6 Tips for How to Deal with a Break-Up

6 Tips for How to Deal with a Break-Up

Leah: I recently went through a break up, during which I found myself in a position where I needed to take my own advice. I have helped my fair share of friends through break ups, but now it was my turn. 

The only other major break up that I’ve been through was my divorce. It took me almost 3 years, including a full year of therapy, to fully recover from it. It was intense and ugly, and I never wanted to go through something like that again. 

It also took me almost 3 years to be ready for another relationship. This relationship would be different, I thought. But when things didn’t work out for us, I felt like I had failed again. I had to remind myself that I know how to handle this in a way I could be proud of. I ended the relationship because it wasn’t healthy and I wasn’t happy, so why would I continue down that path?

Breaking up with a partner can be a dark time in your life, no matter how healthy, prepared or strong you may be. It is up to you how you will make peace with this darkness. Losing a partner often feels like losing a best friend. Our brains do this crazy thing where the only memories you seem to think of are the good ones, where the love between you was bright and warm. But it's true what they say: time will heal, and this period will eventually end.

In the meantime, here are some tried + true tips for dealing with yourself during this difficult period:

1. Write about it.
Writing has always been therapeutic for me, so whenever anything monumental happens I turn to writing as an outlet. I am a firm believer in writing as a form of therapy. Find a comfortable space – I usually like to write on the couch or outside. For me, writing is all about the setting. Make sure you are comfortable and relaxed and in a good headspace, then put pen to paper. Don’t over think about what you want to write about or what you want to get out of the writing. Let the writing take control and lead the way. The more you make the time and space to write, the easier and more beneficial it will become.

In my writing, I like to make goals for myself with a date when I want to come back and review the goal to assess where I am. I also like to write letters to myself or to whoever is on my mind at the time.

While going through this recent break up, I wrote out all the reasons why we weren’t working together so that I could go back to that when I was having doubts to reflect and remind myself of why I was doing this. I also wrote a letter to my ex-girlfriend to find closure. As I’m writing, I am able to get everything out and down so that it isn’t just floating around in my head. It gives me clarity.

2. Talk about it.
I struggle with communicating and talking about my feelings, and this was no different in my recent ex-relationship. I struggled to communicate with her when I was feeling unsure about the relationship and where it was headed, when I was having a hard day and wanted space and time by myself. I struggled to open my mouth and tell her how I was feeling, so instead I kept it in and thought the feelings would pass.

I also struggled once the break up was official, to talk to my friends and family about it. I wanted to hide from it and avoid it. I fought through those struggles and answered the phone when my mom called to ask how it went. I fought through those struggles when I broke down and cried to my sister and opened up about how hard the break up was on me.

My goal is to recognize my weaknesses and work towards strengthening them. Instead of being hard on myself for still struggling with speaking up and communicating, I decided to start the change one step at a time. One step in the right direction is something to be proud of.

I’ve had this idea stuck in my head since my divorce that I need to be stronger than I was then, that I need to be a walking example that I learned from that experience, that I won’t let another person damage me like he did. I feel this sense of pressure to live up to my own expectations for myself. So when things didn’t work out in this recent relationship, I felt disappointed in myself for feeling all the things I was feeling. I didn’t even want to let myself feel all these things. I thought maybe they would go away if I didn’t mention how bad I was struggling to anyone. Instead, I when I opened up to my sister and talked about how I felt disappointed in myself and defeated, that was the moment I felt strength again. I felt like I was able to face myself and forgive myself, and that was the moment I was able to move forward.

Stop hiding from yourself and let yourself feel whatever feelings you’re experiencing. That is when you will discover your truest, most authentic self.

3. Be healthy.
This is important because when you're struggling, it is human nature to retreat to unhealthy, destructive behaviors.

Some of the healthy habits that I’ve found and try to turn to are going to the gym regularly, cooking new recipes and spending time in the kitchen, making the time to write or read daily, and reaching out to friends that I may have not been able to see lately.

I’ve found that when I am taking care of my body and showing it love, that it is reflected in all aspects of my life. When I feel good, I look good. When I look good, I feel confident. When I feel confident, I’m unstoppable.


4. Tap into your people.
Don’t forget, as lonely as you may feel, you are not alone. Tap into your network, your community. Lean into your friendships. Call your mom, your aunt, your cousin. There’s no shame in needing support after a break-up. Everyone has been through it and can relate. 

This is also an opportune time to reinvest in the other relationships in your life that you may have been unintentionally neglecting. So much of the fulfillment you find or seek in your romantic relationships can be found in your friendships (And most importantly, yourself. But that’s another subject).

