The Breakup Guide Part 1

I’m starting the breakup guide, a 3-post series for the lovers of the world who could use a virtual hug.

As you all know, my love life has been in shambles lately. Two months ago, B called off our wedding. It sucks, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m only mourning a relationship. Ben is no longer the person I fell in love with. And so I have my memories and my photographs, and everything else will move on and hopefully just get even better in time. I’ve been staying super busy, but also working in alone-days every now and again so I can get comfortable and content with my own company. I’m meeting new people, experiencing Amsterdam in a new light, and feeling incredibly independent. I wanted to get married, I wanted to spend my life with Ben. But now my life is going in a different direction, and I’m OK with that too.

THE BREAKUP GUIDE
So this morning it was raining cats and dogs . . . .

Literally, it looked like a monsoon outside, but I had a meeting at 8.30am in the office and couldn’t afford to wait it out. Quite unfortunate, when your main mode of transport is a bike! So what did I do? I put on my bikram yoga shorts, flip flops, and big LL Bean parka, packed some dry clothes in my backpack, and hit the road. The ride was glorious. I got completely drenched, I went through the biggest puddles and got sprayed by passing cars. But the whole time I was smiling. I felt prepared and accepted the fact that I was going to get WET, and I decided to have fun doing it. I didn’t try to stay dry, I embraced the rain.

And that’s how I’ve been approaching this breakup, and how I’ve been trying to approach life. Sometimes you really can’t control the swing of things, the way your story unfolds. But you can choose to make it a positive or a negative experience. Every time, the choice is yours.

I know first hand that breakups suck. They suck really, really bad. But you will get through it, and one week, one month, one year after the breakup, you will begin to realize beautiful and healthy changes within yourself. That’s not to say I could have done this alone. I’ve had a lot of help, from people, things, and experiences. And so I wanted to share some of these with you. Things that have helped me stay afloat over the past two months. I have 3 Breakup Guide posts planned, and for this first post, I would like to share with you:

10 Things To Help You Get Through a Breakup

1Family and friends are first on the list because they’re so very important. Chances are, if you spent the majority of your time with your significant other, you’re going to notice a hole. The person you talk to is gone, your Sunday coffee buddy is no longer there. There are going to be quiet moments, lonely moments, and sad moments. But friends and family can help make these moments happy. They can listen, give you great big bear hugs, and make you laugh. So reach out to old friends. Have long lunches or phone calls with your girlfriends. Enjoy sleepovers with your siblings, watch movies with your Mom, bake cookies with your Gramma, or go fishing with your Dad. Chances are, there are so many people in your life who are only a phone call away. You are not alone. And if you’re short on friends or family, put yourself out there! Make an effort to hang out with colleagues outside of the office. Invite coworkers out for a drink after work. Or sign up for a new club or sport. Truly, there are so many people out there who want to make a connection, make new friends, or simply enjoy life in the company of others. The more people you spend time with, the more love you will give, and in turn, the more love you will receive. If you feel short on love or connections, do sweet things for others. Give gifts, cards, flowers, pay a compliment, or treat a buddy to lunch. Doing kind things for others will make you feel great, and the universe has a habit of returning the kindness that we give.

Best Friends

2When Ben and I broke up, my girlfriend Melissa came over with 30 beautiful tulips. I didn’t have a vase big enough to hold them all, so mason jars and mugs were literally scattered all over my apartment, overflowing with tulips. My bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room and balcony were  packed with color and life. Flowers also smell fantastic. By surrounding yourself with life and brilliance, your mood will lift. The small joy flowers can bring will make a big difference. So pop on down to the farmers market and treat yourself to your favorite bouquet – sun flowers are especially cheerful this time of year!

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3When you go through a breakup, you’re literally establishing a new life. Everything you knew and found comfort in will change. So now is the time to make some small, positive changes and establish a new, better you. While I would advise against making any huge life-changing decisions right away, making smaller changes, like re-arranging the apartment, getting a haircut, or starting a new hobby will help establish a fresh perspective on your life. When I went home to the States, I bought a new wardrobe. I got new makeup, new shoes, and new yoga clothes. I bought a globe for my apartment, a record player, covers for my couches, and a stack of new cookbooks. I got my hair cut when I got back to Amsterdam, and I have been keeping up with my manicures and pedicures. I stocked the fridge with Pellegrino, and I have only been buying groceries from organic markets and stores. I put new art on the walls, started playing kickball, and trying out new restaurants for dinner. All of these small changes have made a BIG change in my attitude and happiness over the past few months. You can do this too! Buy new tea. Lean to sew. Take a foreign language course. There are so many little things you can do in your day-to-day life that will help establish a new you, and hopefully you will discover that new you is simply fantastic!

