At Christmas I wrote a blog about my worst Christmas ever and well, now that it's Valentine's Day, I can’t help but think about all the broken-hearted men and women out there trying to get through this day. And so, here I go again...
Understandably, many people find it helpful to hear about how I survived the year that followed my broken engagement in 2011. I totally get it. You want to know that you're not alone. As someone who has been through more heart break than I'd care to admit, I have some good news. Not only can you survive this heart break, but you rest assured, that if you take care of yourself, and work through this experience, you can emerge happier person and find a more fulfilling relationship than the one you're currently missing. In the meantime, if you just need to get through this Valentines Day, I hope hearing a bit more about my story and the resources listed in this blog will help.
Even if you don’t identify as a person who cares much about Valentine’s Day (like me) some years you may find yourself caring more than you'd like to admit (also me, lol.) This is often the case when someone is broken hearted. All of a sudden, something about the bustle of the holiday gets to you, and then seeing all those hearts, flowers and messages of romantic love everywhere - is like little shots to your heart. Often undoing some of the hard earned peace and strength you’ve acquired in the after-math of a breakup or divorce.
For women and men, "Valentine's Day stress" is a real thing that manifests itself with increased levels of anxiety, insomnia, and depression around the holiday. Valentine’s Day, like many other holidays, is loaded with expectations that can highjack our emotional stability. Simply being aware of of this phenomenon can help us manage our heightened emotions.
MY BLUE VALENTINE’S DAY, 2011
The Valentine's Day that followed our broken engagement was the last time my ex and I talked about being an "us." It had been 3 months since we had broken up, and we were back in communication and flirting with the idea of working things out (bad idea.) He had written me a beautiful poem and as he read it aloud, my heart sank. Sure, it was a beautiful poem, eloquently describing his love, but if I was honest with myself, it really had nothing to do with me, with who I was as a person. In the three months since our separation, I had begun to regain parts of myself that I had abandoned over the course of our 3 year relationship - my naturally extroverted self, my large and diverse social circle, dancing Tango, etc. At the expense of being together we’d both abandoned essential parts of ourselves - and now I know that never works. It's what I would now call bad "love design." I painfully came to accept in that moment that we really were not a healthy match. And so, we said goodbye, again.
That evening I had no committed plans, but I knew that whatever had to involve major self-care. Not having invested much a social circle during our relationship, I really didn’t have many friends to call on (this should have been a big time red flag.) So I went for a walk and found myself in one of my favourite bookstores. I bought myself “Love Poems” by Paulo Nerudo, and as I sat in the cafe reading the poems, someone started to play the grand piano in the bookstore. I smiled to myself and took in the beauty of this perfect moment.
From there I looked up movies that were playing, and I couldn't believe my luck. At my favourite independent theatre one of my all time favourite movies was playing, Amelie. Perfect! Interestingly, the last time I had seen that movie in a theatre in 2003, was with my first long term boyfriend. As a Breakup Coach I now know that an essential practice of breakup recovery is making new memories.
Overall, it was a perfect way to spend my blue Valentines. Although I still felt sad, somewhat anxious and lonely, most importantly I felt a a sense of peace deep in myself that I would be okay. I chose to trust that like many other times in my life, in time this experience would make more sense and it would help me become a better person and loving partner for it. Six years later, I know this to be true.
BLUE VALENTINES DAY WEBSITES
If you're feeling blue this Valentine's Day, I would like to suggest you check out these 2 websites I have fallen in love with! I really wish these websites had existed when I was going through my breakup. Personally, I think contributing to these sites could be cathartic and healing.
I have to admit that I discovered this museum while watching The Bachelor, lol. I immediately looked it up and think it's absolutely brilliant!
"The Museum of Broken Relationships is a physical and virtual public space created with the sole purpose of treasuring and sharing your heartbreak stories and symbolic possessions. It is a museum about the ways we love and lose. Share a break-up story, or simply pin a break-up on the global map of broken hearts."
The museum is currently accepting submissions on their website for their upcoming book and next exhibit. You can annonomously contribute by sharing your story in 250 words and offering to send in an object the represents your broken relationship.
NEVER LIKED IT ANYWAY - The Ebay of Breakups
I can't believe I'd never heard about this website until I heard a short interview on the radio a couple weeks ago. The website is like an Ebay to sell your "breakup baggage." It's free to post an item, and I think their format is brilliant. You post a description of the item, the actual price of the item and the "breakup price," and then you write your "bounce back plan," where you describe how you plan to spend them money. Some people share that they would put the money towards a trip, their education, rent, etc.
However you choose to spend your day, take great care of yourself. Tell yourself you will be ok (because you will be) and trust that your heart is being prepared for greater love.
You've got this!
Natalia, "The Breakup Coach"