One of the hardest life events to get over is a breakup or loss of someone we love.
When my wife left me, I was devastated. I was completely in shock and had no idea what to do. I actually fell to the floor and cried like a baby. That’s embarrassing to admit, but I’m willing to bet you understand what that’s like.
I felt truly loved and cherished by her. She was someone who finally understood me and loved me unconditionally, and I was losing her. I was angry and sad, and felt like I was being abandoned.
I was in a state of complete hopelessness.
I also came to the conclusion that she didn’t believe in marriage like I did. After all, how could she throw it all away? Why wouldn’t she work harder at this? In my head, I asked her, “Isn’t marriage important to you?”
After two days of absolute misery, I finally got back on my feet. After all, I still had a life to live and work to do. I didn’t want to do anything, but I did it anyway. I also wanted to seek closure as soon as possible because I didn’t want to continue living with this pain.
Two days may not sound like a lot of time to look for closure, but I wasn’t trying to stop feeling the pain (I knew I had some grieving to do), I just wanted to get out of that “in between” stage of not knowing what to do with my life next.
I realized that in order to heal and move on, I had to choose one of two paths:
- Wait desperately for her to return
- Accept that she will never return. Ever.
Either option was a miserable prospect but I knew I had to choose one path if I really wanted closure. But how could I choose? I thought, “Of course I want her back, so I should probably wait just in case she changes her mind!”
The problem with that logic is that she already said it was over and that there was no chance of reconciliation. So #1 was not option, no matter how much I wanted it. I fought the thoughts that came up in me. I didn’t want to accept it was over. But I also didn’t want to deny the truth.
Which left #2…
Acceptance that she would never want to come back was the one option I didn’t want to accept, but I had to if I wanted to move on in any way. It was awful. I cried and it hurt terribly. But making that choice helped me come to terms with the cold, hard truth:
She will never return.
Knowing she would never return no matter what gave me a sense of dreadful permanence. But it also allowed me to start the grieving process as if she died.
Breaking up is like someone we love dying. It is the death of the relationship. And if perceive the relationship’s end as a death, it forces us to accept the worst possible truth imaginable: The relationship is truly over and they will not be coming back.
Sure we can pretend they’ll come back, or hope, or wish, or pray, but seeing the breakup as a death at least helps us move in a direction. It’s still a miserable feeling, but it is a direction and a first step to start to the healing process.
You may get sidetracked after coming to this acceptance though. I thought, “But how will I ever be happy again? She made me feel like a man. I felt loved and supported by her like no one else had ever done. I’ll never get that again from anyone else.”
One of the many lessons my ex-wife taught me was that I am a lot more worthy than I thought I was before we met. I never saw the things in me that she saw. I never thought I was that smart or even that attractive. She found me sexy and smart.
It took a lot of convincing on her part for me to believe any of that.
She reinforced that perception until I accepted it. But when she left, I started feeling bad and down on myself all over again, so I had to remember and believe that what she said about me was still true. I had to believe that I was still sexy and smart so that I didn’t fall back into the old, unhealthy habit of believing I was anything less.
When someone makes you feel happy and loved, it’s because they see things in you that you already are but for some reason, maybe you don’t see them in yourself. Sometimes we find that perfect partner that feels right in every way and they make us feel better than we’ve ever felt with anyone else. Then they leave.
That’s the hardest part, because we think that in order to be happy, we need that person in our life. But I think a healthy perspective to have is to remember one of the reasons they showed up in the first place was to remind us of who we already are that we may not see for ourselves.
Sometimes we need to that reminder so that we remember who we really are instead of who we think we are. That doesn’t mean every partner we have will do that for us, but healthy partners that have ever loved us are going to see qualities in us that we deny in ourselves.
Many people think that in order to be happy and feel love, we have to get it from someone else. However, if you’re always seeking love and happiness from another person, it puts a lot of pressure those people to respond to what appears to be our desperate needs.
When we rely on someone else to make us feel special, we will always be unhappy in the long run because no one has it in them to make someone else feel special all the time.
I had to realize that how I felt with my wife wasn’t because of her in particular. Yes, she was the one I truly loved at the time, and I felt so comfortable and happy in our relationship, but a question came up for me months after our divorce that really shifted my perspective. That question was:
If you could feel just as happy, loved and supported by someone else, or even more happy and loved than you’ve ever felt before, would it matter if your ex never returned?
