How to Love Yourself Better After a Break-Up (and Even Without It)

As I write this, it’s around six months since my ex-husband and I announced our separation. The break-up itself was an agonizingly long and drawn-out process that happened over the course of two years, and the question of whether or not to stay in the marriage took up a lot of my emotional and physical energy that I literally lost myself in the process. I withdrew to my work (or, rather, became addicted to it), ignored the need to improve my home and tend to my health, gained a lot of weight, and woke up day after day feeling miserable and quite literally disconnected from my True Self.

The decision to part ways was liberating (for us both, I’m sure). I felt like a huge burden was being lifted off my shoulders, and I used that momentum to look inwardly, take better care of myself, and shower whatever love I was capable of giving on myself. (I told myself: If I didn’t, then who would?)

If you’re just coming off a break-up, like I was back then, and even if you’re not but you feel like you  need to love yourself better especially at the start of the year, I hope this little sharing helps. 🙂

Working out with my sister's dog, Blake :)
Working out with my sister’s dog, Blake 🙂

1. Get moving. I already knew early on that 2014 would be the year my ex and I would part ways. To prepare myself for this major life change, I decided to literally move in many areas of my life as well. I moved to a new job in a new city, moved to a new home that better suited my needs (and which was just walking distance to work), and physically moved as much as I could. I knew that losing weight had to be part of my transformation, so I walked whenever and wherever I could. I found that moving to a totally new environment—and moving my body regularly—gave me the physical and psychic (read: “of the psyche”) boost to break my inertia, bring me the endorphins that I so badly needed, and energize me for the journey ahead.

2. Make new friends (and reconnect with old ones) and engage in new activities. My move to a new job and a new city brought it with many good things: the opportunity to make new friends, reconnect with old ones, and try out new things that I previously didn’t have the time or energy for. I enrolled in Zumba and yoga classes, started going out for weeknight drinks with new sets of friends, and (serendipitously) reconnected with old girlfriends who were undergoing a similar journey as I was. It helped to be surrounded by positive people with similar life goals, and it also helped to have friends with differing perspectives (who can knock some sense into your head when you need it).

“Eat better”: A call from the MUNI community 🙂 (Find out more at http://www.muni.com.ph)

3. Take better care of yourself. At the time of the break-up, I weighed 150 lbs. (at 162 cms.—definitely not good!) and was about 40 lbs. overweight. I knew that I had to take better care of myself in order to look and feel my best, so I challenged myself to lose all the excess weight by shifting my lifestyle and without enrolling in expensive programs or fad diets. I documented my experience in this Rappler article, and I’m happy to share that, since then, I lost the 40 lbs. in just five months. No B.S. :)(It definitely helps, too, when you’re back in the dating scene and have better clothes to wear!)

4. Speaking of the dating scene: get out there and meet new people. When you’re coming off an 11-year relationship and a five-year marriage that didn’t work out, it’s easy to curse the rest of mankind and tell yourself that you’ll never find love again. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and man-hating, I decided to use the opportunity to get to know other types of people and expand my own worldview. (More on this soon!) To me, coming off a marriage meant that I was not (and still not am) in a rush to get back into one, so there’s really no pressure to “make something” out of a “connection”. I told myself that I would only get back into a relationship “with the right guy, under the right timing and the right circumstances, and for the right reasons.” For now, this phase is about getting to know other people—and discovering more about myself in the process.

5. Embrace your emotions and be true to yourself. It will happen that you will start caring about someone else, and you will experience a range of emotions that will bring up old baggage and new fears. Acknowledge the feelings, own up to them, but don’t allow yourself to be carried away. Remember (and this is really a ‘Note to Self’ more than to anyone else): this is your phase to explore and discover, and you’re not supposed to be rushing back into anything just yet. I will forever be grateful to the few good men whose paths intersected with mine during this very precarious stage of my life, yet never took advantage of my vulnerability. You prove that gentlemen still exist—and that real connections are possible through time, space, and time zones. 🙂

“Self-Portrait #3” (acrylic on canvas, 2014): Painted while at the Rainforest Arts & Crafts Bazaar at the Rainforest World Music Festival, Sarawak, Malaysia.

6. Be true to yourself, period. As you will soon discover in this blog, authenticity is a big part of what drives my journey, and I would rather be wrong than be a fake or a copycat. Over the past few months, I’ve discovered many facets of myself that are surfacing just now—and some of them aren’t pretty. Instead of beating myself up over these, I’ve learned that it’s better to just face myself squarely in the mirror, accept and embrace all of me, and learn from my mistakes and shortcomings. Nobody’s perfect after all, but we can always strive to be better versions of ourselves every single day. The most important step here is giving ourselves permission to be who we truly are, making peace with that and loving it, yet still striving to be better as each day comes. If you won’t accept and love yourself for who you truly are, nobody will.

7. Have a sense of humor. (The Universe is bound to play cosmic jokes on you.) There were so many moments during this six-month period that felt to me like one big movie—the script of which I was completely unaware of—when the Universe just chose to unleash its cosmic sense of humor and turn things completely upside-down for me. Another ‘Note to Self’ (and to you): when these things happen, it’s important to take a deep breath (or more), take a step back, and know that everything in life will pass—especially these little mishaps and misadventures. Yes, you’re in pain; yes­, this major life change is serious stuff; but, NO, the world doesn’t owe you anything. You’ll just have to roll with the punches and laugh things off as part of the adventure. You’ll thank yourself for this attitude later on. 🙂

At the end of the day, closing a new chapter—a new book, rather!—in your life means that a new one is about to be opened. How would you like to write the pages of YOUR OWN book? It’s really up to you, but loving yourself is the first step to anything that’s worth doing and sharing. 🙂

Happy 2015!
~ N

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. thelighttraveler says:

    Beautiful list. 🙂 Applicable indeed even for those not undergoing a breakup.

    I admire your strength and your commitment to love and authenticity despite hardships.

    Here’s to another year of love, joy, and authenticity!

    1. ninaterol says:

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words, @thelighttraveler! Here’s to “traveling light” (pun intended) in this journey–and to savoring every moment along the way 🙂
      ~ Nina

  2. Buster says:

    Hi Nina, I agree with you 100%. I have been in the same situation and it took me years to be able to moved on and start the new chapter of my life. Its it not easy to forget the 6 years of relationship and 6 years of married life . One thing I learned is that life is full of challenges and you have to know which one is worth fighting.

    1. ninaterol says:

      Hi, Buster, I’m sorry to hear/read of what you went through as well. Nothing really comes easy, but all these changes WILL be worth it in the end, especially if they bring out our best selves. Sending my prayers for your healing as well 🙂 Happy new year! *Love and light!* ~ N

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