Learning The Art of Letting Go - A Simple 10 Step Guide • LOVE, SEX & RELATIONSHIPS

Image is not my own - edited from tumblr
It's amazing what some quality time with an old girlfriend can do for the healing process when it comes to past relationships, not your friendship but the ex-relationship you had with your previous partner that you're secretly holding onto somewhere. This is one of the essential parts in learning the art of letting go.

Friends talk about their relationships, it's what we do. Whether it's a crush on someone you've seen working behind the bar of your favourite group hangout or your current new boyfriend or the guy who you just ended things with. Talking is like therapy for the ego, something we all need to do from time to time. Well this week was my time.

I had planned a girly catch up with an old college friend, who I haven't seen since our final exams before the summer of A Level results. We met for coffee, which after a lot of talking turned into a light lunch and after much chatting and chomping on skinny fries had made me feel a lot better. A feeling I didn't know I needed, but after revealing all the good, the bad and the ugly of the past two years there was something in me that felt I had confessed all my sins or had fed the homeless. It was a light and relieving emotion, that did me the world of good.

This got me thinking, at what point do we fully 'recover' from heartache, breakups, you know the drill. We've all done the crying to our mothers over someone who doesn't deserve us and bitched to friends over the girl who your cyber stalking, let's be real. We've all done it. Whilst I fully believe that there is no 'one-way road to self-healing' and that all grieving processes differ in lengths, that does not mean that there is a formulaic approach to getting over them.

Now when I say formulaic, I don't mean there's a math test involved or you have to be a whizz at calculus, what I do mean is that there is an easy step by step solutions that will eventually get you back onto your most fabulous self and more. You will be saying hello to hot dates, nights out with the girls and shopping trips where you snag the perfect sale items. Trust me, it get's better.

So what's the magical solution to solving all your empty tissue boxes and vases of non-existent flowers? Here is my 10 step guide to letting go. You can thank me later.

Step One: The angry crying hating everyone/everything/him/you/her bit. - This is the obvious first bit, where you send angry whatsapps/iMessages/texts/Facebook messages the whole shebang, cry, hate the fact you're crying and flip between fury and floods and tears. Argue, scream, shout, get it all out. It's okay... you need to get everything off your chest.

How to get out of this step and move forward: You will get a message which you deem deserves no reply or comeback, when this happens... don't give one. When you run your energy down and are at breaking point, breathe, step back and think: is this worth my time and energy? I guarantee the answer is no. And when you realise this you will finally put a huge middle finger to the problem, roll over and say 'goodbye' to the ability to continue arguing over the same things over and over.

Step Two: The binging on guilt food, staying in and in general just not doing anything with your life part. - So the next step if full of self-pity and loathing and staying up all hours scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any other social media where they exist and/or the person they are now with/seeing/sleeping with also exists. You will of course, compare this with your own Facebook page and start deleting all your bad photos and untag those photos that don't show off your best angle, so if they are doing the same you only look ah-maaaaa-ZING. Even if you're down to only having three photos on your whole profile, and you know all their followers, who's liked and commented on their photos and how many of those likes they get on average in an hour. 

How to get out of this step and move forward: Limit yourself. Don't check it once every five minutes, whittle it down to once an hour, then once every three, then once a day, a week and so on, until you can safely hold your phone without the compulsion to stalk every post they put online. It's a hard process but you can do it! On a serious note, if you weren't so great and fabulous you wouldn't have been with them in the first place, so don't beat yourself up and think that you're ugly or awful. You're not, you're just no longer compatible with this person and if you were you wouldn't be fighting or going through the next eight steps. 

Step Three: The 'Screw You! I'm fabulous!' part where you download Tinder and realise you're worth it. - A little harmless flirtation never hurt any singleton, so sending some flirty banter is the best way to realise that you are more than all the negative things your head tells you to believe you are. So now it's time to go on a few dates and have some fun. Hey you're only young once right? Okay, so you don't actually have to download Tinder. But it might help. Just delete, block, ignore the past and move forward. Just don't get so into finding a new guy and serial dating that you end up losing who you are and what you're about because you just want to be with someone and have that close companionship again, it will come, but you've got to stay true to yourself. Sure re-invent, get healthy and fit, get those abs and nice butt that you want, change your haircut to that celebrity style you've been eyeing up and treat yourself to some self-indulgent purchases, but don't lose your awesome personality, friends or hobbies trying to get over your break up. 

How to get out of this step and move forward: Okay, so you got the new hair, had a manicure, got a gym membership and have taken up running, now it's time to delete the dating app and ditch the romantic notion that you're over your last heartache, because you're not. You know you're not. You still think of them, compare them to the dates your going on and ultimately you miss them. So now start accepting the past is in the past and this new single you is the present, so in one way or another... get over it. Tough love. Feelings fade eventually, but it will take time, just enjoy your life at the moment.

Step Four: The crying to your Mother and friends going full circle rebound 'Oh My God, My life is over, What am I doing? I am going to be sad and lonely forever!' part. - Hey you're actually on the road to recover, this is a natural healing cycle you're going through, it's the death of a relationship and this means that you will have triggered memories and emotional attachments to places or objects, bands and songs, even foods. Don't worry, this really won't last forever. You may have experienced some form of contact or seeing them again on a friends Facebook page or something, which sets off a roller coaster of hating them but missing them, don't answer the texts, don't call them or even so much as think of replying to their presence. You're over that. Kind of.

