What Happens If You Distract Yourself After A Breakup

Yesterday, I had the urge to go to a lake by my work. I left work on time, finishing up all my emails and tasks, and happily headed to the lake. It was a bit past sunset and the water was a beautiful dark blue hue. 

There were birds floating peacefully through the water and people running and walking by. I strolled around the path passing all sorts of faces. I sat on a park bench in the cold and just looked at the Denver skyline and I felt relaxed…I felt at peace. 

I wanted a mental break – a moment of peace – and I got it. I hadn’t felt this peaceful since my breakup. I was feeling zen (or so I thought).

After about 15 minutes of this pure bliss, I went to my car to head back home. Ten minutes into the ride, I started crying uncontrollably. I hadn’t cried in weeks but somehow my emotions overwhelmed me. 

I had gone through a heartbreak a few months ago, so I knew the pain was still there. I just didn’t know how desperately my pain wanted to be heard. All my emotional pain was spilling out in the car ride. I went from feeling shame and guilt for how I let myself be treated to feeling soul crushingly hurt. No matter how much I tried, I could not stop crying. 

This outburst of emotions left me feeling confused and frustrated. Hadn’t I been through this already? Hadn’t I made peace with my relationship ending? The more I asked myself these questions, the more my heart said “no.” I had suppressed these emotions through distractions and I had confused the state of being distracted for healing.

We’re told to handle breakups by cutting our hair, focusing on our jobs, maybe even moving to a new city. That was what I was doing. I was focused on work more than ever, I was teaching myself how to code and I felt like I was the queen of breakups. 

Deep down what I was really doing was distracting myself. From the moment I woke up to the time I went to sleep, I had an escape. Either through work, studying, social media, Netflix, or even reading – I had an escape. I did not give myself a minute of me. The person closest to me, myself, was nowhere to be found. I had no time for thoughts, feelings, happiness and especially not pain. I distracted myself to the point of extreme shunning of anything internal….anything real.

It is human nature to avoid pain and uncomfortable situations. Our brains are designed to protect us from pain. Distraction is a form of this protection. Not giving myself the time to feel my painful emotions did not mean that they ceased to exist – they just kept being suppressed.

This realization has made me realize how important it is to be alone and to hear your voice. 

Alone does not mean eating ice cream and watching Netflix (although, there is time for that as well). 

Alone means sitting with your emotions and feeling them authentically no matter how painful or burdensome. 

Alone means allowing yourself to have the quiet and peace where you can check in with yourself. 

Alone means time spent alone in the quiet, in nature, or in a place where you don’t have any external stimuli (podcasts, reading, TV, music etc). All of these things are positive and deserve their own time but these things also don’t let us be fully with ourselves. 

Only the time spent alone in reflection can lead to true healing – the kind of healing that is honest and authentic, and not created out of insecurity or avoidance. 

Once we remove distractions, we can begin to work through our pain and find ways to mend it. This honest admission of pain can lead us to healing.

So I encourage you to take some time to be alone in this way. Let that moment with yourself be a guide towards your own healing and wellbeing.

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