Surviving a Break Up

Did s/he walk out days before your test date? How can you possibly focus on prep when everywhere you look is a reminder? It feels like crap. You feel like crap. It’s exhausting. (Please adapt pronouns “he” or “she” here to suit your situation.)

The angry voice in your head says: “He knows I’m focused on testing but he’s only thinking about himself! I should be happy to get rid of someone so selfish! Good thing I found out now. Selfish creep!”

Anger is a natural reaction to loss. Our impulse is anger because we feel powerless. Anger, we feel, will give us status again. Anger is a defense against what is perceived as betrayal. Then revenge follows, some sort of face-saving impulse comes up feeling a need to punish. And the way back to trust is a long road. It’s not pretty. 

The sad, sad voice in your head tells you that you need him, your life is empty without him. Every day stretches long and sad before you.

The truth is, we don’t need someone to make us happy. True happiness comes from within. But you know that. How can you get yourself back when you feel he took a part of you with him?

How can you speed up the healing or at least compartmentalize the pain to focus on testing?

Here’s what’s worked for me:

Spend a full day blowing out your emotions. Feel what you feel. Play all the music that makes you nuts. 

Go on, go nuts! Close your door. Scream, cry, dance! Let yourself feel what you feel. Let it out. 


Then wake up the next morning with the intention to be your ex’s friend. Yes! Trust me, it’s the only way. Tell him you understand that this form of relationship isn’t what he feels he needs right now. And that’s okay. You are both individuals with different needs. Tell him you’re feeling a little sad and that you’re vulnerable right now. Ask him to be kind. You give him what he needs, he gives you what you need. Tell him your goal is understanding. Peace. Friendship.

Understanding is the most loving action there is. Saying, “I don’t love you” is really saying, “I don’t understand you.” Be the mature one. Seek understanding. Give him time to understand himself.

When you find your mind distracted thinking about him, stop. Close your eyes and send out a prayer for him. Wish that he’s at peace. Wish that he finds true understanding.

And nurse yourself. Be your own best friend.

Focus on NOW for now. Increase your morning exercise time. Add a second meditation session to your day. Get a new haircut. Clean out your closet and put your best clothes upfront. Get dressed everyday in what makes you feel the most fabulous. Listen to upbeat music- no more angry or sad love songs. Try to stay off social media as much as possible until after test day. No matter how tempted you are to snoop at his social-media activity, just don’t. It will only make you crazy.

Realize you won’t get over this in a day. There will be days when you wake up crying. It happens and it can happen for a long time. What works for me is to simply allow it. Cry. And when the tears stop, what helps me is to remember that everyone has a limit when it comes to intimacy. This limit can expand as we get older, but right now your ex hit their limit. They need distance, they need space, their freedom at this moment is a higher priority to them than intimacy. They need more time to grow and that is all it is. Your ex might never get there. If they start a new relationship they’ll hit that limit again and either be challenged to grow or they’ll withdrawal again. There’s nothing we can do about it. Everyone is responsible for their own intimacy issues. I’ll cry when I cry. It won’t kill me. I’m not afraid of my feelings. My feelings show me my infinite capacity to love.

I also recognize that intimacy is tricky. We all have days when we need to disconnect and have some quiet, alone time with ourselves- “me days.” Everyone needs time to retreat, to rest and recharge. We need our alone time for insight and creativity. Some people need more of this than others. Give “me time” to yourself when you need it. When you are in a new intimate relationship, remember to respect your partner’s need for “me time” too without taking their withdrawal personally. 

Keep a picture of your future self in your mind, always. You are a healthy, vibrant, loving and lovable badass nurse. You’re so busy saving lives you hardly have time for all the potential lovers you’ll soon be meeting every day! When you decide you’re ready for intimacy again, and you feel ready to make room for love in your life, move over and sleep on one side of your bed, making room for love to sleep beside you. Then wait for the miracle to present itself. Miracles are everywhere. We just need to be in the right emotional place to see them. 

Ready to let your emotions rip? Here are some of my favorite break up recovery songs. What are yours?

This one works every time Ex Factor

My sad break-up favorite is Never Can Say Goodbye

And when I’m really pissed off, there’s no better song than You Oughta Know

The greatest full break-up album of all time, Beck’s Sea Change


 See also: “Relationships are hard, but why?”