No matter what anyone tells you, breaking up with someone is hard. Sure, we’d love to think of it as “conscious uncoupling” a la Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. If only all of our breakups could be as simple as that, we’d probably get a lot more sleep after a break up and our friend’s wouldn’t have to hear the same story about the breakup for the eighteenth time.
And not all breakups are like that; sometimes, both individuals realize that something isn’t working out and amicably agree to part ways. This usually isn’t the care though.
For many, breakups are traumatic. And it’s no wonder because on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, death of a spouse, divorce, and marital separation from a mate are the top 3 most stressful life events. When a relationship we’re in ends, it rocks us to our very core.
What we tell ourselves when someone leaves us are incredibly painful:
“There’s something wrong with me.”
“I wasn’t good enough for them.”
“I’m not lovable.”
The list could go on and on. We stay up late every night, wracking out brain, trying to figure out where we went wrong. Was it because we didn’t have the same sense of humor? Was it because we nagged them too much to help with chores? Was it because we were jealous of that co-worker they were close with? Was it because we didn’t want to move out of state next year?
And then we torture ourselves with the what ifs.
“What if I had moved to be with them instead of trying to make it work long distance?”
“What if I had done more for them?”
“What if I had laughed at their jokes more often?”
In a sense, almost all breakups are traumatic. While not the same type of trauma as a physical trauma, such as a car accident, assault, or war, a break up is similar to relational or attachment trauma, a rejection or neglect of affection and responsiveness from a primary caregiver.
If you find yourself struggling with your break up, whether it was just days, or years ago, take a moment to pause and reflect on the major thoughts and feelings it’s bringing up for you. So often we can try to focus on the other person and how we can get them back, yet this is about as effective as trying to change the flow of a stream.
We can only control our response to breakup and how we move forward from it.
When you turn your attention inward, you can begin to work on the real healing from the breakup, which is not getting the other person back, but being able to look at the situation with a sense of peace and clarity and without the emotional or physiological reaction.
If you’re in south Florida and struggling with a breakup and would like to learn more about how you can heal from the pain, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or 561-331-1715.