This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.
That’s a half-smile quote I guess, from Elizabeth Gilbert. I mean, what can anyone really say when we’re dealing with heartache at the loss of a relationship?
It’s been a long time (thankfully) since I’ve experienced such heartache and I hope it will be a whole lot longer. Still, I haven’t forgotten how it feels, that devastation that goes right through you. Everything feels desolate for a while, and you wonder if you will ever love again. I went through that quite a number of times!
Usually, a big new phase of life is right around the corner waiting for you, but at the time, it’s hard to see further than your nose and even harder to care about anything other than your intense sense of loss.
The best we can usually offer ourselves or someone else who is suffering a romantic loss is our caring ears to listen to the many sorrows playing over and over, and some gentle distractions too.
Saying goodbye to a partner you’ve opened yourself up to can feel traumatic. Heartbreak doesn’t go away quickly because it involves layers of emotion and stages of disconnection.
Sometimes the first thing we feel is shock if the break up is unexpected or we find our relationship wasn’t what we thought it was, from the other’s perspective. This can quickly morph into anger, hurt, frustration. Feelings of shame can arise about not being on the same page in love; not realising the other was checking out or moving on.
We can feel vulnerable and exposed, betrayed, even kicked in the guts, if we were giving the relationship a go, but our partner was not.
Sadness and loneliness are typically quick to follow. You don’t just miss the person you’ve lost, you miss the plans you had together. You miss the shared life and all the hopes you were immersed in, as you find yourself feeling like a fish out of relationship water.
Here’s some of my thoughts around how to manage the heartache:
Finish well (if you have the option)
To finish well, ask all the questions you have, before you part. Get the info on what happened from the other’s perspective. The more you hear, the less you will be wondering or second-guessing. Don’t leave it all unsaid and in the air or you’ll just be spending more time and energy on the post mortem, making guesses and possibly feeding false fears and false hopes. Knowing the facts is cleaner.
Stay in your Higher Self
Say what you need to say so you’re not wishing you’d said this or that and wanting to send another text! Don’t get nasty, end it the way you want to live – keeping your strength, values and dignity intact. It will keep you calmer and help you to recover faster than if you send yourself into a meltdown.
Know this will pass
However horrible, there will be good feelings amongst the bad ones again, and slowly, happiness will find its way through again.
Be prepared for hard moments
Meanwhile, in the hard days, get some strategies together for dealing with waves of distress, panic, anger or other feelings so that instead of taking actions, like sending messages you’ll regret, you can be ready to employ your soothing strategies. I have some good printable reminders of the kinds of strategies you can use to care for yourself and get through tough days here.
Contact people you can turn to who know what you’re going through and are supportive. If you don’t want to talk about the breakup, tell them you’d rather not discuss it as it makes you sad, but you’d still like to hang out.
Don’t avoid other people, it’s not usually the fastest way to heal from loss. Distract yourself with healthy stuff like exercise. Avoid romantic anythings and don’t listen to sad music!
Don’t be afraid of down moments
Have quiet times, let yourself be sad, but be balanced . Limit the duration of the grieving moments so you don’t get overly lost in them.
Engage with your life
Find flow in your world – discover or rediscover your personal passions or start something new – an interest or skill that requires focus and feels great to do. Engagement with what you love and what you’re good at is one of the best natural healers.
In time, but not too soon because you won’t see clear, let yourself learn from the hurt and sadness.
Look for patterns, wonder about your part in your relationships if you haven’t before. E.g., Did you ignore your intuition at any point?
Is there anything you have learned from the relationship that will potentially help you in the future? Can you see any patterns you are repeating?
Heartbreak is terrible, but everyone feels it sometime, and we do tend to survive, one way or another. Sometimes life strengthens us, whether we like how it happens or not, other times it leaves us feeling vulnerable.
Love doesn’t die, it just changes form.
Ultimately everyone goes through heartache at some point. Compassion for yourself and others is key – we’re all in this together.
If you’d like to read more from me on love, self-care, healing and creating the relationship you desire, check out my book Lovelands.