One of the things that is a primary destructive driver behind relationships is the F word, fear. In the Thirty Days of Drama Reduction series, it became apparent to many readers that their key motivations in their relationships was fear. That’s internal and external fear, which is why it is important when you want to heal and move on after breaking up that you remember commandment 3:
Thou shalt stop fearing the pain of breaking up and confront it!
Unfortunately all of that effort you put in to clinging to the past and avoiding confronting what is happening, actually results in more pain, the very thing you actually fear.
Your trade off is that at least you’re not fully feeling the pain now. In your mind, the pain of confronting the reality is this almighty thing that we just don’t think we can cope with.
When we want to stay friends with our ex, it is fear of letting go, even though he has often behaved like an assclown and isn’t exactly friendship material.
When we obsess about our exes, it is also fear of letting go, and you switch from being in a dysfunctional relationship with them, to living in your own little destructive fantasy world.
Every time I get an email from a reader asking for advice on coping, what becomes patently clear is that despite appearances from the outside, such as breaking it off with him, starting the No Contact Rule, and seemingly getting on with their lives, their thoughts are consumed with wondering about the what if’s.
We’re back to that feeling of hopelessness – deciding that we can’t cope and don’t want to cope, before we’ve actually given it a try. We’re back down Avoidance Avenue again, much like when we’re in a relationship with for eg, a Mr Unavailable and refusing to see the truth.
The truth is, breaking up hurts. There is no way to avoid it, short of being turned to stone. No matter what you do, it’s going to hurt sometime, but if you can learn to feel the pain of the break up, instead of putting it off, and then feeling devastated when you realise that he’s not coming back or changing, you will start to heal.
You’ll hurt, but with the pain eventually comes calm and the opportunity to grow and move on.
Letting go of him doesn’t mean that you have eradicated them from your memory forever more – it means accepting that the break up has happened.
You can’t go on pretending that any minute now he’s going to pick up the phone and declare his undying love.
You can’t go on pretending that it doesn’t matter about the fact that he never did leave that wife/girlfriend of his or become the boyfriend you wanted.
You can’t go on pretending that his behaviour is acceptable.
You can’t go on pretending that your own actions are acceptable.
What if he never picks up the phone?
What are you going to do when he’s still with ‘her’ or is cheating with someone else? Or even worse, what are you going to do, if he meets someone else?
What are you going to do when you realise that you’re clinging to a relationship that you don’t actually want, with a man who has hurt you/broken promises/lowered your self-esteem?
What are you going to do when you suddenly realise that unless you deal with what’s really going on underneath, you’re ripe for moving from one dodgy relationship to another?
In accepting that it has happened, you will finally have the opportunity to grieve. You might cry, scream, wail, and rip up all of the photos only to sheepishly stick them back together later, but with acceptance comes reality.
Reality brings about the pain but eventually you get to closure because after the anger and the hurt fade, you will learn to be a bit more objective about things.
The key to coping with and eventually moving on from the break up is that in accepting that the break up has happened, you can get to understand why it did, what his part was, and what your part was, and learn from the experience.
You cannot move to new relationships with old baggage weighing you down. It is damaging and unfair to the new partner, but if you have unresolved issues about your ex that are impacting on you quite severely, the only type of guy that tends to be interested, is one who is lined up to give you even more pain.
The most awful thing about fearing the pain of breaking up and living in limbo as you try to avoid it and cling to fantasies and imagined scenarios, is that whilst you’re in limbo, he is living his life.
Now if that isn’t a reality check, I don’t know what is, but if you count up the man hours you’ve been spending avoiding accepting the break up and obsessing about him, it is a lot.
Now ask yourself, do you truly believe that he has given you or the break up as much thought?
Whilst we’re having a weep wondering why we’re not in the relationship we imagined with him, he’s working, hanging with the boys, chasing skirt, or wondering if he called you up on the pretext of seeing how you are, whether you guys could end up in bed and whether you’d expect more?
What are we so scared of? That it’ll hurt? It’s already hurting! All the obsessing and refusing to let go has given you a shot of Novocaine to numb the pain of the reality.
We’re scared of him suddenly realising that we’re The One and us not being around to welcome him back with open arms.
We’re afraid of being ‘alone’ even though we’re often alone with them.
We’re afraid of finally accepting that the man and the relationship that we have been making excuses for, is no more.
It’s over. The end.
Feel the pain, grieve, be angry, be upset for a while, obsess a little even, but after a while, it’s time to hang up the proverbial grieving gear and get on with life.
Check out Commandment 1: Thou shalt cut off this ‘Let’s be friends’ mallarky
Check out Commandment 2: Thou shalt not obsess
Check out Commandment 3: Thou shalt stop fearing the pain of breaking up and confront it.
Check out Commandment 4: Thou shalt stop doubting yourself and get angry.
Check out Commandment 5: Thou shalt be accountable
Check out Commandment 6: Thou shalt understand WHY and do something with the knowledge
Check out Commandment 7: Thou shalt forgive…but not forget…but don’t cling.
Check out Commandment 8: Thou need to get a life!
Check out Commandment 9: Thou mustn’t give up on love.
Check out Commandment 10: Thou must close the door and move forward