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Surviving Breakup Hell

Treva Brandon Scharf: In my 50 years of single life, I visited Breakup Hell a thousand times, and every time I was there, I thought it would be forever, and my healing was years away.

You can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t think, can’t function. Your head is reeling, your guts are wrenched, your soul is crushed, your ego blown, your dreams shattered, and your heart is broken into a million pieces. In other words, you want to die.

Surviving Breakup Hell

Welcome to Breakup Hell, the absolute worst place on earth.

In my 50 years of single life, I visited Breakup Hell a thousand times, and every time I was there, I thought it would be forever, and my healing was years away.

In my 50 years of single life, I visited Breakup Hell a thousand times, and every time I was there, I thought it would be forever, and my healing was years away. I feared I’d never get out; that I’d never see sunshine or feel happy again. The pain was so heavy, and the anxiety so gripping, I couldn’t move, but I couldn’t be still either.

There’s a reason why break-ups hurt like hell: because the brain hates rejection.

The science backs this up. In the study “Reward, Addiction, and Emotion Regulation Systems Associated with Rejection,” conducted by Dr. Helen Fisher, Chief Scientific Officer at, researchers found that areas of the brain associated with nicotine, cocaine addiction, and physical pain—as well as romantic love—were all activated after a breakup.

Which means that “When you’re going through a breakup, you’re feeling romantic love, you’re feeling physical pain, and you’re in a state of constant craving,” according to Dr. Fisher.

This is why breaking up is hard to do–you love and hate your ex at the same time. It’s a total mind fuck.

Rejection sucks, loss is painful, abandonment is traumatic, and unfortunately it all comes with the territory. You will also feel like a big, fat failure, and take every little bit of your breakup personally, because that’s what you do when you’re in Breakup Hell.

I told you it was the absolute worst place on earth!

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Heads up—you’re in for some intense anger, deep depression, and brutal loneliness in Breakup Hell. It will feel like a mini-death, with grieving and mourning. Sorry, but that’s the drill. You can’t escape it, you just have to process it—sometimes with large amounts of wine and pot, like I did.

In addition to Sativa and Sauvingnon Blanc, I would also consume large amounts of self-help books, psychotherapy, bad cable movies, massage therapy, journaling, and hanging with supportive friends. This was necessary emotional pampering.

Then, I got ruthless with my own tough love. Here are a few tips I highly suggest:

  • Remove ex from contacts, deleted all emails, and unfollowed on social media.
  • Destroy all physical reminders of ex (photos, gifts, etc.)
  • Stay away from mutual friends so as not to be tempted to ask questions.
  • Choose new places to eat and visit, so you won’t run into ex.
  • Get incredibly busy, make plans from morning to night, exhaust yourself with fun.

If you follow this advice, something will start happening: profound growth. You may not see it in the moment, you may not believe it, but if you play your cards right, your pain and suffering will be a catalyst for positive change.

It takes strength not to text your ex in moments of weakness; it takes discipline not to replay or romanticize memories; it takes power to take the high road; it takes effort to find happiness elsewhere; it takes courage to go it alone; it takes forgiveness to heal; and it takes self-worth to love yourself more than your ex.

Here’s how another writer Taylor Garland dealt with her breakup hell:

“My grief was the impetus for powerful introspection and self-discovery. In the past, I turned towards alcohol and wild nights out to avoid the pain, but I knew this time must be different. I took the opportunity to let the heartache wash over me. I found myself pondering, nearly always, what it meant to be a good person, to offer value to others. I examined, in great detail, my shortcomings. I learned to meditate. I opted out of boozy nights with pals. I connected with my friends and family on profound levels, enabling me to offer deep empathy and connection that had been missing for years. I found forgiveness for people I’d been holding grudges towards. I found release.”

After a thousand trips to Breakup Hell, I’m here to tell you, you will not die. You will survive. You’ll get out, see sunshine, and love again. Slowly but surely, you will catch yourself smiling, hear yourself laughing, and realize you haven’t thought of your ex all day. That’s when you know you’re healing—when the gripping anxiety releases and the heavy sadness lifts.

You will be fine, you’ll be more than fine. Because what comes out of a breakup, is a more beautiful, soulful, empowered, and extraordinary version of yourself—and that’s what you deserve.


Treva Brandon Scharf
The Late Blooming Bride