And it hurts.
I’ve cried quite a lot about it, mourning the could-have-beens as much as mourning the loss of being connected to a person I really enjoyed. I’ve relived the short relationship, looking for where it went wrong, looking for potential mistakes I’d made, and searching for lessons to be learned..
What I didn’t do was distract myself.
In my old paradigm, the end of a relationship, long or short, meant an excuse to go shopping or drink some wine or eat chocolate or hop back onto online dating and book a date as quickly as possible. I know now that those were just ways to numb whatever pain I was feeling. They served as an escape from facing what I didn’t want to face: that the end of the relationship held messages for me about my deeper self.
There is a better, two-pronged way to navigate the end of a relationship. I don’t claim that it’s easier or faster, but I can assure you that it’s better in the long run.
Strategy #1: See the other person as a mirror being held in front of you so that you can better see yourself.
When we are hurt or angry, our knee-jerk reaction is to blame the other person. We make a list of all of the reasons why he or she was wrong or stupid or inconsiderate. Blame feels comfortable to us because it takes all of the focus off of us and places it onto the other person. Our ego releases a sigh of relief and promises us that it is the other person’s fault and that we can remain untarnished.
I’d like to encourage you, instead, to see the other person as a mirror. He or she is offering you an invaluable gift: the gift of seeing yourself more clearly. Where you stumble, there’s your treasure. If you experienced an emotional reaction to something the other person said or did, that reaction holds a treasure. It is never about the other person. It is about YOU.
When you are triggered, take a breath and ask yourself why you are reacting in such a strong way. The other person’s actions are serving as a tool for your own enlightenment.
This current dating experience of mine helped me to see some deep-seated beliefs I have about life needing to be difficult in order for it to be worthy. He also showed me how afraid I still am to fully open up and be known. To be seen. Really seen.
Trust me, I didn’t see these at first. It has taken several days, talking to my own relationship coach, and a lot of silent soul-searching for me to experience these truths.
The beauty of using the other person as a mirror is that you will then take that knowledge with you into your next romantic relationship. This will lead to an overall healthier experience because you will begin to see all relationships as an avenue to discover yourself. It’s a beautiful way to navigate love. It’s all about you.
Strategy #2: Don’t numb-out. Sit with the pain.
As I mentioned before, when relationships in my past ended, I would reach for whatever distraction I could. TV. Texting. Facebook. Shopping. Wine. You name it, I reached for it.
At the time, I thought this was survival. Now I see that it was avoidance.
We live in a world of numbing-out. There are so many options. But avoiding the pain or the truth only prolongs the inevitable: pain demands to be felt. It might not manifest in the traditional way, but sadness and discomfort will always surface somehow. It will either surface in our next relationship or in one of our many unhealthy coping strategies.
Let me be perfectly honest with you. I only dated this guy for six weeks. That is a blip on the radar of life. But it still hurts. In the past, I would have used logic to make my way out of the pain. Something like: It was only six weeks, Heather. Get over it. No big deal. Move on.
I’m gentler with myself now.
I’m gentler because I know my pain has truth to show me. And I know that if I don’t let it take its course, it will drag me down some other way.
If you find yourself at the end of a relationship, take some time to silence your phone. Turn off the TV. Put the chocolate/wine/beer/pills/video games down. Just BE. FEEL. LISTEN.
Your soul, your truth, wants to be heard.