Stars can't shine without darkness.
At age 20, I was standing alone at Amsterdam Airport, trying to keep my composure as I handed over my passport and flight details to the check-in lady at KLM check-in counter.
Five minutes prior, I had been dumped off at the airport by my Dutch ski instructor boyfriend, whom I had been dating for two years and living with in Austria.
Looking up at the departure board, I was trying to find the departure gate number for Australia, wiping away my tears; I tried my hardest to not fall down into a blubbering mess. There I was, just dumped and left alone by someone I thought cared. Thoughts filled my head 'why wasn't I good enough – why did he have to find someone to replace me – was she prettier, smarter or more fun than me'.
Being left broken hearted can be devastating, even crippling. The pain in your heart stabs so hard that you feel as though you can't bear the idea of going outside and facing the world ever again. Heartbreak is hell; 99% of us go through it…..and most get over it with just a few bruises, scars and wounds.
In heartbreak, our logic and self-preservation kick in, gently reminding us that we must surrender and let go. However, we shiver with fear at the very idea of emotionally letting go of the one we loved for so long; as letting go is the final goodbye – the bitter end.
Today I want to discuss how getting over a relationship has different stages, and being aware of what stage you are in can make the mourning process more bearable. I also want to remind you that every relationship we have has a purpose in our life; they are there to teach us certain things. Contemplate this poem for a moment:
REASON, SEASON, LIFETIME -By Brian A. "Drew" Chalker
People always come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. They may seem like a Godsend to you, and they are.
They are there for a reason; you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die; sometimes they just walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realise is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered, and it is now time to move on.
When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But only for a season. And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall, the season eventually ends.
LIFETIME relationships teach you a lifetime of lessons, those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life.
So why does it hurt so much?
Breaking up hurts because we become attached to another person; they become part of our daily routine and habits. They become central to our sense of existence. The longer you have been together then, the more it's going to hurt and the harder it will be to release them.
The stages of a breakup
The ending of a relationship has several stages which are very similar to those of grief and mourning: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then finally, surrender and acceptance. Some people get stuck at different stages. But it's important to let yourself feel each stage and allow yourself to progress through the mourning naturally.
Stage One: The initial shock of a breakup often causes denial. You think that the other person doesn't really mean it and will change their mind. You are stuck in limbo-land, waiting for them to come back to you and say that they didn't mean it or that breaking up with you was the biggest mistake they made.
Stage Two: When you realise they are not going to change their mind, you may get angry and resentful. You think, 'how dare they treat me this way – especially after everything I have done for them'. The build-up of anger may provoke you to cause revenge - or think about revenge.
Stage Three: You desperately want them back so that you can stop the pain. You may find yourself bargaining with them – telling them that you promise to change and things will be different. This can often lead to teary messages and tokens of affection.
Stage Four: After the realisation hits home that it is most definitely over, it causes an extreme sense of loss. You feel lost within, and the future looks bleak. You can't imagine yourself ever being in love again. This is when you may either withdraw from the world or mask your pain with addictions (drinking, drugs, relationships, food etc.)
Stage Five: With time, the pain subsides, and by allowing yourself to go through the natural mourning process, you feel ready to release and surrender. You are ready to forgive the other person, see the lessons learnt from the relationship, put your armour back on, and go back into the world. You are ready to start living your life purposefully again.
Will the pain ever go away?
Yes, it will – eventually. I promise.
No one person has the same mourning time. But how long it takes is a personal thing. Some people are naturally resilient, and after a month, they can shrug off the pain and say, 'oh well, didn't need them anyway, better off without them'.
However, for many of us, it can take six months to a year. If you're still mourning after a breakup after 18 months, it may be wise to seek a professional who can give you some positive coping methods.
It is crucial to allow yourself the space to catch up, work through your emotions, and get to a point where you can begin to see a more positive future.
The truth is that it hurts because it's real. It hurts because it mattered. And that's an important thing to acknowledge to yourself - John Greene.
