Your Guide To Moving On

When I went out of a two-year relationship – the time I let go of my one true love – the first question that I asked was: “Paano ba mag-move on?”

A year after, I still don’t have an answer. But believe me, the things that your friends, or ehow, tell you are probably true (and yes, I googled “How to Move on After a Break-up). Surely, there’s no formula for moving on, but this I can assure you: things will get better.

So here are some of the things that I did to move on:

1. Accept. This is the first step to moving on. You can never go on and do the succeeding steps without accepting that your lover left you, that you are now single, and that you will never get back together no matter what s/he says (if you’re still communicating after the break-up). For almost 5 months, I resisted acceptance. I kept every memory in boxes, that later turned to paper bags, that later turned to shoe boxes. These memories served as reminder of the times that we had together, which I played in my mind over and over. Not until I knew for sure that we won’t get back together, I did not accept that it was over, which made it all the more harder to move on. DO NOT HESITATE, DO NOT HOLD ON. Let go already. Do not delay. Do not wait for a perfect moment. Do not wait for closure, for it would never come. You may go on living, pretending that you are already moving on, but in reality, you are not. Unless you accept.

2. Throw away everything. I kept everything. I’ll let you in on a secret: I still have some of past love’s things with me, esp. the pictures, the clothes, the bags – things that are hard to throw away. But I threw away most of it already. Gone is the big box that occupied my room before. I found out just how big my room really is, without the box. But the thing is, if you want to forget, throw away everything. Do not stare at these things in the hope that your past lover will come running back to you, because s/he won’t. Those things certainly won’t bring him/her back. Believe me, that’s what I did. Funny.

At first, there will be a lot of reminders of past love. It would seem like everywhere you go, everywhere you look, everything you hear on the radio and see on TV are reminders of your time together. Just let it, ignore it. This will pass. In time, you wouldn’t care anymore. It would be a clean slate, like it was never there in the first place. Just like how it was before.

3. Stop communicating. My ex lovers are my friends. But it won’t work if you’re still hurting. Don’t be plastic, mahirap makipag-plastikan kapag nasasaktan ka pa at umaasa. So if you can’t be his/her friend (when you know you want something more than that), then don’t. And as sad as it may seem, the friendship that you had created with his/her mom, siblings, barkada and friends, may have to end, too. Hey, I am still friends with my favorite ex’s siblings, and his mom and I still exchange emails, but not as much as before. Things have changed, and I just have to accept that I could not bring the past back, and things would not be, and would never be, the same as before.

This was hard. He was my best friend. I tell him everything, and by everything I mean even the most mundane and banal things of my everyday life, like that instance when I broke the heel of my shoe along EDSA. He was the very first one to know everything – when I passed the test, an interview, or when I was dreading to tell my parents something. I could not put my phone down and spent nights staying up late because of our late-night talks. I remember that a day is not complete without a goodnight. But all of these had to go.

AND YES. THIS MEANS YOU MAY HAVE TO REMOVE HIM/HER FROM FACEBOOK, AND STOP STALKING! NO UPDATES. That would be so much better. And easier.

4. Go out. The clichés. Surround yourself with friends. Go out on group dates. Plan as much reunions as you want. The good thing about it is that, break-up is a perfect excuse to go home late, or to have group dates everyday of the week, or to spend. I know I’ve lost a lot of time for friends when I decided to enter in a relationship, that’s why it was (and still is) so good to go out with friends, catch up and be updated, after the relationship ended.

The goal is to keep yourself pre-occupied and not give yourself too much time to think. Now, I understand that the thinking part usually happens at night, before going to bed. So just make sure that you are too tired already, and by the time you hit the bed, you would just snooze off right away. There are times that you might catch yourself thinking about him/her still, but do not be mad at yourself for this.

5. Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for thoughts of past love, for your weakness, lapses; forgive yourself for being sad. Embrace the pain. Allow yourself to cry and rely on friends. You have to deal with all of it in order to move-on and be happy again. But remember, happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy while you’re in the process of moving on.

6. Be yourself. Love yourself. This is the time to give yourself more, to love yourself a little bit more. Shop for yourself, buy things for yourself. Make a list of all the things that you used to do with your past lover, and try doing them on your own (I could not take credit for this though, I got this from a movie). Sure, at first it would be hard, but remember the magic phrase: Things will get better.

For the past two years that I have been part of the working force, I was not able to fully grasp the fruits of my hard work because I had to save up for dates, gifts, and Baguio. But now, I’m just starting to enjoy buying things for myself and my family, enjoying my salary for myself. And I can’t tell you just how happy I am for that.

Now don’t get me wrong, although I am telling you to do things on your own, I am not telling you to be alone most of the time. As I’ve said, you have to surround yourself with friends. Balance it. When you’re alone most of the time, there’s a tendency for you to over think things, to replay your scenes together over and over in your mind, to think about past lover, to think about the what ifs, to mope, to be sad while listening to sad music. Do not give yourself this opportunity. Guard your heart and be mindful of your thoughts. You are better than this.

7. Go on a vacation. Hey, you must have a lot of money (for you, not for anybody else) right now. So why not go on a vacation? Get away from the world. Relax. A change in environment might do you good. Find yourself. Find the self that you lost when you entered the relationship, and the you that you need to get back when you were hurt from the break -up (why does that sound familiar?). Just make sure that wherever you will go, it is not somewhere you and your past lover shared a moment with, or it would only make matters worst.