Ali Apartment

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When Ben and I first broke up, my stomach was upset ALL the time, and I could never sleep. Despite being sad, I still loved my body, and knew I shouldn’t neglect it. So I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of the most basic, high-calorie snacks available. Dried beef jerky, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, peanut butter, and canned salmon. These foods might sound basic and blah, but when you wake up at 3am because your stomach is growling and you’ve skipped the last four meals, you’re going to want to reach for something filling and fast. Even though I wasn’t eating a super well-rounded diet, I managed to get through my breakup without losing much weight, which has been a big problem for me in the past (I have the most nervous belly ever). Stock up on foods you love, that treat your body right, and that you can consume in a jiffy. Just because you feel sad, doesn’t mean you have to look sad!img_2534

5I thought I was going to get married on July 5th. When this was no longer a reality, I spoke to my mom and my best friend, Katie, in Maine, and asked them to make plans. My mom booked two mini-holidays within my trip home, and my best friend planned girl’s nights and bonfires. Every day held a new adventure, and there was so much to look forward to. Now that I’m back in Amsterdam, I’ve booked a few other small-ish holidays as well. I’m going to London in August, Paris in October, and maybe somewhere fun and exotic with my girlfriend Amie over my birthday. Just because you future is different doesn’t mean it has to be sad or scary. Fill it with plans and things you love, and give yourself some new, fantastic moments to look forward to!

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6Alone time can be hard to tackle when you’re newly single. So when I’m in the house by myelf, cooking dinner, doing laundry, or reading, I’m usually also jazzing out to some tunes. As mentioned, I have a new record player, and I’ve been jamming to the oldies – everything from The Smiths to Abba to Vivaldi – timeless artists that make you marvel at their sheer musical talent, not to mention dance around like a crazy monkey. Music is great for injecting some serious positivity into your day, so crank up the tunes and sing along. Stroll with your iPod, or go see a show. I guarentee the more music you listen to, the happier you will become :)

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7I’m about to totally geek out on you here, but because the olfactory bulb (neural structure responsible for smell) is part of the brain’s limbic system (an area closely associated with memory and feeling) smell has the power to call upon memories and strong emotional responses almost instantaneously. Now that you know this, you can use smell to your advantage, by surrounding yourself with happy, nostalgic scents and happy new fragrances. The girls at work gifted me with a happiness linen spray, at a home sale I bought new lavender bathroom spritz, and I’ve been waiting for my paycheck to arrive this month so I can head over to de Bijenkorf and buy a fancy scented candle for my living room. I’m introducing new fragrances into my life as this is the start of a new, exciting chapter. You can also use familiar scents to surround yourself with comfort – try baking your Gramma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, or buy the same laundry softener your parents use at home. Smell is a powerful sense, and has a mighty ability to enhance our mood.

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8
A week or two into my breakup, I started to feel really wilted. And I realized it was because no one was touching me on a daily basis. I do not mean this in a sexual way. . . . every morning before work B would kiss me goodbye, we would hold hands on walks, snuggle before bed, kiss goodnight, etc. I went from having hugs and affection on tap, to being completely cut off. I’d never felt this way before, and I think it was intensified because I live so far away from my family. There were no mom hugs to look forward to! I expressed this thought to a few people, and the response was the same every time – get a massage! So I booked myself into City Street Spa for a massage, facial, and manicure. It was such a lovely, relaxing evening, and I felt completely topped up physically afterwards. A massage will also help you feel completely refreshed and renewed.

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9As mentioned, I had a very hard time sleeping at night after my breakup. I’m not very good at sleeping in general (as a baby my parents used to just let me ‘cry it out’ – thanks Richard Ferber) so I’ve always experienced a sad sense of loneliness before bed. Now that I’m single, it’s intensified, and my thoughts seem to just race and race at night. I mentioned this to a girlfriend, and she came over with Sleepy Time Tea and melatonin, both which have greatly helped with my bedtime routine. I’ve also invested in new sheets, and have been watching Arrested Development like a nut case before I go to sleep (hello hilarious dreams!) If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are so many options. Try journaling before bed, buying cute pajamas, installing a sleep therapy sound app on your phone, meditating, or learning about dreams and how to control them at night.

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10When my girlfriend Amie came to visit over King’s Day, she left me with a tube of really nice BB cream. I threw it in the cabinet and didn’t really think about it, but after my breakup it became a daily staple. Previously I had been wearing Bare Minerals, but honestly, when my heart was smashed into a billion pieces, I didn’t really care about brushes or primers or mineral veils. I just needed to get to work and look half-decent, because I work in client services. So my morning routine consisted of getting out of bed, throwing on a cotton dress, washing my face, slathering on BB cream and hitting the road. You’ll want a simple morning routine if you’re not sleeping (those precious morning hours are priceless), and a great BB cream will cover puffy eyes and give you just enough confidence to get through the day.

