How to Navigate a Breakup “All Too Well”

Taylor Swift released the highly anticipated 10-minute version of one of her most powerful breakup songs, “All Too Well.”

When I woke up this morning I immediately played it twice in bed and twice while making coffee, before realizing “Wow. I just spent almost 45 minutes listening to the same song over and and over again.”

There is something about this song that really encapsulates what you experience when you go through a breakup. Particularly a breakup that you weren’t ready for. 

I’ve worked with many people who are trying to navigate a breakup. I myself have been there too.

Part of you wants to appear strong, while another part of you is really struggling. It can feel very confusing, and very isolating.

I find it very comforting when I come across songs that directly relate to what I’m going through because I’m reminded that someone else has felt the same way, which makes me feel less alone.

Below are some old and some new lyrics from Taylor Swift’s 10-minute version of All Too Well, and how those lyrics echo what you go through during a breakup.

You experience real pain when you’re going through a breakup.

“I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here.”

Breakups can feel physically and emotionally painful.

When you go through a breakup, it can feel like a rejection. And when we feel rejected, our bodies react, without us even realizing.

Our autonomic nervous system goes into fight or flight mode, which may cause us to be on high alert, to tense up, or we lose our appetite. 

Not only that, but when we experience rejection, the same parts of our brain light up as when we experience pain. Which is why a heartbreak can feel like your heart is actually breaking or crumbling or exploding inside of your body.

So what do you do about it? There are lots of options, but they all start with taking really good care of yourself. 

You want to know your ex is as distraught as you are.

“Just between us, did the love affair maim you too? Do you remember it all too well?”

We as humans naturally want to make sense of our lives and the things that happen to us. And when we go through a breakup, oftentimes, it doesn’t make sense.

We are left wondering why it happened, what we could have done differently, and what the other person is thinking. 

If you find yourself ruminating on what your ex thinks, I would recommend you try to bring the experience back to yourself. What do you think? How do you feel? What is your experience? Because that is what matters most.

In the end, you may never know what your ex is thinking. Even if they tell you, there could be more to the story.

And if you do get an answer, it may not be the answer you want to hear, which will create more confusion and keep you wondering and guessing.

You can’t stop thinking about the good times.

“Wind in my hair, I was there, I remember it, all too well.”

Funny how when you break up with someone, suddenly all you can remember about are the fancy vacations you took together and the good sex you had. 

You forget about the overdrinking and the fights you had on those same vacations, which is what led to the sex in the first place. You forget about the moments you were lying next to your ex, feeling more alone than ever. 

Rosy retrospection is very common and actually serves a purpose. Our brains take shortcuts when storing long-term memories, so they only grasp onto the good. And in general, remembering the good can also help you feel better about yourself. 

But when trying to move on after a breakup, it will help you to remember all aspects of the relationship, including the bad, the ugly, and the boring. Because thinking about the good times will not move you forward, it will keep you stuck.

It’s called a breakup because there were parts of it that were broken. And here is a book to help you remember just that.

You feel like the pain and sadness will never go away and you’ll be stuck in this place forever.

“Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by it.”

There is no timeline when it comes to healing from heartbreak.

Ten months can pass, and you may still have moments when you’re feeling sad and hurt. And when these moments continue to pop up over months or years, it can leave you worrying that you might feel that way forever.

Look, when you go through a breakup, you are losing someone you loved. Someone who was a big part of your life, that was important to you.

And when you lose someone important, experiencing sadness and grief is inevitable. It is an indication of how much that person meant to you.

It may be helpful to look at the stages of grief, try to determine which stage or stages you’re currently experiencing, and not judge yourself for the time it takes to move through the process.

Because in reality, the grief process never really ends. We go back and forth and skip around the stages throughout our lives.

And if in ten years, you get a wisp of a memory of your ex, and feel some kind of way about it, that’s okay. My hope for you is if that’s happening in ten years time, those moments will be fewer and farther between.

You don’t know who you are or where to go from here.

“I’d like to be my old self again but I’m still trying to find it.”

I think one of the most challenging aspects of a breakup is feeling like you’ve lost your sense of identity.

You don’t know who you are anymore if you aren’t with your person. You don’t know what your days (or your nights) will look like without that person there to be with, or at least to text goodnight.

You don’t know what to do, or what to think, or what your future will hold. This is compounded by the fact that the loss is probably causing you to feel more down and hopeless than usual.

I know it’s hard. And you may not be ready to hear this, but I am going to say it anyway, with the hope that you’ll remember these words when you’re actually able to receive them.

A breakup is an incredible opportunity. 

For Taylor Swift, it was an opportunity to really feel her emotions, to create art, and connect to others.

For you, it’s the same. It’s an opportunity to discover who you are, and to uncover strength you didn’t know you had.

It’s an opportunity to explore your feelings, and to learn how to move through them.

It’s an opportunity to chase your dreams, and to fail and fall down and get back up while doing so.

It’s an opportunity to form closer connections with friends. To discover new passions and hobbies. It’s an opportunity to learn to take care of yourself. 

You’ve landed on this blog post for a reason. So even if you may not feel like any healing is happening, it is. I hope you remember it, all too well.

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