Maybe it’s our general distaste for the over simplification of things, or maybe it’s just that we’re all constantly living in fear of being called “basic,” but clichés have gotten a bad rap over the years.
They’re often perceived as standard pieces of advice people turn to when they don’t want to give complex ideas and emotions the thought and consideration they deserve.
We could honestly investigate our anger or sadness, or we could throw a simple, overused phrase at it and skip the trouble. It’s often best to avoid them at all costs, but not in this case.
My last relationship ended nine months ago — the same amount of time it takes for an embryo to form all of the complexities of a brand new human being.
The general public might consider this to be long past the typical mourning period of a breakup, but anyone who has experienced true love and lost it understands that this is when your wounds are just beginning to scab over.
Regardless of the days, months and years that have passed since your breakup, your heart is likely running on an entirely separate schedule.
It's one that moves unbearably slow and is packed with mental events that endlessly replay what went wrong.
In my case, it was very clear what went wrong. The love of my life — my best friend, the guy who I was convinced was "the one" — was living something of a double life.
He had been cheating on me, and in one short day, my happy, cozy world was turned upside down.
The oversimplification of our breakup — having to tell people “my boyfriend cheated on me” — was infuriating.
To think that our special, deep connection could be wiped away and replaced with a label given to explain such a simple act of betrayal is a cliché in and of itself.
It’s why it was especially upsetting to hear the commonly-used words of assurance that have been coming my way ever since.
I knew the clichés were rooted in honesty and wisdom, but I didn’t want to believe my failed relationship fell into a category of any kind.
And so began a long journey of finding my truth and realizing all of my profound discoveries sounded strangely familiar:
1. “It’s all for the best.”
At first, it’s hard — no, impossible — to wrap your head around this theory that absolute trauma can translate to something positive later on.
When you feel so low, empty and utterly fooled, you can’t begin to understand how you’ll ever be able to feel like yourself again, let alone a better version of it.
And that’s understandable. As your relationship got more intense and your fondness grew deeper, you were unconsciously training yourself to allow this person to completely invade your life, as people do when they’re truly in love.
You shared secrets, made memories and formed a seemingly unbreakable bond. And now, so suddenly, you’re expected to discredit all of that and envision a happy life without your partner.
You were in the middle of building a puzzle — a major, complicated puzzle — and half of the pieces just disappeared.
But even if you can’t fathom it right now, there is life after a breakup. Once you’re able to think clearly again, you’ll rediscover happiness, and even better, you won’t take it for granted.
It’s not until you stop putting your past relationship on a pedestal that you’ll realize there were actually a few harrowing issues that were being overlooked the whole time.
The universe knew something you didn’t; this person wasn’t supposed to be your life-long partner.
There’s a reason for your current pain, and you’ll eventually see what that is. Maybe it’s a new love or a better career. Maybe it’s traveling to a different city or discovering a life-changing passion.
Whatever the reason for your suffering, it will reveal itself once you’ve healed and you’re able to truly listen to what you previously couldn’t understand.
2. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Immediately following a breakup, you might feel like you’re dying. You feel empty but heavy, exhausted but wired.
You’re unrecognizable to yourself. I, for one, was cemented to my bed, unable to so much as lift my head for an occasional sip of water.
Friends cautiously came by with a combination of get well soon and sympathy cards (Hallmark doesn’t really have a “sorry your boyfriend was an assh*le” section), along with quiet moral support and tons of alcohol. From the outside looking in, one would have thought I was navigating some sort of terminal illness.
But, this wasn’t an illness; it was a breakup. And if you’re also going through one, you should know that while it might feel like it’s killing you emotionally, physically and spiritually, you’re going to be okay.
More importantly, it will make you realize just how resilient you truly are.
Sometimes, it takes a major upheaval of your life to prove that you’re capable of enduring your greatest fears.
When you go through deep pain like this, you wind up embodying an enviable degree of courage.
You were able to surpass what you thought was the end, and that’s one of the most empowering things anyone can experience.
At first, you might feel hardened and skeptical of everything you once deemed true. You’ll probably build up walls around you in order to cope with what happened.
After all, you want to learn from the bad and identify certain qualities in other people so you can protect yourself from experiencing the same devastation a second time.
But if you do that, you’re bound to inaccurately call out what appears to be a red flag.
You end up setting limitations on what you allow yourself to experience, and that’s more harmful than anything another person can do to you.
When you break down these barriers and end your obsession with trying to protect yourself, you can start using these lessons for good.
Dispose of the negative memories, remember the positive ones and hang onto what you’ve learned.
That is true strength — not cowering away from love when it cuts you, but instead presenting a new self with an unharmed piece of flesh and trying again.
3. "This too shall pass."
Think back to the last time you experienced extreme emotional pain. It could have been a death, an illness or another breakup. At the time, it was the lowest you ever felt.
It kept you up at night, and immediately jolted you out of sleep the next morning.
Maybe you’re still able to recall the exact sinking feeling you experienced in your stomach every moment your mind was brought back to the source of your horrible anxiety and depression, but now it’s simply a page in the book of your life.
One day, this breakup will mark up your story the same way all of your other painful moments have.
It will become diluted over time, and while a part of you will likely always be saddened by it, the feeling won’t be as sharp and the memory won’t be so looming. You’ll feel better one day, and it’s important to remember that as you grieve.
It’s kind of like a bad haircut, in a sense. Though the speed at which your hair grows back is completely out of your control, you anxiously check every day to see how much longer it’s gotten.
You scour tips for accelerating hair growth; you’re insecure when you go out in public; you feel stupid for ever cutting it in the first place. You’re completely obsessed and there’s nothing that can make it better.
Day by day, it seems like the same sad chop job, until one day when you look in the mirror. Oddly enough, you’re able to tuck those pesky bangs behind your ears.
There’s finally hard evidence that your hair has been growing this whole time. So, hang in there. You’re getting better every day, even if you can’t see it just yet.
4. “You’ll look back on this and smile.”
The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy. If you’re still harboring anger and resentment toward your ex, you’re not over him, and you probably didn’t need me to tell you that.
But one day, when you’re ready, you’ll get to a turning point that opens your eyes to all of the good that came from your time together.
My turning point came one day a few months ago when I stumbled upon a photo of my ex and me. It was one of those candid shots that wasn’t staged or requested.
It was the most natural peek inside our relationship at the time, and we were genuinely happy and in love.
We were best friends, and that connection was evident in the way it radiated off our bodies.
Rather than feel that familiar wave of heart-wrenching nausea, when I caught a glimpse of the picture, I stared back at our smiling faces and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
How lucky was I to have made this memory and felt such positive emotions at one point?
With love, there’s always that lingering possibility that the other person could either become your life-long partner or turn into a stranger again.
In our case, it was the latter and we went from seeing each other constantly to now probably never crossing paths again.
Fortunately, when people exit our lives, our minds don’t let the memories follow them out.
It’s okay to revel in these good times. In fact, it aids the grieving process significantly.
So often, our first instinct after a breakup is to desperately try to push the memories out of our minds because thinking of them is “wrong.”
But, much like a button marked “don’t push,” the resistance just makes your mind go there more frequently, producing more pain every time.
When you allow yourself to look back on those moments with the same joy you once experienced, you’ll be able to forgive yourself for your misjudgment.
You'll be able to see your relationship for what it was: a beautiful, messy combination of good and bad.
It’s this simple realization that can finally bring you closer to peace. But, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, some of the most basic, overused pieces of insight can hold the greatest validity and truth.