The Stages of Grief
One thing that I see over and over is that people expect themselves to just “move on.” Well-meaning friends and relatives may urge you to, only to make you feel worse. Or they devalue the ex you still love and yearn for, which can make you ashamed of your feelings or that you may still want the relationship. Many victims of abuse still miss their ex. It’s more helpful to honor your feelings and recognize that they’re normal. You may find yourself cycling through these stages of grief:
1. Denial – can’t believe it’s over, the reason given, or that your ex doesn’t want or love you
2. Anger – angry or resentful toward your ex, and maybe jealous of someone taking your place
3. Bargaining – trying to get your ex back, even if just in your head
4. Guilt – about your behavior – can be tied to shame of feeling not enough
5. Depression (including sadness)
You might feel angry in the morning and believe you’ve moved on, only to break down in tears by the afternoon. This is normal, as you process your emotions. It’s natural to long for your ex more when you’re lonely, so balance alone time with activities with friends.
For optimal results, start making changes in your relationship with yourself and with others; first, with your ex. Experts agree that although it’s difficult and may be more painful in the short-run, no contact with your former partner will help you recover sooner. Avoid calling, texting, asking others about or checking up on your ex in social media. Doing so might give momentary relief, but reinforces obsessive-compulsive behavior and ties to the relationship. (If you’re engaged in divorce proceedings, necessary messages can be written or conveyed through attorneys. They should not be delivered by your children.)
Here are 10 more suggestions:
1) Meditate with healing recordings, such as exercises for self-love, self-soothing, and confidence in my YouTube.
2) Practice the “14 Tips for Letting Go,” available free on my website.
3) Prolonged feelings of guilt can limit your enjoyment of life and your ability to find love again. Forgive yourself for mistakes you made in the relationship with the e-workbook Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness.
4) Write about the benefits of that the relationship is over. Research has proven this technique to be effective.
5) Challenge false beliefs and assumptions, such as “I’m a failure (loser),” “I’ll never meet anyone else,” or “I’m damaged goods (or unlovable).” For a 10-step plan to overcome negative self-talk, read 10 Steps to Self-Esteem.
6) Set boundaries with your ex. This is especially important if you will continue to co-parent. Establish rules for co-parenting. If you tend toward accommodation, defensiveness, or aggression, learn to be assertive and how to set boundaries with the techniques provided in How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits.
7) If you think you may be codependent or have trouble letting go, attend a few Codependents Anonymous meetings, where you can get information and support for free. Visit www.coda.org. There are also online forums and chats, as well as telephone meetings nationwide, but in-person meetings are preferable. Do the exercises in Codependency for Dummies.
8) Although mourning is normal, continued depression is unhealthy for the health of your body and brain. If depression is hindering your work or daily activities, get a medical evaluation for a course of anti-depressants lasting at least six months.
9) Avoid triggers, like going to places you frequented together or listening to “your song” or love melodies. There’s a tendency to want to do this as a way to feel connected to your beloved, but it unnecessary brings up painful feelings.
10) Write letters you DON’T mail to your ex to express your feelings. If you were rejected, write a dialogue with your ex. Write with your left hand to “channel” what your ex would say. This can help you see things for his or her perspective, have empathy, and accept the new reality.
You will recover, but your actions play a considerable role in how long it takes, as well as whether you grow and better yourself from your experience. To join my mailing list and receive a free PDF with 15 additional strategies to deal with rejection and break-ups, email me at [email protected] Download the seminar Breakup Recovery on to learn more about healing from breakups and relationships with unavailable partners.
©Darlene Lancer 2018
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Written by Darlene Lancer JD, MFT
Originally appeared on WhatIsCodependency.com
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