It’s the time when you wish you had a real, live ‘fast forward button’ to push…the relationship has ended, and suddenly you’re on an emotional roller coaster…
Yesterday you felt kind of okay but today has been awful. On the way to work a song on the radio reminded you of them and the tears started falling almost before you knew it. You haven’t eaten or slept properly.
There is a reason relationship breakdown as described as a grief experience in the counselling world. It’s a loss, and a pretty significant one at that. On top of that, there are other losses – the loss of a planned future, perhaps practical losses like the area or home in which you live, and the loss of what you had with this person.
The early days
There is no sugar coating this bit. Allow yourself to cry and miss them, it’s normal. Even if it was an unhealthy relationship and you are realising that now, it makes sense that there are things about them that you miss.
The thought of moving forward can feel quite paralysing at times, as there is so much to do and consider, and more so if there are children involved. Human beings by their nature prefer the familiar, and it can feel all a bit too hard. Take your time, go easy on yourself.
If you start to get stuck
Sometimes, we can get a little stuck and need a bit of extra help when we are grieving a break up. Some people isolate themselves as they do not wish to bother anyone else, or they underplay the impact of the relationship breakdown.
While these are common reactions, they are not always good for us as at times, a significant loss like this can trigger thoughts about other losses in our lives that we may have had.
Also, minimising how we feel does not give us the space to grieve and we can try to rush the process, coping with the day to day and endlessly trying to distract ourselves. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that although we feel better in the short term, it usually just emerges in other ways – we might feel more angry and irritable and then beat ourselves up for this.
The good news
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes people report feeling better off after a break up. Once they move past the grieving stage, they are often able to observe things about themselves and how they behave in relationships. Once they feel stronger, they express feeling excited about this new chapter and very aware of what they will and won’t accept in the future.
Here’s my list of tips for coping after a break up:
- Spend time with people who you know and trust, you need a bit of unconditional love at the moment.
- Stay way from your ex’s social media! You don’t need to know what your he or she is doing on a Saturday night.
- Take some time away from communicating with your ex. This is tricky, as if children or other issues are involved, obviously this can’t happen 100%, but try to keep clear boundaries on what is necessary.
- Exercise – nothing original about this one I’m afraid but the science behind this is concrete. You might not feel like it, but it WILL help.
- If you feel you are starting to get really down and feeling a bit stuck, see a counsellor. It’s one of the most common reasons people come.