Daughter. Sister. Friend. Believer. Warrior. Writer. Voracious reader. Shoe Lover. Car Accident Survivor. Quasi philosopher. Prone to circumlocution. Beyonce stan. Retired cynic. On a quest to make a dent in the universe. Impossible to summarise in a few words.
If I had to rank the questions I’m most frequently emailed, ‘How do I get over someone?’ would be in the top 5. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Heartbreak is one of the unavoidable consequences of living. For the women who’ve managed to recover from heartbreak, the memories are enough to make us vow to never love anyone so recklessly again. That’s what we say until we meet someone who’s so intriguing, all those nights spent crying are swept away as we allow ourselves to be swept off our feet. All the while knowing the type of men with the power to break down our walls tend to bring one of two things, indescribable joy or unbearable pain. However it all seems worth the risk at the time.
That’s one of the reasons why trying to overcome heartbreak is such an ordeal. Half of the heartache is caused by the annoying fact it was self-inflicted and we were active participants in causing own pain.
It’s an unspoken rule that we must go through heartbreak silently and privately. Beyond a few friends and family members, no one knows we’re going through it. All this does is compound the misery. Everyone speaks to us like things are normal, we appear normal yet feel like we’ve lost a limb.
So whenever I receive an email with the subject ‘How do I get over someone?’ I immediately respect that woman for being brave enough to come out and discuss a topic many of us shy from sharing publicly. I also wish we lived in a world where women and men were allowed to cry publicly about their heartbreak, without everyone thinking they’re emotionally imbalanced, unhinged or weak. Unfortunately we live in a (western) world, where we may freely show our cleavage and bare our midriffs, but we must hide our emotions in order to make others feel comfortable.
Since pretending you’re fine when you feel like crap is torturous, it’s perfectly normal to seek a quick fix cure for heartbreak. Perhaps if we watch the right films, read the right literature and listen to enough ‘things will get better one day Mary J Bligesque’ ballads, somehow we can catalyse the healing process. Yet the reality is there are no quick fixes when it comes to heartbreak.
Of course there are temporary measures that give the illusion of healing and will momentarily (albeit ineffectively) fill the void. We can feign indifference, party so hard our stilettos need to be reheeled, have sex with someone else, get a new haircut, lose the extra weight or write subliminal yet oh so obvious Facebook updates which allude to us being ‘stronger’. However the accumulative impact of doing all these things will be negligible. It’s a bit like using dental floss to stitch a weave. People may believe it’s real for a while but eventually it’ll all fall apart.
Sidebar: I promise you that’s my last weave analogy of the year (ok maybe the month)
So ‘How’ do you get over someone? Well there is no ‘how’. There is no definitive method. There is no magic formula. There are no 5 easy steps. There is no secret mantra you can whisper to yourself that will alleviate the pain and anyone that attempts to sell you the book with the answer is a charlatan. All we can really do is get on with life. Whatever it is you do, keep doing it. Feign normality until you almost believe things are ‘normal’. Life goes on. One day you’ll stop caring and by the time you stop caring you won’t even care enough to notice you’ve stopped caring. We can’t fight heartbreak, we just live through it.
Sadly in our rush to ‘get over’ people and recover from our heartbreak some of us pour our energy into trying to forget the person that caused our pain. If someone shakes your world so much you need to forget them, surely that’s an experience worth remembering? The experience itself may have been imperfect, but the lessons we could learn are perfect. Perfectly shaped to fit into the fabric of our lives and help us in the future.
Furthermore why must we pretend just because a relationship has ended that person leaves us forever? They’re part of us, whether we like it or not. For good or for bad, they leave an indelible mark on our lives, reshape our characters, change our perspective and help form who we are from that moment on. I don’t think this is something we should reject, rather we should embrace it. They’re always a part of us and as long as they no longer have power over us that’s ok.
As you may have gathered this post was inspired by a young lady asking me how she could get over her first real love. After I sent her an abridged version of this blog her response was…
“Well if there’s no ‘how’, how long should it take to get over someone?”
To which I had to respond with ‘I don’t know’. 7 years? 7 weeks? 7 months? Any number people choose as the appropriate amount of time to spend heartbroken is arbitrary. To condescendingly say someone’s taking ‘too long’ or judgementally state another’s gotten over someone ‘too quickly’, would be projecting our own beliefs and preferences on others. The truth is just like there’s no magic formula for getting over someone, there’s no magic number of days that signify the journey is over. That’s my opinion and for now I’m sticking by it.
What’s your opinion? Have I got the wrong end of the stick? Is there a method for getting over heartbreak? If so, what is it? Or is it simply a question of getting on with life and things eventually getting better? Let me know!