I was signing books at a bookstore the other day and a young woman came up to me. She looked at the title of my book “The Pathway to Love” and asked if she could read some of it while she waited for her friend to arrive. I said “sure” and handed her a copy to explore. About thirty minutes later she came back with the book in hand and tears in her eyes. I waited for her to speak, not sure of what was to come. Finally I asked “Are you okay?”
She replied, “I broke up with my boyfriend a week ago and I’ve been a wreck ever since. I can’t help feeling like I made a big mistake. I read the chapter that discusses the four phases of a relationship and I feel like I finally understand what went wrong. I can’t tell you how much better I feel. Now I understand that there’s nothing wrong with me or my boyfriend for that matter. Now I understand what happened and why.”
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She went on to tell me a bit about her personal story and I told her that she would be able to relate to the stories that followed in the book. She went and purchased the book, expressing her desire to read the rest of it that day. Her friend arrived shortly thereafter. I signed the book for her and she went on her way, holding The Pathway to Love against her chest, close to her heart. It was in this moment that I was reminded of why I do the work I do, why I wrote The Pathway to Love and what a difference one book can make.
The fact of the matter is that we all need reassurance—that we’re not crazy, not bad, and not the only one who feels this way. This beautiful young woman who was hurting over the break-up with her boyfriend needed to know she had done the right thing for the right reasons. She needed to understand what happened so she could find a way to make peace with it. She needed to feel like someone “got” it in a way that did not make her feel judged or belittled.
It’s common after you make a scary and difficult decision that changes your life to have moments when you want to “change” back—a case of buyers or sellers remorse so to speak. This is especially common when the change involves a painful loss or scary risk. Just because you feel panic doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision. It just means you’re dealing with the effects of the decision. So here’s what I suggest you do if you are reacting to a loss in your life…
1. Take the time to work through your feelings and get centered. You don’t want to make any major decision when your emotions are high and fears are rampant.
2. Give yourself time to adjust to the change or loss. It’s normal to feel an empty space when something or someone has left your life.
3. See what there is for you to learn—about yourself, your significant other, and your relationship.
4. Identify ways to nurture and support yourself through the process, both in the short run and the long run.
5. Curl up with a good friend, a good pet, or even a good book :-)
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Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery