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Heartbreak over the Holidays
Ellie Betts gives you the lowdown on surviving a Christmas break up
“I think we need to break-up,” he said.
I sat silently on the bed, sweating. Tears starting to blur my eyes.
Even if you’re not into star signs, we all know the plight of the emotional Cancer. Once I start sobbing, I don’t stop. After a few minutes of hyperventilating and ugly crying faces, I collected my things, got in my car, and drove myself home, the sound of my sobs muted only by Bon Iver.
This breakup took place in January of 2018, just after a blissful Christmas & New Years together, and just before Valentines. Ah, the sweet spot. Just before your social media timeline fills with images of Pandora charm bracelets and captions that read ‘boy did good!’.
Let’s shout it together kids…BREAKUPS AROUND THE HOLIDAYS SUCK!!!
This is for many obvious reasons: it’s cold, it’s dark, but it’s also the season of cheer. And yet, all you want to do is wrap yourself up in a blanket and shout profanities whilst you either a) listen to a carefully curated ‘feels’ playlist, or b) watch a stupid rom-com, of which you have many to pick from this time of year.
But it also hits hard because it’s the turning point of the year, the time when plans are made, and goals are set. All of a sudden, the rug is pulled out from underneath you and you have to enter into the new year disoriented and alone.
This year is, of course, different, there’s no huge parties, no way to distract yourself by going to your office Christmas party and getting off with James in the finance department, or snogging a stranger in a bar after drinking too much mulled wine. And in these ‘unprecedented times’, we have to find new ways to distract ourselves from holiday heartbreak.
So, aside from spending all your ex’s Christmas present money on a lavish gift for yourself – here are my top four tips for navigating those festive breakup feels.
WATCH OUT FOR GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST
We all know the scene, but, I’ll paint the picture anyway. It’s December; you’re sitting cosy on the couch, sipping tea, watching TV with your best friend, when you get the ‘Hey stranger… it’s been a while, how you been? Up to much this Christmas?’ DM slide.
It could be your recent ex, it could be your ex from high school, it could just be a hookup of holidays past. But it happens, like clockwork. Cuffing season is upon us and people want to cuddle up for the winter. Hell, I’m not even ashamed to say it, I have definitely sent a holiday ‘u up’ text before.
WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE MY FRIENDS. My advice to you is – if it’s going to cause you heartbreak in the long run, don’t do it. The thought of cuddling up to someone familiar might seem nice in the moment, but it’s probably going to prolong the healing process for you.
If you’re just looking for fun, then go run wild my child (but safely, in both the COVID19 and sexual sense, of course).
STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media becomes a battleground when you’ve broken up – but especially around the holidays. A contest of who can have the most festive fun, or at least look like they are. Looking at images of your ex back with their family that you may have been close with, or out in your old favourite pub with their mates, can be really tough to deal with, and we do not enjoy hurting ourselves, do we? DO WE?
So, prioritise your peace and block your ex so you can’t see what they’re up to. You also won’t be obsessing over whether they’ve watched your story. Actively engaging with that person, whether it’s IRL or online, will just prolong you getting over them.
Limit the time you go on social media in general. If you’re not feeling super cheery right now, seeing the highlights reel of anyone else’s Christmas is bound to make you feel like crap. Fill your time with other things that will make you happy, like learning a new skill – maybe you always wanted to learn tarot? Maybe you want to adopt a dog? Or maybe you want to start a new side hustle? The possibilities really are endless, and putting time back into yourself will help keep you grounded and optimistic during this time.
HAVE A CHRISTMAS THAT PROTECTS YOUR PEACE
Whatever is going to make you feel safe, loved and appreciated this year, do it. Do not feel forced into all the things you hate doing around Christmas, because it’s just going to make you feel ten times worse.
That relative that always asks when you’re going to be getting married? Maybe tell your family you’re going to be avoiding her this year. That group of friends that are all coupled up invited you for NYE, but the idea of being in the room with all of them when the clock chimes twelve makes you sick to your stomach? Maybe miss that this year.
Create the holiday season that makes you feel the most comforted. Communicate with your family members or friends that you’re having a hard time processing things at the moment, and you’d like for them to respect that.
I know this may seem hard, because like I said, it’s difficult to start looking forward to the new year when your plans change drastically. But making plans for yourself at this time will really help you move on from that phase of life, and get you ready to enter into a completely new chapter. As we all know, break-ups are awful; they hurt and they are painful, and that pain is valid, but they aren’t the end of your world. Now you get to take your life in a different direction, whichever one you choose.
Your new plans could be as small as taking a trip with some of your best friends or could be as big as making a new career move. Think about what will make you happy. Was there one thing that you always had to compromise on that you wished you could do? Do that. Ask yourself, what do I actually want from life? What do I want to achieve in a year? How exciting is the prospect that I can choose where my path goes now? Because that’s a fucking exciting place to be in.
Ask yourself, what do I actually want from life? What do I want to achieve in a year?
A few years on from my breakup story, we’re approaching another Christmas and I’m single. One of the things I have now grown to love about this time of year is how excited I am to plan what I want to do and achieve, and that’s whether I’m seeing someone or not. I decide what I want and what will make me flourish; there’s no compromise. When the right person comes along, your lives will just fit together, and you’ll never regret working on you.
This holiday season, prioritise your happiness and remember time heals all wounds, which is cheesy, but fuck, it’s true. I wish I could go back and hug my younger self and tell her this really ain’t it, your life is never over because your relationship is. But alas, time travel does not yet exist.
So, consider me your very own ghost of Christmas future telling you to go forth and THRIVE this year. With or without them. You got this.