So what now?
This is the second part of the series. Haven’t read Part One yet? Click here.
Okay, so you pulled up your reindeer-print socks, you got into the Christmas spirit (cabinet), you surrounded yourself with awesome friends and family until Boxing Day — perhaps you even scored a cheeky kiss on New Year’s Eve. But what now? Everyone feels a lull after festive celebrations, and it’s not just the sugar comedown.
You pour all that energy into buying presents, preparing food, meeting with friends… there’s all the excitement and build-up and cheer and organised fun and then – it stops. Back to reality.
Grey skies, if you’re in the Northern hemisphere. January, stretching out before you. Pretty much everyone is starting to feel a bit “meh”. If you’re preparing to start your first year in a long time as a singleton, it can feel rough.
So how do you stop yourself sinking back down into despair? How do you make sure you don’t undo any progress you’ve made over the Christmas period to get yourself in a better headspace?
Don’t lose momentum
To feel strong, vital and in control, you need to be active.
Inaction is a very, very common problem after a breakup or a divorce. You sink into a passive state and you wait for things to change. You wait to feel better. You wait for the pain to pass. You wait to want to do things again. You wait for your ex to realize their mistake. You wait for someone to fix you. You wait for a new perfect partner to come along.
It doesn’t work. The longer you wait, the more stagnant and helpless you become. The more your emotions will crystallize. The more “dead” you feel inside. You need to take the reins and turn the situation around for yourself.
Start by making yourself a New Year resolution that will actually help you to start healing.
Resolve to let go of your suffering.
If you’re totally honest with yourself, is there a teeny – or not so teeny – part of you that’s actually clinging on to the pain your feeling? If so, why? Ask yourself: what do I actually get out of being in this situation? What’s the upside?
For example, are you using your pain to get away with being downright lazy, or avoiding responsibility? Does it give you a free pass to sleep all day, drink too much, eat whatever you want? Or maybe it’s putting you at the centre of attention, and you’re getting pity and sympathy from your friends?
Do you get to feel righteous because everyone has damned your ex as a terrible person that’s totally in the wrong?
Is there something a bit intoxicating about the moral high ground? Is part of you enjoying the drama? Or are you frightened to death of what you’ll feel when you stop feeling all this anguish? Give points and examples for each of these, if you suspect they might apply.
Be as honest with yourself as you possibly can, even if it hurts. Even if it makes you feel embarrassed. Even if it undermines your narrative as the helpless, wronged victim in the situation. Even if it means you might have to drag yourself off the sofa, do things you’d rather avoid doing, and start taking responsibility for your own emotional state.
Work it out
Take a good look at how the choices you make to be passive are actually hurting you. Write down how your wallowing state is negatively impacting your life.
What are you losing, or missing out on, by hiding away and feeling miserable?
How does letting the spectre of your ex dominate your thoughts hem you in and stop you from doing what you want? How is the constant need to have friends comfort you and feel sorry for you putting strain on your relationships? What is the cost to your health, to your career, to your vitality and well-being? What is the cost to your future love life and the chance of you meeting anyone else?
Scared yourself enough yet? Good, because it’s time to knock this wallowing on the head.
A call to action
For each negative impact you’re listed, think of an action that could counter it. Think of a positive action you can take that will give you a sense of purpose, and that will help you grow. Think of an action that lets you know how vital you are, connects you to others, and gets you as far away from that sofa as possible.
Perhaps you’re going to start running again. Perhaps you’re going to make sure you see friends for drinks or dinner twice a week, come hell or high water. Perhaps, for a little while at least, you’re going to ban any mention of your ex from conversation and focus on your friends’ problems instead.
Start small: that’s fine. Set attainable goals – but once you have, force yourself to work towards them.
When you feel yourself starting to slide, go back to the list you made and ask yourself why you’re drifting back to a self-pitying, self-damaging state. Get yourself back on the right track. The point is that you’re replacing passivity with ACTION.
Action breeds more action. It’s not a race. For now, you just have to set yourself on the right track. Once you start putting one foot in front of the other, it will get easier with every step.