When a long term relationship breaks up there are so many changes which need to be dealt with that it can be overwhelming. Many of the things you have taken for granted in your life are subtly or overtly altering beyond recognition. I know from personal experience that even if you believe you have mentally prepared for being alone, the reality can take you by surprise.
What I have discovered over the many years I have worked with people is that because of the intimate (mental, emotional and physical) nature of the relationship with your significant other, there is a connection which runs through almost every aspect of your life. This may seem obvious but what I find is that in fact we often underestimate just how much of our reality is built on the foundation of togetherness. Much of what you understand about your past, your present and most particularly your future is tied up with your partner and the plans you have made together.
The connection which comes as a result of the interwoven life you build together means that when things fall apart you will both be reeling. Now I say ‘both’ very deliberately as although in some circumstances it appears that one of you has moved on very quickly, there is a fallout for both of you. This fallout will present in different ways, at different times and can be devastating.
I see so many messages which talk about ‘letting go’ or ‘moving on’ but no-one really seems to show you how to do this. Words are cheap and the reality of letting go can seem impossible. We are told that time heals all wounds but I don’t believe this is true. I believe that time simply allows a scab to form which hides the wound from immediate view. Certainly the pain will numb over time but unless you turn and face it, you may never fully recover. And when I say ‘fully recover’ I don’t mean just surviving, I mean living freely in a way which reflects the true you.
You cannot go back to who you were before your relationship because your experiences have changed you. And it is difficult to see how you can continue to be who you were in your relationship. So where does this leave you?
Well in many cases it leaves you feeling as if you have been thrown off a cliff and you are falling, desperately trying to find something to grab hold of on your way down. You are completely at a loss to know what to do; how to stop the panic, how to gain some equilibrium and can’t begin to think about the future as it is far to scary.
So ‘letting go’ is not the answer. How can you let go when you just know you are going to fall?
You are the foundation of your life so you need to build you
Become Your Own Best Friend
Spend time with yourself. If you met someone for the first time and spent only 2 minutes with them, then ‘friendship’ would not be the right word to describe your relationship. So if you want to make a friend, you need to spend time with that person – you. Treat yourself as you would a brand new friend. Make time, smile at yourself, pay yourself a compliment.
Go Where You Feel Most Yourself
Sometimes its difficult to recognise where you feel safe, where you feel comfortable because your emotions and thoughts are all over the place. Take a moment to breathe and think about a place you loved as a child. Perhaps the beach calms you or a walk through a forest. Getting out into nature is a great way to get out of your own head and connect with the world outside of yourself. See how many birds you can count, keep an eye out for wildlife, breathe in the fresh air and allow yourself to calm.
Get Your Home In Order
The place you live in has a huge impact on your wellbeing. So if you are currently living with clutter, or are surrounded by reminders of your previous life, perhaps its time for a ‘clear out’. Surround yourself with the things you love, even if its just a few photos or a beautiful cushion. Putting your personality into your environment will help you feel good about yourself.
At some point in your life there was something you loved to do. Perhaps you like to sew, knit or scrapbook, maybe you enjoy woodworking, pottery or gardening or perhaps you play a musical instrument, write or sing. Creative pursuits come from inside of you and are the expressions of your deepest nature. Spending time in a creative activity gives you the chance to learn more about yourself as well as giving you a positive focus.
Schedule Your Life
Routine is very important when you are looking to build a foundation. Schedule your responsibilities but be sure to allow time for you every day. If all you have is 5 minutes in the shower then make those 5 minutes special. Buy a beautifully fragrant body wash, give your skin a good invigorating scrub and put on a face mask. You will be amazed how much extra time you can find when you organise your life. Do not sit and wallow in front of the television – do a crossword puzzle or creative activity and you will find your energy increases.
If you have children, you know that adding a little more responsibility to their lives, builds more capability. The same is true for you. Set a goal to achieve, something simple to start with and then add a slightly more challenging one each time you master the one before. As you see your successes, you will learn to trust your own abilities.
Learn Something New
This is a great way to grow beyond your present understanding. As you learn something new, the memories and connections this education creates will not include your ex-partner. This is a great way to separate your new life from your old and give you confidence at the same time.
The energy required to take action will fuel your mind and body and lift your spirits. If you require nothing of yourself, then you will stay exactly where you currently are. Even if you feel paralysed, overwhelmed and uncertain, taking action will improve your circulation, and give you a sense of achievement. Its not about ‘moving on’ but just about moving.
As you start to ‘see yourself’ and begin to strengthen your connection with you, the connection with your ex-partner will begin to weaken. As you focus on building a new foundation, the past will slowly slip away until you can’t see it any more. Imagine yourself with a lantern. You can only light up the area immediately surrounding you. If you stay still you will continue to see the past and feel afraid of the future. But the minute you take a step forward, the past dims and the path ahead becomes clearer.
I remember hearing Jack Canfield speak. He likens your life to driving across the country in the dark. When you leave your home you cannot see the whole route from there to your destination. Your headlights will only light up a short distance in front of you. But as you continue to drive, believing that the road in front of you will take you to where you want to go, your headlights continue to show you the next part of your journey. Soon your home is far behind you and you may not even know where you are. It can feel scary and somewhat daunting but if you keep driving on trust, eventually you will arrive at your destination.
Life is not a destination but simply a series of experiences that continue to unfold in front of you.
Build on what you know.
Add new knowledge.
Build a strong foundation and you will learn to fly.
To quote Martin Luther King Jr:
You don’t have to see the whole staircase – just take the first step