It may not feel like it right now but your breakup is a blessing and your pain holds a gift
Endings aren’t easy and the end of a significant intimate relationship in our lives is likely to be painful. Even if deep down we knew this person wasn’t right for us and that the relationship would not have been a viable one in the long-term, it still hurts. When we’re with someone for any length of time they become like a piece of us, woven into the very fabric of our being. Trying to un-weave them and to separate them from us once again can be an excruciating process.
But sometimes we can spend so much time focusing on what we’ve lost that we’re unable to see what we might gain. That’s normal. We’re wired in such a way that our minds are naturally geared towards measuring what we’ve lost but in the moment of letting go they unable to see what gains might come from our pain.
And yet it is this process of letting go of what no longer serves us that is the source of our greatest growth and transformation. The wounded parts of who we are and the pain that we feel when something doesn’t work out the way we want it to is often life presenting us with a gift. While it can be hard to see it as such at the time, if we’re willing to dig deeper we may find that everything that’s happening is happening for us.
Before we can get to the place where we’re able to see the gifts in our grief, there’s something else we need to do first. Something that we’re not great at because we’ve been socialised to run from it.
We need to face our feelings.
. . . . . .
Feel Your Pain
None of us like being in pain but it’s important that you give yourself permission to feel whatever it is that’s coming to the surface because it’s the only way you can heal.
Whether it was you that ended the relationship or your partner you need to give yourself time to grieve for what has gone.
Perhaps you knew the relationship wouldn’t last, that it lacked a solid foundation of friendship, or perhaps you thought this was the person you were going to spend the rest of your life with, either way giving yourself time to process what has happened is key.
It’s completely normal to have feelings of loneliness and emptiness when a relationship ends. This is likely someone you’ve had daily contact with for many months or years, adjusting to not having them in your life is going to take some time. Breakups create a natural void in our life where someone who we devoted a great deal of time to used to be and there is no quick fix that can make their absence easier to deal with.
When I ended my 3-year relationship and moved out of my ex-partners home the silence it created in my life was deafening.
I used to come home from work and immediately put the T.V. on — for some reason just hearing voices chattering away in the background of whatever it was I was doing was something I found comforting.
If it helps to sit on the sofa binge-watching Netflix with a box of tissues next to you and a bar of dark chocolate for company then do that but just ensure you don’t stay in that place for too long.
It can be all too easy to allow ourselves to wallow in misery for months on end, to focus on what we’ve lost rather than giving ourselves equal space to consider what we might gain.
I know. When you feel like your heart has been broken and the pain is so deep that it feels physical it can be hard to move into a place where you’re able to think about anything good coming out of this.
I’ve been there so I understand how difficult it is.
But please bear with me because I want to show you how exploring your past, reflecting on your present, and thinking about your future, can help you take what’s happened and use it to become a stronger person.
. . . . . .
Who Were You?
Travel back in time and think about who you were when you first entered that relationship.
What kind of person were you?
- Were you strong and confident?
- Did you have a clear sense of self?
- Did you know what your values and beliefs were?
- Did you stay true to that person throughout your relationship?
Or were you passive?
- Did you try and please your partner and keep them happy at the expense of your own happiness?
- Did you make a ton of sacrifices and give up pieces of who you were to accommodate them?
Having an understanding of who you were going into the relationship and how you functioned in it will help you figure out what works well for you and what perhaps doesn’t work so well.
For example, I like to think that I brought a great deal of thoughtfulness and love to my last relationship, both things that I want to hang onto and take into my next relationship.
At the same time, I recognise that I was a passive-aggressive people pleaser who didn’t stand up for herself or allow herself to be seen. That’s something I’m working hard to change.
Celebrate what you did well and reflect on what you’d like to improve on.
Don’t beat yourself up about the things you feel you didn’t do well in the relationship but rather focus on how empowering uncovering a weakness or unhelpful pattern of behaviour can be.
Once we’ve made the unconscious conscious we can set about changing it.
. . . . . .
Who Are You Now?
Once you’ve taken some time to think about who you were going into the relationship, it’s time to think about who you are now having come out of it.
- How have you changed?
- What did you learn about love and yourself?
- In what areas of your life did the relationship help you grow?
Your relationship will have likely changed, shaped, and transformed you in many ways.
Think about the things that it taught you about love and relationships and also about yourself.
If there were important lessons learned don’t just gloss over these, take some time to really reflect and integrate that learning into who you are now. Doing this helps us avoid repeating the same behaviours and patterns from our past, in the future.
A relationship breakup is an opportunity to evaluate where you are in your life, to take stock and consider what changes, if any, you want to make going forward.
Depending on the seriousness of the relationship it may be that those first few weeks or months are a bit of a blur, a time when your heart is grieving and your body and mind are in survival mode.
It may be that you’re not in a position to think or reflect on any of this right now and that’s completely okay.
The dual-process model, widely used in grief and bereavement theory, explains that when we are experiencing grief we often cope by oscillating between confronting our pain and avoiding it.
When we are loss-orientated we focus on what is missing from our lives, what we feel we have lost.
When we are restoration-orientated we focus on attending to what has happened, looking to the future, doing new things, and building new relationships.
If you find yourself doing this know it’s a normal and healthy part of the grieving process.
. . . . . .
Who Do You Want to Be?
Think of yourself as the architect of your own life — you’ve been given a blank piece of paper and from that, you can sketch out the shape of the person you want to become. Have a think about what your ideal self looks like.
- What qualities and character traits do you have?
- What do you believe in?
- What are your non-negotiables in a relationship?
- What behaviours won’t you tolerate?
- What kind of partnership do you want to create?
Life is presenting you with an opportunity to reinvent yourself. It’s giving you a chance to truly think about who you are and who you want to be. To let go of what no longer works and to allow your ideal self to be born.
While it may not feel like it now your breakup is a blessing.
It’s a chance to start anew.
An opportunity to find your path.
Upon looking back you may just discover that the relationship was never designed to last but rather to give birth to the person you were always destined to become.
Rest in that place of becoming.
Trust in the process.
Trust in yourself.
Use your relationship breakup to architect a beautiful new you.