5. Schedule self-care + practice self-love.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to show yourself love during this time. No matter how things ended or why, you deserve love. Realize that you are your biggest investment, and then prove it to yourself. Every day, week, month, schedule a block of time for self-care, whatever that may look like to you. Do something for yourself that feeds your soul and nourishes your mental health. 

After hearing this phrase in one of my morning guided meditations, I have repeated it to myself almost every day: "I love you, and I'm here for you." Yes, it feels weird to tell yourself "I love you." But the more you say it, the more you believe it. It actually brought me to tears the first time I said it because I realized that I had never actually verbally told myself that before. How is that possible? You remember to tell your partner "I love you" every day, but how is it that you've never spoken those words to yourself? You. Deserve. All. The. Love. Don't forget it. 

6. Find new ways to spend your time.
Think about all of the time you have grown so used to spending on your ex-partner – date nights, phone calls, Netflix and chill, etc.  All of those hours add up. Suddenly, you have a lot more time on your hands now that you’re single again. But rather than being intimidated by that, allow it to inspire you. 

What hobby have you been thinking about taking up but never could make the time for? Book that class. Who is that one person you’ve been meaning to reach out to and catch up with? Call them. What’s the restaurant you’ve been wanting to try? Go treat yourself. Invest your time in yourself.


Wild West Road Trip

Manda: We both had our reasons for taking this trip. Leah had left her job, I had just wrapped up a massive event. Why not take a three-week road trip spanning across the west half of the country??? On midnight of the day of Leah's last day at her job, we set off for 20 days in the wild, wild west. Our last jaunt that long had taken us throughout Europe, and I think we were imagining this one to be a piece of cake comparatively. It was probably four days in that we realized how we may have underestimated the journey we were undertaking. But we embraced the experience, and in the end, we traveled nearly 4,700 miles – we made 13 overnight stops, drove through 9 states and 2 Canadian provinces, explored 9 national parks, camped in 5 campgrounds, caught up with 3 old friends, visited 3 family members, met 1 friend of a friend and fixed 1 flat tire.

Leah: As I was making the dreadful walk into my job one day, I paused and looked over at a girl across the street. She was sitting in the sun, drinking a latte, and reading a book with her dog sunbathing next to her. I thought to myself I should just walk straight past this building and go live my life like that girl is doing. I was spending 60+ hours a week inside this building and when I left I was so exhausted, mentally and physically, that I spent my days off recovering and preparing for another draining week. I wanted to enjoy my city, my dog, each season in my beautiful state, have the freedom to travel, and be able to spend holidays with the people that I love. In that moment, I decided I was going to quit my job and live for myself. I was going to find myself again, find something I loved to do, find something I'm great at. But first, I would travel.

During this trip, I learned so many brilliant things about myself, about others and about this country. It's crazy what thousands of miles on the road will make you pause to reflect on. When you take out everything in your day-to-day life – i.e. your job, your friends, your routine, your cell phone, etc. – you really immerse yourself in the world and come face to face with the things that scare you, the unknown, the uncomfortable.

As we drove through miles and miles of completely empty land as well as huge cities packed full of people, I began to realize how small we are. I thought about how we often take life way too seriously. I had been working 60+ hours a week at my job and never spending time doing things for myself or living the life I wanted to be living – such a waste! We only get this one chance to live our best lives. What a waste it would be to not make the absolute most of it. What a waste it would be to live for other people, to make others happy before yourself, to never travel because you are scared, to not take a chance on love because you could have your heart broken, to not work hard to find a job you enjoy because it's easier to settle. I want to live a life where I wake up everyday and love who I am surrounded by and love what I am doing to make money.

The moment I came to terms that my job does not define me, was the same moment I started living for myself again. I realized that the quality of my life was more important to me than overworking myself and trying to prove that I was the best at my job. Everyday that I walked into my job, I felt frustration. I thought that I needed to stay at the job to feel worthy. Especially once I became the boss, I didn't want to let that go. I thought that would mean that I let it defeat me. It was quite the opposite, though. In fact, the moment I left that job I became my best self again. I allowed myself the time to travel, to relax, to write again, to spend time with my beloved pup, to enjoy my apartment and neighborhood that I had been wanting to live in for years. While we were on the road, I wasn't thinking about who wasn't going to show up to their shift today, instead, I was thinking about myself, my dreams, my hopes, my fears, my future.

