Heartbreak sucks. Period.
Around this time last year, I was mulling over the fate of a five-year relationship. Things had been strained for some time but, complacency. We finally broke up in April; neither of us had the balls to actually end things and we even took a trip together to Los Angeles in May. Looking back, I really paid the cost of delaying the inevitable. We were in limbo. I moved my things out, but we still had an open line of communication. We weren’t together, but it was understood that we wouldn’t date other people. Trash.
Finally, reality hit us both like a ton of bricks. It was over. No doubt about it. I had to say it out loud, We’re done.
My heart was broken, the air felt so thick that I could hardly breathe. I let out one of those ugly cries (see Viola Davis in “Fences”). Even worse, I had to be on my A-game for a presentation at work the very next morning. There was a cloud of grief over me for weeks. I had to fake a smile from 9-5 and go home and dissolve into tears and emotions. I was so used to talking to my ex-boyfriend on my lunch break. Pictures from our trip to Bimini lined the walls of my office. I even had a co-worker ask how he was doing. It was hell.
At some point, everything turned. I realized that my hopes and dreams were much larger than a failed relationship. I couldn’t let the pain of this loss bleed over into my professional life. It was time to boss up. With help of my mom and close friends, I developed five mechanisms to help me and hopefully, they’ll help you too.
1. TAKE “SAD” TIME
I took time when I needed it. On a few occasions, I literally had to peel myself out of bed. The trick about “time” is that you have to use it wisely. I recall one day where it was all just too much, so I used my annual leave time to stay home from work. When my best friend found out, she told me that was my one day to feel bad for myself. I couldn’t use any more of my valuable time to cry or feel bad about something I couldn’t change. I cried when I needed, then I dusted myself off and got back to business.
2. GIVE YOURSELF A PEP TALK
I call these my bad bitch mantras. The most common question that we (men and women) ask ourselves after a breakup is “why.” Why didn’t this work? Why doesn’t he/she love me anymore? Why wasn’t I enough? Honestly, who cares. What’s done is done. Don’t let your former partner project their shortcomings onto you. If you ever find yourself getting emotional at work, repeat five mantras to yourself. Remind yourself of how popping you are and how bright your future is. Always be honest, but stay positive! My personal mantra is courtesy of my grandmother:
“Sydnei, ain’t nothing new under the Sun. All of these men out here and you’re sick over one?
God blessed you with talents and skills, crying over that man won’t pay the bills.”
My granny is clearly a savage.
3. DON’T TALK ABOUT IT AT WORK
Keep it professional. If you’re comfortable enough with your coworkers to talk about your private life, then talk about it after hours. There’s a time and a place for everything. Work isn’t that!
4. CLEAR YOUR SPACE OF REMINDERS
Remember those photos I mentioned earlier? They were like daggers straight to the heart. The temptation to trash everything all at once was high, but I just gradually replaced them. No one even noticed. If you aren’t ready to get rid of everything, put it in a box and tuck it away until you’re either 1. ready to put them back on display or 2. ready to burn them for good.
5. FOCUS ON YOUR HUSTLE
Ironically, the last gift that my ex-gave me was a new laptop. It was a great investment for all of my content. It was a reminder to stay passionate about the things that do bring me joy. Being single is the perfect time to really focus on a big assignment at work or your passion project. Whatever it is, turn your pain to progress.
You’ve got this!