1. After the break-down of a relationship it’s normal to have questions and want some closure, especially if your ex dropped this bombshell out of the blue. However, I would spend days in my group chat with my best friends, speculating about his every action. If he liked a meme about moving on/ex-girlfriends, I would harp about it for the rest of my day. If he deleted pictures of us on Instagram, I again had truckloads of questions. I reached a point where I got so caught up in these conspiracy theories of my own creation – but finally, I realized that sometimes I will never get closure and that’s completely okay. His actions would never be mine to understand or control. Since coming to this epiphany, I started focusing on building up my own self-esteem instead of worrying about him.

2. Some days I would feel completely overwhelmed with negative thoughts, which lead me to throw myself head-first into work and university. I became a workaholic, over-burdened myself with multiple responsibilities and focused on helping people around me. This allowed me to deflect any attention and not address my own issues. I quickly reached the point of exhaustion and realized that I hadn’t processed my break-up at all. Noticing this, I leaned into putting myself first – choosing my battles and giving myself space to truly ‘feel’ my feelings.

3. I learnt the hard way that I had a habit of re-enacting my childhood dysfunction by choosing abusive partners. Luckily, through therapy, I was able to recognize this pattern and worked towards cutting this toxic cycle. I began to incorporate mindfulness into my life and notice how I really felt about the people around me. I also learned that I had been associating chaos with love – healthy relationships felt boring to me. I needed to slow down and rethink what I was looking for in a partner.

4. It’s completely okay to download tinder/bumble for some casual dating. I was, however, very cautious of not over-stepping my own boundaries and rushing into things that were too serious before I was ready. The last thing I needed was to get into another relationship as a re-bound, so I made my intentions clear and kept it light and fun.

5. Grief is a process that nobody teaches you. As much as I admired the “hoe life or no life” and “catch flights not feelings” narratives, I knew these wouldn’t be enough to help me heal. I had to admit I needed professional support because the break-up was affecting my every day functioning and well-being. While others may seem to have no trouble with this process, there is also no shame in seeking out a professional to help you through (especially if you have existing mental health issues to add to the mix).

6. Some of my coping strategies at the time were extremely immature, and the only way I can justify that is because I never learned better tools to deal with it. Posting pictures of yourself from “flattering angles” with a cryptic caption and having your girlfriends hype you up with “now he will know what he lost” is all fun and games for a while, but it doesn’t help with the deeper issues. Through therapy, I learnt how to stop relying on men for validation and create my own identity that I am proud of.

7. To each his own, but I found that unfollowing my ex on social media did me a world of good. Out of sight, out of mind! This ensured that I stopped excessively going through his social media, wondering who he was talking to, or waiting for him to reach out again. Having them pop up on your timeline only serves as a reminder of something you ultimately want to forget!

8. Missing your ex-partner on random days and wanting to message them is completely normal. In these situations, I reminded myself of the reasons we split up and reflected on the positive aspects, such as my personal growth. I also allowed myself days where all I wanted to do was cry until I couldn’t cry no more. In that moment, it might seem annoying if a friend comments that “this gets better with time”. Being on the other side of the dark tunnel, I assure you that is possible. Give time some time. Reach out to your friends/family, join a support group, pick up a new hobby and do the inner work.

9. It’s normal to have trust issues after having someone dishonest in your life, but there comes a point where it hurts you more to hold on to these feelings. For the longest time after being with my ex, I would tell myself “all men are the same.” No, they aren’t. While falling into these generalizations can be a fun way to blow off steam whenever the inevitable disappointments occur, allowing yourself to internalize these messages and become bitter or closed off only prevents you from moving on to something better. I want to avoid mentioning the classic “you will meet someone when you least expect it” narrative, as I always detested this and would just roll my eyes. But for me, it turned out to be true!

This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.

To book your first call visit: https://my.efriend.org.au/preregistration/