Why are ruptures so painful?
A breakup or divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotional experiences in life. Whatever the reason for the breakup, and whether you wanted it to or not, the breakup of a relationship can flip your whole world and cause all sorts of painful and disturbing emotions.
Even when a relationship is no longer good, a divorce or breakup can be extremely painful because it represents the loss, not only of the partnership, but also of the dreams and commitments that you shared. Romantic relationships begin on a high note of excitement and hope for the future. When a relationship fails, we experience deep disappointment, stress, and pain.
A breakup or divorce throws you into unknown territory. Everything is interrupted: her routine and responsibilities, her home, her relationships with family and friends, and even her identity. A breakup also brings uncertainty about the future. What will life be like without your partner? Will you find someone else? Will you end up alone? These unknowns can often seem worse than being in an unhappy relationship.
This pain, interruption, and uncertainty means that recovering from a breakup or divorce can be difficult and time consuming. However, it is important that you remind yourself that you can get through this difficult experience and even overcome it, and even move forward with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.
Dealing with a breakup or divorce
- Recognize that it’s okay to have different feelings. It is normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated, and confused, and these feelings can be intense. You may also feel anxious about the future. Accept that reactions like these will lessen over time. Even if the relationship was not healthy, venturing into the unknown is terrifying.
- Take a break. Give yourself permission to feel and function at a sub-optimal level over a period of time. You may not be as productive at work or worry about others exactly the way you are used to for a while. No one is superman or superwoman; Take time to heal, regroup, and revitalize.
- Don’t go through this alone. Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this period. Consider joining a support group where you can talk to others in similar situations. Isolating yourself can increase your stress levels, reduce your concentration, and hinder your work, other relationships, and your overall health. Don’t be afraid to get outside help if you need it.
Source: Mental Health America
Allow yourself to mourn the loss of the relationship
Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and the breakup or divorce of a love relationship involves multiple losses:
- Loss of company and shared experiences (which may or may not have been consistently enjoyable)
- Loss of support, whether financial, intellectual, social or emotional.
- Loss of hopes, plans and dreams (which can be even more painful than practical losses)
Allowing yourself to feel the pain of these losses can be scary. You may fear that your emotions are too intense to bear, or that you are trapped in a dark place forever. Just remember that grief is essential to the healing process. The pain of grief is precisely what helps you leave the old relationship and move on. And no matter how strong your pain is, it won’t last forever.
Tips for grieving after a breakup or divorce
Don’t fight your feelings: It is normal to have many ups and downs and feel many conflicting emotions, such as anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. It is important to identify and recognize these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the grieving process.
Talk about how you feel: Even if you find it difficult to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do it when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and help you heal. Journaling can also be a useful outlet for your feelings.
Remember that moving forward is the ultimate goal: expressing your feelings will free you in some way, but it is important not to dwell on negative feelings or over-analyze the situation. Getting caught up in hurtful feelings like guilt, anger, and resentment will deprive you of valuable energy and keep you from healing and moving on.
Remember that you still have a future: when you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams for a life together. After a breakup, it is difficult to let go of these aspirations. As you mourn the loss of the future you ever imagined, rejoice in the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace old ones.
Learn the difference between a normal reaction to a breakup and depression: The pain can be crippling after a breakup, but after a while, the sadness begins to wear off. Day by day, and little by little, you start moving forward. However, if you don’t feel any forward momentum, you may be suffering from depression.
Help your children during a breakup or divorce
When mom and dad break up, a child can feel confused, angry, and uncertain, as well as deeply sad. As a parent, you can help your children cope with the breakup by providing stability and caring for your child’s needs with a positive and reassuring attitude.
Reaching out to others for support
The support of others is critical to healing after a breakup or divorce. You may feel like being alone, but isolating yourself will only make this time more difficult. Don’t try to overcome this on your own.
Connect face-to-face with trusted friends and family. People who have been through painful breaks or divorces can be especially helpful. They know what it is like and can assure you that there is hope for healing and new relationships. Frequent face-to-face contact is also a great way to ease the stress of a breakup and regain balance in your life.