Saying goodbye is tough but possible
Yes, it can be a struggle to let go. However, if we never surrender to the pain, we end up with emotional baggage. The energy of emotional baggage is deep-seated and can get lodged within the heart like a splinter that doesn't want to come out. And we stay angry and resentful at the person who no longer wanted to be with us. This is toxic for our overall well-being - we must do the work to get to the stage where we are ready to let go.
Here are some helpful tips on how to get over a breakup
- Get moving: Regular physical exercise is a magical antidote that helps us release negative emotions. The movement gets the emotions moving and flowing.
- Nourish your body: Painful emotions can be very draining on the body. Eating real, life-giving food and drinking quality water provide the energy to surrender and eliminate toxins from within that are no longer serving you.
- Meditate and pray: Take time to sit and 'just be'. Feel the life force running through your body, the gentle beat of your heart and the rise and fall of your lungs with each mindful breath you take. Remind yourself, 'you are the spark of life. Ask for guidance and listen for the answers within (the answer is usually a random thought when you least expect it). Deepak Chopra says, "prayer is when we speak to God. Meditation is when God speaks to us".
- Be kind and patient with yourself: Forgive yourself if you backslide during the healing process. Just keep persisting and focus on progress rather than perfection.
- Follow a routine: the last thing you feel like doing is getting up and getting on with your life. But it's often the best thing to do. Even if you are just going through the motions of a daily routine, it will help give you structure. Work can be particularly helpful in taking your mind off the breakup.
- Give yourself space and time: healing can take a while, and you must let yourself get over your breakup at your own pace. Never feel guilty or self-indulgent for taking time out to heal.
- Be aware of the triggers: Missing someone is like a craving, so avoiding triggers is important – like going to the same cafe or continuing old habits that you used to share. One of the best things you can do is to develop new habits and routines to re-establish yourself as an individual without your ex.
Whatever you do, never
- Drink and text: If you are going out with friends, leave your phone at home the best thing to do is delete their number from your phone. Texting your thoughts to an absent ex can feel great at the time – however, think about the resentment and embarrassment the next day.
- Be ruled by your emotions: Sometimes, our emotions take over, and we feel we need to talk or explain things to our ex. Take three days to think about the message or what you want to say – chances are the emotions will diffuse, and you will no longer think it is necessary to contact them. You have a 'draft' box for email and text messages for a reason – write your message but do not send it.
- Deal with it alone: It is important to surround yourself with friends and family. It may also help to talk out your emotions with a professional - they get paid to be your venting wall PLUS, they have great tips on coping methods that will help heal your heart faster.
- Don't rush into another relationship. Rebound relationships are an attempt to anaesthetise painful emotions. In this painful time, it's important to call on people who remind you of your value and who will be supportive when you feel like you have fallen apart.
"Let me fall if I must fall. The one I will become will catch me" -Baal Shem Tov.
The Benefits of Letting Go
By releasing the pain trapped in your heart, your body will re-energise itself. Your heart will become lighter, and you will feel refreshed and ready to start your new beginning.
With this feeling of freedom and lightness, you are more inclined to be your authentic self – you have a newfound passion for going and living and experiencing life. Most important, when you let go, you are opening yourself up to receiving the right people, places and opportunities into your world.
I'd like to close by sharing an affirmation that I find helpful when trying to release things in my life. Perhaps it will benefit you too: "I release anything and everything that no longer serves me – I consciously choose to only surround myself with people and situations that uplift me."
Fast forward fifteen years, and here I am today….I won't lie; getting over the heartbreak took time – however, being dumped by that ski instructor boyfriend was the best thing that ever happened to me. After him, I went on to date some of the most amazing people who taught me much about myself and life. Today I am with my soul mate (well, for now….as nothing is ever forever) and could not be happier.
So what I want to share with you today is that being left broken-hearted isn't the end of the world; you will get through it. Believe it or not, you will somehow love every person you date in the future more than the person before them – the love just gets bigger and stronger. And getting over heartbreak gets easier also!
I wish an abundance of peace, freedom and happiness to the beautiful souls reading this article. Remember, nothing lasts forever – not even the pain.