Now, some stories from our adventures in the Wild West:

Bryce Canyon

Leah: We arrived at Bryce Canyon bright and early at 8:00 a.m. on a beautiful Saturday morning after driving 8 and a half hours through the night. About an hour and half through the drive, we realized we had made a pretty terrible mistake. We were all very tired, the roads were extremely dark, and the challenge to keep our eyes open while it was our turn driving just more intense as the night deepened. We were all happy to see the sunrise and have some light to keep us awake, but that must have distracted us because we almost ran out of gas at about 6:00 a.m. in the middle of nowhere. We dodged that bullet and found a gas station just in time. Needless to say, we were all very relieved to make it to Bryce Canyon and excited for what this 20 day adventure had in store for us. We did a moderate hike the first day. Well, it should have been moderate, but we got a little lost and ended up hiking up a hoodoo (refer to pictures for wtf is a hoodoo).

As always, Manda did her research on the hikes available in Bryce and we decided on Fairyland Loop for day two – an 8.5 mile strenuous loop that took you up and down hoodoos and through different terrains in the park. We started the hike off full of energy and amazed at the views at every corner we crossed. It felt as thought each view we came to was even better than the last. A couple miles into the hike, we started to realize we didn't exactly know what we signed up for with the amount of changes in elevation on the hike. Our heads started to spin as we repeatedly went down steep switchbacks then right back up the very steep switchbacks. The scenery and terrain looked as though we were on a completely different planet. We kept referring to it as Mars... I'm actually still convinced it is exactly what Mars must look like. The feeling of accomplishment at the end of the hike was definitely worth the five hours spent on the trail. 

Bryce Canyon was a brilliant reminder of why we wanted to do this road trip in the first place. There are so many incredible places to explore right under our noses in the US. As Manda and I were traveling through Europe three years ago, we kept getting asked about destinations in the U.S. and we realized we should take more time to travel our own country before going aboard to travel others. After all, the Wild West is an incredible place!


Leah: After struggling through the unforgiving heat at our Byrce Canyon campsite for two nights, we decided just a day trip in the Grand Canyon would be sufficient and to treat ourselves to an extra night in Vegas. We pulled up in Vegas, and immediately it reminded us of our beloved second swampy home, New Orleans. Las Vegas doesn't have quite the same smell as New Orleans, but it's pretty close!

We spent the first evening indulging in a delicious dinner and drinking maybe too much Jaegermeister (my idea, oops). Manda and I have this reoccurring issue of getting overexcited and going a little overboard on the first night we are on vacation, but then we're able to apply our lessons learned to the next night.

So, we wake up on our first morning in Vegas in a blur, gather our things, and start the move to the next hotel for night two. We struggle to carry our overweight bags to the car and to much dismay, we found we wouldn't be getting very far. The car's back left tire was flat... like super flat. The only thing we could say is how thankful we were that it happened here in Vegas in the middle of the city, rather than where we just came from, the middle of nowhere near the Grand Canyon. Manda got down and dirty and got the tire changed, while I mostly just supervised and tried to not die of a heat stroke.

We were all pretty annoyed that we were spending the morning dealing with car issues, instead of sipping mimosas. It's a hard life, am I right? But, we put our adult faces on, took the car to a discount tire store nearby and took care of business. After dropping the car off, we hopped in an Uber and headed to the pool. I mean, when in doubt, go to the pool.

Night two in Vegas was one for the books. We finally made it to the nightclub, Drai's, that we had been wandering around looking for the night prior. When we arrived, the place was L I T. We ordered our usual g&t's and found a spot near the pool to post up and dance around. People kept asking us if we were here for Snoop Dogg, but we didn't believe that he was actually performing until he showed up on stage. Leave it to us to stumble into a Snoop Dogg concert in Vegas.

Big Sur

Leah: I've been waiting to visit Big Sur for a couple years now. After all the great things Manda has told me about it and the incredible pictures I've seen, I was anxious to make it there. It actually completely surpassed my expectations. As we made the drive through the winding, coastal road, a moment of clarity and thankfulness set in. I was reminded how fortunate we are to be able to do a trip like this and see how many incredible places. There is truly nothing like traveling to give you a clearer perspective on life.

Another reoccurring pattern throughout the trip was we kept lucking out with the best campsites. We also kept lucking out with always arriving the places at the right time but, that is actually probably because Manda made us wake up at 6:00 a.m. every single day so that we would bet the crowds. Anyway, the campsite in the Redwoods at Big Sur pure magic. We were right on the Big Sur river, so we could hear the serene sound of the water running through the rocks in the river as we were sleeping the tent.

