Once upon a time, I was in a five-year relationship. There were good times and bad times, but overall—it was just a lot of time. A lot of shared experiences—a lot of shared life.
When we went our separate ways, I was devastated. But more than anything I was so incredibly lost. I didn’t know what to do with my time. I didn’t even know what I liked to do. I had no idea who I was apart from him.
I wasn’t exactly a fan of feeling my emotional pain, and all I really wanted to do was fast-forward to the next “good part” of life. In my mind, that was either us getting back together or me finding the right Mr. Right. However, after a few bumps and bruises (which felt more like broken limbs), I decided I would give the old “healing process” a try.
At first, I took it minute by excruciating minute. But those minutes eventually turned into days. Days turned into weeks, which led into months, and the random crying fits over hearing one of our songs or recalling a past promise began to lessen. I started having longer spans of time when I was just okay: smiling, laughing, and then—truly living. That’s when I discovered the beauty of the healing process.
Here are 5 big lessons I learned through breaking up and walking through the healing process:
1. It’s not always lonely to be alone.
When I was in a relationship, I filled all of my spare time with him and what he liked to do. When we broke up, I realized I literally had no idea what to do with myself when I was alone. After a while, I discovered that I actually enjoyed my free time. I like to paint my nails while I watch a movie. I like to read a book in a quiet room. I like to wander around the mall and shop a little bit. I love to go for long walks and listen to some good music or an encouraging podcast. I simply enjoyed being me, and I discovered that being alone can be incredibly refreshing.
2. Making your own decisions is fun.
I was never used to having complete control over the radio or TV, and I honestly never really cared. I was happy to go with the flow. I never felt discontent with his selections, but when it came down to me choosing for myself, I had no idea what I wanted to listen to or watch…bizarre, I know. What I found out was that I actually do like classic rock, with or without his influence. On the contrary, I never turned on the country station when he was out of the picture. These are such silly, little things to learn about yourself, but I found it quite fun. I liked thinking for myself, and I really liked discovering myself.
3. You just might surprise yourself.
Who knew I had an adventurous streak? I always considered myself laid back and was content with the status-quo. And I was—until I had the free time to discover that I have an appetite for travel and exploration. All of a sudden, the world seemed bigger, not scarier. Should I fly out to Colorado in the fall and go hiking with my bestie from college? Why not! Should I take that trip to Haiti and help serve others? Sign me up! Should I join that club of like-minded people and show up to the first meeting all alone? Yes, I can do it! I liked stepping out of my comfort zone and watching courage displace my fears.
4. Life is full of some pretty great people.
While walking through the healing process, I leaned on my friends and family in ways I never had before the breakup. I talked about the thoughts that swirled around in my mind and how they hurt my heart. I let the people I trusted in, allowed them to speak into the mess, and I realized that I had a whole lot more love in my life than I ever knew was there—with or without a significant other. Overall, my relationships deepened, and so did I.
5. I like me!
This was honestly a new concept for me. Because I took the time to consider what I enjoyed, explore my interests, meet new people, and invest in my relationships, I felt like an interesting person! Self-discovery led to self-development, and I enjoyed the growth process.
The years I spent as a single woman were so sweet and truly very exciting! Once I got through the pain, it was like a door opened up to a whole new world.
When you give yourself time to heal, you begin to see what you’re really made of. At first, it might be a rude awakening, like it was for me. I didn’t really like what I saw inside. In fact, I felt like there really wasn’t much substance at all. But, if you choose to walk through the pain rather than around it, you will amaze yourself. You will watch yourself become stronger, braver, kinder, and more independent every single day. You will grow as a person, and you will be so proud of who you’re becoming: a strong woman.
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Check out this episode of our podcast, This Grit and Grace Life: Regret: All the Ways It Can Actually Serve You – 058