I’ve been chatting to a few friends who are feeling a bit glum and as much as I want to take their pain away I know it’s not as easy. Getting by and reaching the complete phase of ‘fine’ takes a lot of patience, a lot of effort and a lot of time.
My personal healing process has five phases.
PHASE 1: UNTOUCHABLE
“Ouch!” factor is extremely high as everything feels fresh and shockingly deep. The hurt is so confusing and you spontaneously combust. You lose it when you hear a name/word/song or when you see a place. You are emotionally unstable and everyone’s on tenterhooks around you. But, just like any other wound you can’t put any ‘antiseptic’ just yet until you squeeze all the icky, possibly infected stuff. So you do everything to exhaust all that. Cry over sad films/songs. Vent to your friends then tell them you don’t want to see anyone just yet. Scream at the top of your lungs. Deactivate and reactivate your profile on the social networks. Have a drink to remember, have two to forget.
In this phase, you can get away with being ever so slightly irrational, but remember that you can never get away with not showering for days.
PHASE 2: SPRING CLEAN
One day you will chance upon your reflection or a fairly recent photo of yourself and panic because you seem to have aged a hundred years since the first “Ouch!” moment. You finally realise how things have dragged you and your facial epidermis down and that you really need to take action. So you invest in makeovers: physical (hair-chops and colour, spa treats), lifestyle (room change, taking in more work, a new diet or health regime), spiritual (prayer or peer group).
In this phase, you will throw out stuff from your ‘box of memories’ like a few receipts and that stuffed animal you got for a special occasion (which you thought was a sweet gesture then but in total honesty you would’ve preferred something more practical). You will still hold on to some letters because you’re just not quite ready to let go of some old things yet, but you are ready to embrace a brand new you.
PHASE 3: FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT
The “Ouch!” factor in this phase is tricky because it usually surprises you at the worst timing ever. With your new makeover(s) you feel a new sort of energy: you think you’re ready and that you’re okay… until you hear or see something that takes you down again. Like finding an old photograph hidden in your purse on a first date or bumping into the ex with his new flame. So what to do?
Fake it ’til you make it. Throw the photo away. Walk away from the couple or strut directly past them and pretend they’re nobodies.
This phase requires a whole lot of willpower because getting past it depends on how much effort you put into it. You have to plaster a smile on your face no matter what, kinda like having Botox without Botox. Unhappy? Force yourself to laugh and smile. Or watch VJ Greg. Not in the mood? Go out, be with good friends. Demotivated? Tell yourself you will be fine. Out loud. Don’t believe it? Say it a thousand times until you do. Say it a thousand times more and you will.
PHASE 4: BAND AID
The “Ouch!” factor is not as high anymore and the only way to feel the pain is when it’s self-inflicted. The determination to move on is stronger, but you’re actually not conscious of it because it just comes naturally to you. You finally realise that the world is moving on and you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
At this stage, you have accepted your fate and you also realise that you’re so ready to go out there and try again. You go back to phases 2 and 3 until you realise that you’ve thrown away all the letters and stuff from your box and that your fakery is actually genuine enough for you to say you’re fine without forcing a smile as you do. Sure, the scars are still there but you only see it when you take the bandages off. Most of the time, you won’t even notice. You’ve reached a sort of zen-like/comfortably numb stage and you can finally see sunshine again.
PHASE 5: TITANIUM
This phase is the most surprising because you can never tell when it is going to happen. It’s hard to explain, but usually it goes like this. You will wake up one day feeling different. It would seem like you’ve finally let go of everything and the feeling of loss is replaced by a rather strange feeling of redemption.
You will search for your scars and you will feel them there but the hurt is gone. You will feel tougher as you are actually unaffected by their presence. You will feel better as you recognise the brand new you is excited for the things to come. You will feel smarter because you know a lot more about yourself and that though love maybe crazy and stupid, you most definitely are not.
And if anyone asks you if you are okay? You only have one real, genuine answer.
Some heartbreaks heal quicker than others but they’re all the same in a sense that we have to go through them to love ourselves more, to appreciate people who care for us (especially family and friends) and most importantly to learn. There’s no time pressure in moving on – we all go through these phases differently. But remember: it all starts with your own individual desire/attempt to move forward. Scars will always be a part of your history but you are always going to be in control of what lies beneath and what goes on.