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Recalibrating Your Sense of Self After a Breakup

My young tortoise, Malti, snuggling up for our nightly post-breakup couch cuddles.

Recently I went thrift shopping with my mom. This is a favorite shared hobby and we always find interesting things.

But since parting ways with my longtime partner back in November, I now come away from nearly every outing with more interesting finds to ponder than just how to pair new vintage finds with my existing wardrobe.

For example, during this last outing, in a sudden aha-moment I realized that over the years I have become accustomed to shopping with an eye towards where I might wear each item with my partner….or, rather, ex-partner.

So now as I shop, it doesn’t take much for my mind to get confused about our shopping agenda.

Here is an example.

Let’s say I am casually browsing through the racks when all at once I happen across a particularly choice item…one of those ones that is particularly ripe with creative wearable potential. Suddenly on high alert, my mind instantly starts scanning the near calendar horizon seeking for suitable occasions where I might wear this item.

In my still-newly single state, it finds….no surprise here…nothing. After all, there are really only so many different outfits one can wear for yet another evening sitting at home on the couch cuddling with your pet tortoise.

Disappointed, my mind returns the data, or lack thereof. It sagely advises me to put the item back on the rack. Of course, by now I have grown attached to it – to the potential, the possibility, the creativity, the hopes and dreams that haven’t died quite so easily as the relationship itself. 

Try as we might, my mind and I can’t quite convince my hand to release its death grip on the hanger.

So it goes in the cart, empty social calendar and all, while we go back to the drawing board to try to recalibrate my shopping compass and sense of self, not necessarily in that order.

The truth is, the relationship I had with my partner was broken long before the actual date (November 27, to be exact) we split up. So long before I was going thrifting as a single person in actuality, I was already basically going thrifting as a single person in spirit as we slowly drifted farther and farther apart.

I just didn’t know it yet.

Of course, none of this is really about going thrifting. My mind and I have similar conundrums to work out post-breakup, whether we are going grocery shopping or camping or to the local park and lots of other places besides.

All of these activities are still a part of my life today, just as they were before our split. It is just that now he is missing out of the equation and that is throwing the whole calculation off.

So really, it feels like this process is about re-centering my frame of reference back where it belongs and has always belonged – deep within my own self.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever been through an experience that showed you how your sense of self – who you are as well as your place in this world – had drifted outside of yourself to the point where you felt more than a bit confused about where and who you were? What helped you re-center yourself and feel at home in your own world again? I’d love to hear your stories and insights!

Recalibrating Your Sense of Self After a Breakup

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). Recalibrating Your Sense of Self After a Breakup. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Apr 2019
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