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This list is just a simple start to the many things that have helped me over the past two months. Positivity and time are two other factors that are so, so important. Give yourself time to heal, to grow, and to process. Keep a positive outlook, and make an effort to surround yourself with people and things you love. Life is a crazy-winding journey, and although we cannot predict where it will go, we can give ourselves the best possible opportunity to make it through with a smile :)

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24 thoughts on “The Breakup Guide Part 1

  1. A fabulous post, Ali. I so admire your courage and inner strength. I could not do so well with this situation. Been there, did it and it was horrible. Be well!!

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  2. Hi, Ali. First time to introduce myself, and I’ve been following your blog for some time now. I just wanted to say how inspired I am by your blog and the way you’re dealing with such a great loss in your life. Although I’ve never experienced a break-up with a finance, I have experienced a break-up with a boyfriend who was deeply, deeply embedded in my life, and I know the pain that comes with needing to let go. I love your list! Especially the “Make new plans.” Be encouraged that your readers are thinking about you and empathizing with you! Cheers.

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    • Hi Sarah, thanks for introducing yourself and it’s nice to meet you :) your note is so sweet. I’ve said this to others who have commented on the blog before – but truly – hearing that many, many people (like yourself) have been in similar situations is so encouraging. not that I would wish this on anyone else, but knowing I’m not alone, and that life CAN and WILL get better is a sentiment I am so thankful to hear. I am truly trying to believe that there is a lesson in everything, and that if plan A doesn’t work out, there has to be a better plan B just waiting to happen :) x

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  3. Ali,

    Your post was great as always. I’ve tried taking Melatonin and it gives me wicked side effects. I have VIVID dreams. Like, so crazy that I’ve gotten into fights with people in my dreams and then when I saw them the next day at work I would think we were in a legitimate fight and they would have to ask me what the heck my problem was. I guess Melatonin decreases my ability to separate my dreams from reality! haha.

    Stay strong lady. :)

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    • thanks sweetie. that makes me laugh about your dreams!! I guess it is supposed to be one of the more ‘natural’ remedies, but then again, everything these days seems to have some kind of side effect. my mom used to have the same kind of vivid dreams when she quit smoking and was on the patch. I guess everyone is different – I haven’t noticed the vivid dreams yet, which is good considering reality is confusing enough these days!!

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  4. Great post, and a great way to not only channel your feelings but turn them into something positive, too! Plus it’s all great advice–I had a major falling out with some of my best friends about two years ago, and some of this list applies even to that situation and how to move forward.

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    • thank you Janelle! I think it’s the big sister in me, trying to make everything I experience into help for others :) it’s true – I think we are often in situations where we need or want to reinvent ourselves, whether it’s after a falling out with friends, a big move, a new job, etc. and need all the support and happiness from life we can get! X

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  5. That is one elaborate, and fascinating, HOW-TO post! It is reassuring to know that you are doing better, and that I would not miss out on my virtual Amsterdam adventure ( selfish world :P ).

    By the way, I do try controlling my dreams as well.. with little success though :)

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  6. That is one elaborate, and fascinating, HOW-TO post! It is reassuring to know that you are doing better, and that I would not miss out on my virtual Amsterdam adventure ( selfish world :P ).

    By the way, I do try controlling my dreams as well.. with little success though :)

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    • Ha, thank you!! It did get lengthy (so much so that I broke it down into 3 posts, so more to come!) Do you log your dreams to try to control them? That’s the part I am finding hard at the moment – waking up in the night to log dreams when I would much rather just be asleep ;)

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      • Absolutely! I wish I remember all of them, but of course I don’t. Is it even possible? :)

        Your posts are never ‘lengthy’. They are… detailed, if I may say so. And your readers, like me, adore you because they are so. I know I would never be able to do elaborate posts such as yours. So in a non-jealous kind of way, it is always a pleasure to read you.

        So, do what you always do. Click and elucidate in your own unique way :)

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  7. I’ve followed your blog for a bit and love your photos. I went through an incredibly painful breakup about 6 months ago. Although I thought I would never recover, it has slowly started happening for me. It seems like you’ve begun healing as well. I’m sorry you had to experience what you did, but hopefully you can continue to grow. Here’s to the future and hopefully much brighter things!

    -KP

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    • one thing that has really helped during this time is hearing from other people – their stories, their experiences. it gives me a lot of comfort to know people around the world are in a similar situation, and are actually doing pretty darn good! I’m glad to hear things are looking up for you as well. life has a funny way of teaching us lessons, and I truly hope we both look back someday and think ‘ah ha! that’s why this happened!’ Because you never know :) x

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  8. Hi Ali, it sounds like you are taking the time to be kind with yourself and surrounding yourself with a good support network. Wishing you all the best (and hope to see you and Ashley when you’re in Paris in October!) Lou xx

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  9. I am going through a tough and confusing breakup as well, and I just happen to stumble upon this and it has been truly inspiring! Your attitude is incredible and I feel a lot more positive after reading all your great tips. Thank you for such a great post!(:

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