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 on the floor crying like a baby. That’s embarrassing to admit, but I bet you understand what that’s like.
I felt truly loved and cherished by her. She was someone who finally understood me, loved me unconditionally, and I was losing her. I was angry and sad and felt like I was being abandoned.
I felt hopeless.
I also felt like I was the only one who believed in marriage. How could she throw it all away? Why not work harder at this? I thought, “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, which was the hardest step.
I realized in order to be happy again, I could choose one of two paths:
- Wait desperately for her to return
- Accept that she will never return. Ever.
Either way was a miserable prospect but I had to choose one path because I needed 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 there was no chance of reconciliation. So #1 was not option, no matter how much I wanted it. 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.
It was awful. I cried and it hurt bad. 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 forces us to accept the worst possible truth imaginable: They are dead 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 gives us a direction. It’s still miserable but it’s a direction and a start to the healing process.
“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.”
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.
“Really? I am? I don’t believe it!”
She reinforced that perception until I believed it myself. But when she left, I started feeling bad 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 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 sometimes why they show up in the first place is to remind us of who we already are that we can’t see for ourselves at the time.
What’s worse is that we think in order to be happy and feel love, we have to get it from someone else. This is when the pressure is really put on other people to respond in kind to 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 with our relationship, but a question came up for me at a later date that really shifted my perspective. That question was:
“If I could feel just as happy and just as loved and supported by someone else, or even more happy and loved than I’ve ever felt before, would it matter if my wife never returned?”
If you suffered a breakup that you still haven’t gotten over, ask yourself that same question: 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? And 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 and 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 deserve, you’re going to have to heal inside before you get back into a relationship with anyone else, even your ex… even if you believe they are the person that needs to heal. In a relationship that led to a 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. Then two months later 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, 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 thoughts were without his influence in her life. That’s a long time to figure out what your true thoughts are without someone else 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. It’s healthy to figure out what they are when other people aren’t around to influence you, good or bad.
You will grieve for sure. I’m sorry that 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.
Sometimes it’s a matter of never settling for less. It’s nice to have a list of must-haves and must-nots, 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 attract people into your life that see that worth in you.
When you don’t believe it, you get inconsistent, indecisive, and unreliable people instead. So it’s in your best interest to believe you are amazing!