I once had a relationship that didn’t work! When she called it quits, I was a wreck. I couldn’t focus on much of anything. I got distracted very easily and often would do my best to hide my tears. I felt sad. Alone. I felt separated from the world. I was hurting and often it was a visible hurting that was noticeable by my friends. I wanted desperately to stop the pain. I needed to quit clinging on to the past.
It’s normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, and confused and these feelings for me was extremely intense. It is also common to feel emotionally overwhelmed and experience frequent, sometimes uncontrollable, emotional outbursts or become “numb” with little expression of feeling. I didn’t know it was normal to feel that way. I felt the magnitude of the loss, and I mourned it. I thought the grief of the loss of my relationship would never end. I isolated myself as best I could and allowed myself to suffer for several weeks before I finally reached out for help.
A breakup launches us into uncharted territory. Everything is disrupted: your routine and responsibilities, your home, your relationships with extended family and friends, and even your identity. A breakup brings uncertainty about the future. This was one of the most stressful and life-changing events of my life.
It’s never easy when a marriage or significant relationship is complete. Notice I didn’t say: “It’s never easy when a marriage or significant relationship ends!” Relationships never end. Death, divorce or separation only changes them. As long as you have memory, you will always be related. We can recognize and acknowledge when a relationship is over or complete, however, relationships never end. The relationship only becomes different… it never ends. It’s important to know this.
Instead of focusing on the demise of the relationship, I began to write my feelings in a journal. I started to take charge of the recovery process. With the assistance of my therapist, I began writing about the really great times we had together. That helped me move a little quicker to the resolution of the enormous feelings of loss. I began to realized that there were many lessons that had presented themselves to me, but since I was so totally lost in Love, I failed to see them until after the breakup.
For the first time in a long time I was brutally honest with myself. I allowed myself to grieve. Sometime my tears left their marks of the pages of my journal. But I didn’t stop. While in a moment of clarity, I recognized this loss may be the best thing for me, although it was making my life miserable at the time. I missed her, and I knew I had to let her go. Over time, I realized that this breakup was probably something that I might later know was necessary to make way for something better.
I avoided going to the places where we were often seen together. I planned a new route around the area where she worked. I fought a compulsive desire to see, hear, talk to, know what and how she was doing. One time I drove by her house just to see if I might see her. I immediately discovered that that was not a good idea. Once I went to a movie by myself and realized that I had no one to save my seat while I went to get popcorn. 😉
In her new book, “Getting Past Your Breakup,” Susan J. Elliot says that a rule of “No Contact” with an ex is necessary to fully heal and grieve after a tough breakup. Although she understands how difficult this notion can be (she has personal experience in the department of contacting exes), she says, “in order to truly get past your breakup, you need to separate emotionally, physically, and psychologically from the relationship.
I began to focus on me more. I started taking better care of myself and making more healthy and better choices. It began to feel more like an opportunity to grow and learn.
In my journal, I began to list the things that I knew I could have done better. Forgiving myself was where I started. My writings began to answer the question about what a “healthy” relationship might look like for me in the future. I started to see my experience from a healthier perspective.
After my breakup, I began to stumble through withdrawal, understanding that I was still in the world, and while allowing myself to mourn through the loss, I could eventually return to myself, maybe even to a wiser, deeper, stronger and more resilient version of myself.
I survived! So can you. Seeing a relationship coach or therapist to process the residual emotions and thoughts is a healthy way to deal with a breakup, especially if you’re feeling guilt, regret or starting to dwell in sadness. Breakups are rarely ever going to be a snap; however, with healthy tools and motivation, you can heal and there is a strong possibility that you will emerge better for it.
Larry’s NOTE: Parts of my journal became a part of my first relationship book: “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship!” This book was truly inspired by the breakup. It was featured on ABC TV’s “The View” when Barbara Walters interviewed me.
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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