Spend time with people who support, value, and energize you. When considering who to contact, choose wisely. Surround yourself with positive people who really listen to you. It is important that you feel free to be honest about what you are going through, without worrying about being judged, criticized, or being told what to do.
Get outside help if you need it. If communicating with others is not natural, consider seeing a counselor or joining a support group (see Resources section below). The most important thing is that you have at least one place where you feel comfortable opening up.
Cultivate new friendships. If you feel like you’ve lost your social network along with divorce or breakup, make an effort to meet new people. Join a special interest networking group or club, take a class, participate in community activities, or volunteer at a school, place of worship, or other community organization.
Taking care of yourself after a breakup
A divorce is a very stressful, life-changing event. When you go through the emotional scandal and face major life changes, taking care of yourself is more important than ever. The stress and discomfort of a major breakup can leave you psychologically and physically vulnerable.
Treat yourself like you’re getting over the flu. Get plenty of rest, minimize other sources of stress in your life, and reduce your workload if possible. Learning to take care of yourself can be one of the most valuable lessons you learn after a breakup. As you feel the emotions of your loss and begin to learn from your experience, you may decide to take better care of yourself and make positive decisions in the future.
Take time each day to take care of yourself. Help yourself heal by scheduling daily time for activities that you find relaxing and soothing. Spend time with good friends, go for a nature walk, listen to music, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage, read a favorite book, take a yoga class, or enjoy a cup of hot tea.
Pay attention to what you need at any time and speak to express your needs. Honor what you think is right and best for you, although it may be different from what your ex or others want. Say “no” without guilt or anguish as a way to honor what is right for you.
Stick to a routine. A divorce or a relationship breakup can disturb almost all areas of your life, amplifying feelings of stress, uncertainty, and chaos. Returning to a regular routine can provide a comforting feeling of structure and normality.
Take a break. Try not to make important decisions in the first few months after a separation or divorce, such as starting a new job or moving to a new city. If you can, wait until you feel less emotional so you can make decisions with a clearer head.
Avoid using alcohol, drugs or food to cope. When you are in the middle of a breakup, you may be tempted to do anything to ease your feelings of pain and loneliness. But using alcohol, drugs, or food as an escape is not healthy and destructive in the long run. Finding healthier ways to deal with painful feelings is essential. The free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit in the Help Guide can help.
Explore new interests. A divorce or breakup is both a beginning and an end. Take the opportunity to explore new interests and activities. Looking for fun, new activities give you the opportunity to enjoy life in the here and now, instead of living in the past.
Make healthy decisions: eat well, sleep well, and exercise
When you go through the stress of a divorce or breakup, healthy habits are easily lost. You may not eat at all or overeat your favorite junk foods. Exercise may be more difficult to fit in because of the additional pressures at home and sleep may be difficult to achieve. But all the work you are doing to make positive progress will be useless if you don’t make healthy lifestyle decisions in the long run.
Learn important lessons from a breakup or divorce
It can be difficult to see when you go through a painful breakup, but in times of emotional crisis, there are opportunities to grow and learn. You may feel nothing but emptiness and sadness in your life right now, but that doesn’t mean things will never change. Try to consider this period in your life as a time of waiting, a time to sow the seeds for new growth. You can come out of this experience knowing yourself better and feeling stronger and wiser.
To fully accept a breakup and move on, you must understand what happened and recognize the part you played. The more you understand how the decisions you made affected the relationship, the better you can learn from your mistakes, and avoid repeating them in the future.
Some questions to ask yourself
- Take a step back and look at the big picture. How did you contribute to relationship problems?
- Do you tend to repeat the same mistakes, or choose the wrong person in one relationship after another?
- Think about how you react to stress and deal with conflicts and insecurities. Could you act in a more constructive way?
- Consider whether or not you accept other people as they are, not the way they could or “should” be.
- Examine your negative feelings as a starting point for change. Are you in control of your feelings or are they in control of you?
You will need to be honest with yourself during this part of the healing process. Try not to dwell on who is to blame or to blame for your mistakes. By looking back in the relationship, you have an opportunity to learn more about yourself, how you relate to others, and the issues you need to work on. If you can objectively examine your own choices and behavior, including the reasons why you chose your ex-partner, you will be able to see where you went wrong and make better decisions next time.