F*ck him is the first thing I thought when I woke up to the unfamiliar feeling of being alone in my bed. Through an underlying sense of loss and immobilizing sadness, I felt a motivating sense of survival. I had a plan in mind to muffle my tears and fuel my anger. The day after the split I concentrated on one thing – get rid of any evidence of his existence.
Unfortunately, my plan relied on his ability to remove his personal items – not an easy thing for him to do when he hadn’t found a permanent residence yet. Once I accepted the fact that his trophies, shirts, and favorite snacks would be a semi-permanent part of my apartment over the next couple of days, I could move on to other controllable logistics of continuing my life solo.
Before I go further, I want to clarify a couple of things. I realize that many of us go through similar emotions but in different orders. Also, keep in mind that my emotions were not constant. However, for the sake of these posts, I will be grouping them by specific emotions that seemed to be the largest trending of the week.
For me, the first week post break up was fueled by emotions of anger and empowerment. I was Beyonce and he was replaceable. I think I may have even put some of his belongings in “a box to the left” ;).
I could feel the fire inside of me, and I used this to my advantage. There are a lot of logistics that go into transitioning from “us” to “me.” I am giving by nature. I tend to invest myself in the other person. For the first week, that girl was gone. I had tunnel vision towards my end goal – become independent and start moving forward. I decided to put myself first and try to ignore the part of me that still wanted to be accommodating to all of his needs. I took a number of steps to turn “our place” into “my place” in a matter of days.
Step 1: I set boundaries.
Many people will let their ex stay in the same living space out of empathy or guilt. My suggestion, don’t let those feelings overcome you. Allowing yourself to move forward is imperative to thriving during the next month. The healing process will be stunted if you continue to live together. I set up a day and a time for him to come over and remove his personal belongings and decide who would take what of our furniture, etc. I felt more at ease knowing when he would be there so I could mentally prepare myself to see him. Having a specific time frame of how long his items would still be in the apartment gave me a sense of comfort and stability.
Step 2: I got my finances in order.
Depending on if or how you shared financial burdens, this may or may not apply to your situation. However, this can be relevant to many types of loss – losing or switching jobs, a death, medical issues, or a break up. Financials will change. Everything will be okay, as long as you have a plan. Budget out your expenses and how you’re going to afford them now and in the future. I used an excel spreadsheet but you can also use helpful apps like Mint. One of my plans of action – find a new roommate.
Step 3: I redecorated.
My mom was already planning a visit the weekend after the split, originally to celebrate her birthday. Unfortunately, my crisis hijacked her b-day celebration. But very fortunately, she is a great shopper in crime. The first thing we did was visit my happy place for a late lunch – Whole Foods. The second thing was a Target run to get new bedding, towels, and other items to make the apartment feel more like my home. Of course, I went straight for the girly stuff. I mean, the apartment was now going to be the “Babe Cave” – as some of my friends call it. The ambiance needed to match that! If you don’t have the financial capacity to redecorate, there are other nearly cost-less ways to set the ambiance. Spray your perfume everywhere. I mean everywhere. Get a few new candles, pillows, your favorite fresh flowers, or a fun kitchen towel. Just find something that makes you feel content and comforted every time you look at it.
Step 4: I created community.
Aside from the decor, I wanted the energy in the apartment to reflect my new independence. Again, as fate had it, my brother and his girlfriend had been kicked out of their Big Sur camp grounds due to fires the weekend after the break up. They needed a place to stay and I was happy to have them there. It was so comforting to wake up with their energy in the apartment. I have a tendency to isolate myself when I’m upset because I’m worried about being a burden to others. But of course I wasn’t going to say no to a visit from my lil’ bro! Ultimately, it was just what I needed. It made me realize how important building a community in my personal space is. Some friends will be there automatically, but others may wait for you to reach out because they don’t want to be intrusive. No matter if you feel like it or not, say yes to invitations to socialize and make an effort to invite friends over. I promise you’ll feel better afterwards.
Once I felt comfortable in my new place, I started to work towards gaining more control over my mental and physical health.
Step 1: I drafted my troops.
Of course, I called my closest friends and family almost immediately after the split. However, rather than assuming they would know what sort of support I would need, I told them. We all have our different coping mechanisms and sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what someone else needs to feel better. Think about a time a friend called you about a tragedy. Usually, we are at a loss for words. We tend to think, how can I possibly help this person through this trying time? I can barely fathom how he/she feels.
I let my friends and family know that I would be relying on their support more than usual. It sounds redundant, your loved ones probably already know this. But saying it out loud to them and hearing their positive response gave me so much comfort.
Step 2: I turned anger into empowerment.
Anger is a non-productive and negative emotion. It can leave us paralyzed, bitter, and unable to move forward. Channel your negative emotions into something positive and more powerful. So what did I do? I turned my anger into empowerment. That fire remained in my belly, but the resentments started to fade. I stopped feeling regret and started concentrating on the amazing opportunities I had in front of me as an independent woman. By taking control of my emotions, I felt liberated, almost relieved, at the idea that I had the power to create a new future.
Step 3: Empowerment is the best pre-workout.
Mix my newfound sense of empowerment with a girl power playlist (listed below), and I popped out of bed every morning ready to sweat out the past and start my future. The best workout to fuel empowerment and cleanse anger… anything involving power! I loved running incline sprints, incorporating plyometrics, and lifting heavy sh*t. The best workouts to do on Life in Spandex if you’re trying to turn anger into empowerment are:
Or try a Crossfit Class! Oh yeah, that’ll kick your booty.
Your Empowerment Playlist:
Step 4: I took care of my insides.
I lose my appetite when I go through emotional stress. However, as a Certified Personal Trainer and Precision Nutrition Specialist, I knew that even if I didn’t feel hungry, my body needed food to help strengthen and rebuild my muscles, maintain my metabolism, fuel my brain power, keep my blood sugar steady, and keep my head on right.
When you lack an appetite, eating regularly throughout the day is easier said than done. I wasn’t always perfect. Sometimes I would skip a meal without realizing. So what did I do? I made sure that when I did catch an appetite or realize I had gone too long without food, I ate nutrient dense foods, like leafy greens and natural protein sources, and slightly more caloric foods, like nut butters (can’t complain there 😉 ).
When you’re feeling angry, it’s also important to watch your blood pressure. Adding in magnesium-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, spinach, and peanuts can help combat stress-related hypertension.
I also mentioned how I felt this overwhelming sense of motivation. Unfortunately, that feeling is fueled by adrenaline which can lead to increased cortisol (the stress hormone) in our bodies and adrenal fatigue. To minimize the effects, add in foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds. You could also start taking a Fish Oil supplement.
Step 5: I set new goals.
I channeled the extra motivation I felt during this first week to a new project. I was lucky enough to have a promotion waiting ahead for me at work. It was just the distraction I needed. Once you’ve channeled your anger into empowerment, create a new goal and a plan of action. The sense of survival you have during this week will not last. It’s important to start something now so you have a sense of purpose when other, less adrenalizing emotions knock you off your pedestal.
Remember, if you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I feel I have come out stronger, happier, and more successful on the other side of this break up. I am here to listen to you vent, answer questions, or help any of you through whatever it is you’re dealing with. I hope that by opening up and revealing my heart break journey, that I can help any of you going through similar situations.
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So tell me, what are ways you channel your anger during loss? Let me know in the comment box below!
Health and happiness,
Not sure you’re ready for a split? Find out more about online couple’s counseling.