By: Shemiah Derrick, LCPC, CADC
“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”
Wise words from the incomparable James Baldwin. We tend to think of the end of loving someone or a relationship ending as a failure. But I like James’s take on it because it helps us to reframe how we can look at love or a relationship as purposeful – especially when it ends. We have all experienced the loss of a relationship Whether it felt like a slow and painful death or a sudden and shocking betrayal, the end of a relationship can leave us feeling broken, lost, and alone but we have the power to make it purposeful.
Love and its connection to self worth shapes our lives in profound ways. But what happens when a relationship ends, leaving you feeling lost and questioning your value? After a heartbreak, you have a choice: to stay down in the dumps or to use the ending of one chapter to start writing a new one. A breakup can be a really dark time in your life, but it is in the darkest moments that we find our truest selves.
Grieving the End of a Relationship
When a relationship comes to an end, letting go can be difficult. You may have invested so much time, energy, and sometimes money into the relationship that it feels like a part of you has been taken away. The process of grieving a relationship is often compared to the process of mourning a death. Just as with any other loss, you will need time to mourn the end of your relationship.
Be gentle with yourself during this time, and practice self care for your emotional wellbeing. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up. It could be your natural reaction to try to tough it out and put on a brave face for friends, family and others in your circle. But understand that it is okay to cry, to be angry, or to feel scared and alone. These are all natural emotions and stages to the grieving process. Your emotions will feel overwhelming at times. But on the other side of healing is a newfound sense of self-love and worthiness that can come from the introspection that a breakup can prompt. Journaling can be a powerful way to process the feelings that come up in an immediate way when talking about it feels tiring or you feel like you might be burdening others.
It’s important to remember that you are not your relationship. You are an individual with your own unique set of gifts and talents. This isn’t always easy to see when you’re in the midst of heartbreak, but it’s important to remind yourself that you are worthy of love – even if your last relationship didn’t work out.
Here are some tips for exploring new opportunities after a relationship ends:
1. Take some time for yourself, like for real. After a breakup, it is important to give yourself time to heal. This means taking some time for yourself – both mentally and physically. Take a hiatus. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Exercise, eat healthy foods, and spend time with friends and family that support you unconditionally. Doing things that make you happy and provide comfort will help you in your goal to move on from the relationship and start fresh.
2. When you’re ready to consider dating again, evaluate and decide what you want in a partner. One of the best things about being single is that you have the opportunity to identify what you want in a partner. Take some time to think about the qualities that are important to you in a relationship. When you are ready to date again, keep these things in mind so that you can find someone who meets your needs. If you’re unsure how to go about it, my free Audio Dating Course can help you out.
3. Shift the focus towards taking care of yourself —body, mind, and soul. This means eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising, spending time in nature, practicing meditation or mindfulness, journaling, and doing anything else that brings us joy and peace. Over time, these self-care practices will help us to gain clarity and peace to make clear decisions about where you want to be. In all things, have compassion for yourself.
Exploring New Opportunities
Once a relationship has truly ended, it is hard to even imagine how you will move forward. However, it is important to remember that every ending is also a beginning. This is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you want in a partner. It is also a chance to explore new opportunities and adventures that you may have never considered before.
- Try something new. The brain will be scanning for something to replace the focus and attention you previously put on your relationship. When you are single, there is no one holding you back from trying new things! If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do – whether it’s travel, take up a new hobby, or starting your own business – go for it!
- Just throw it in the bag, the Goodwill donations bag! Remove all of the things lying around that remind you of your ex or the relationship itself. This could mean deleting old texts and photos, unfollowing them on social media, or even moving if necessary. The goal is to give yourself the physical and emotional space so that you can begin to heal.
Finding Support and Community
Going through a breakup can feel like the end of the world. You may question your self-worth and wonder if you will ever find love again. But it is important to remember that you are not alone in this experience. There are many people who have gone through similar heartache and who understand what you are going through.
There are many ways to find support and community after a breakup. You can join an online forum or support group, or even just reach out to your friends and family for emotional support. Google and search for books or articles about navigating breakups are helpful, so that you can better identify your emotions and their sources, helping you to heal.
No matter how you choose to find support, know that you are not alone in this journey. There are many people who care about you and want to help you through this difficult time. Allow yourself to lean on them for strength, and eventually you will find your way back to self-love and confidence.
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