If you suffered a breakup that you still haven’t gotten over, ask yourself that same question. Think about it: If someone else came along and made you feel even more special, was just as attractive, if not moreso, and wanted you to be happy and would move mountains to make it happen, would it matter what his or her name was?
Would your ex even matter as much anymore if you could get all of that and more from another person?
We spend a big part of our life thinking that a particular person is the only person that makes us feel a certain way. In reality, we like how certain people make us feel. And many people are capable of helping us feel that way. The problem is that we end up comparing the new person in our life to the old person, over and over again. We think that there’s only person who could ever make us feel a certain way and we end up giving no one else a chance.
If you’re grieving over a recent breakup, I’m not saying someone is going to come along, sweep you off your feet, and make you forget about your former partner (at least, not yet). But I am saying that it’s okay to grieve. I know it’s not fun and it’s hard as hell, but grieving allows you to let go and start the healing process.
That doesn’t mean your ex won’t heal from their stuff and come back to you one day, but you both still need to grieve and let go of what was because “what was” wasn’t working and led to what happened.
And if you really want the type of relationship that you know you deserve, you’re going to have to heal inside before you get back into any relationship with anyone else, even your ex – even if you believe they are the person that needs to heal. In every breakup, there is healing and growing needed on both sides.
When my abusive stepfather left my mom after 44 years of marriage, she was heartbroken and really believed she wanted him back. However, after two months she said, “What the hell was I thinking? I would never take that a**hole back!” And she meant it.
At first, she wanted the person who abused her back in her life. The reason? She did not know any other way of life. That marriage was her entire world. And after that world fell apart, she lost a part of her identity.
You might experience this during a breakup too, but it has to happen. It’s part of grieving, so cry and be angry. And express yourself, and punch pillows, because you might have a lot to let out.
It took my mom two months to get over a relationship she didn’t even like because she felt like she needed him to be happy in some odd way. It took all that time without him to realize what her own thoughts were without his influence in her life. That’s a long time to discover your own thoughts without someone else around influencing them.
After those two months, she started having thoughts independent of him. After a breakup, you may not even know what your thoughts are independent of the person you were with. But it’s important to figure out what they when you are no longer under anyone else’s influence, good or bad. Your thoughts are affected by other people. When they are no longer around, you get to learn who you are at a deeper level, and what may need healing in you.
You will grieve the breakup for sure. I’m sorry, there’s no way around that. But you will also start seeing what you have to gain too. When you heal from some of the pain you hold on to from the past, you’ll find higher and higher quality relationships as you do so. That’s just how it works.
Great relationships happen in many ways. Sometimes it’s a matter of never settling for less than you want and deserve. In fact, it’s nice to have a list of must-haves and must-not-haves for a perfect partner so that you can always compare the list to anyone you ever meet.
You are definitely worthy of more. Once you start believing that, you will exude that from your every pore and start attracting people into your life that see the worth you know is there. It’s automatic: What you believe about yourself, the right partner will see as well. That doesn’t mean you go bragging about it to everyone, it just means you feel it and you walk it.
Knowing what a great catch you are instills confidence and reassurance in you so that you aren’t putting out any desperate energy of trying to fill a void in your life (that can be a turn off to many good potential partners). And when you walk around with that feeling, the right people are going to gravitate toward you and want to be a part of your life.
When you don’t believe that you worthy, important, and lovable, you get inconsistent, indecisive, and unreliable people instead. It’s like they show up to fill the gaps but never help you complete the picture of a great relationship. These types of relationships often fail because once the gaps are filled, you won’t know where to take the relationship next.
That’s why it’s in your best interest to believe you are amazing. This involves working on your “stuff” and trying to heal any old emotional wounds that you’re carrying around. It’s a tough journey sometimes, but when you invest in yourself like this, you create better relationships.
When you use relationships as a source for love and happiness, you may end up missing what needs to be processed and released inside you. Relationships can cover up the personal work sometimes (though they are very good at reflecting what you need to work on as well).
Do the work on yourself and the great relationship has a chance to manifest. Personal growth and development can be a long road sometimes (which is why it can be helpful to find a good friend or guide to help you through the hard stuff), but when you realize your journey will increase the quality and longevity of your relationships, the journey is always worth it.