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Here's How To See The Silver Linings Of Your Break-Up

"Pain makes you stronger, fear makes you braver, heartbreak makes you wiser."—Drake

Love & Relationships

I already know. If you're someone who's recently gone through a break-up (or you're currently contemplating ending your relationship), you probably rolled your eyes until they couldn't go back any further when it came to this title. Because the reality is that, similar to marriage, there aren't a ton of us who go into serious relationships thinking that they've got an expiration date to them. And so, whenever the ride comes to an end, even if we know it's for the best, it can take a lot out of us. It can also tempt us, at least initially, to only focus on how much we're hurting and/or losing, as the result of calling it quits.

As someone who has had my own fair share of break-ups with guys (believe you me, chile), while it does initially seem like a super painful experience, in hindsight, I'm able to see that there were several silver linings that arose from ending things. That's why I wanted to pen this. Because sometimes, in the midst of a break-up, it can be really hard to see the "beauty for ashes" moments that can be directly connected to them. I'll share the ones that I've personally discovered…now.

Believe It or Not, the Hardest Part Has Already Happened

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I remember the day when I broke up with the last boyfriend that I will ever have in this lifetime (check out "Why I'll Never Call Someone A 'Boyfriend' Again"). Between us being the best of homies before ever getting together, the relationship lasting for four years, and then us sleeping together for two more years after that, while I knew that moving on was absolutely the right and best thing for me to do, on the particular day that I made the call and officially ended things, I was absolutely devastated. I was at a cousin of his house and, after hanging up, I just curled up on a ball and literally screamed and cried and then screamed and cried some more. When someone has been an intimate part of your world for well over a decade, them leaving—even if you're the one who's removing them—can bring about a grief that is truly indescribable.

For the first week, everything was kind of a blur. I was so used to speaking with him, at least a couple of times a day, that it took me a moment to step back and adjust to what had become my new normal. But you know what?

After about three weeks, I found myself feeling pretty OK. On some levels, even better than that. Because while there was a part of me that missed him, I was more excited about what my life would look like, now that I was more focused on me and what I wanted rather than "we" and what he needed.

My point? While this might seem like a really "WTF?" way to start off this article, that doesn't make it any less relevant or true. If you're someone who has just gone through your own break-up, believe it or not, the first silver lining is the fact that the worst part of the break-up is already behind you. I liken it to someone breaking a bone. It hurts like hell but once the break happens (especially if it's a clean break; I'll get more into that later), it's time to focus on the healing part. So, please don't stay in something that is no longer serving you, simply because you think the pain will be too much to bear. Fear is never a good reason to remain in, pretty much anything. And besides, pain eventually exhausts itself. I know this from a very up close and personal fact.

Now It’s Time to Do Some Journaling

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I've said in some of the other articles on here that a phrase that I absolutely cannot stand is, "If you want to get over an old guy, get underneath a new one." Sex is a gift; it's not something that should be abused (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'" and "Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good"). So no, I definitely don't think that rebounding, in any way and on any level, is your best move. If anything, use this as a time to do some serious self-reflecting; one of the most effective ways to do that is to journal.

Something that can prove to be super helpful is if you do a twist to what I call "prayer journaling". When I pray journal, I write my thoughts and feelings in a black or blue ink pen. I sometimes meditate and pray and then what I feel like God is conveying to me (which is oftentimes via a Scriptural reference), I wrote that in red ink. Well, if you're journaling for the sole purpose of evaluating your relationship, write what your "old self" felt while you were in the relationship in black or blue ink and then how your "newer self" feels, now that the relationship is over, in red ink. If you devote 15-30 minutes towards doing this, every day, after about two weeks or so, you may discover some extra confirmations about why the relationship ended and why that could actually prove to be a really good thing. Journaling about your break-up can bring forth a clarity that you possibly wouldn't get any other way. I can certainly vouch, big time, for this.

Think About How the Relationship Wasn’t Serving You

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I once wrote an article for the site entitled, "How To Stop Being 'Ms. Fix It' In Your Relationships". Something that doing my own relationship journaling over the years has revealed to me is, more times than not, I would get into relationships where I was doing most of the work, simply because I was codependent AF. It didn't really matter if I wasn't getting my own needs met; I thought that loving someone meant that I did all that I could to make sure they were good…even if I actually wasn't.

