Day 18 – Surviving the end of a relationship

Whether divorce or a terrible breakup, the pain is intense. What makes the pain even worse is when you have to continue seeing the person who broke your heart on a regular basis, rubbing salt in the already sensitive wound. Some people feel shame for taking the end of their relationship so hard… feeling like they shouldn’t have gotten so attached, or they should have seen it coming etc. No matter what, the end of something you care deeply about it going to hurt! BAD!

I dated a guy in my mid-20’s for just a few months but I fell head over heels. For some reason I got it in my head that he was “the one.” Pretty much NOTHING in our relationship indicated that, but it had been so long since I had fallen for someone that I guess I just assumed that this must be it! It didn’t matter what he said to me, how he treated me, I was convinced. When we broke up I felt like my world was ending. My perception of relationships, love, God, the world… everything… seemed blurry.  How could this happen? Who was I? How could I have been so off-base?

I have also worked with women dealing with divorce in groups and in an individual counseling setting. The pain runs deep. The questioning even deeper. The betrayal of someone you thought you knew so well is devestating.

Most of us can relate in some capacity to the grieving felt due to the loss of a loved one. Here are some things you may experience and how to work through them:

  • Questions, questions, questions! How could I have missed it? How could I have fallen for him/her in the first place? What now? I read an amazing book called Life after Loss after my mother-in-law died. The author, Bob Deits, made a great point regarding the questions we ask after loss. They typically start as “Why?” Why me? Why now? etc. and eventually turn into “How?” How can I move on? How can I get past this? etc. The “Why?” questions are a normal part of the initial stages of grief. But when you get into the “How?” questions you know you’re making progress. The “How?” questions indicate a desire to move forward in life whereas the “Why?” questions tend to keep us stuck.

 

  • Emotional Rollar Coaster Ride: Your emotions feel totally out of control during grief. You may be happy and laughing when suddenly something strikes a chord within you that makes you want to cry. Just flow with the wave of emotions. Don’t try to stop them. If you are at work and need to step outside for a moment to collect yourself, so be it. Dr Phil said the following about the emotions we experience during  grief:

                          ‘Initially, you may feel as though you’re living in a fog, simply going through the motions of day-to-day life as if on autopilot,’ Dr.  Phil says. You may cry so much that your eyes feel parched. It’s OK to spend days where you do nothing but cry. Or, you may be surprised to find that you’re not crying at all. Neither reaction is right or wrong; it just is. If the latter is the case, you may feel a surge of guilt wondering why you can’t even eke out a tear for someone you cared so much about. The spectrum of emotions that you may experience is huge. It can range from shock and numbness, to fear and panic, to anger and resentment.

 

  • The “I want to be alone” / “I need support” Conflict:  You may want to bury yourself under the covers and stay in bed 24/7 but what you really need is support! Allow your community to gather around you encourage you during the rough moments rather than avoiding people. Lean into your friends, family and God. I have also seen people be incredibly encouraged through involvement  in a more formal support group. What’s great about groups is that you are surrounded by people who are in a similar situation as you. You understand each other in a different way than the other people in your life do. Don’t hide!

I do an entire series on this topic (and maybe I will one day)! But for now… as we discuss all the ins and outs and ups and downs of relationships… unfortunately relationships ending is sometimes a part of our journeys. :( Hope this is helpful.

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