We spent our couple of days there exploring along the coast and climbing on as many rocks as we could find. Although the breathe taking views are totally amazing, I think my favorite part of our time in Big Sur was the time spent around our campsite. As we watched the river, skipped rocks in the water, built camp fires, roasted marshmallows, hiked around the woods, and admired the incredible Redwoods, it brought us back to our youth when we would camp with our  parents. It was a really amazing time to just soak in the great outdoors. Being so secluded, no cellphone service or WIFI, being covered in dirt and just not giving a f**k is pretty powerful.


Leah: Portland was definitely a stop I was looking forward to, not only because we were staying with our fabulous cousin, Mary B, but also because all of the great things I've heard about the city as well as the Pacific Northwest. It was such a treat to stay with our cousin in Portland. Of course, we love seeing them and reconnecting, but also to take a break from the hustle and bustle of staying in hostels and camping was very refreshing.

Most of the cities we stopped in along our way, I would think about the differences between them and Denver and how much more those cities made me love and appreciate my city. Portland was different because it was the first and only city we visited that I could actually imagine myself living in. I found the vibe in Portland to be very similar to Denver's vibe, which was a huge reason I first fell in love with Denver. The people are friendly and not in a constant competition to be cooler than one another. The city moves at a chill pace and everyone is just trying to eat good food and drink a whole lot of beer.

We did an incredible hike outside of Portland that led to a breathtaking waterfall, Oneonta Falls. The catch was that the trail was the river and the water was freezing cold. I was reluctant at first to this idea, but once we arrived I realized it was a once in a lifetime experience and totally embraced it. Yes, that water was frigid and we had to climb over fallen tree logs to reach the brilliant waterfall, but it all just added to the experience. I couldn't get enough of how green and lush Oregon is.


Manda: I was thrilled to see my girls Courtney and Melanie in Seattle. I visited them in 2015 after they first moved there and we all saw The Weeknd together at a rainy music festival. They've both successfully made really amazing lives for themselves in Seattle, and it made me so proud and so genuinely happy to see that.

Courtney and I launched/ran Pensacon together back in the day, and we've been super supportive of each other's career ambitions since moving on. That's why I wasn't upset when she had to spend most of our time there studying for a big test, because I know that's exactly what I would have done too and I support her school grind 100%.

Our first night there, we started in our traditional fashion of sipping fancy cocktails at a bougie spot where Courtney's boy friend bartends. We ate dinner, walked to a couple more spots in Cap Hill – one that serves Harry Potter and GOT themed drinks and one that has a mean Moscow mule on tap – and a couple of hours later, we found ourselves at a gay bar for "Turnt Up Tuesday." There were only two out of the maybe five people there dancing. We sat in the corner and sipped our drinks while quietly observing the messy crowd. The DJ wasn't terrible and the stage was wide open, so naturally, we made the most out of it. I found a fan and had a major Beyonce moment – it was honestly a highlight of the trip for me.

The next day, Melanie, like a true homie, called out of work sick and took us on a fun hike up Rattlesnake Ledge with a fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and blue lake below.


Manda: We came pretty close to skipping Banff because we didn't feel adequately prepared. We were psyched out by a few people we had talked to who warned us about the bears and how remote it is there, and it wasn't until we were in Seattle that we learned about the wildfires burning in British Columbia. But we grabbed some gear at REI and did some quick research on the location of the fires, and made the executive decision to just go for it. While we were in Vancouver, I found it funny the contrast of the perceptions of Banff by the American's and the Canadian's we spoke to – Banff was considered a dangerous place to Americans, while Canadians considered it a casual road trip whenever they had the time to take off for a camping trip.

On the drive from Vancouver to Banff, we passed through the areas where the wildfires had rolled across, ash still hanging in the air. And even in some areas, we could see the fires still burning and helicopters hovering. The closer we got to Banff, though, the signs of fire began to dissipate.

We were surrounded by incredibly massive mountains whose presence could swallow you whole. The sheer grandeur of the nature I was witnessing felt impossible for my brain to completely process.

We settled into our cozy campsite tucked back in a forest and then took a walk by Two Jack Lake just before sunset. I was reminded of Alaska's beauty while we strolled the perimeter of the lake.

I made us all get up at 5 a.m. the next morning to take off for Lake Louise (in an effort to avoid the obnoxious selfie stick wielding tourists). When we arrived, the scene was so lusciously serene that I felt uncomfortable talking above a whisper. The still, emerald water seemed to almost glow. The mountains on the lake's edge and the glaciers looming in the background cast a perfectly clear reflection.  Silently, we took in the sight and then set off for the hike up into the distant glaciers.

