Ex-iety: It’s the resentment you feel when you remember how much you poured into a relationship and how little was poured back into you. It’s that gut-wrenching feeling (or amusement you get) when their new bae’s name pops up on your Facebook suggested friend’s list. It’s the hoping you won’t run into them at a holiday party or event. It’s that look of sheer horror on your face when they show up on your doorstep unannounced.
Almost every one of us has an ex that when we think of them, our palms sweat, our stomach drops, and our fight or flight response immediately activates. Whether it’s a trauma-response or it’s a reaction to the uncertain future that lies ahead, the upcoming holiday season can undoubtedly exacerbate valid fears and anxieties that accompany bad break-ups.
While the joys of holiday shopping and pumpkin spice lattes keep our minds preoccupied, previous memories of celebrating birthdays, exchanging Christmas gifts, and kissing on New Year’s Eve can come back to haunt us like the ghost of Christmas past. So how do we keep ourselves from turning into a Scrooge?
1. Back Away from the Phone
If your break-up is recent, nothing is more important than staying away from your ex’s social media. Put your mental and emotional health first by resisting the urge to internet stalk them because let’s face it: it’s a trap. And if you do fall into the trap and experience ex-iety all over again, just remember that very few things on the internet are real these days. We’ve all mastered the art of projecting our best selfies and selves on almost every platform. No matter what narrative your ex is spinning about their own life, it doesn’t serve you. The quickest path to happiness is to let go of the things that hurt you.
2. Surround Yourself with Support
Talk openly with your friends and family about what you’re experiencing. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. So many people have loved and lost, and your friends and family will absolutely get it. There’s nothing new under the sun, and many happy, healthy relationships are made up of people who once thought their love lives were completely over. Consider looking ahead at the holiday calendar and making plans with your friends on days that may hold special remembrance.
3. Focus on Your Healing Journey
If you have insurance, contact your provider for a list of in-network therapists or seek out online therapy. It’s worth every penny. If that’s not in your budget, consider purchasing some good books on breakups and grief or following podcasts by social workers and clinical psychologists tackling the topic. Some places also offer free group counseling. From meditation and journaling to taking on new hobbies, focusing on your healing journey can build self-esteem and the self-confidence you need to move forward.
4. Embrace Forgiveness
Not every relationship ends in betrayal, but some do. As much as we all seek closure, not every relationship will end with it. While some actions may not warrant forgiveness, making peace with the past can help you move towards a love-filled future. Forgiving yourself is a powerful feeling. If you ignored red flags, stayed in the relationship too long, or if you’re finding yourself replaying the past and wishing you had done things differently, try forgiving yourself instead. Remember to extend yourself grace and forgiveness.
5. Envision Your Future
This is your life, and you only get one. Take some time to envision your happiest future. Is it in a new relationship with a new partner? Is it embracing the single life? No matter what your joyful future looks like, trust that you are exactly where you’re meant to be because the universe has shown you what is not meant for you. Thank your ex, wish them peace, and then turn that pain into power. Embolden yourself to take control of your life and claim the future that is waiting for you.
Whether you’re currently healing from the scars of ex-iety or you’ve only just begun to show signs of this post-traumatic relationship disorder, there is always a better relationship out there waiting for you. And it is that kind of hope that keeps us going this holiday season.