Breaking up with someone has been compared to withdrawing from heroin. Of course there are many kinds of breakups. Some feel like a 200 pound weight has been lifted from your chest. Some make Chinese water torture sound like a spa treatment.
But, whether your breakup was mutual, long overdue, or completely out of left field, one thing is for sure- you will be thinking about it and will need time to heal. Break ups and divorces are one of the primary stressors that can trigger all kinds of predispositions we have towards developing different types of mental disorders such as anxiety, panic disorder, depression, Obsessive compulsive disorder, or even schizophrenia, if we do not take care of ourselves during this vulnerable time.
Losing our love object is very traumatizing for most people and it is normal to go through a grieving process. Most everyone does end a relationship at some point in their lives and we all experience the pain. The difference between people is what they choose to do with the pain and how they learn to cope and develop resilience. Most people want to avoid the pain and a grieving period at all costs. Who has time for that? We are creatures born to seek pleasure and avoid pain (unless pain is considered pleasurable for you). That’s ok.
But, if you think of it with the surfer’s analogy, it helps. If you swim towards the wave, you can go over or under, but if you try to swim away, you will get worked. What we try to run from always has a way of finding us when we least expect it in the dark corners. If we realize it is going to hurt for a little bit and deal with it, it will go away a lot quicker. Even if you were the one who ended the relationship, if you were close to your partner, you probably will miss certain things about them and find yourself thinking about them even when you don’t want to.
The process of moving on, letting go and ultimately healing usually does run its course to a certain extent. However, some people may be able to move on more quickly and with less pain than others. It’s kind of like getting over a flu. You still may be in bed for a week. But, if you take your vitamin c, rest, and drink your soup, you might be back to work in a couple days. When we are emotionally ill, like after a breakup, we must take care of ourselves. This is the time to love yourself twice as much as you ever did before. That means surrounding yourself with a support system of friends, family, a therapist, club, support group, yoga class, drinking buddies, AA meeting, book club, or whatever it takes to talk it out when you need to, cry, and feel safe and listened to. Indulge yourself as much as your budget allows. Be gentle, treat yourself, and make a pact to do everything you can to make yourself feel good while you are getting over your ex.
For some, it may feel like no matter what you try, you just can’t stop thinking about that ex! Everything is a reminder and it feels like you are constantly replaying all of the dramas, the good times, the bad times, the first day you met, over and over. It is like a prison that you feel you will never get released from. If this feeling goes on and on and really disrupts your life after an extensive period of time, there are things you can do to move on. This is when you may want to incorporate some tricks from cognitive behavioral therapy into your life. The first trick is called thought stopping. First, decide how long you want to give yourself to get over your ex. Make sure that you do give it some time. After your designated grieving period, get very clear on the image of a big red stop sign. You can also imagine the sound of an annoying car alarm. Then, also visualize a picture of yourself smiling and happy in a beautiful place– the most beautiful place you can imagine. See yourself glowing and in love with all of your dreams coming true. Now, every time you catch yourself drifting into a destructive obsessive tangent about your Ex, first picture the stop sign, hear the alarm, and replace it with the picture of you really happy. Try it over and over and it will become easier. Meditate on the image of yourself happy and peaceful in your free time. Pray for it, exercise or go for walks, holding the image in your mind as long as you can. Really believe that that will be you very soon. Also, buy books that make you feel good and calm. Keep them by your bed side. Find sites online that make you feel peaceful and hopeful and visit them in your weak moments. If you wake up in the middle of the night, read a little. Finally, after you have given yourself time, write out a list of what you want in a new mate. Have the list be as specific as possible taking into account the things you liked about your ex and what you learned you want now with someone new. Realize you deserve more and the last relationship ended for a reason. Get out there, live your life and watch as each day brings new things you could have never possibly imagined into your experience and creates the next chapter in your beautiful, long, journey.