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The Breakup Repair Kit
By Marni Kamins and Janice MacLeod
Conari PressCopyright © 2004 Marni Kamins and Janice MacLeod
All right reserved.
The process of healing can be wonderful ... like the feeling after a really good pee. So satisfying. As you heal from your breakup, you will develop useful tools you will have for the rest of your life.
The Eight Stages of Healing After a Breakup
These grieving stages are normal parts of the healing process. The healthiest thing for you to do is to let them run their course rather than using your energy to try to fight them off. (Or, if you want, you can ignore all your feelings, push them away, keep dating the same type of loser over and over, and sit in your own crap. Your choice.)
Also be aware that these stages do not always happen in sequence. Do not be disturbed if you start out in Stage 4 and go into Stage 1. Be prepared for the stages to feel as if they are not happening fast enough. By allowing them to follow their course, you will ensure an easy return to the way your life was before he strolled into town.
Stage 1: Shock
You feel disbelief. Your mind is deciding to deny your pain because it is too painful to process the truth. It is normal to experience excessive fantasizing and the belief that nothing is wrong. You think, "What the ...? Are we really not together anymore? Am I sure? Maybe it was all a dream. Maybe he's really left for a season, and I will go into the bathroom to see him showering." Or, "Maybe it just hasn't hit me yet. It's funny how I feel so fine with all this. After two years with someone, I am not even that phased." What should you do? Nothing. Feel the shock. Don't make any major changes. Find yourself a good listener, not an advice giver, and talk about it.
Stage 2: Denial
You completely deny the loss. You don't even feel sad. You want to wake up and have it be over. You think, "Wait, we had so many plans. I seriously think that we were meant to be together. What about our future, are all those dreams just cancelled? It can't really be over. Deep down I know that we're just on a break. I trust that we are soul mates, and this time apart will actually turn out to be good for us. I saw my future when I gazed into his eyes. What about that dream beach house that we talked about? How could I be wrong? The giggling. The spooning." This is where you torture yourself because it feels good-like playing with a loose tooth or overusing tweezers. You also go into bargaining when you think, "If only I had done this," or "had waited to say that," then all this never would have happened. Bargaining is normal and you will eventually stop. What should you do with denial? Realizing you are in denial is enough. Being conscious of your denial is a giant step forward. Wait until it passes.
Stage 3: Numbness
You think to yourself, "I am so surprised at how easy he was to get over. I'm not even crying. Too bad for him. In fact, nothing in my whole life seems to matter anymore. I am not hungry or passionate about anything. Is there supposed to be some kind of grand purpose in life? If there is, who cares? I am not even horny. I could care less if I ever date again." What should you do? The numb period will pass when you are ready. Your mind is protecting you from what feels overwhelming.
Stage 4: Fear
Fear is rooted in a delusion; it is extreme thinking, and none of it is based on fact. Fearful thinking is all self-manufactured and delusional. "What if I'll never date again? Was he as good as it gets? I'll never get married. I'll never have children. I'll end my days alone in a dusty old house knitting booties for the children I wish I had." What should you do with fear? Fear is necessary because it is part of the healing process, but the sooner you remind yourself that the fearful thoughts are not true, the stronger you will feel about moving on. It is helpful to talk about your fears with a nonjudgmental friend who will remind you that those thoughts are not true facts.
Satge 5: Anger
Anger is good. Unexpressed, repressed anger is bad. You may find yourself thinking, "Wait a minute. We never did any of those things we said we were going to do. He never came through on any of his promises. It was all talk! What a schmuck. It's all his fault. I can't believe I was stupid enough to love such a low-life hairy ball of earwax." What should you do? Let your anger out in healthy ways. Have some good revenge fantasies. Hate his guts if it makes you feel better.
However, be careful not to get too caught up here. Anger can make you bitter. Listen to your gut. If your anger feels unsurmountable, seek help until it passes.
