It is a very hard time of year to go through a break up. It isn’t easy to adjust to being alone and the holidays can drive that knife in a little deeper. There have been many times I’ve wished for a magic wand to fast forward students through time. Wouldn’t it be so nice if was May right now and all the leaves were back on the trees and this break up was in your past?
Trust me, I know how you feel. Time does help, but it goes by so slow when you’re in pain. Think about it. How long does five seconds feel when you have your hand on a hot burner? Way too long for me. However, five seconds flies by when you’re kissing someone you love. If you are going through a break up it can seem like your life has just screeched to halt and everyone else is going along on their merry way.
Since I don’t have a magic wand, I do my best to be there for those going through a painful time. If you have a friend going through a break up, it can make you feel helpless to watch them go through this kind of pain. There isn’t anything you can do to make their pain go away. However, sometimes there are a few simple things you can do that are helpful. I find that most of the time, just listening is the best thing you can do. There isn’t much you can say that will make them feel better. Telling them to forget about it or that they’ll find someone else someday usually falls flat. Try to keep your words to a minimum and give them a big hug instead. Just sitting there while they cry is a huge help, even though it may feel like you aren’t doing anything at all.
Other times, there may be more you can do. It is great to be there for them while they cry, but it is also good to sometimes try to distract them as well. If you know they’ve been crying for a few hours or even a few days, it may be good to shake things up a bit. Try to get your friend out to the mall or to a movie for a little distraction from their pain. Entertaining them for a few hours can be a huge help as well. I don’t see this as telling them to forget about the break up, but as a way to remind them there are other things to think about and do. It helps the brain to have a mini break from processing all the feelings. However, it isn’t good to take such a long vacation from the feelings so that denial starts to set in.
Another piece of advice for people out there helping friends and family through a break up. Don’t expect your friend to cut off all communication with their ex. A break up is a process. Sometimes a very long one. You will end up pushing your friend away if you try to guilt them into not talking to their ex. I know you mean well, but you can make your friend feel worse not better. They aren’t in a rational place, so trying to rationalize with them isn’t going to work. Try to be supportive even when they make mistakes. They are already beating themselves up for being weak, they don’t need you to add to the beat down as well. If they ask for your help in trying to stay away from their ex, by all means step in. If they aren’t asking, try to do your best to bite your tongue even though its killing you to see them possibly get hurt even more.
I hope if you are going through a break up, you have great friends out there who are doing their best to be supportive and helpful. No one is perfect, so go easy on your friends when they say the wrong thing. Their heart is in the right place. Also, realize that your friends just want you to feel better. They don’t want to see you get hurt again. Sometimes it is best to take some alone time to cry in your pillow or while your holding your favorite pet. Write your feelings down. It can slow down your thoughts and help you get some of those crappy feelings out of your head without having to burden your friends. Go somewhere away from everyone and scream your head off, jump up and down until some of the rage is released. Art and music are other ways to help you process pain in ways that isn’t hurtful to you or others.
There is no way to make time go by faster. I don’t have a magic wand. However, before you know it, spring will be here. Then summer. You will be able to look back on this time and know you survived it and are stronger, smarter and hopefully happier as well. We all have black holes of time in our past that we are glad are behind us. This too will be one of those black holes. Just be thankful they they do pass and be assured that you can get through it. If December 2011 is horrible for you, hopefully December 2012 has something a lot better in store. Keep your head up, the future will be here before you know it!