Not every breakup is the same, but losing your primary partner is almost always disorienting. That significant other you turn to when you need soothing or want to share exciting news won’t fill this role anymore. Some separations can actually be peaceful and friendly, maybe even have that bright flavor you get when you know you’re going through this for the best. And some can be devastating.
Getting over heartbreak can be a long and challenging process, and people who went through almost all had to learn one or all of those lessons.
We don’t always get the closure we want
Sometimes you can turn that page civilly and thoughtfully.
I fondly remember hugging one of my exes after we finished emptying and cleaning the home we shared and thanking him for the good times we had together. It was made a lot easier by the fact that the decision to end the relationship was mutual.
I also remember crying my heart out and trying to get my lover back for several months. I have one case of a very persistent ex that sent me birthday wishes several years after I stopped responding entirely to anything coming from him.
Things usually get spooky when one part of the equation refuses to accept the situation and try to make it into something more bearable for them. We will probably talk about that at some point because it has to do with consent, and I’m a sucker for consensual human interactions.
It is a challenge to surrender to what is, and grieving is a normal part of the process. The occasional wishing that things would be different too.
I find it helpful to create a ritual to honor what has been, grief what is no more, and clear the space for what will be. It is also a great help to remember that love, safety, belonging, and joy can come from many sources, especially from within.
Overall you didn’t lose your capacity for joy. You still have access to love.
You are still whole.
It has nothing to do with your worth.
I was once trying to console my best friend from yet another breakup, and I vividly remember her saying, “the worst thing is that no one loves me today”. Sure enough, I immediately said something along the lines of “I do love you, you know,” and then she said, “Not the way he did. He knew me all the way to my soul”.
The story she was telling herself that was causing so much distress at the time was that her significant other got to know her on a deeper level than anyone else ever got, and didn’t like what he discovered, hence the breakup.
This belief is pretty widespread amongst people suffering from imposter syndrome, dreading that anyone looking close enough at their accomplishments will inevitably see what a fraud they ultimately are.
You might also think that your unhappy circumstances could have been avoided if you looked more glamorous, successful, or fit. The idea is made even more potent by the fashion and cosmetic industry, telling you all day, every day, that nothing short of perfection is good enough and that happiness can only be achieved with silky hair and without those 5 pounds.
Some aspects of this narrative are appealing. All I have to do is change my haircut, and no one will never ever leave me again! Easy!
We wish it were that simple, but I need to call bullshit on this one. It is almost certain that nobody valuable ever left you because of your haircut, and if they did, I dare say their superficial ass was not worthy of your time anyway.
Nobody is “too good for you.” The truth is, it’s hard to find someone you truly get along with and could form a lasting partnership with, and sometimes even a good relationship can end.
Numbing your heart is not a long-term solution.
When pain is overwhelming in the midst of heartbreak, and you believe you’ll feel it forever, it can be so tempting to harden your heart to make sure you won’t feel this bad ever again. The general idea being: the hardships of love are so awful that the rare bliss you get is not worth it at all.
As a short-term solution, it seems sensible. And the stone-cold seductress or womanizer is a trope so popular that we might sometimes buy into the idea of not feeling as the shortest way to get a bunch of followers. With that view, feelings are essentially a liability altogether.
It might attract some souls eager to play out an unrequited love story, but numbing yourself to love will also make its delights harder to feel at all.
It is hard. It’s true. Relationships touch some very core needs and fears in any human being, and we are bound to feel it very deeply.
Being willing to face pain will be difficult at the time. Still, it’s also an incredible opportunity for growth and healing, and it will open the way for even more epic love, deep relationships, and new delights beyond your imagination.
Think about how common it is to hear that hardship from a past involvement is why someone is sabotaging a current relationship. “I’m so insecure because my ex used to do this or that. I’m only doing this because I was hurt.”
Yes. It sucks. I sincerely feel for those wounded people. I also wish none would let their past make it harder for them to live a loving and functioning love when it presents itself.
People who healed from heartbreak dared to feel the feels. Good news though : you don’t have to do it all in one soul-crushing, heart-shattering sitting, and you don’t have to do it alone either.