The Beauty of Letting Go: Five Ways to Move on

The days following the end of a real romance are anything but pretty—they are, at best, sloppy.  As those long days of to-call-or-not-to-call, or in some cases, to-stalk-or-not-to-stalk linger by, months begin to pile up and before you know it, your life has transformed  into the black abyss that was once a happy little union.  Clinging to the past like your security blanket doesn’t help—it only hinders you from reaching the inevitable truth, that truth you have been trying so desperately to conceal: it’s over. 

But life is not over.  Take it from me—while I thought the break-up of a six-year relationship was by far the worst experience of my young adult life, I was wrong.  It was actually the best.  Yes, you read that correctly—BEST.  I’ve learned so many life lessons and have blossomed into an entirely new and stronger person.  The result of my break-up? I found the woman who was always trying to make her voice heard in a room full of chaos.  And damn, did I like her voice.  So ladies, take my advice and pucker up because it’s time to use those pretty lips to kiss the past goodbye.


 1.  Please check all that apply…

Throw out your lists.  Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.  When I was freshly single, two of my closest girlfriends gave me some, well, shaky advice.  “Make a list of everything you want in a man,” BFF1 told me.  “Yeah, as soon as I did that, I met Mr. Right, right away,” BFF2 divulged.  Desperate, I took their advice.  While I know their hearts were in the right place, their advice didn’t fit—it was all too contrived to me.  Like a magic potion I can write down all the things I want in my next Mr. Maybe (?) and conjure up the perfect man?  I opted to make perfect bite-sized gingerbread men and called it a night.  (And by the way, my Mr. Gingerbread Man had a killer body, but I digress.)

Love isn’t as easy as kissing a frog or drafting a cookie-cutter stencil for your next Mr. Hopeful to fit into… it’s, well, work.  The man who can live up to those standards of perfection is just an illusion.  No human can fit snugly into a perfect little package (except of course Mr. Gingerbread) and who would want someone to?  Without a few flaws and some scars from the Ghost of Relationships Past, no person is interesting or has a story to share.  And I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to meet the man who can tell an amazing story.

“This was when I learned that you have to give up your life as you know it to get a new one: that sometimes you need to let go of everything you’re clinging to and start over, whether because you’ve outgrown it or because it’s not working anymore, or because it was wrong for you in the first place.” –Kelly Cutrone

 2.  Purge, Purge, Purge

That’s right, it’s time for a cleanse… and not those hokey diets—a real cleansing of the soul.  Rid yourself of any attachment—cutesy pictures, love letters, mementos—you name it, get rid of it.  These items are just a ball-and-chain, holding you back from living your life in the present. 

Forget Memory Lane—it’s cracked and bumpy anyways.  Make new memories that refresh your soul and give your heart a little healing action.  Your heart may always carry those memories of your past relationship, but it’s important to remember that they are, indeed, memories.  Don’t allow your past to control the here and now. 

We all have those treasured items that seem too delicate to part with—so box them up!  It’s moving time!  Haul those trinkets to their new home, the attic, and shelf them with the past.

3.  Forgive… yourself

Take it from me, it’s easy to play the blame game following a messy break-up.  Following the end of an abusive and toxic relationship, I was angry–livid, in fact.  Not only was I discarded like yesterday’s gossip mag, but I was blamed, berated and emotionally attacked.  I was spent and I was a vanishing shadow of the girl I once knew.  

The first person a victim of abuse blames is herself (or himself).  And I became the target of my own hateful thoughts.  Why did you screw up so badly, Jordan?  And once you realize it wasn’t you who tainted the relationship, it was the other party, you blame yourself for failing to realize it sooner.  Why did I waste my six years with an abuser– a mentally sick human? 

It has taken me one year of my precious time to discover that I couldn’t blame that little girl anymore.  She was 16 and bright-eyed and in love.  She didn’t know the truth just yet.  Sometimes, in situations of pain and trauma, forgiveness for the perpetrator may never truly come.  Acceptance of who he was and how he hurt me came, but forgiveness was another story.  I have, however, learned to forgive and heal myself, by myself.  In my situation, I was targeted by a Narcissist.  While it has been decreasing in occurrence, days and times still flow by in which I find myself angry–so angry at him.  And such a feeling can be offset by the smallest triggers.  It is in those moments I remember to give myself the love I deserve and the emotional break I need.  I loved him with all my heart—where’s the blame in that?

4.  Disconnected…and it feels so good

In a status-updating, tweeting world, we stay connected.  While I strongly believe all is fair in love and war, airing dirty laundry via Facebook isn’t necessarily the way to go.  To stay in contact, especially during the post-break-up period is playing with fire.  Emotions are running too strong. Sensitivity and knee-jerk reactions override sensibility.  The only way to remain connected with your needs is to remain disconnected with the negativity that is your past relationship.  Ditch the drama and de-friend. 

Be your own best friend and boyfriend.  Ask yourself, in this time what do I want, what do I need?  You’re free—you’re no longer a half of an imperfect, toxic equation.  Allow yourself time to defuse on your own.  Gaining back independence is crucial during this time and allowing yourself to reengage with your own needs and desires reacquaints yourself with youAnd you are the only one who matters.

Remember, loneliness isn’t nature’s equivalent to failure… it’s part of the human experience.  If you find yourself a little lost and loney, it’s perfectly fine, it just means you’re human.

“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”  –Elizabeth Gilbert

5.  Check your ego at the door… and start loving yourself

Perhaps one of the strongest, most powerful influences during my, shall we say Black Period, was Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love.”  From time to time I still find myself consulting this piece for salvation and upbeat advice.  From a painful (and drawn-out) divorce, to break ups and make-ups with a hot, young rebound, to watching her life savings slip through her fingers, Gilbert experienced it all during her Black Period.  As we transition from half of the happy little couple to single-party-of-one, we all turn to different avenues of coping, and for me it was yoga and meditation.  Here, Gilbert talks to her friend Richard and describes her battle with calming her mind during meditation… and silencing her ego:

“All I seem to do is argue with myself when I try to meditate.” (Gilbert)

“That’s just your ego, trying to make sure it stays in charge.  This is what your ego does.  It keeps you feeling separate, keeps you with a sense of duality, tries to convince you that you’re flawed and broken and alone instead of whole.” (Richard)

“But how does that serve me?”

“It doesn’t serve you.  Your ego’s job isn’t to serve you.  Its only job is to keep itself in power.  And right now, your ego’s scared to death cuz it’s about to get downsized.  You keep up this spiritual path, baby, and that bad boy’s days are numbered.  Pretty soon your ego will be out of work, and you heart’ll be making all the decisions.  So your ego’s fighting for its life, playing with your mind, trying to assert its authority, trying to keep you cornered in a holding pen away from the rest of the universe.  Don’t listen to it.”

“How do you not listen to it?”

“Ever try to take a toy away from a toddler?  They don’t like that, do they?  They start kicking and screaming.  Best way to take a toy away from a toddler is distract the kid, give him something else to play with.  Divert his attention.  Instead of trying to forcefully take thoughts out of your mind, give your mind something better to play with.  Something healthier.”

“Like what?”

“Like love.  Like pure divine love.”

2 Responses to “The Beauty of Letting Go: Five Ways to Move on”
  1. Amber says:

    Nice job. I wish more women (not even just young women-though you are ahead of the game with your thinking and attitude!) Would think like this!!! Life is not over because you don’t have a boy! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. jordanleah says:

    Thanks Amber, that’s so refreshing to hear! Thanks for reading 🙂

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