Any heartache hurts, but it’s much harder when you’re leaving a person you still love.
My first breakup happened when I was sixteen. I was at the receiving end of the "It’s over" statement. I needed a date for the Junior Prom.
My poor father was standing there watching me at a complete loss as to how to stop the tears running down my face. What could he say to help me get over a breakup when I was still in love? "There'll be other men?"
My entire life was wrapped up in whether this guy liked me! At sixteen, I knew enough to know that being rejected was something for losers and I vowed never to feel those feelings of shame again.
I did go to the dance with that tall, handsome fella who couldn’t resist my teenage manipulation. I also ended up learning a strong co-dependent strategy that haunted me until my most recent divorce: Holding on to people who don’t love you hurts.
It’s a waste of time and energy and it sucks the life out of you. It’s also not up to someone else to make us whole. Yet, the comfort of a dysfunctional relationship (it ended right?) becomes so familiar that it’s almost impossible to be the one who’s willing to end something that wasn’t good to begin with.
Whether you’re the person moving on or not, it’s incredibly painful to experience heartbreak. It’s a real phenomenon that can affect your well-being going forward. It can also become a defining moment in your life — an opportunity to shift from being at "rock bottom" to having hope and meaning.
But, in the moment, when you’re walking away from someone you love, it stinks. Being at the receiving end of "it’s over" and forced to leave taps into our basest fears and anxieties. If you’re not careful, it can damage your spirit going forward.
You can’t ever control how others feel.
The only healthy way to get over a breakup is to do some real soul searching. I know this may sound stupid and too touchy-feely in your defensive, ego, public persona space. But stick with me. It’s time to get real, very sober, and enact a "get on the bench" attitude!
Ask yourself a few questions: How did I show up in that relationship? Did I allow my partner to express herself fully: socially, personally, and spiritually? Was I allowed to express myself in all ways? How did I express my love for my partner?
Way too often, relationships end over these exact questions. They reflect firmly held beliefs around control, manipulation, image management, and assumptions.
You may be caught up in assuming that you let her express herself fully but every time you stopped her from being that bright shiny woman you fell in love with, you prevented her from being who she truly is.
The same goes for men. Anytime a woman harps on a guy for not being her idealized man, she chips away at his self-esteem and self-regard.
No healthy person can stay in a toxic environment (no matter how good the sex) and when the need to grow shows up (which is daily by the way) and it gets snuffed out, it’s over! So where are you? Where will you take responsibility for the things you did that caused the person you love to leave?
If you don’t figure out who you were and take on the breakup as a big life lesson, you’re doomed to repeat it with the next partner.
Getting over a breakup requires more than just getting into bed with someone else.
Too many post-divorce and post-separation individuals think that the way to fix a broken heart is to "get under someone else" (or on top, but you get the picture).
Let me be perfectly clear that there's nothing wrong with having sex! The problems come when you’re using someone else to get through the hurt because your identity is wrapped up in being sexual.
Sex is a GREAT distraction! It feels wonderful. It soothes your wounded ego and the attention and beauty of having someone new in your arms is not like anything else.
However, this new lover is simply a substitute for the work you have to do. And, worst of all, hanging out with someone regularly will cause you to:
- Marry someone you don’t truly love because they helped you through your darkness and you feel guilty or
- You’ll break up with them, once divorced, because you’re feeling good and you’re done with them, causing them twice as much pain as you went through.
(NEWS FLASH: I’m talking to you guys who hook up with the same woman week in and week out through your divorce.)
I understand that you want to get that abandonment and loss behind you. You want to feel like yourself again and move on to a "real" healthy, fun, richer, kinder, younger, and more beautiful partner. But this is when you must trust that timing is everything.
Until you deal with yourself and take responsibility for what you messed up, you’ll simply attract someone else who won’t want to or can’t love you back.
Get on the bench (especially if you’re still in the middle of your negotiation!). Figure out what was missing in your relationship. Do the things you love to do on your own for your own good.
Learn to care for yourself the way you mistakenly think only someone else can. Recall the things that are important to you so when you’re ready, you can select a woman more in alignment with who you are.
Expecting someone else to mend your broken heart or to fill your bottomless pit is being irresponsible. No one — no partner nor healthy woman — can fix what they didn’t break.
That is your job. It is your role to nurture yourself, to understand what you value, and know how to become happy, light-hearted, and at ease. You bring yourself wherever you go.
So do your work and focus on taking care of you! Expecting a new lover to fill you up when you can’t do it on your own is a set-up for another breakup.
If you’re having a tough time figuring out the questions to ask or remembering your values, desires, and needs, reach out to Laura: email@example.com. There's a good guy hidden behind that pain. Together, you’ll remember who he is, let him out and get him ready to start over again!
This article was originally published at laurabonarrigo.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.