Stage 6: Depression
"I have no one to go to brunch with anymore. And even if I did, I'd rather stay in my bed and eat Tootsie Rolls. I have no life. I loathe myself, I wish I were pretty and skinny and rich. Then I would be happy." It is common to lose the hope that our lives will ever return to the peace and order we felt before. The truth is that our lives will return to normal and every thing will be fine. What should you do? Allow yourself to feel the despair. If the despair makes you feel suicidal or is unbearable, don't wait to get professional help. Get it now.
Stage 7: Understanding
"I learned so much from dating him. And I'm really glad I'm not dating him anymore. I guess we were not supposed to be together and that's okay." In this stage, you begin to reach a level of awareness and understanding, and see the truth for the first time. You see that maybe it wasn't meant to be. You may not quite yet be grateful that you broke up, but you are starting to see that you will have a wonderful, rich life without him.
Stage 8: Acceptance
"He was not perfect, but neither was I. We were meant to be together for the time that we were together. I learned from him and he learned from me; I feel pretty complete with the circle that was our relationship. Now, bring on the other fish in the sea. I'm fabulous"
Janice's Stage of Healing at this Moment
For months following a particular nasty moment I had with my ex-boyfriend. I'd been depressed. During my depression, I missed him terribly. Then, he called for the first time since our falling out. After the phone call, I had to put my head between my knees because I had so many emotions well up in me that my body couldn't handle it. It wasn't anything he said; it was just because he had called and I had to hear his voice again. The feeling soon passed, and for a few days afterward, I felt lightheaded and numb. I was surprised at how aloof I was about our conversation. Then I snapped out of the numbness and felt anger. For days, I was angry with him for calling, for his not getting his life together, and especially at myself for not seeing him for who he really was. My body was tense, I couldn't sleep, and I didn't even have the energy to go for a walk. After a week had gone by, I found myself'crying easily. Sad commercials made me cry. Being caught in traffic made me cry. Being slightly embarrassed, angry, tense, tired, or annoyed made me cry. Yet at the same tune, I still went out with friends, laughed, and enjoyed myself. But one night I went to a movie, and it was about 45 minutes too long for me. When the movie finally finished. I was angry that the director hadn't thought to cut down the movie. Of course, my anger wasn't about the director. It was about me. I know I should have let myself ride through this time and experience all my emotions. Easier said than done. Now, when I'm feeling these intense emotions, I don't attempt to understand why. I wait until later, when my body has calmed down, to review why I was so angry or sad or whatever. So, just in the past few weeks I went from numbness to anger to depression, and back to anger. I look forward to the day I'm over it all. I've been told that time heals. Seems to be taking forever. We'll see. I'll let you know.
Times Heals All
Your psyche knows that this is the process you will go through, even if you don't consciously know what it's doing. Going through these stages is not up to you. It will happen naturally, and whatever sequence it happens in is the best sequence for you. As you take care of your physical and spiritual self, trust that your brain will take care of your mental and emotional self. You know instinctively how to get back into balance. Give yourself time to heal. It could take minutes or it could take years, depending on how deep the relationship was. You are a wise person. You innately know what is best for you. Listen to your instincts. During some of these stages, especially the depression stage, you may think that it's never going to end. It will. The process of emotional healing has a definite beginning, middle, and end. This too shall pass. Remind yourself of this often. What you are going through is normal. And it is going to be okay.
Snakes and Ladders Healing
The eight stages of healing are just that-stages. They aren't steps. Healing is not like walking up stairs. Healing is like playing a game of Snakes and Ladders. You walk up a few steps, land on a snake and slide down a few steps. You climb again and maybe fall again. Just when you feel you're making headway, you could fall back and not understand why. While you're in this Snakes and Ladders healing, realize that the healing process is doing its job. We experience a gamut of feelings as: We grow. We can be patient with ourselves during this time, or we can choose to be angry, judgmental, and beat ourselves up mercilessly. It's best to just give ourselves a break when getting over a breakup.
Immediately following your breakup, make a nurture nest for yourself and let yourself stay home. The earhest nurture nests were those forts you made out of blankets and chairs when you were a kid. It was a whole other world inside that fort. A private, dark, and warm cave where you were the master of your own domain. Inside a nurture nest, you can hear silence and let your inner monologue speak. If you listen hard, you might hear spirits whispering secrets.
