The silence is the worst part. After any relationship ends, it will feel like you go through every feeling, and my goodness, does it hurt. The shock, anger, grief, brief bouts of positivity, and hopefulness are all feelings you will, at some stage, experience. Then just when you think you have made it, a memory will hit you like a nuclear bomb, and you fall to pieces. The pain is overwhelming however, the silence makes it so much harder. You spent so much time building a relationship with someone. The messages, calls, and nights together up until 3.00 am talk about life; even though you are deliriously tired, you don’t want to fall asleep. You get to know this person, their quirks, their personality, and you love all of it. You fall in love. Now all of a sudden, it is gone. You no longer have that person in your life who had a piece, if not all, of your heart, and it is like you never will get it back. What you do get, though, are lessons about the heartbreak you, unfortunately, must learn. It doesn’t matter how often it happens; it never gets easier, but you know that you will eventually be ok. Just know whatever comes next is completely normal.

You feel broken

You are simply broken. Heartbreak feels like it may kill you, and some days you want it to, but it doesn’t. That is the beautiful poetic irony of it. You never will die of a broken heart, but you feel like every good thing inside you won’t survive and will never feel like yourself again. You will, though, one day because eventually, you look back at that point in your life where you were so hurt that even breathing felt like an effort. You can see just how far you have come, but it is impossible to see that far ahead. Every day is taking a step forward and then taking ten steps back. Heartbreak makes you feel like you will never be ok. I don’t know if you ever really recover from a broken heart. It mends, but it doesn’t necessarily go back the same way as ever. For now, though, the pain is real, feeling broken is real, and tomorrow already seems like it is going too hard.

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Was I not good enough?

It is inevitable that we punish ourselves. You will blame yourself for what has happened. It will be because you weren’t good enough. Pretty enough. You weren’t enough for them to stay and fight for you and your relationship. Maybe you were too needy? Maybe you shouldn’t have been so open and vulnerable. Maybe you should have let him sleep on the side of the bed he wanted to. You will believe that this is all on you. The relationship failed because of you. The plummeting self-worth you experience also makes having your heart broken so much harder to deal with because you are now fighting against the notion that you are impossible to love. Your friends can rally around you and tell you this isn’t your fault. You are enough and always have been, but you won’t believe them. Yet. You will only believe it once you start to realize that you are enough and that, a lot of the time, love isn’t permanent. You will believe it one day but not today, which is OK.

Letting go isn’t easy

You will go through what I call ‘delete and destroy’. All evidence of the relationship is gone. Deleting everything to remove it from your existence. You can delete the photos, delete him from Facebook, delete the messages and the phone number, and throw it away. Will it work? No, because that won’t remove his presence from your head and heart. He is still there. You may feel empowered for a day but then it always comes back. Memories are a bitch like that. Being in a relationship and then it is gone is like trying to get over a bad habit. This habit will take a lot longer than three weeks to break.

Ending all communication is one thing, but then trying to force yourself into a place where you feel good is not going to work. Dragging your ass out of the hole you find yourself in to get out and try to have some fun is great in theory, if you don’t end up drinking ten bottles of champagne and crying into your kebab at the end of the night. I am sure this is just a rite of breakup passage, but I have learned that this is not a good way to go about it. You can’t force yourself to let go, and I know that trying to move on and not look back has meant any time I have tried to move on and not look back. Eventually, it catches up to you. It always does. You simply cannot run from it.

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Which way is forward?

You feel robbed of your future. The plans you make with someone and those dreams you had no longer exist. Once you get through the initial shock, you feel overwhelmingly lost because you are. Your life is like being on autopilot. You keep busy to avoid the tomorrows you planned with someone who no longer exists. You grieve a future that will never happen, and that is something that is hard to comprehend. This isn’t a crossroads because that would mean you could see a clear left, right, or straight ahead option. Essentially, it is trying to navigate through a forest blindfolded, and all you can do is shuffle through and know you will eventually fall and fall down. You will fall so often that you will begin to think that you should just stay down. Not knowing where to go or even how to get there while carrying all of the baggage that comes with a broken heart means you are sometimes lost and stuck.

Fight or flight

Heartbreak is also survival. You get to a stage where you realize that you must pick yourself up, make sense of your new life, and make it work. Survival can mean different things but for me, navigating through a broken heart means that you go into fight mode, whether finding the energy to get out of bed every morning. Or not falling to pieces at 2.00 pm when it hits a freight train that he is never coming back, fighting is a must. You must go through the worst to get to the best part, and you know it. Instead of retreating, you find yourself wanting to fight through it. That determination to put yourself back together is where you learn that you are stronger than you think, and it is at this point you realize that no one can break you. It is here that you start to see that you will be OK. Not today, or maybe tomorrow, but you will one day be OK. That gritty fighter comes out, and you begin to live a little bit more, laugh a little bit more, and happiness slowly starts to come back into the equation. You will get through it, and the knowledge that comes with that is power. Once you get your power back, you are on the home stretch.

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Heartbreak is one of life’s struggles that everyone goes through. Some people have to experience the worst of what it has to offer, and I can say that I have had to go through hell and back. I feel as close to being back to myself as possible. It is having to go through all of the feelings that come with it and accept that this is just a rollercoaster you have to ride. You will feel awful and empty, and you will cry so much it is like having to watch the Notebook a thousand times a day. You will find a way to survive, and eventually, it will all make sense. What I have learned about heartbreak is, essentially, it is like fighting a war that you didn’t sign up for however you will win. Eventually, you will win, even if it does have to cost you blood, sweat, and tears. You will have the battle scars to prove it too. I have learned through every heartbreak that even though it hurts, you will survive. Even better, you will be happy and crazy and love again too.

Ashleigh is a writer, blogger, poet and completely knee-deep in the dating world. She likes to talk about love and relationships because those who can't do, write about it from the comfort of their own home whilst wondering if peanut butter and wine are a nutritious dinner.

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