8. Break your habits/routines. You know how it is to be doing things that only you and your past lover does? You know, private things, simple things that used to make you smile – singing a song together, buying candy for past lover after a long bus ride to Baguio, wearing red just because your past love once told you that you look good in it, texting goodmorning and goodnight, saying “pansin/gulo” (or whatever special vocabulary that you have) when you want his/her attention, yada yada yada. I mean, the list could go on. These habits have to go. Let them go. And make new ones.

9. Talk about it, then stop. I used to talk a lot about my ex when we were still together. It increased when we broke up. I learned that when you talk about your story over and over, it would eventually heal your heart. So go ahead and talk about it, talk about what happened. You will realize that the story will be shorter, other versions will be shorter, and you would eventually stop crying. Right after the break-up, I felt I couldn’t even talk about him without breaking into sobs in the middle of the story. But, as promised, it does get better. Know when to stop. And don’t worry, real friends are willing to listen to your rants, stories and whims. Just don’t be shocked when they begin to tell you the same lines that you keep on narrating to them every single day.

10. Create/make new things, meet new friends, develop new interests. Re-focus your life, esp. since your past love had been your focus prior to the break-up. Make a new list of priorities. Find ways to fill that time left void by him and try new things. Find a new hobby. If you already have one, spend more time doing it. Join clubs/organizations. Read more books, listen to more music (but not sad music!). Meet new friends, friends who don’t know your past lover (neutral ground). This would take your mind off things. The goal is to create a new you, someone better, someone stronger. Take the best out of every situation, no matter how painful it is. Remember the lessons that you learned from the relationship. Put them into good use by improving yourself, so by the time that you are ready for another, you know you’re different from the one you used to be.

Write, if you must. Write secret letters to your ex, tell him/her everything. I heard it’s a good outlet to get everything off your chest. But do not publish/send these letters.

Never use alcohol or drugs or food to cope – these are unhealthy escapes. Improve yourself, not kill yourself. Think about this: Do you think your past love would love you back when s/he finds out what you are trying to do with yourself, when you could not even love yourself? No. This will just give him/her reasons not to regret the break-up.

11. Take responsibility. Do not point fingers. Do not say it was his/her fault, or yours entirely. It takes two to make it work, and two to decide whether to break it off. Do not play the victim. Do not over-analyze, adding facts that didn’t really happen, putting words in your past lover’s mouth, adding too much meaning to his/her actions, thinking what went wrong, saying s/he’s not your type anyway, how bad s/he looks (negative bittering) and *insert all the bad adjectives that you can think of here* etc. Women tend to do this. You may talk about the break-up with friends, but go ahead and tell the fair story. Do not blame anyone for it. It might even be a good thing to keep him/her wondering as to why you aren’t pouring with distraught. Win-win.

12. Beautify. This may well be under the improve yourself category, but I’d like to put more emphasis to it. Break-up is not an excuse for you to wear sweatpants all day, keep that eyes-like-windshields-on-a-rainy-day, to not comb your hair or shave. Do not neglect yourself. Now that you’re single, you have to put your best foot forward. All the more reason to be beautiful.

13. Play it cool. I know that during the first few months after the break-up, you might tend to pretend that you’re already happy, that you’ve already moved on, that you’re doing fine with your life without him/her, that you’re such a big loss to him/her and the aren’t-you-regretting-you-let-me-go kind of thoughts. You tend to try hard. You tend to impress. And you see to it that you make these things be known to public/that it gets to him/her by telling these updates to your common friends, her/his siblings, his/her mom, posting it on facebook, etc. But believe me when I tell you that s/he doesn’t care. So stop playing around. Drop the act.

14. Write a relationship obituary. The creative process might help you reflect and heal. So this is how it goes: just write an obituary of your past relationships, just like how you write an obituary for a dead person. Example of this would be:

Jill and David
Cause of death: Dr. David, Your Jill Has Had Enough
31May2004 thru 06Feb2008

David and Jill have died due to David’s careless handling of Jill’s love and devotion. This was then preceded by arrogance and lack of accountability, which eventually led to the death of “them”.

Sounds fun, isn’t it? I might just write one for every relationship that I’ve had!

15. Pray. Now you will need a lot of this. Ask others to pray for you as well. It’s really hard to go through with this, but don’t go through a break-up alone. Do not forget that you still have a future after this, and the world won’t stop revolving just because something has ended. It’s not the end. And mind you, you’re not the only one/the first one to undergo the process of moving on.

Do not say or write or text things that would hurt your past lover. I know how it feels to want to make your past feel the hurt that you are going through, to take revenge, but do not do things that you would regret in the future. If it helps, pray first, before you do things. Or do not say these things at all, out in the open where everyone could hear/see (your common friends, your family, his/her family). Do not give them a reason to regret why s/he chose to be with you in the first place. And yes, if you’ve been reading my blogs, you’d know I did this, too. This is a warning: Do not follow my example (It doesn’t matter that I apologized). HAHAHA.

*Others say that you will never be completely over someone until you start dating someone new. I don’t know if this is true. I suggest you allow yourself the time to heal and be sad, before entering into another relationship. It will just be unfair to your new partner, and it’s kind of selfish – this rebound thing. Also, I believe that once you love a person, you will always love him/her. But it changes from romantic love, to friendship love, or acquaintance kind of love. The intensity lessens too, but it will still there, esp. if it’s true love.

Okay, so this is a long list, but I know that you’ll be patient and read up. I know how interesting this is to you, the topic of love. For your next break-up, make sure you do what’s on this list. Not that I want you to break-up with your present lover just so you could practice, no! On the contrary, I’m someone who wants to see happy couples and weddings. But this list just made me all the more excited to meet my next love, so I could practice.

And here, so you won’t forget: Things will get better. Things do get better. And get back to me when things got better for you, so I could tell you, “I told you so”.

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