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
‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is one of my favourite movies, and to be honest was one of the very first things I thought of doing after getting dumped. There are so many of us who would just love to escape to a tropical place after a breakup and get away to somewhere we can ‘sort ourselves out’. Sure a beach and a tan will make us feel better, but there are also some very real problems with this (unless you have a cheeky years’ salary stashed away somewhere #saidnooneever) is that:
- Most of us cannot afford to disappear for a years’ worth of healing, and
- Your breakup-pain will still be there when you get back.
I’ve known many a heartbroken friend to fork out all their savings and leave on a 3-month ‘find-myself’ trip to India, only to find that the issues they had been trying to escape were still waiting for them back home (albeit under a tan, and a few tropical one-night-stands). And you know what? It really, really hurts when you find that out. It is yet another unfair and shitty thing about breakups, and it can’t be fixed by checking out. You didn’t ask for it, you didn’t plan for it, but now it’s thrust upon you as yet another thing you have to deal with in your life.
We often choose travel as a go-to way of surrounding ourselves in something positive, having been through something so very, very painful. It is natural to assume that all you need is a time away to rest but that’s not really what the problem is. It also creates more financial problems for you when you get back.
I know this from experience, many times over, and the plain truth of it is you have to be present. You have to weather the storm, and you have to deal with it. It is a journey you have to take, and an unfortunate part of the human experience. What you have been through is grief and emotional trauma, and there are very specific ways that will help you deal with that. It hurts like no other pain you’ve felt before but the pain will not last forever; it will however definitely hang around way longer than necessary if you don’t deal with it properly.
There is no amount of tropical beaches or yoga classes that can strip away the pain you feel when you look at a place you and your ex used to go to; or a song that reminds you of them. There is no amount of meditation or cocktails-in- pineapples or Tuscan escapes that will draw out and help you overcome the feeling of abandonment, rejection and broken dreams that reside in you as a result of the one you love not loving you back.
You end up putting yourself in this strange limbo, where you aren’t surrounded by all the memories of that person, but you know they are all back there waiting for you when you get back. It’s not relaxing, and it’s not reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against holidays or having a breather; going away for a while to get your head straight is perfectly fine. Just understand that going away without the proper help is not the way to handle your business, and the things you need to deal with are still going to be there. Worse, it puts a completely different spin on those awesome places we would usually go to enjoy ourselves.
As hard as it is, my advice is to stay and sort things out. You have built a life for yourself that is separate to your relationship, and that is not something to jeopardize by checking-out. Always make sure you are safe, and surrounded by those who would support you when you need it. Engage the counseling or coaching services you need to deal with the pain, and get to work.
Understand that this pain is just another indication of your capacity to love someone, and your true strength will be revealed to you in your ability to keep going. As with anything difficult just break it down into manageable steps, dealing with every second, every minute and every hour as it comes. Eventually you will take off to beautiful and exotic places but at a time, bank-balance and context that actually provides you with a meaningful and worthwhile experience to remember.