How to heal after a break up or divorce
Relationships are challenging.
We cannot control them. We cannot guarantee that they’ll succeed.
In fact, when you come to think about it, what we know about relationships is… not much. Unfortunately relationships are not part of any school curriculum. For most of us, the only “blueprint” we have about relationships is that of our parents — and many times, it’s not an example we can (or should) replicate.
So when we’re faced with one of the toughest moments in a relationship, a breakup, most of us not only are overwhelmed by the pain and sense of loss that follows it, but we also lack the tools to process this trauma and start our path towards healing.
If you’re going through a breakup, I’m sorry. I hope that you’ll find solace in these steps below.
Why is it so hard to leave a toxic relationship?
It is often the case that after we get out of a relationship, we look back and we see all the things we couldn’t see when we were in the relationship: the pain, the rejection, the lack of respect and boundaries. But if it’s so painful, why isn’t it easier for us to see clearly what is best for us and leave a toxic relationship sooner rather than later?
In your relationship, are you a pursuer or a withdrawer?
When fighting with your partner, do you prefer to:
A - Ask for explanations, blame, push, overanalyse, criticise or
B - Retreat, shut down, walk away, avoid or find distraction?
If A, you are probably a pursuer. And I say “probably” because there is another type of pursuer, I will explain later.
If B, then you are probably a withdrawer.
A pursuer or a withdrawer is a role we (have learned to) take in a relationship when there is a conflict. The conflict may be of small or big importance. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the emotional importance the individual gives to the conflict.
Or, How to go from avoidance to safe connection
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Are you familiar with the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde? It’s based on the novella of Robert Louis Stevenson and the story is about a man that he is a respectful and kind doctor during the day, when the night falls he turns into a heartless evil, killing innocent people. What Stevenson is trying to describe here is the duality of human nature; in other words how the shifting between “good” and “bad” is part of our inner struggles and how hard it is to incorporate both in order to come in peace and in acceptance of the inevitable existence of both these elements in our lives.
The experience of rejection has so many guises that it has become a very common emotional experience. Throughout our lives we experience rejections in many forms: being picked last for a team game at school, not being invited to a classmate’s birthday party, being knocked back for a promotion, rebuffed through internet dating, being excluded from a social gathering with friends, rejection of partner’s intimate advances and what can be the most painful for some, the break-up of an intimate relationship.
The emotional rollercoaster of a divorce
Everyone knows how horrible it is to lose a dear person and to have to figure out your life after this loss. However, I was surprised to read the other day about the impact of death and divorce in a person’s life and how close they were in terms of influence in our life. Although it seems that the loss of a loved person is one of the worst moments of someone’s life, research shows that divorce’s emotional impact resembles the size of a permanent loss.
Let's start with clarifying the difference between alone and lonely.
"Alone" is when you find yourself in your own company and that it feels ok. It's when you feel content being and doing things alone, independently.
"Lonely", on the other hand, is a feeling of estrangement and emotional distance from the people around you which causes you distress. You can be in the middle of a group of friends and still feel disconnected from them, that something is missing. It's when an overwhelming combination of feelings like shame, guilt, sadness, regret and unworthiness, creep in silently when you least expect it. But when they come, they come in huge waves dragging you down to the bottom of your emotional ocean.
In interpersonal relationships, the position of the victim is one of the most popular ones. Everybody pushes, pulls, plays tricks, trips others, uses others, exhausts their resources and their minds, usually unwittingly and unconsciously, and eventually placing themselves in the position of the victim.
Forgiveness is considered by many as the redemption of a burden: the one that someone carries when he has been betrayed by a significant Other, or when he has been cheated, mistaken, or abandoned.
Many times we choose forgiveness for social reasons, because "we have to". We wear the mask of "it's OK for me, as long as you are OK." But by acting this way, we skip the healthy process of "recovery" from our trauma. We go through all the “allowed” stages of emotional reactions and never express our anger, but lock it somewhere deep inside us.
YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHERS.