First let me be clear, you will survive no matter what.
Everything shall pass.
After a breakup you wish your ex well because you love them, but that too shall pass. First you are in denial. You want, deep inside, everything to go back as it was before. You don’t say it out loud. Maybe with your friends you act like you know it’s over. But there’s always some hope because it’s the first stage: denial.
Then when you open your eyes to find out the love of your life can live (and wants to live) without you, maybe you will realize that you don’t want everything to be like it was before. One day you look back and see it wasn’t so great. Maybe you were happy, but if they left there was something that wasn’t okay. Maybe this person wasn’t ready to commit or maybe you were struggling and you didn’t see it.
If your ex left you because they met someone else, let’s get to the angry stage already.
But here is the important thing: stop with the illusion. Accept the fact that this person is going to live without you. And that you need to focus (this is really hard at first) on you. Only you. What can you do? What do you want? That’s a hard one if the breakup wasn’t your decision. It will be hard to focus on you, because you still want to understand the other.
Anger can fill your heart, your words, your mind. You are angry because they left you. They didn’t want to share with you, laugh with you, build a life with you…and that’s okay. You are in the next stage. If you have some issues try to work them out. Go to therapy, meditate, find yourself. Everyone has issues - this doesn’t justify someone leaving you, but you have to take this opportunity to work things out with yourself.
You need to take the anger and make it work for you. Destroy letters, or punch your bed. Burn a pile of photos of the two of you together (in a safe manner, please), but then you need to transform the anger into something else. Run, paint, write, take photos…be creative and explore this anger for your own sake. This feeling is for you to grow up and build a better version of yourself.
This is about you. Only you. When you are in a couple, everything, EVERYTHING, is about two. You plan, you share, you live with that person and many times, we forget about ourselves. This precise moment in your life is only about you. Learn about what you like, what you want to learn, how you want to live and how you'd like to experiment. Find out who you are alone. Learn to enjoy the time with yourself, with no friends, no date, no family. You can be whole, you can feel loved, alone.
After anger, there it comes. Sadness. To tell you the truth I was sad before I was mad, but that’s just me. Well, you will cry, a lot. You will feel a hole in your chest: that’s loss. When you lose someone there’s this hole in your heart. It’s ok. Watch movies that make you cry, cry at a sunset, cry on the subway (been there), cry alone and with a friend. Hug a lot, hugging makes you happier. Don’t think about your ex so you can feel pain. Burst into tears when it's inevitable, but don’t enjoy the suffering. Don’t feed the thoughts about the happy times. Go with the flow.
And also, I didn’t mention this before: LET GO. You can’t conquer the breakup until you let go. You have to stop talking, stop all communication. You can call it whatever you want. "We had to see each other because of the house, and the stuff...” You can fool everyone but yourself. If you don’t stop the communication, the process can be longer. It could take many months or years of your life. So it’s better to start right away.
After anger, after you use all the bad words you know in every language to describe your "stupid, f**king" ex, you will feel free. Because you’ve cried, you’ve cursed. Now a sense of liberation starts to grow deep inside and you find out that in a day you didn’t think about it for 10 hours.
The first days you will think about it all the time. Then everyday. Then some days. And it will vanish, and then you will have the memories of that relationship far away in the past. And the nights with anxiety, the nights crying alone in a big bed, will be over. The moments when you see a couple and curse the universe will be over.
And maybe, when you see this cool person looking at you, maybe you will look at him/her, and start talking and find out: there are plenty of interesting people around. You just have to be ready.
Also, you may want to check out: what to remind yourself of when you're missing your ex, how to survive the heartbreak of a broken engagement, and how to find the silver lining amidst pain.