Years ago, I was talking with a guy friend (let's call him Mitch). I was going through a heart-wrenching breakup at the time and I decided to ask him for his best advice on how to deal with it.
"So, how do you get over a breakup?" I asked my friend.
"You just do," he replied nonchalantly.
"What do you mean? 'You just do,' I questioned, "How do you get over it?"
I was bewildered. I wanted action steps, a practical "how to" approach. Something.
But he had nothing to give me.
Thankfully, over the months that followed my baffling conversation with Mitch, I was able to find other avenues for healing my breakup blues.
I scoured the Bible, God's words of life and wisdom, to find out about comfort and heart healing. I camped in the Psalms for a while and found in David a comrade. He poured his heart out to God about his trials and then looked up and worshipped Him.
Often during that tough time, I would say, "I do not understand, Lord, but I will trust you."
I talked to my female friends. I went to a Christian counselor. I listened to praise music and went for walks in the woods talking with the Lord.
And…I found answers.
The good news is that God redeems loss and pain and heals the heart to love again.
It takes time to get over a breakup, to be sure. It also takes lots of prayer and telling yourself the truth—about your situation, about the other person, and about yourself, but healing eventually comes.
Sure, it's not easy to deal with rejection and other myriad emotions that come from being dumped—or dumping someone else—but it is possible.
After all of my own horrible breakups, I've learned some helpful wisdom and was able to heal and move forward, In the process, I wrote a book called "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" (Moody Publishers) that helps you through all of the stages of breakup pain. It also gives you what you need to know for your new beginning.
This hard-won wisdom, forged in the dark times of emotional pain, will help to lead you back into the light. The book follows the cycle of a day—twilight, night, dawn and day—as a metaphor for the healing process.
Twilight is a time of endings. The sun is setting on your hopes and dreams of a future with this person. Yet how you deal with endings (or don't) will determine the quality of your future love relationships.
Night is the dark time; you are grieving your losses. You've lost love, friendship, physical touch, and more. Thankfully, God provides "night lights" in the darkness, like His comfort, wisdom and love to guide the way back to joy and new beginnings.
Dawn is symbolic of awakening. Just as the first fingers of morning inch across the horizon shining sunlight on a new day, hope awakens in your heart healing journey. You begin to learn how God redeems losses and restores brokenness. You discover your true identity as a dearly-loved child of God. You regain confidence. You start to wake up again.
Day is your path to a new beginning. You find that letting go of the past is truly possible. It's time to move forward into your future. You come alive and remember things you've forgotten or put aside like: gratitude, friendships and maybe even living your dreams. Radiance has returned, and with the light of Christ in you, you are ready to be a light to the world.
I will share with you inspiration from each of those four sections in four blog posts on the Living Single Blog this week. Each post will be a different aspect on the "how to get over a breakup" topic.
So, let's get started…
In the first days and weeks after a breakup, it's important to stabilize the situation, get the comfort and support you need and begin to grieve your losses.
Stabilize the situation.
Breakups are painful because something has been broken: your precious heart. Like a physical injury, an emotional wound needs care and recovery time.
You need to protect your broken heart just as you would protect a broken arm. If you broke your arm, you'd immediately rush to the hospital and get a cast. Why? Because a cast protects the area from further injury and it allows the healing and repairing process to begin.
With a broken heart, you also need protection in order to stabilize the situation. A heart boundary or healthy emotional wall is needed for a time and for a purpose.
That means, separating from the source of pain (being away from the person you just broke up with) so you can prevent further injury and begin the healing process.
It can be extremely difficult not to communicate with him or her, but it will be easier to heal in the end.
You may be tempted to reach out to him or her and connect because that's what you're used to—it's comfortable and familiar—but your goal here is not connecting, it's disconnecting. It feels awful and lonely and different. But that's just part of the process.
Of course, every situation is different. I'm not saying that you have to cut off all contact completely or forever. Some women I know have been able to be friends with people they've dated, but not right away. A time of separation is essential if you are ever going to have a platonic friendship in the future.
Breakups can be complicated, and you may need to have a few talks to get to the finale. But use wisdom and discretion. Hard as it can be, I've found that being away from the other person completely, at least initially, was more healing in the long run than the slow hanging-on-to-fragments-of-what's-left relationship death.
Pray about it and ask God how to best tie up the loose ends of your ending.
Here's some good news: When a broken bone is healed, it grows back even stronger. In the same way that a cast on a broken arm is for a time and a purpose, healing the emotional wreckage of your breakup is also for a season.
You won't be in this painful place forever.
And your heart may grow back even stronger.
As your Breakup Recovery Coach, I'm proud of you for taking the first steps in this journey from darkness to light—from sadness and anger back into freedom, peace and joy.
There are better days ahead. It's time for your heart healing journey to begin.