are feeling in the right way. The Proseccos and nights to ‘let loose’ will all be there when you’re better; just give yourself a fighting chance to get well first.
By Leah Sheppard
Embarrassment is a feeling we all know and have felt way more often than we would like. From a young age we have understood what it’s like to do something that gains us the wrong sort of attention, and the absolute fearful desire to never have it happen again.
When it comes to a breakup, ‘embarrassment’ is unfortunately part of the terrain. Any of us who have been dumped before know that with rejection comes an unwanted shame, whether it was our fault or not. ‘You weren’t good enough’; ‘you didn’t see it coming’; ‘you chose the wrong person, that’s why this happened to you’ – ‘You’, ‘You’, ‘You’. It’s amazing how we assume blame so easily when we run it back in our heads.
It’s even worse when it’s our friends, family and Facebook get to finding out too. Even if they aren’t saying it, we have this constant belief running through our minds that everyone is judging us for not being good enough to keep our partner, or saying ‘I told you so’; perhaps because we may have even done it to someone else in the past. Pitying looks, mutual friends with your ex may stop talking to you; and oh the unwanted spotlight that we get thrown into when Facebook announces we are ‘no longer in a relationship’. It’s hard because you so genuinely thought you were doing everything right, and suddenly it feels like you got everything wrong.
Look, we have waaaaay too much going on in life that we have to worry about without having to second-guess ourselves, and our abilities as a fully-functioning adult woman. Yes, being dumped is a kick in the guts, and yes we may have got some things wrong. But so what?! So what if we believed in happily-ever-after with our ex; So what if we chose someone to love that in the end didn’t love us back; So what if we chose to see the best in someone? These are the attributes of a caring, compassionate and loving individual, and being blind-sided by something you had absolutely no control over is NOT a reason to feel anything less than you are. Healthy reflection on your actions and attitude is fine; But running through every fault, and every deed you had done trying to reconcile why they left, and what you could have done to stop it only makes your recovery harder and more painful. It also makes you fearful for potential relationships in the future.
In our pursuit of happiness in life there will always be some stumbling blocks. There are so many things that you cannot control, and the actions of another are exactly one of those things. What you can control is the way you deal with it.
Treat your breakup like falling over on the street. You didn’t plan for it, you didn’t see it coming and it hurt like hell. Everyone may be looking, some may even laugh. But do you sit there on the sidewalk and tell yourself ‘I shouldn’t have gone outside’, ‘I should have kept my head down the whole time so that nothing would ever hurt me’.
No. You pick yourself up; you dust yourself off, and keep walking your fine ass down the road. You are a good person, with a kind heart that is going through some stuff and dealing with it the best you can. There is no room on this trip for anything or anyone trying to bring you down; only love and support – especially from yourself!
Remember, one foot in front of the other; and dream, risk, hustle and repeat as necessary.
By Leah Sheppard
Probably one of the worst moments in your breakup recovery is the first time you do something that you used to do with your ex. It hurts so much because it is a stark reminder of the fact that when you had done that thing, been to that place, experienced that special moment, you had no idea it would be for the last time.
First time going to the movies without them, first time going to dinner…Probably the worst of all is going to bed for the first time without having them to wake up next to. I still remember how my entire body felt like it had been sucker-punched when I woke up the morning after my breakup and realized it wasn’t a dream at all. He really had left me, and I never got the chance to savor the last time he was lying next to me.
I just wanted to fall asleep and never wake up again.
Sure each time gets that little bit easier with everything you get used to doing on your own again, but in the beginning each one just feels like a punch in the guts. I remember after my first breakup, my parents took me out for brunch. They knew I loved brunch, and it would be a sure-fire way to make me feel better. To their horror, I ended up balling my eyes out for 2 hours because I had realized the last time I had ‘brunch’ was when I was happily coupled-up with my ex. It was such a small thing to cry over, but the thought of it made me completely lose any sense of trust in people, and my own ability to judge a situation. While I had thought our relationship was fine, and I had someone to share my smashed-avo Sundays with; he must have been thinking of how much he didn’t like me right?; like how he was going to get rid of me?!…But I never saw that on his face; I never saw it coming at all. What does that mean for any other happy times I have – are they all just a lie too??? This cycle of constant questioning and overthinking can happen with anything, and it makes you feel terrible, and completely unhinged.
When we go out with someone for a long time we establish a pattern with them; a synchronicity where we know our position relative to each other, and an identity that is richly intertwined with that person. A breakup, especially one you weren’t expecting disrupts that pattern and sets us into a free-fall. There is no reference point to gauge what is happening or any form of solace to cling to; only the knowledge that the person we had finally found to enjoy those things with, no longer wants to enjoy them with you.
These times are particularly challenging, and can get so difficult that we can sometimes avoid those things altogether, just so we don’t have to feel the pain again. We can stop going to certain places, not watch certain movies, or be involved in certain activities all because it reminds us of our ex.
But that just leads to a life that is forever constrained by something that has happened in the past. Our memories of what was and what should have been are the things that keep poking at the wound, not the actual things themselves. The things we actually enjoy doing or seeing or experiencing should not be off-limits because of what you had hoped for when you were doing it last.
The times we spend with our loved ones are certainly a privilege, and are not always guaranteed. However we must look on those experiences with gratitude and place them lovingly in the past where they belong, and move forward.
While it is hard taking those first steps as a single person once again, remember it gets easier with each time. And while it may take some getting used to, reclaim those places and experiences that you want back in your life so that you can enjoy them once again.
Being single is just a new pattern to get used to, so make it a beautiful one.
By Leah Sheppard
When someone we love lets us down, our hearts sink to the floor. Not only had the things you had hoped and planned for your future together suddenly been taken out from under you, but the person you trusted enough to let into your heart and world was the one that did it.
Breakups can encompass shock, disappointment, anger, sadness and rejection, among many others; and it is a sucker-punch few are ever really prepared for. What’s worse is that once the dust settles, we begin to build a wall around ourselves that is incredibly hard to take back down again. This may have already started before you broke up, with the few times, here and there that they hadn’t thought about you, or your feelings, or the fact that you matter at all.
And once the final ‘betrayal’ of getting dumped happens, many quickly seal up that wall so that no one can ever hurt them like that again. Even if you find someone new there is always that element of doubt in the back of your mind. You want to be able to trust someone again, and share those amazing things in your life with them, but the prospect of getting hurt again is just too hard to bear. So we either shut off completely from others, or create a minefield of tests around us for any future prospect to try and navigate blindly, in order to give us a heads-up before they can hurt us first. Sound familiar?
Look, it is completely natural to feel this way. The risk of pain is something that all living beings must contemplate in order to progress and move forward; especially when you are walking into a situation that seems similar to the one that got you hurt in the first place. However, while creating that wall around yourself may seem like the best form of defence, it really just creates a prison; one where you and all those painful and eroding emotions are stuck forever.
Learning to trust again is one of the hardest feats anyone can achieve. Not only is it the key to any possibility for a loving and meaningful relationship in the future, but it also recognises that you understand that pain is an unavoidable part of living.
At many points in our lives we will be let down by other people. While the reasons may be varied and the fallout hard, ultimately it comes down to one thing: We are all human; we are all learning, and we don’t always get it right.
The fact that one person hurt you does not mean that all people will. Give each person a chance on their own merits, not based on the mistakes of another. Living, and loving is a case of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and putting one foot in front of the other again in your pursuit of happiness. If you fall, you fall; but just like the last time, you’ll get through it, and you are richer and more knowledgeable for the experience. You can’t control the world; all you can control is yourself: So dream, risk, hustle, and repeat as necessary.