Updated: May 2
Home: a poem by Kayla McCullough
“If you give a man the power to feed you, you also give him the power to starve you.”
- Melissa Snow, Certified Life and Love Coach.
When we lose the person that we treasure most—the one with who we built our life around and found comfort—it can feel jarring trying to find peace and stability on our own. We often feel devastated, powerless, and hopeless after a breakup—and while all your feelings are valid when you grieve the loss of a relationship, there is one truth you cannot forget: you were whole before the relationship, and you are whole after it, too. Finding your peace after a breakup is simply a matter of you finding it within yourself, which starts from a place of self-love.
Focus on Self-Care & Self-Comfort
As Andrea Javor, Certified Divorce Coach© puts it, “Self-care and self-comfort can often get conflated when we’re trying to take care of ourselves,” and she advocates for both. Self-comfort may look like lighting a candle and taking a bubble bath, or it could be listening to soothing music and doing some yoga. However self-comfort looks for you, it deserves to be a priority in your life because you deserve the power to provide peace and calmness for yourself. Self-care digs a bit deeper. This may look like letting yourself grieve the breakup and journaling your thoughts out so they aren’t buried deep within you, or looking at yourself honestly and figuring out ways you can advocate for a more independent and empowered future. Both self-comfort and self-care work hand-in-hand to guide you down the path to loving yourself exactly as you are and accepting that that is all the love you need.
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It is natural to feel a complete range of emotions after a breakup. One minute you may feel infuriated and resentful, and the next, you might feel a hefty sadness weighing on your chest. While all of your feelings are important, they can become overwhelming, all-consuming, and ultimately prevent us from finding our peace. Integrating a regular mindfulness practice into your life is one of the most effective ways to move on from the past, stay engaged in the present, and become aware of all the good in your life. Lea Lester, a therapist from Dallas, TX, says, “Mindfulness can look many different ways, but a few that may be helpful after a breakup include journaling, starting a gratitude practice, or breathwork.” Whether it’s writing down ten things you’re grateful for each day or taking five minutes to meditate before bed, practicing regular mindfulness can help you feel more in control of your emotions, at peace with everything that has happened in your past and is happening right now, and confident that you can handle anything that happens in the future.
Learn to Date Yourself
You, more than anyone else in your life, are deserving of your love and gratitude. One of the simplest and most rewarding ways to engrain this into your mind is to start taking yourself on dates. Depending on your personality and interests, this could look however you want it to. Brittany Salsman, an ICF Credentialed Life Coach and author of The Examined Life Workbook, suggests making a list of everything you love. “These could be objects, activities, experiences, food, scents, even emotions.” Once you have that list put together, pick any combination of those items you’ve compiled and use them to inspire your self-date. The key is to treat the dates you take yourself on similarly to how you would approach dates with someone you fancy. Focus on yourself, give yourself the special care you deserve and make your date nights with yourself a regular event to look forward to each week.
Breakups are hard--that's something we all know to be true. But it’s also true that you have the power to be at peace on your own, and there are plenty of avenues to take you there. All you have to do is take the first step and keep walking in the direction of self-love.
Home: A place where one resides.
All my life that definition has been changing. There was the suburb where I grew up, the college town where I first planted my roots, the city that will forever have my heart and the beach community where I lived every summer. There was the tired apartment on Main Street, the four-bedroom house I shared with friends in college, the four walls of the bedroom where I first fell in love. There were the streets I wandered, the bars I’d spent my nights, the highways with no names where only my tires left tracks. And there are places I have yet to experience, resting somewhere off in my uncharted future.
Each of those places lays claim on a part of my heart. Each of those places is both familiar and natural. Each of those places I have and will learn to call home.
And yet, the only place that has stayed consistent, the only home I have been able to return to again and again, the only home that hasn’t left and is forever within me and to which I am inextricably tied; my body—this breathing, living shell. My body is my home and I want to celebrate it.
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Self-love is such a difficult process to navigate, not only because it takes time, and patience, and tenderness, but because there’s also this shame that seems to grow within us when we cannot find it. We are constantly sold this idea of self-love — it’s relayed to us on social media, in advertising, within the music we hear, and the shows we watch. The world is constantly saying “Just love yourself” and so when we can’t, or when it’s difficult, we feel sad, or guilty for not being able to achieve that or see ourselves the way others see us. It can be deeply confusing. But the truth is — we’ve all been hurt, and we’ve all dealt with things that have convinced us we are hard to love, and we deal with so much comparison daily. Understandably, we’ve in a way grown distant from our souls, from our hearts. It’s a very human thing to struggle with.
Loving yourself means coming back home to yourself. In a world that sometimes convinces us we must change, or edit ourselves to be loved, it is so important to reintroduce ourselves to our souls again. If you are struggling with fostering self-love, try asking yourself who you truly are, deep down. Ask yourself what you like, and dislike. Ask yourself how you want to feel when you go out into the world. Ask yourself what your non-negotiables are, what your standards are, what you never want to settle for again. Think: Who are you when you’re alone with your mind? When you’re not trying to be everything for everyone? What genuinely makes you happy? What ignites you? And while it can seem overwhelming to sit alone with yourself and ponder those questions, it’s a great first step towards showing up for yourself.
We should all love ourselves in every sense of the world, not just because we should, but because the world will never love us in this way. As women, we owe it to ourselves to claim our bodies, our homes, and to dwell there in celebration. Each of us are homes and each home is different.