Here's a place to talk about the relationships in your life whenever you want.
Age of Heartbreak: 25
Length of Relationship: 2 ½ years
Usually, I operate under the daily mantra of ‘one day at a time’. But dealing with the quarter-life crisis blues on top of a heartbreak, I classified myself as barely getting through some days.
I packed up my suitcase and moved across the country to Los Angeles, California because the distance from him was one of my top priorities. Distance from him and everything about him! During that dark and difficult time, I had to remind myself that just like everything else, this will require some time to heal. I remember getting into the shower and just crying. I didn’t like how heartbreak made me feel and I needed to give myself the space to get it out. As tears fell from my face, I found myself crying out to God asking him to take away the hurt. And in those moments, it dawned on me, I had stopped loving myself.
I was so unmotivated, I lost my self-worth and ended up falling into a huge pit of despair. Self-care was the best medicine for me. I picked myself up off the floor of the shower and told myself that I had to get back to loving me. I started meditating, competing in pageants, and taking the time needed to strengthen my self-worth.
I had to remember that there is a reason for everything and that nothing will be taken away without being replaced with something much better. After some time, distance, and a whole lot of self-care, I was reminded of my worth and was on a path to complete wholeness. Only then was I introduced to a handsome man who only a few years later, became my husband.
Age: 28Age of Heartbreak: 26
Experiencing a heartbreak and actually coming to terms with it are two separate feelings that hurt just the same. Interestingly enough though, through this heartbreak I endured, God revealed to me my own heart. Breaking away the layers so He could have unfiltered access to purify it. Some advice I would give to those looking to grow through the pain would be the following:
Practical steps:1. Cut all communication and social followings.2. Remove physical memories (gifts, etc.)3. Find new ways to enjoy your "me-time". Travel. Learn an instrument. Take up a hobby, etc.
Emotional steps:1. Be honest with yourself. It's ok to hurt. It's OK to not be OK.2. Be honest with other people. Don't let others pressure you into jumping back into the dating scene prematurely.3. Take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them, but don't ruminate over what could have been.4. Don't be bitter. Your life doesn't stop and neither does theirs. They will move on. And so will you.
Age: 37Age of Heartbreak: 37Length of Relationship: 8 years
People say your heart heals in time, but I figured out it could not heal by itself. As he tried to repair our relationship, I was repairing a relationship as well, but it was with myself. I was always happy and upbeat. I was always the one to find the brighter side out of any situation. I wondered where that optimistic person went. He attempted to make me fall in love with him again, but I chose to fall in love with myself. I figured out that there was no way I could heal if I didn’t love, forgive and stop blaming myself.
By remembering why I smiled before loving another, my healing process began. I started doing the things that brought me internal joy. I took on more hobbies and spent more time with the people who truly loved me. I started journaling my journey, so I could express myself and track my progress. Writing has always served as a way to capture thoughts and memories, but it can also serve as a way to let out emotions. Almost 4 years later I look back on the words that fill the journal pages, and instead of hurt and pain, I feel a sense of growth. Over the years, I discovered how to appreciate everything about me, I discovered it is OK to smile again. I discovered it is okay to walk away, forgive, and start over.
Age: 28Age of Heartbreak: 18
The biggest heartbreak that God had to heal for me was the passing of my father. I shared the perfect love with my father, and when I was 18, he passed of Lung Cancer. Unintentional heartbreaks are the hardest to mend because there isn’t any closure to follow.
I was in my freshman year of college when my dad was called to Heaven. I felt as if there were only two ways to cope: cry and mope or party and drink. I decided to party and drink, which was a mistake. I did this for almost an entire year. Throughout the year, God was constantly trying to mend by heart, but I wasn’t ready to heal. I thought healing meant to forget my dad and move on, and I wasn’t ready.
However, I had family and a community of friends who were committed to fight for me in prayer. I remember drunk calling my mom one night. I was crying and my head was hurting, but not as much as my heart. My head was hurting, but not as much as much as my heart. Two things happened that night: my mom gave me a tongue lashing that I will never forget, and my friends took my phone and formed a prayer circle around me. I don’t know if they were praying for my brokenness or grieving for me after that call with my mom!
Today, I can thankfully say that God restored my heart. Through time, prayer, and a community, I was able to change my name from victim to victor. I started a clothing line — xJ Apparel — in honor of my dad. The name stands for Jesus is the Prescription because He was definitely my prescription in my time of need. I was taught that life is what you make it, and I know my dad would want me to make the best of it!
Age: 27Age of Heartbreak: 23Length of Relationship: 3 years
After three years of on-and-off again craziness, I decided to breakup with my boyfriend. I was 23 at the time and now at 27, I can easily say that ending that relationship was absolutely one of the best decisions I made. It was a tough one at the time, but in hindsight, it was so necessary.
I was always so ambitious and towards the end of our relationship, I graduated college and started getting into doing what I love. I was making more connections, working at a public relations agency, and expanding my network. He wasn’t feeling that. At all. He was constantly putting me down, doubting me, and discouraging me. There was so much I wanted to do and all I wanted was his support. When we finally called it quits, I was sad and a little lost, but I knew I was ready to put 1,000% of my into “making my dreams come true.” Once I started to do that and listen to God, doors started to open. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s so real. And, that’s been the foundation of my life for the last four years.
To get over my heartbreak, I challenged my energy into doing things that I love, creating more authentic relationships, and building my business. I stopped focusing on his absence and started focusing on my future. Of course, it was difficult in the beginning, but deep down, I knew he wasn’t for me because I knew I was meant for much more.
And I found more. I found myself.
