As young women navigating the murky waters of love, we're conditioned to believe that our romantic lives will be nothing but a series of heartaches, one crushing rejection and disappointment after another, until we finally find The One. But what's important to remember is that sometimes, we have to be the ones doing the breaking of hearts too, and that this doesn't make us evil or guarantee that some sort of cosmic karma will bite us in the butt and curse us with an eternity of misery. The fact is, both being the dumper and the dumpee are crucial to our growth, allowing us to learn our love lessons and making us a little bit more sensitive, a little bit more compassionate, and a little bit kinder the next time around. Here are the Five Stages of Breaking Up—when you're the one doing the breaking.
When he slams the phone down on you (or slams the door in your face) after you utter the words "it's over," your initial reaction will be guilt, which you'll overcompensate with denial. You'll want to wash your hands of all the blame, make it seem like he's just being dramatic, or that it was his fault you broke up with him anyway. Here's the thing: the heartbreak doesn't have to be anyone's fault, but it's there, and it's real. Sweeping it under the rug won't make it go away. The sooner you acknowledge it, the sooner you can move on. (Yes, you need to move on, too!)
Here's the thing: the heartbreak doesn't have to be anyone's fault, but it's there, and it's real.
You'll either be really, really mad at him for making you give up, or really, really mad at yourself for giving up. The fact that you won't be able to communicate properly won't help—you'll hear that he said something to a friend of a friend and take it out of context, or he'll see a tweet you posted, assume it's about him, and completely misinterpret it. The trick to dealing with this stage is keeping your distance, both from him and from your own anger. Do something productive, like pursuing a new hobby or helping out someone in need, and lean on friends you can count on to shine some much-needed positivity your way.
At some point, you'll want to go back and change everything. But life doesn't work that way—there's no undo button, and you can't cancel out the hurt just like that. Don't second-guess yourself or question your choices: you made a decision, and it's your responsibility to commit to it and own up to the consequences. Plus, think about how cruel that would be to the person you broke up with—you put him through all that pain just to go back, pretend that everything's okay, and toy with his feelings all over again. In a couple of years (or even a few months!), you'll realize that everything happened the way it should, and you'll be glad you stuck to what felt right in your heart. Things will make sense, we promise!
This is the part that sucks. You'll be sad for a while. Extremely, paralyzingly sad. And then you'll feel guilty all over again, because who gave you the right to be devastated when you were the one who chose to leave in the first place? But nobody should be comparing notes on sadness, and nobody can tell you that need to be happy because the other person gets dibs on being depressed. You're allowed to grieve, too; after all, you invested your time and effort on the relationship just as much, only to watch it fail and crumble to the ground. You're allowed to be lonely, and yes, you're even allowed to miss him. Welcome your feelings and sit with them for however long it takes to come to terms with them. Just be careful not to regress to the previous stages.
But nobody should be comparing notes on sadness, and nobody can tell you that need to be happy because the other person gets dibs on being depressed.
You know what they say about endings: they almost always lead to new beginnings. And that's exactly what this last stage is—a start. It's the start of a brand new you, humbled by the mistakes you know you've made and grounded by the realization that things don't always go as planned and that you won't always get it right the first (or second, or third) time. A brand new you fueled by the hope that you can always try again, and strengthened by the promise that there are people you have yet to meet, souls you have yet to connect with, love stories you have yet to write yourself into. Once you reach this stage, congratulate yourself, and know that even heartbreaks can be a cause for celebration. Because when it comes to love, we all win some and lose some, and the best we can do is to keep our heads up, our hearts open, and know that someday, when we're ready, love won't have to hurt at all.
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