“I can understand another’s soul only by transforming my own,
as one person transforms his hand by placing it in another’s.” – Paul Eluard
Ah, it’s true relationships really are our greatest teachers and nothing reveals ourselves to ourselves more fully than when a relationship ends. It is a truth that all relationships end – through break-ups, divorce, death or changes in circumstances. As soon as our hearts dare to love, it seems we risk losing the object of our affection. So whether or not you are the one who has been left, or have chosen to leave, how do you maintain a sense of dignity and grace when you are experiencing emotional turmoil?
The Initial Shock
When our world is shattered, the temptation may be to blame, resentment may be high and even desire for vengeance can transform the most dignified person into a ‘thing’ unrecognisable. It’s natural to feel angry and hurt at this time, particularly if there has been betrayal. However, these emotions are probably masking the deep grief that you are experiencing. When a relationship ends, we grieve, even if we are the ones who have done the leaving.
We grieve for the times we’ve had and will no longer have together, we grieve for the physical comfort of being held, making love, conversations we will never have again, the laughter, the fun, the tears, times shared. At this time, all you can do is to surrender. Surround yourself with your best friends, cry it out, allow yourself to feel what must be felt, ask for help when you need it. Notice and become a witness to, the coping mechanisms you may be tempted to apply: keeping yourself too busy to feel, isolating yourself, drowning your feelings with alcohol or drugs, over-eating or sugar addiction, under-eating, retail therapy are all ways we have of trying to fill ‘the void’, the emptiness inside. Ask yourself, what would I risk feeling if I don’t indulge in these patterns? And allow yourself to feel. Emotions wil move through you if you ‘allow’ rather than push away.
Know that whatever you are feeling is more than the current situation – you are probably feeling a lifetime of unresolved grief, and the worse your relationship, the more grief you may be feeling. This is because we not only have to accept the loss of our partner, but the loss of hope that all of our efforts would keep this alive, that if we were to keep trying we would be able to ‘fix’ that which just was not fixable. We mourn the loss of the innocence we brought to our love.
Ask For Help
The gift in the situation is that we now have the opportunity to work through and resolve these emotions that probably have their roots in our child hood. We can use the experience to help us grow. Get yourself help from a counselor, psychologist or a personal coach. They will guide you through the stages and help you to resolve the emotions, allowing you at an appropriate time to move forward into a new relationship without the baggage from the previous one. It is a fallacy that ‘time heals all wounds’. It does not, we still carry our childhood wounds, so check in with an expert and be guided to real healing.
Moving On With Grace: Letting Go of The Story
We can let go with grace and kindness. Relationships do end, people have the right to choose to leave us. Retelling the story of it, tempting as it is, simply replays the psycho-drama in your mind perpetuating and recreating the pain. You can choose to do this of course, and my experience is that this will not serve you in the long run. Write it all out, get the story ‘out’ of you, pour all of your feelings onto a page, all the ways you were mistreated, misunderstood or whatever it is you are feeling, write out all the things that you never got to say, and let your partner reply (from your imagination) empty it all out, and then, as a signal to your being that you are done with it, Tear it up!
Begin to deal with the real issues that may be presenting. An ending of a relationship can trigger deep insecurities, questions such as “Will I ever be loved again? Am I too fat/thin/tall/short/old for anyone to want me? Do I need to get a boob job? (Guys – what’s the equivalent for you?) Will all partners be like my past love? If I dare to love, will I simply get hurt again? These are also gifts as they are showing you the parts of yourself that are not yet congruent with who you really want to be in a relationship – able to keep your heart wide open, being raw and real and vulnerable with your partner, loving with reckless abandon, innocent love, staying wide open even when you become afraid. Resolving your insecurities before a new relationship begins is crucial.
Give Yourself The Time You Need
Be wary of starting a new relationship too soon. It is so important that you give yourself the time to heal the wounds. If you jump in too soon you will probably attract someone who is at the same level of emotional maturity as your previous partner. So give yourself the gift of creating a space for yourself to heal and grow from the experience. I promise you, you are lovable and the right person will be there for you when you are truly ready. So trust in yourself. Enjoy your time to yourself, fall in love with you. When we come from a place of ‘no need’, all of a sudden we become highly desirable creatures.
And when you’re truly ready, you can playfully begin to date again. Make a list of all the qualities you really want – a wish list, don’t allow your limiting beliefs to prevent you for asking for it all. Also, make a list of the qualities that you really do not want in your partner. What are you willing to compromise and what are you not willing to compromise? Get really clear on what you want. Then play. Go on a few dates with different people. Watch the signals. The pitfalls will be present in that first date. How do you feel in their presence? Do you feel good about yourself? Energised in their presence? Trust your body, it will not lead you astray.
If it doesn’t work out, don’t beat yourself up. Take the lessons that you can from it, and move on. There is someone more suitable waiting to meet you.
Whatever has happened, you will get through this. You will laugh, love and play in the sunshine once again. The ‘right’ person is worth doing the inner work for, and is worth waiting for – they will show up. You will move from darkness to light as surely as sunset moves through to daybreak. My prayer is that you will come to enjoy this journey to wholeness, as you discover an even greater, lovable you!
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