How I Dealt With Being Dumped By My First Love
There's no doubt about it—all breakups are hard.
However, it's tough to beat the pain of being dumped by your first love. Letting someone in and caring about them in such a profound way, only to have them tell you that they don't see a future between you anymore just plain hurts—there's really no other way to say it.
I was about 21 years old when my boyfriend of almost three years—the first boy I ever truly loved—broke up with me. Not only was I not expecting it, I had a hard time believing that our relationship was actually over. Given that I genuinely believed he was the end-all, be-all in my dating history, I had a very hard time moving on.
(Riverdale via The CW)
Some of my coping mechanisms were very healthy and others veered more sharply towards the unhinged side of the emotional spectrum. However, out-of-control as I might have felt during that time, I also learned a lot from it. Do I wish I could have learned my lesson and still avoided the more pathetic and embarrassing moments of my breakup recovery? Of course I do, but that's not what happened.
So if you want to know the good, the bad and the ugly of moving on after a particularly hard breakup, keep scrolling to see how I dealt with getting dumped by my first love.
It probably goes without saying, but in the aftermath of my breakup, I cried. Like, a lot. The first few days I had trouble leaving my room because I would burst into tears at literally everything, whether it was related to my relationship or not. I'm not a big crier, so having massive amounts of tears leaking out of my eyes with seemingly no end in sight was beyond frustrating.
After a while, the tears definitely lessened, and the emotions would start to come in waves. I would feel totally fine for weeks at time, only to burst into tears when "Kiss the Girl" from The Little Mermaid played on the radio. My crying became illogical and poorly-timed, but it also became less frequent.
And finally, months down the line from my breakup, my crying just stopped. I can't tell you the very last time I cried or what finally made the emotions settle down, other than that time did its work. It was a long process before I finally felt like my emotions were back to their normal, even-tempered state, but it happened. Time does heal, it just never heals at fast as we'd like.
(Grey's Anatomy via ABC)
I Bought a Book
Suffice to say, I did not feel like a had a good handle on myself after my breakup. After a few weeks of trying to white-knuckle my way through recovery, I decided I needed some help. I scoured the Internet for the best breakup books, and eventually bought one. I couldn't even tell you the name, but I can tell you that I felt deeply pathetic purchasing it.
However, this was one of my smarter decisions. Truthfully, the advice in the book didn't help that much. In fact, I don't really remember what it said, mostly because I probably ignored it all anyway in favor of letting my feelings take the lead. But it did give me a place to focus all my pain. I would read an entry or chapter every morning and pour all my emotions into following the advice and really reflecting on my relationship.
It wasn't the quick fix I wanted and it didn't really make me feel better, but it gave me a chance to try. I was working towards improving instead of wallowing in all my bad emotions, and I think at that point in time, that was all I really needed.
(Tangled via Walt Disney Pictures)
If there's one thing I'm so happy I did in the aftermath of my breakup, it was journaling. I journaled a lot—at least once a day, if not more. I would pour every single thing I was feeling onto those pages, often rambling on for a very long time trying to work through all my complicated emotions.
Journaling gave me outlet to express myself free of judgment. I could literally write whatever I wanted because I was the only one who was going to read it. It allowed me to sit in my feelings and examine each and every one, instead of filtering myself for the sake of sounding better than I was really feeling.
It also kept me from whining too much to my friends. Don't get me wrong—they spent lots of time comforting me and trying to understand my tumultuous emotions. But the sad truth is that no one can really relate to your specific emotional pain, and eventually they're going to get tired of hearing about it.
Journaling helped me release some of my emotions in a private space instead of continually vomiting up all my feelings on my pals. I'm sure I was still annoying after a while, but I'm also sure that I was much less annoying than if I hadn't been journaling at all.
I Reached Out
It's the ultimate post-breakup rule: Don't reach out to your ex. Not only does it push back your recovery, it also allows you to keep them in your life, eliminating the opportunity to rebuild your world without them. I knew all of this, but did that stop me from reaching out to my ex at every opportunity? Of course not.
I reached out over social media posts, I texted about family problems, I found a way to incorporate him into holidays—heck, I even sent out rambling texts that were basically just me talking about all the reasons why I didn't understand our breakup.
I could say I was searching for closure and understanding, and at the time I thought I was. Our breakup was sudden and confusing, and it wasn't until months later that I found out he had been cheating on me for the duration of our relationship, which finally explained many of his more confusing actions. However, looking for closure was just the Band-Aid I put over the real reason I was reaching out.
I wanted to talk to him because he was important to me, because I had trouble filling the void he left in my life and because I wanted every excuse not to let him go. If I really stopped talking to him, that meant that all hope of us getting back together was lost, and there wasn't even a tiny part of me that was prepared to deal with that. I claimed I wanted closure, but in reality I just wanted him, and no amount of stubbornness or pride could convince me that I shouldn't try to talk to him, even though it was incredibly self-destructive in the long run.
(Sierra Burgess Is a Loser via Netflix)
I Got Angry
While I was sad and heartbroken for the longest time, eventually all my pain turned into anger. I would send scathing messages about how poorly he treated me, as I wanted him to understand that dodging my calls and ignoring my attempts to talk wasn't fair to the three years we spent together. I felt entitled to answers and I wanted to force him to treat me with respect, when I should have been working on letting go.
I think anger is a natural part of any moving on process. However, I don't think giving into anger is the solution. I allowed my anger to guide my feelings and actions towards him, instead of realizing that no amount of irritation can force someone to treat you better. He didn't treat me well in the aftermath of our breakup, but by indulging my anger I stooped down to his level instead of rising above it.
It's a classic "two wrongs don't make a right." I felt like I was sticking up for myself, but in reality, I was just keeping myself from being the bigger person and moving on. I let the breakup turn me into a mean version of myself, and the things I said during that time period will always haunt me.
(Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs via Walt Disney Pictures)
I Gained Some Perspective
Even just looking back on my breakup, I can remember so clearly how difficult it was. It isn't something that feels less serious as time goes on, and the reality that I was in a really bad place for a while hasn't changed.
What has changed, however, is my perspective. In my mind, I do think this boy was my first love. However, that doesn't mean he was my best love—not by a long shot. Feelings change over time, and I know one day I'll meet someone who I'll feel so deeply about that I'll hardly believe I considered this relationship "love."
There's always something better in the future. I don't know what it is yet, but I do know that looking back on my ex now fills me with such apathy and indifference that it's hard to imagine I ever cared so much. Bad spells and painful times are just a part of life, but they're also far from permanent. There's better on the horizon—you just have to fight your way through the tough stuff to find it.
Looking for more breakup advice? Click HERE for our tips on how to shift your negative mindset right after a breakup.