It's OK To Not Be OK After A Breakup (Because Healing Takes Time)

There's no right or wrong way to process your emotions.

healing takes time breakup heartbreak

The first time I had my heart broken it felt like I’d been hit by a train.

I cried. A lot. There’s an actual physically clenching pain that feels as though your heart is being squeezed by a boa constrictor. I curled up in the fetal position, unknowing when I'd ever get back to my feet.

I didn’t know why I was hurting so much but more than that I didn’t know how to move forward.

So I turned to self-help books because clearly there was something wrong with me. The first I read was Tamika Carey’s essay "I’ll Teach You to See Again: Rhetorical Healing as Reeducation" in Iyanla Vanzant's Self-Help Book and actually it showed how toxic self-help books can be. The essay emphasized that there was nothing wrong with me.


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In fact, at fault was society and the culture we thrive in. This includes the hookup culture being so prominent in media. We are saturated by messages of harmful types of polygamy. Then I questioned if I feeling this way because I truly blamed hookup culture or just deflecting the blame because that is what these self-help books taught me to do.

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Society promotes and profits from heartbreak, but at the same time expects us to just move on.

But healing isn't linear.

Then I realized healing involves restoring faith in family and exercising resilience. Family is a large part of my identity. They are the reason I continue to be who I am. They love me for me and have never once wavered in that. Resilience teaches me to continue forward even during the toughest of times.

Intimacy emphasizes humanity’s sexual desires. Maybe somehow it justifies hookups. We are supposed to want sex because as people, we want to reproduce as much as we can. Carey illustrates the deep consequences of this type of socialization. For example, men must get laid and women cannot. Men have to bed as many women as possible before settling down with a special someone. On the other hand, women are taught to be prudish when it comes to our bodies. We are supposed to save our virginity for our significant other, or at least not rack up a large body count. If we do, we’ve soiled ourselves.


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In turn, this creates a divide in society; half with the mentality to hump everything and the other half with the mindset of closed legs. Attaching a woman’s worth to her virginity or sexual activity is very detrimental to her growth. She will always see her value through her sexuality. If women see themselves as mere “objects” they become an object for male pleasure, giving up her autonomy for the “man.”

In retrospect with the initial reason I turned to self help books, I knew while there were many circumstances that contributed to our separation, those haunting imperfections of mine fogged my senses and fooled me into believing that I was the sole reason we didn’t work out. I was the reason no one wanted to be with me.

I felt lost. I felt empty. I couldn’t get over him and maybe I didn’t want to. I would read these books to help validate a part of me I couldn’t be at peace with.


Some days were better than others. I itched to pick up the phone and demand an answer. I wanted to know everything that went wrong. When he reached out, I’d grab his hand. But life goes on.

There’s no right or wrong way to get over someone. If you turn to self-help books or completely reinvent yourself with a new hairdo and wardrobe, and even if you do text your ex, know that it’s OK.

You will be OK.


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Isabella Ong is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.