The hike started at the base of Lake Louise, on the other side of the Fremont Hotel. The rocky trail passed towering rock faces, ascended steeply into the trees, then opened up to the plain and eventually wrapped closely to the side of the mountain. We followed the switchbacks up to a quaint tea house tucked in the heart of Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria and the Victoria Glacier. It has no electricity or running water, and everything is prepared daily on site, cooked with propane stoves. At the beginning of the season a helicopter flies in to stock the tea house with supplies, and additional goods are brought up packed in by horses or with the employees when they come in each week for their shifts. The staff do five day shifts and hike in and out on the same trail as we took.

While we were sitting on the veranda of the tea house, it provided us the perfect vantage point to witness a mini avalanche, which are common in the summer. We heard a thunderous sound and then looked towards the glaciers to see a spectacular dust cloud of snow as pieces of ice tumbled down the mountain.

From the tea house, we continued on a loose gravely trail along a lateral moraine that arrives at the Abbot Pass viewpoint. From here, we could look down across the crevasses of the Lower Victoria Glacier and get an up close view of the hanging glaciers on top of Mount Victoria (which is what we were looking at way back from the shore of Lake Louise). This was, by far, my favorite hike I've ever done.

After an exhausting and rewarding day, a peaceful happy hour with a view sounded just right. So, we waited until 6 p.m. when we thought all of the tourists would be scurrying home and headed out to Moraine Lake. We were in for an unfortunate surprise, though, and got stuck in a traffic jam of people entering the parking lot. We patiently waited it out, got a parking spot and brought a couple cups of wine out to the rocks on the lake. 


Manda: I was certainly not ready to leave Banff behind, but we had to move on to our next stop on the road: Glacier National Park, Montana. After driving several hours, we arrived at the park to find all of the campsites full (no surprise there). I was tired of taking the lead, and all of us had come near the end our ropes at this point. With no cell service to call around to other campgrounds, we debated whether we should do some hiking and then drive overnight to Yellowstone, but none of us were up for that. In stead, we ended up driving down the road to a campground at the entrance of the park and lucked out with a cheap campsite in the shade.

After setting up camp, we headed back into the park and drove down the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is this crazy winding road that is literally carved into the side of a mountain. We stopped at the Sun Point trailhead and hiked to St. Mary Falls. The trail overlooked the stunning St. Mary Lake and weaved through what looked like a magical forest of barren trees blackened by recent fires, enveloped in stark contract by brilliant wildflowers.

When we arrived to the falls, we got there just in time to see a young guy jump off the small bridge into the glacier water below. We all looked at each other, and within seven minutes, Leah was perched on the edge of the bridge with a crowd chanting "Do it, Meleah!" I didn't doubt for a second that she wouldn't do it. This is the kind of thing Leah does regularly now (jumping from high places, like planes). I loved seeing my sister in her element, beaming with courage and confidence.

When she climbed out of the water, she was smiling ear to ear, but she looked at me seriously and said, "You shouldn't do it, Manda." Apparently, glacier water is so cold this crazy thing happens where you body goes into shock and you basically can't breathe for a solid, terrifying 10-15 seconds. "You already have breathing problems," she said, referencing my asthma condition. "Fine," I said, disappointed. Typically, we're the first to push each other to our limits – but when she says no, I listen. I'll jump off the next bridge that isn't over freezing glacier water.


Manda: The last stop on our course took us to the Jackson Hole area to a tiny town called Victor, Idaho, just outside of Jackson, Wyoming. One of our best friends, Chryssie, has an old friend that lives there and runs an adorable bed & breakfast. Rachel was kind enough to welcome us with open arms and put us up in her best suite.

All six of us, four humans plus her two dogs, piled into her truck and she took us to her favorite brewpub. As soon as we hopped out, we were greeted by her friends sitting on the tailgate of their truck, playing fetch with their dog. We walked up to the lawn outside the bar where a couple groups of people had gathered some plastic lounge chairs. We pulled up our own chairs and joined one of the groups, who were some friends of hers as well. While we were chatting, a girl in scrubs, the town vet, walked up and Rachel's dogs greeted her with sloppy kisses.

It was the kind of mountain town where everyone knows everyone, where the town vet and local bed and breakfast owner are best friends and regulars at the brewpub.  The kind of place where everyone owns a mountain bike and whose dogs trail along behind them everywhere they go.  The kind of place where people who feel claustrophobic in metro areas retreat to.  It was the perfect ending to a long journey on the road.