Relationships are key to being human. We are social creatures and not meant to live solitary lives, but that doesn’t mean everything is always sunshine and roses.
Breakups are one of the hardest parts of life, and sadly, they are often discovered while we’re in high school. I am talking about the awful kind that leave stabbing pains in the chest, hundreds of used tissues and empty ice cream cartons in their wake.
A high school setting is the perfect environment for this painful learning experience to play out. Teenagers are highly optimistic that they will beat the odds, but few do. No one can really help them prepare for the blow — the heartbreak. And family and friends are left to pick up the pieces afterward.
There isn’t really a manual for high schoolers to get over a breakup, but I sure wish there was. While there is no exact method to it, there are several tips to younger generations from older and wiser sources.
The first thing that teens — and their parents — should understand is that they may go through all of the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For some, it is longer than others and that is OK and normal.
For example, let’s say a teenage boy breaks up with his teenage girlfriend. At first, she will not want to admit that they broke up. She might even say it’s just a phase and that he will come to his senses eventually. Then she will be angry, blaming him for everything, and think how dare he after everything she has done?
Next comes bargaining. At some point or another, even if she doesn’t act on it, she will want him back and try to figure out how to do it. After that comes depression, where she finally realizes all she has lost. This is where the tissues and ice cream come in handy. Finally, acceptance, where she will be able to let go and move on, realizing that it was probably for the best anyway.
I’m sure that it sounds familiar to everyone, even if they haven’t heard the exact name for it. When you or your loved one finally get to the acceptance stage, that’s where the tips start to come in and letting go comes into play.
But how does one actually let go?
There are a couple methods, but one of the most important things to do is sever contact with the other person, even if it is just for a while. That means no texting, no Facebook friends, no Snapchatting or Tweeting with each other. While it may be hard, it’s one of the best things people can do for themselves during the grieving process.
That doesn’t mean everyone can’t be friends when it’s all over; it just means everyone needs to get in a healthy place first — and right after a breakup is not the right time.
During this time it is important to steer clear of making any big decisions. Your strong emotions might influence them for the negative. It is best to wait until you have a clear head and heart to do any real decision-making.
Stay close to friends and family. Make sure you have a support system all around you to remind you that no matter what, you are still loved. Now would be a good time to find and rekindle old connections with friends and do the things you have always wanted to do. Often times, people tend to distance themselves from others when in a relationship and this is the perfect way to become close again. It is also a good way to make sure you don’t do anything impulsive while you are still upset.
Take things a step at a time. Remember that everyone is going to have setbacks once in a while, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. Sometimes it just means focusing on getting through the day or even hour. Use that time to connect with yourself and find out who you really are. These things will take time and it is OK to be patient. Think of it as an opportunity to reinvent yourself. Change your wardrobe, hairstyle or room. Exercise more or eat healthier. Use it as motivation to become who you really want to be.
The last and most important advice anyone can give is don’t rebound. While it may be tempting to fill the empty hole in your heart, give yourself time to heal. Don’t rush into things with someone else and don’t try to make the other person jealous. It usually ends up with more heartbreak and therefore, more problems. There is nothing wrong with being single and rediscovering who you are. If people really care about you, they can wait until you are in a better, healthier place.
Remember to just love yourself, or if it’s a loved one going through a break up, show your love and support for them. No one ever said it was an easy thing to heal from, but no one ever said it was impossible either.
A breakup doesn’t make anyone an awful person or less than anyone else. It is a natural, albeit painful, part of life, just like healing a broken bone or recovering from surgery. Keep in mind that everyone goes through it and it will turn out OK, even if there is no handbook.
Peatross is a senior at Tooele High School.