In a nurture nest, you are your own mom and get to take good care of yourself.
Nurture Nests Are Magic Healing Spaces
After a breakup, building and spending quality time in a nurture nest is a very healing experience. One of the best ways to hasten the first stage of healing is to lean into the pain and allow yourself mourn. Embrace your loss. Write about it, think about it, and begin separating yourself from the relationship. Know that what was wrong with the relationship is not wrong with you. During your time in the nurture nest, you'll want to allow yourself to focus on healing your heart.
Though friends may try to cheer you up by taking you out, if you would rather stay home, be okay with holding back and telling them you think it's best to spend some quality time alone. You are not a loser if you stay home on a Saturday night. Au contraire! You are bravely sticking up for yourself. You are daring to seek inside yourself to find your inner voice and ask it where to go from here. Put on some comfy clothes, lock the doors, and feel your feelings. When you allow yourself to feel your feelings, they will pass more quickly. Stay in tonight. Make a nurture nest. Let yourself feel. It may not feel good to feel, but it will help you move on. And don't call him.
It may sound crazy to build a nurture nest. After all, you're a grownup right? Hmm ... Support yourself. Stop being a grownup, get out the chairs and blankets, and start building.
How to Buid Your Nurture Nest You'll need:
+ Four chairs
+ Three soft blankets
+ Pillows (a plethora of them)
+ A flashlight
+ A journal
+ Inspiring and juicy books and comics
+ Pens and crayons
+ Big paper
+ Stuff to pamper yourself with
+ A vibrator (optional)
1. Set up three or four chairs so the chair seats face outward.
2. Place soft blankets or pillows on the floor in between the chairs. (A sheepskin rug is wonderful for this.)
3. Throw big sheets or blankets over the chairs.
Voila! A perfect nurture nest.
Places for a nurture nest:
+ Under the dining table
+ In the living room
+ On top of your bed (or under it)
Alternate nurture nests:
+ A tent with a good zipper:
+ A bubble bath, complete with candles, soft music, and a locked bathroom door
+ A rented cottage by the sea or a fancy hotel room (how decadent!)
Nurture Nest Activities
The task for you right now is to separate yourself from the loss of your boyfriend. If part of your definition of yourself was as an "us," a breakup may leave you feeling empty, as if part of you doesn't exist anymore. You've lost something, but you still exist. A positive thing to do is replace your loss With a gain. Your goal is to reown yourself. You are no longer one of two people. This can be a fleeing (or scary) thought. You are on the precipice of the next phase of your life. How very exciting. The nurture nest helps you bring the focus back to yourself.
Excerpted from The Breakup Repair Kit by Marni Kamins and Janice MacLeod Copyright © 2004 by Marni Kamins and Janice MacLeod. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I found this unexpectedly after I ended a 10 year dysfunctional, semi sexually, not quite a friendship, friendship. Read about a 1/4 of it right there on the floor of the store. Love the honesty and wit that it is written with. I will buying this one for sure.
I am so happy I found this book in Barnes & Noble when I was down and out looking for help coping with my break up. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever suffered from a broken heart. No doubt about it, pick it up! Not only is it cute on the outside, it is small enough to fit in a purse, it is very easy reading, as the content is very well laid out. I am only half way through it. I read it a bit at time, like how you have deal with healing from a break up, a bit at time. As I read The Break Up Repair Kit it makes me feel better knowing other people feel the same as I do. Sometimes it feels like no one could possibly be feeling the same way, but according to this book everything I'm going through is normal. I can't thank the Authors, Marni Kamins and Janice MacLeod, enough for this gift they have given me. They are genious!
This was a light book to read when your brain can barely function after a break up. It also touches on when you are the one to decide to end a relationship, which can be just as heartbreaking as being dumped. I have found that a lot of other books don't touch on someone being sad and hurt when they are the 'dumper.' Good indulgent read when your friends need a break from you tearfully re-hashing the happenings of the relationship with you over and over again.