It's pretty common that, once you break-up with someone, your mind merely wants to go back to all of the good times that are filed somewhere in your memory. In a weird way, it's like your heart is trying to shield you from having to relive the "icky parts" over and over again. This is exactly why many folks don't move past someone, who they actually should get over, for months or even years later (check out "6 Reasons Why You STILL Can't Over Your Ex" and "You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?"). But if you really want to heal from your break-up, it's important that you look at it from ALL angles. The good is what can help you to forgive. The not-so-good is what can encourage you to keep pressing forward.

Listen, I don't care how awesome a guy was to you. If the relationship was as wonderful as your heart may be trying to tell you right now, you'd still be with him, right? Think about the areas where things were lacking, so that you can be sure to require those things the next time. Even if the next time is via a reconciliation with him (we'll have to touch on that another time, y'all).

Try a Self-Care Fast

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Even if the break-up was initiated by him, due to something that you did or kept doing (check out "10 Single Men Shared Some Thoughts They Wish Women Would Take At Face Value" and "Women Cheat More Than We Think. What To Do If That's You."), there's a pretty good chance that you were doing those things because some part of you was unhappy or unfulfilled (that's not a justification; just the reality). Back when I used to have boyfriends and go through break-ups, whether it was my call or not, whether it was because of something they did (or didn't do) or I did (or didn't do), I still used to be harder on myself than I ever should've been. I would just keep beating myself up with what-could've-been recollections rather than doing what I am now recommending that you try—self-care fasting.

Sometimes a fast is about not doing something. Other times, it's about doing something in overdrive.

You're a woman. You know how we tend to be when we're with someone. So much of our time, effort, energy and resources is all about making sure he's good and the relationship is fine. It can be so extreme that we don't even realize the areas where we've dropped the ball on pampering and nurturing our own selves. If there's ever a time to get back into the swing of things, on the heels of a break-up would be it.

I'd say devote 14 or even 30 days straight to doing something, each day, that focuses on self-care. It can be taking luxurious baths. It can be having a glass of wine. It can be getting a massage or a mani-pedi. It can be taking a weekend off to do nothing but read, watch mindless television and sleep. It can be taking a social media fast. It can be getting a makeover. It can be remodeling your bedroom. The list is literally endless. The point is, science actually says that it takes somewhere around 66 days to form a habit. By going on a self-care fast for 30 days, you are setting a foundation to make sure that your needs are nurtured. And that is one of the best ways to heal from a break-up and to set solid standards for your next relationship too.

Make Sure It’s a CLEAN Break (at Least for Now)

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OK. Now back to what I was talking about when I mentioned a clean arm break. Any doctor will tell you that a clean break makes for much quicker healing. Same thing applies to a break-up. If the two of you are "technically" no longer together, but you're still talking on the phone, following each other on social media, or (whew) still having sex, it's going to be close to impossible for you to move forward with your life. Not only that but it sends a message to your "technical ex" that he can still get a lot of the benefits of keeping you around without any of the responsibility.

Remember, I was very open about the fact that my last ex and I had sex for two freakin' years after ending our relationship. I also told you that I was a basket case when I finally did say "enough is enough" once and for all. Breaking up can be a process. There's no doubt about that. But don't think that weaning off of a man is easier than just ending things, period. You need the space and time, without him, to see if you really still want him or you're just used to having him around. And the only way to do that is to end all communication. Perhaps not forever, but at least for a while (remember also what I said about how long it takes to form a habit, so "a while" should probably be a couple of months or so).

Remember the Path Is Now Open to Get What You REALLY Want

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Best-selling author Paulo Coelho once said, "Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant." A break-up indeed qualifies as a crisis, at least on some level. And while it might not feel this way yet, because the relationship (and the man) are out of your path, the "brilliance" in all of that is you can figure out what you really and truly want. Is it time and space to focus on some desires and goals that your relationship had been distracting you away from? Is it time and space to determine if you were getting what you really and truly needed? Is it time and space to decide if the relationship was the right one at the wrong time, but you both need time to grow individually before coming back together again?

Break-ups are difficult. I totally get that. But they really aren't the end of the world or your love experiences. Use it as a learning experience, a self-motivator and an opportunity to do things, the way you really want to, the next time. If you choose to see the silver lining from this angle, you will be all the better for it, sis. I can absolutely promise you that.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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