How to not ruin my life post breakup
October 28, 2020 11:09 PM   Subscribe

Last time I ended a long term relationship it was a mutual decision. I still almost failed out of graduate school, wrecked my career path and was barely functional. Help me not do this again.

It appears that I'm on the bring of another mutually desired separation. I'm relieved, but also dreading the adjustment period. I hate grief and don't turn towards it comfortably. I can't lose my job. I can't stop parenting.

Important differences from the first situation and the current one: I'm in therapy now and wasn't before. I'm aware of what can happen with me during a breakup of a long relationship that I didn't know before. I've got a child now and didn't before. I'm ten years older and wiser. I've done some work to shift my coping with numbness, but now I tend to be overly sensitive and raw and that doesn't bode well for an adjustment period either. I am also going to be losing my main friend in the loss of the relationship, and won't have a lot of social support.
posted by crunchy potato to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Increased social support may help. Ask the friends/family you do have if they can devote some regular time to you for at least a few weeks. If that's inadequate, maybe increase the frequency of therapy, or hire a life coach type person if that's more viable. If you can think of an interesting project to distract yourself with post-breakup, ideally something that was harder to do while partnered, that will give you something to look forward to.
posted by metasarah at 5:48 AM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


I get the fear but you are in a totally different place in your life. So although I think you may experience pain and hurt, and there will undoubtably be tough grieving moments, there's no reason to assume you won't be functional.

I think preparing for grief can be just as bad as grief. But some practical things I would suggest:

- start an evening ritual that is comforting for yourself. Working your way through a favourite series or rereading a favourite series of books, or laying in a stack of mysteries/SF/whatever. Lay in your favourite warm drink, splurge on some really nice scented candles, purchase your favourite bubble bath/shower gel, get new pyjamas, get a new duvet or a snuggly throw.

- start a weekly family X night with your child whether that's ordering takeout or getting a rotisserie chicken or making those vaccuum sealed Indian packets or whatever comfort + easy meal works for you, and although screen time is up to you I highly recommend having it on the floor at a coffee table in front of a family movie or show that your child will enjoy and you can stand. This is kind of about retraining your rituals around your new smaller family unit.

- I remember how busy you are but I personally think a daily walk outdoors is the best when you have kids and are also moving adrenaline and grief through your body

- journal so that you keep in touch with your feelings - journaling is kind of one of the anti-numbing tools. When I was coping with a whack of feelings and a young child I used to do the daycare drop off, drive down the street to a parking lot, and sit there and write, sometimes REALLY ANGRY stuff, for ten minutes with a timer on, and then I would throw the journal in the glove comparment angrily and drive to work blaring music.

- Did I mention music?

- Start to plan some of the things you haven't been doing due to having a partner - maybe that's future post-Covid travel on a week he has your child, maybe it's redecorating a room, maybe it's moving the mugs from where he likes them to where you like them.

I think you have this. Hang in there.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:01 AM on October 29, 2020 [10 favorites]


This DBT workbook is filled with great excercises that help both immediately and more long-term. DBT is great for overwhleming emotions and grief-filled restlessness in my experience. Good luck.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 6:39 AM on October 29, 2020 [3 favorites]


tell yourself it's okay to feel GOOD about a breakup. Dont get trapped in what you think you should feel. Here are some of the wonderful things that will get to fill your headspace once the ever-fatiguing trying-to-make-it-work crap is finally dumped out:

1. first kisses again, butterflies, crushes with hope
2. solitude - a whole bed to yourself
3. the freedom just to BE without being yolked to someone else's BEING for social rather than heartfelt reasons ... you get to look forward to heartfelt exploration of social relationships again
4. getting to know yourself again
5. opportunities, mobility, freedom of absolute self-expression - god the list goes on

by the time I finally left it was like walking into fresh air. Maybe it can be like that for you too.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 7:20 AM on October 29, 2020 [11 favorites]


To build on the DBT workbook mentioned above, I've used this ACT workbook (they're closely related) for the last ~2 years. It was an incredible tool for me, someone who had never done this kind of inward-looking series of exercises in my life, and it led me to therapy, too. When I was going through my roughest patches*, I was even bringing this workbook along with me on work trips. Highly recommended.

ACT seemed to be more... practical? to me than DBT. There's a lot of focus on the relational/associational nature of language and cognition, and once I'd gotten a handle on the foundation that ACT builds up to then base its stepwise interventions and tasks upon the process felt very fluid, iterative, and straightforward. The whole endeavor can feel a bit weird, but the workbook and ACT in general acknowledge that this stuff can seem weird at the same time that it's backed by mountains of evidence and clinical study. Really fascinating stuff.

*See post history for context, if you need it, but your help me not do this resonates.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:03 AM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


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