For most of us, the loss of relationships creates heartache. This can include feelings of worthlessness, blame, incredible self-doubt, and sometimes and overall and generalized panic which causes us to focus on what we did wrong, how we can fix the issues, and even disguises the fact that someone treated us less than we deserved. In other words, we excuse poor behavior, accept blame and rationalize poor treatment because the pain of loss disguises the truth. Trauma related responses to losing a relationship can result in significant depression, guilt (that if we were more or better they wouldn’t have lied or left us) and prevents us from the exciting aspect of losing certain relationships- the ability to be treated and loved the way we deserve.
While I certainly have no magic cure to healing my heart let alone my client’s going through divorce, I have a few tips to focus on and which I focus on when I experience a lost or changed relationship that pains me.
1. Do not blame yourself. Do not compromise your needs and believe that this is all you deserve. Our gut tells us things for a reason, that I promise. Compromising those feelings to avoid the pain will do nothing but extend it.
2. Avoid the Blame Game All Together. While, certainly people do things that hurt us and you are of course entitled to any feelings you have, blaming the other party comes with a hidden expectation that some apology or discussion will lessen the pain they caused. It’s generally not productive as once the trust is gone in any close relationship, it is incredibly difficult to rebuild. If the relationship ended with ignoring, silent treatment, “ghosting” or a lack of explanation then accept it for what it is- about them, not you. Normal people don’t sleep well hurting other people and any apology is an excuse for their own needs not developed because of their love for you. In simple terms- blaming the other side leaves a door in your head open to something fixing the unfixable. If someone walks away and feels ok doing it, no discussion will ever change that pain or distrust you have. Walk, no run, away.
3. Take Your Time: Feel your pain, without the need to blame, and let the tears come as they may. No one enjoys feeling pain, especially emotional pain. In fact, we all function in a society that offers us almost every out possible. We are distracted by quick fixes at every turn. Slow down, lay in it, and recognize the growth that comes with simply accepting your feelings regardless of how ridiculous you think they are. Recognize the fact that if we don’t sit in the feelings and well, feel them, they come back tenfold and when we are least expecting it. Just relax in your warm tears and keep moving.
4. Take Care of You: Exercise, sleep, take a few days off if you can, and do anything, or at least one thing a day that brings you back to your smile. Those smiles are few and far between at first but in time they become the habit and the norm again.
5. Journal: Writing your feelings down each day is incredibly helpful and provides insight that we otherwise can’t always gage. When you are feeling down, look back at one of those days in the past and what changed the mood and go for it. See how much more positive the journal becomes or see how much more honest you become with yourself. Regardless of why you journal or how repetitive it can seems at times, slowly you will start to see those days when you felt like you, what you did on those days to feel yourself, and those days become more and more.
It is incredibly hard for people going through divorce or any loss of any close relationship to recognize the power over the situation that their mind truly has. For example, instead of seeing yourself as “not good enough” it is just as easy to say to ourselves that “we were too good and that situation was not meant for our life path any longer.” Free yourself of the blame, focus on the lesson, and be you. It feels so much lighter to live with a happy heart and that requires not only accepting our own mistakes but refusing to make someone else’s mistakes a personal reflection on who you are and what you deserve.