Age: 28Age of Heartbreak: 26Length of Relationship: 1 ½ years
Going through a heartbreak is never easy. No matter how much advice anyone can give you, when you’re in it at the time, it all seems like it’s irrelevant and that no one can quite possibly relate to what you’re going through in that moment. I know what I’m about to say is sort of cliché, but the best advice that I can give for someone looking to overcome heartache would be to find yourself in God.
When I got my heartbroken a few years ago, I went through a really deep depression. I’ll never fully discuss the relationship, but what I can say is that it left me feeling extremely inadequate. It wasn’t the length of time I had put in that made me sad or feeling like that; it was the fact that I felt as if I had lost my best friend and my identity all at one time. I wept; I became discouraged, and I questioned who I was and whether I was good enough more than I probably should have. Now, looking back, I know that those things are1 OK because it helped me find what God needed me to find: myself.
By finding myself in God, I was able to really see that my purpose in life is not determined or defined by anyone else. I found more ways to use and express the gifts that I have been blessed with, got focused on my physical health more, and decided to put my best energy into all of the positive things that were coming my way. Surround yourself around a community of positive women and men, get a strong group of friends who will pray for you, with you and over you, and surround yourself with those who encourage you to be your best self. Find your strength and take it back.
Everyone will tell you, “you’ll be alright” when you’re going through it, but do you honestly believe it? That’s the key to getting over it.
Age: 26Age of Heartbreak: 20Length of Relationship: 8 years
I packaged my trust, friendship and heart and unknowingly handed it to the heartbreak of my life. He wasn’t ready for a relationship so I settled for a friendship-part-relationship that silently screamed “I’m here.”
He spent the next eight years interrupting my life with reminders of how “one of a kind” our love really was, despite any commitment. Ignoring my family’s warnings, we attempted a relationship. We were on a euphoric high from having discussions about moving in together to drafting up a mock wedding guest list until it was exposed that he was cheating on me. Using love as an excuse, I approached him with another chance to act in accordance with his words and he instead took this opportunity to return my package containing my heart, friendship and trust explaining that he no longer wanted any of it despite its availability.
I spent the next few months questioning myself as I desperately searched for an unknown “problem” that explained why I was never enough. This time was spent in solitude as my pride wouldn’t allow me to present a disheveled version of myself to the world. I wholeheartedly focused on me as I searched for peace and understanding, noticeably separating myself from the outside world. During this “me” time, I found a new career that aligned with my goals so I engulfed myself in my work staying productively busy. I chose to spend this healing time alone rummaging through old memories, writing them down as what I remembered them to be, and then comparing them to the ever disagreeing multiple screenshots taken during those moments. We are constantly rewriting old memories to read the way we want them to in the present, so after replaying the years I spent waiting on someone who would never show up, I now understand that we all have “problems,” but most of them are personality traits. The trick isn’t to change yourself, but to instead find someone who views your “problems” as a solution to theirs.
Age: 35Age of Heartbreak: 27Length of Relationship: 5 years
I was in my last semester of college and had just gotten my dream job in radio. My ex and I were talking marriage, so everything was going exactly how I wanted it to be. Then, one Friday morning while I was dropping him off at work, he says to me, “I can’t do this.” Confused on what he was talking about, I said, ‘Do what? Go to work?’ He then responded to me, “No, this relationship,” and gets out of the car to walk into to work. It felt like I was punched in the gut.
We argued about his statement the entire weekend and on Sunday night, I told him that I didn’t accept his breaking up with me. I told him to take a minute to sort out whatever quarter life crisis issues he was dealing with, but the only way I would accept us breaking up is if he didn’t love me anymore. He paused for what felt like an hour and then said with tears rolling down his face that he didn’t love me. The only pain I felt that was close to this feeling was when my dad passed.
I was a mess for about two years. I went through counseling, took medication for anxiety, and dated every loser that looked at me. I was completely broken. But, the one thing that got me through it all was dedicating my life back to Christ. The Lord gave me 100 chances to end that relationship, but my pride and fear of starting over wouldn’t let me. God made it to where the relationship had to leave me. Not every situation we want is for us, and I thank God for saving me from an even bigger heartbreak down the line. I discovered that God’s will for my life is far better than mine, and for that, I’m thankful.
Age: 36Age of Heartbreak: 34Length of Relationship: 4 years
Four years ago, a chance encounter at the Atlanta airport changed my life. I met and soon after fell in love with the man who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. Unfortunately, that's not the way our story ended. In June 2014, after a nasty and hurtful argument, I decided to end our relationship. It was by far one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my life, but I had to choose myself and my own well-being.
The day after I called my mom and without much hesitation, I declared that I was moving. I let go of everything, including the idea that my life had to look a certain way and that I had to keep pace with friends and peers who were experiencing major life milestones, like marriage and family. I let it all go and began my Year of Me – loosely mirrored after Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes.
For all of 2015, I lived my life exactly how I wanted and took care of myself – which is what I had lost in my relationship. Here’s what it looked like for me:Exercise – Every chance I got, I went outside to breathe fresh air and work out. A short 15-minute walk was just enough to clear my head.
Journaling: I wrote all my feelings down in a journal, the anger, the pain, the disappointment. Writing those emotions down on paper got them out of my spirit.
Meditating: I used two really easy apps (Mindspace and Oprah & Deepak's 21-day meditation experience) and took 10 minutes each morning to be still and silent. In addition to journaling, meditation helped me release he negative emotions I was holding on to.
Travel – I traveled to different states, even different countries, and met a lot of really great people. Being in new environments helped me put into perspective that life would go on.
This post originally appeared on essence.com: 9 Women Get Real About How They Overcame Relationship Heartbreak