How to get out of this step and move forward: Don't bottle it up. Cry again. But then watch girly films and have a laugh with your friends in true slumber party fashion, having the proper sleepover experience of take away food, sugary treats and/or savoury snacks and having a giggle about anything and everything off the topic of why you cried to them in the first place. Talking and getting it all out in the open will really move you forward and realise how far you've come and how you are more than capable of carrying on with your life.

Step Five: The 'Why on Earth was I crying about THAT!?' part. - Start singing Bon Jovi, throw your hands in the air as you are now at the part I believe is called 'the wake up call' - where you realise that your tears are not to be deserved by them. You're soooo beyond that. So now focus on that new person that you like and start getting what you deserve, refocus on your goals and move on with your life. It's easier once you start. A great way of getting yourself back on track is having a catch up with a old friend you haven't seen since you were with your ex and see how far you've come and all the great things you've managed to do since and notice the positive changes you've made to your life now by talking to your friend. 

How to get out of this step and move forward: Oh look! You're getting over them! Isn't this a great feeling? You no longer care about all the small hangups you were previously obsessing over and you're in a stable and happier place. Now meet up with friends you've been meaning to catch up on, do the things you love and carry on living your life, you're half way there!

Step Six: The New Relationship - It's time to enjoy the butterflies and excitement of a new partner. Wait... what's that? Old feelings? Comparing them to your ex? But this person's so great!? Here we go again... Nope don't worry, it's the first time you're in a relationship after feeling screwed over and it's natural to notice the difference between your old love and your new one. They aren't the same person, and that's great! It's a good thing, you didn't work with your ex remember? That's why you're not together... and why you like this new person. They are good for you. Stop comparing, start enjoying. Live in the moment and let yourself go in your new love.

How to get out of this step and move forward: Start putting a mental thumbs up to them for all the things they do that you wish your ex had and the things that you wanted your ex to or that they lacked and you hated about them that you now have with this new person. Yes you may miss things about your old relationship from time to time and think of them occasionally, but don't let that ruin and override all the good you have now. Now do something that you've both always wanted to do together and have amazing fun. Be silly, be adventurous, be cute together.

Step Seven: The meeting friends and moving on part - Now it's time to get your friends to give you the lowdown on what they think of your new match, and see the new you. The happy you. The you you thought you'd lost forever when you were back on Step Four (remember that?). Don't just sit in at the weekends, go on dates, have cute romantic moments together and do things that you couldn't do with your ex before. Then meet their friends, meet the parents, start getting serious and start the being happy, not just temporarily or when you're out the house distracting yourself. But just being happy because you're allowed to be. You deserve to be.

How to get out of this step and move forward: You're over half way there now, don't look back! If you haven't met the families yet, get that checked off, start passing as many relationship goals as you can, such as sharing a desert at a restaurant, cooking together at home, sharing each other's interest that you secretly don't care about. Shop together, watch films, go to an event as a couple. Establish your relationship as here to stay and realise that you are now in a full blown relationship, and not a triangle of feelings between you, your ex and your new relationship. It's just the two of you, and that's okay, you're allowed to move on. Once this is accepted you're almost done.

Step Eight: The being able to mention them without feelings part - It's now time for the final hurdles before you've completely let go, because deep deep down (even if you don't want to admit it) you still are bothered by the idea of them moving on and don't like the fact they are going to be with someone else. But now you should start being able to have a conversation about them or here their name without becoming a crumbling mess and wishing you had the best bits back. Because that's not real, it never was, it was only a heightened version of the good that ignores all the bad and the ugly. Once you can start to hear about them or see them on social media without having that tie of emotions to them, you know you're in a better, much settled and happy place.

How to get out of this step and move forward: Keep going! You can make it! Start celebrating major events with your new partner (birthday's, Christmas, Weddings etc.), go on holiday and start getting serious. You should be feeling the L word coming on if you haven't already said 'I Love You' by now.

Step Nine: The hearing from them and not caring anymore  part- If you can hear from them or about their life and genuinely not care or have it affect you anymore, then you are there, you just have to keep that up. You saw a couple photo on Instagram? Who cares!? You know they are still hanging out with friends you used to hang out with? So what!? You're ex's girlfriend looks exactly like you? Ha! It's over. The grieving process is drying up. You won your freedom from feeling of them back.

How to get out of this step and move forward: One more step to go! Celebrate your relationship's anniversary and just enjoy being happy and with someone else. It's all simple now. You're happy.  

Step Ten: The art is mastered. - Hooray! You've done it! You've learnt the art of letting go. What was this art? Going through each step, recognising the steps and accepting each part of the process without beating yourself up that you cared, and cried. You're human. Shocker. If it took you a year, that's okay. Two years? It doesn't matter. Seven or eight months? Well done you. It's all a personal journey and you have to go through it at your own pace and don't let anyone push you to go faster than you're ready and capable of. We don't want to pull a muscle. 
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