For six years, all I knew was him and us. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t see him, talk to him, laugh with him, or fight with him. We even sent those annoyingly sappy text messages and emoji’s back and forth and had nicknames for each other that nobody else would understand (gross). But somewhere along the way, the car that was our relationship broke down and there weren’t any gas stations around to refuel it. So, I found myself newly and suddenly single. I was a ball of emotions: sad and angry, but mostly confused. You see, I hadn’t been single in ages, so I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do. Do I cut my hair? Do I fill a tub of ice cream with tears? Do I start courting another, kinder fellow? I certainly didn’t have all the answers then, but today I am a self-proclaimed specialist in love and breakups. My qualifications? I loved, I lost, and once it was all said and done, I learned to navigate my life again. And I’m here to help you do the same. So here are 5 ways to heal your broken heart:

1) Let all of your emotions out.

The worst thing you can do after a breakup is keep all of your feelings bottled up and pretend like you’re okay when you’re not. You have to let out all of the anger, the sadness, and the tears (even if it they do get on your cookie dough ice cream). Otherwise, you’ll always have these emotions festering deep down and they’ll probably affect future relationships or other aspects of your life. So when your best friend asks you if you need her to come over with a bottle of wine and a bag of chocolate, don’t tell her it’s unnecessary and claim that you’re fine, instead say, “Yes, pronto! What took you so long?” Your loved ones will help you work out and make sense of the load of emotions spewing out of you.

2) Take a good look at the relationship and why it didn’t work.

It’s hard to get over someone or move on from a relationship when you don’t fully understand why it ended. My ex and I didn’t just send stupid sappy texts back and forth, we talked about our future together, about marriage. We naively promised each other forever. So when we parted ways, it was important for me to look back on the entirety of our relationship and figure out why something we both wanted so badly just wasn’t attainable. In our case, it ultimately came down to our goals and our beliefs. This realization helped me accept the breakup and know that it was for the best. You need to do the same: understand why the relationship didn’t work out so that you can accept it and move forward.

3) Pour your love into something else.

I didn’t say someone else, I said something else. So don’t go finding yourself a rebound, that’ll just make matters much worse. What I mean is put your heart and your soul into something else, something that you care deeply about. This can be a hobby or your job even: Maybe you love to write, but you just haven’t had the time or the energy to put some real effort into it. That time and opportunity is now! Or maybe your relationship was taking away from your motivation and focus at work. Now you can really focus and prioritize. Hey, maybe your boss will even take notice and you’ll get that promotion you’ve been eyeing! It’s a win-win, really.

4) Focus on yourself.

Two keys: self-love and growth. My relationship lasted for six years. That means my life evolved around loving another being, taking care of another being, catering to another being for 72 months—or for 2,190 days if you want to look at it that way—before I knew how to do so correctly. I didn’t know and practice that balance every relationship needs. So when it all came crashing down, I was in desperate need of some me-time. I didn’t even know who I was as an individual anymore. So I simply started doing what made me feel good, what made me smile, and what made me feel fulfilled. And in the process, I rediscovered myself. Therefore, trust me when I say to simply focus on yourself—you’re in for quite a journey.

5) Trust in future love and the universe’s plans for you.

Don’t go cursing life and declaring love’s inexistence because you and your mate didn’t work out. Some relationships are only meant to last awhile, to teach you lessons about life and love and then go on their way. They build your strength, prepare you for future loves, and even guide you in the direction your life is meant to go in. The point is, breakups aren’t meant to break you down or hold you back, only you can do that. So remain hopeful in your future relationships, your future accomplishments, and go eagerly.

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