Heartbreak

Your Breakup Isn't The End Of You — It's The Start

Photo: Vladimir Loginov / Shutterstock
sad woman at coffee shop

By Howard Rudnick

There is no rulebook that tells you how to act when you’re in a relationship. There are also no rules to tell you how to end a relationship or how to move on after one. It’s up to you to navigate the intricacies of relationships to the best of your ability.

Ending a relationship can be emotional trauma.

You’ll feel like the world is coming to an end, and that you’ll have a lot of time by yourself to reflect on what went right and what went wrong. There is no one way to properly digest a relationship’s end.

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For me, transitioning from a long-term relationship to being a single twenty-something was eye-opening.

You have so much time on your hands and spend a lot of it wondering “what next.” Some people fill their time with extracurricular activities, from hitting the bars to sliding into people’s DMs, to using recreational drugs to distract them from whatever feelings they’re trying to avoid.

I decided the best way to handle my breakup and work on the new me was to focus on the things I let fall to the wayside during my relationship. In any relationship, we make sacrifices for our other half, but at what cost to our own personal happiness and health does it become unhealthy?

The biggest change I made was establishing a routine, which included signing up for a gym. I have never been the most physically fit person or shown any interest in getting in shape, especially given the status of my dad-bod post-breakup. By getting myself to a gym, I was not only holding myself accountable for my health and fitness, but I was also giving myself purpose besides waking up and going to work.

What is the point of going to work if you have nothing to spend your money on? Sure, we all have expenses, but, as my friend, Drake, says, “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.”

Going to the gym also forced me to face the reality that my body had changed significantly and that I could not keep eating how I was without suffering consequences. Those first few weeks were a definite wake-up call, for sure.

I next invested my time into repairing my friendships.

It’s safe to say that when you enter a long-term relationship, you’re bound to lose a few friends along the way. Whether it’s because of a rift in the friendship or because of time and distance, the friends you lose along the way seem like distant memories.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. While I do think that some friendships have expirations, we shouldn’t let all of our friendships completely dissipate.

It took a lot of hubris to work on regaining my friendships with those with whom I had either fallen out or neglected during the relationship. As it turned out, though, I wasn’t necessarily the reason for the division.

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In many relationships, our other half can cause a schism between friends, and it’s only after a breakup that we find out the truth about the person we thought we were going to spend the rest of your life with.

Our friends are a lot more intuitive than we give them credit for, but sometimes, they bite their tongues because they think we’re happy in our relationships. Speaking up is a dicey move, even if it means saying something that could be harmful if it saves your friend heartache and pain down the line.

Additionally, I realized that I no longer had a commitment to someone.

All the future plans, hopes, and dreams went down the drain, so I could start fresh. Instead of worrying about what the future held for me, I focused on staying in the present. For a few months, I lived life on a day-to-day basis. I also believed in saying “yes” to whatever came my way.

In order to distance myself from my relationship and the commitments I made during the relationship, including my employment, I decided dating is no longer for me.

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I wanted to start over, which meant taking time for myself.

I picked myself up and traveled over 10,000 miles across the world to a foreign country by myself, and proved to myself that I could truly be alone. It was a testament to my resilience in the sense that I did something for myself, by myself, with only the resources I had earned for myself (Granted, I went to a first-world country with WiFi, air conditioning, and high-end food).

It didn’t matter that when I came back from my trip abroad, I had no job prospects or income. I was solely focused on experiencing life right as it happened.

Whether we want to believe it or not, relationships can be toxic, and sometimes we find ourselves sticking around for convenience or out of a fear of never finding another person to love us.

Newsflash: You do not need someone else’s conditional love to make you feel like a whole person.

Since the end of my relationship, I’ve become the biggest proponent of people taking time for themselves. To travel, pursue their passion projects, be irresponsible (within reason) for once in their life, and not think about the consequences.

In a time when uncertainty is the new normal, live outside the conventions of “acceptable” and focus on the unknown. Trust me, it’s much better to not know than to think “what if.”

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Howard Rudnick is a former contributing author to Unwritten and podcast host of Rudnick Rants. Visit his author profile on Unwritten for more.

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This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.