Please note: I wrote this a few months ago, but haven’t felt ‘right’ about posting it until now.
I have learnt more about myself and relationships in the last 9 months than I have in 9 years: I’ve experienced the sadness, guilt and pain of falling out of love with someone after many years of joy, have had my eyes opened to whole new ways of life and thinking (veganism included) by a new love, and then had my turn at experiencing utter rejection and loss. What goes around comes around.
I would like to share what I experienced after the break-up, in the hope that it might help and encourage those who find themselves in the same position. This post mostly focuses on the physical effects of loss and my way of dealing with it – the emotional effects were pretty complicated due to there being many different factors at stake, and not just the loss of a partner, so I won’t delve too deep into it.
Everyone experiences loss – whether through death, or simply a parting of ways, and a very common manifestation of such loss is through a sick feeling in the stomach and a lack of appetite.
I experienced this myself for about 3 days after the break-up – specifically the nausea on the first day and loss of appetite extending another few days. This was interesting to me, I had never experienced it before. I didn’t wake up with a gurgly stomach hungry for breakfast, nor experience hunger pangs to let me know it was time for lunch or dinner. Instead, I ate out of necessity – when I started to feel weak and dizzy.
I found smoothies to be the easiest way to get the energy I needed during this time – it is proven that blending foods ensures a slower release of energy, and the fruit and greens I blended gave me the carbs and vitamins I needed to stay healthy.
What about comfort eating I hear you cry, what about ordering take-away and ice cream and stuffing yourself silly? Over the last 9 months I’ve increasingly found that fatty and rich foods upset my digestion and I nearly always feel sick after eating them. The last thing I want to do is give my body more trauma and prolong the healing process, because there is an incredibly strong link between the brain and the stomach (I’ll be doing more research on this) and it definitely seems that upsetting one affects the other.
In fact, I’m certain that I am at my lowest and most anxious when my stomach isn’t feeling too good – it’s so instantaneous. I can feel great and happy one minute, eat something, then 5 minutes later suddenly feel anxious and want to run away from whatever situation I’m in – this is nearly always accompanied by an uncomfortable/sick feeling in my stomach, which after another few minutes disappears (along with the anxiety), as I guess, the food is digested a little more.
.I will continue to be mindful of this connection – I find it quite reassuring to be able to attribute sudden heightened anxiety to a physiological reason that will soon pass, however I must be careful not to neglect any underlying psychological cause of the anxiety too (that’s another post in itself).
So how did I attempt to stay positive during the mourning/healing process?
1. By looking after my body
So I’ve realised how much food can affect me, but so does exercise, or even just movement! It can be too easy to want to stay in bed and binge on Netflix to escape having to come to terms with such a massive change in your life. So I’ve established a morning routine which I try to do every day, it’s not always possible due to other things going on, but on the whole it’s easy to maintain:
- A big glass of water upon waking – this helps your digestive system wake up and re-hydrates the brain, making you feel ready for the day.
- Half an hour of yoga before breakfast – before, because it stops the chance of breakfast coming back up! I’m still figuring out what positions and routines are best for me, so have tried watching a few different instructors on YouTube. At the moment I’m enjoying ‘Yoga With Adriene’ – she has a laid-back approach and encourages you to listen to your body and do ‘what’s comfortable for you’, rather than follow strict instructions.
- A simple high energy, but watery smoothie: I might have about 5 dates with around a desert spoon of flaxseed and lots of water (coconut water when I have it!). I’ve found that anything thicker/more complicated gives me a stomach ache when I move onto the next step…
- A 35min-1hour long bike ride along the coastal cycle path to Rottingdean and back, sometimes extending it out the other way to Southwick.
This really works up and appetite, so I’ll have a more filling smoothie, they’re different every time, but ingredients I like to mix and switch around are: bananas (I always have at least 2), strawberries, blueberries, kale/spinach, flaxseed, pineapple, peach, raw cacao powder, shelled hempseeds, coconut water, coconut oil, turmeric powder or fresh root, black pepper (to activate the turmeric), cinnamon and ginger.
This little routine fully wakes and sets me up for the day, without it I feel sluggish and not as focused and more prone to ‘low’ moods. It also makes me feel good about myself (which is important when you’ve felt rejection!) as I know I’m trying my best to stay in good health. I’m not saying it’s right for everyone, but I think trying to work in a little regular exercise really helps structure your day and makes you feel like you’ve achieved something.
2. By surrounding myself with positive friends and those I love
Without a partner I’m usually a bit of a lone wolf, only usually choosing to socialise a couple of times a week. However I found that constantly surrounding myself with positive friends, who were happy to listen and give support, was incredibly healing.
Also, every time I talked about my experience or how I was feeling, I gained new insights into myself – even as I was saying the words I would suddenly realise the cause of a certain emotion or action, which would ultimately help me heal and move on.
Of course, I hate to say it, but time is the ultimate healer. However, looking after your body and mind by establishing routine and surrounding yourself with those that make you happy, will certainly help time seem to go quicker – until one day you realise, that those feelings of grief and loss, are fading to just a memory.
I hope this gives anyone in a similar situation hope and inspiration, all things will pass, but let’s make sure we keep looking after our minds and bodies to make it all a bit easier for ourselves.