Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow” Paul Simon, Graceland
Many people have experienced the hollow feeling that follows the irreconcilable break-up of a relationship. It is often accompanied by hopelessness or depression. If you are there, you might feel that little can console you. You must trust that these feelings will subside, that your strength will return, and that your life will be fulfilling and love filled again. There isn’t a formula for getting through a break-up. The path is different for each person that travels it. Yet there are some important thoughts to keep in mind during the dark times.
Recognize that your pain is real and do not feel embarrassed for hurting. Both men and women feel lost during break-ups. Often women are afforded the release of crying while many men must permit themselves that same comfort. Tears are healthy as they alleviate the pent-up stressor of sadness. Remind yourself that each passing day will bring you closer to smiling and laughing again.
Act in your own self-interest and make decisions that enhance your health and wellbeing. Indulge yourself, but not to the point of excess – excess is not in your best interest. Avoid isolating and fill your calendar. Busy-ness will help take your mind off the past. Try something new like the old advice of changing your haircut/color, or learn an instrument, or a foreign language, or take a trip. Don’t dwell in the world of ‘What If’ or ‘If Only I’. Teach yourself to embrace the moment and invite the future.
Exercise, yoga, strength training, and dance all help your endorphins kick in and make you feel better. A strong body and strong mind are interrelated. Also, surround yourself with the friends and family members that make you feel loved. We begin to equate our feelings of rejection with inadequacy. Fill your life with people that remind you of how wonderful and lovable you are.
Try not to idealize the past. Make a list of the unfavorable issues of the relationship. It might mean accepting that you weren’t as happy as you thought, or that you were in denial of the signs that the relationship would end. Maybe you were committed to commitment and stayed for the wrong reasons. Write down the things – the ‘bad stuff’ – and keep it in your pocket. When you have moments of weakness and you want to reach out and re-establish contact, read the list first. Keep your mind out of the past and don’t indulge in thoughts that are only more hurtful. Turn your mind toward happier thoughts.
Know when you need professional help. No relationship is worth the loss of life or the loss of desire for life. Therapists, healers, and counselors can get you through the worst of times. Make that your new relationship for a while. Go talk to someone who is dedicated to enhancing your well-being. You might learn things about yourself that are contributing to the intensity of your sadness. Therapy can help you find perspective and renew your hope for the future. Consider medication even if you are hesitant. People tend to self-medicate during hard times with alcohol or drugs – These options work against you. Prescribed medications can help you get through the worst of times. It doesn’t mean you will have to take it forever, but it could help ease the pain for a while. Recognize the line between grieving and suffering. You don’t have to suffer.
Accept the idea that you are where you are supposed to be. Life has led you down this path for a reason and there is something to learn about yourself from this experience. Welcome the idea that wonderful things will happen in the next phase of your life and that you needed to be open and available to receive them. One day soon you will enjoy and celebrate yourself as a single person, and then another day you will find the lasting love that you deserve.
Leslie Fabian is a NYS licensed Individuals and Couples Psychotherapist with over 22 years of private practice. Leslie Fabian, MSW, LCSW, The Lighthouse Retreat and Wellness Center in Croton on Hudson, 24 East 12th St., New York, NY, [email protected], 917-620-0524.