The person, who has decided to end the relationship, has probably already passed through the stages of heartache before they announced their decision. Generally, it seems easier for the one who is doing the leaving, although this may not always be the case. Frequently, the one doing the leaving has had to wrestle with a combination of grief and guilt. The decision to call off a relationship is never easy and if there has been a true connection, it is quite painful for the one doing the leaving as well.
If you are the one who was left, this is an agonizing position to be in. For many people, it is worse than a death, because with death, it’s final and there’s no hope of negotiating a return.
When we’re left, we have to deal with the pain of rejection along with the pain of loss.
There are several stages you can expect yourself to go through in processing your feelings from a broken heart.
They more or less go in this general order:
The first is Shock. When we first hear the news that the relationship is over, we are usually in complete shock. We become vulnerable to our feelings. In shock, we feel as if our world has been turned on its head. We are not capable of making clear decisions. We feel a sense of being vulnerable and lost. It may even be very difficult for us to even make sense of what is happening. We break down, we cry. Men tend to explode outward in their reaction to shock. Women tend to implode, go internal and blame themselves.
We then proceed to the next stage, which is pleading. In pleading, it’s our attempt to restore order to our world by attempting to restore the relationship. In pleading, we may beg the other to return so that our world can return to normal. We may make offers to change ourselves or throw out grand gestures of compromise that here-to-for had been withheld, in order to call the other back into the relationship and ease our aching heart. If you come back, I’ll change. In reality, these overtures rarely last if they are even made at all.
In most cases, the pleading makes us look desperate and weak in the eyes of the other person and does the exact opposite of the desired effect and pushes them away ever farther. We are left feeling empty, hollow and in agony.
We then proceed to the next stage, which is anger. It is a natural and healthy progression, but the anger is really a defense against the depression and helplessness we feel from the disconnect with our ex. In our anger, we feel like striking out. This is the time when many people will go into some kind of destructive action that ultimately does not serve them. They will tear up photos; destroy the ex’s property, or spread vicious rumors around about them.
The anger comes from a place of helplessness from our loss. We feel that we are a victim of our ex and we use anger as a way of trying to recapture some of the power that we feel they’ve taken from us through ending the relationship. It’s a way of desperately trying to balance out our sense of powerlessness. The anger gives us something new to believe in when the belief in the relationship has been taken away. It gives us new strength and new structure at a time when we feel weak and loss of structure. This is especially true if we derived our sense of identity from our ex. The break up has now taken that identity away so the anger temporarily rushes in to give us a new identity.
We may need to remain in our anger for a while. Anger over the breakup can be helpful in neutralizing any loving feelings that you once felt toward your ex. You may want to get in touch with the anger you feel towards this person. It’s OK to hold onto those feelings for a while, as long as; you don’t act those feelings out with hostility towards the other person or yourself. Anger can be a part of the letting go process. Again, you are the one who is in control of your anger. You create your anger and you are the one who can let it go. No one else is responsible for your anger but yourself.
It’s OK to have fantasies of “acting out” against our ex as long as we don’t actually act it out in real life. Over time, anger helps to break the love feelings we felt towards our ex.
Do not seek revenge. It’s OK to fantasize about it, but it is not OK to act it out. Angry behavior such as hitting things, yelling or screaming only leads to amping up the drive for more angry behavior. Don’t do it.
Underneath our anger resides sadness and it comes next in the stages of healing heartache. Remember, anger is often an attempt to not feel the sadness of the disconnect with your ex. The experience of sadness moves us into the present and allows us to experience what is. The sadness is a time of reflection and slowing down. It is the slowing down process of sadness that allows us to adapt to the new reality of our life. The sadness cooks and reshapes us from within.
Experiencing the sadness is an important part of recovering from a breakup. It causes us to stop and re-examine our lives. We slow down and process. The sadness brings a gift. It allows us to view the world from a different perspective giving us a wider and wiser view of life. It also gives us some perspective on how deeply we loved and are capable of loving.
Acceptance occurs when we’re finally able to release the sadness. We stop fighting what is and allow it to be. It does not mean that we like the new order of things, but we stop fighting it. We accept the change. Things will never be the same and we revise ourselves and our future. It is a time when we are able to have a vision of the future with our ex no longer in it. It is the time when we withdraw our energy and expectations from the relationship we had with our ex and are ready to begin opening ourselves up to new relationships and connections with others. We find ourselves opening back up to life and beginning to live again.
Part of the healing process is learning something from the experience you just went through. We come to acceptance more easily when we realize that along with our loss, we have also gained something, we have gained experience, wisdom and a better understanding of our wants and needs.
To do this, ask yourself:
· How are you different now from the way you were before you met you ex?
· What have you learned from your experience with them?
· What lessons have you learned for living the rest of your life?
· Have you changed what it is you want out of a relationship?
· If you’re your best friend just had this experience, what advice would you give them?
Search yourself to find out how you’re different now from having known your ex.
When you’re able to see that you have received some gifts from the relationship, it makes it easier to let go of the past moving you significantly closer to a true and authentic experience of forgiveness of yourself and the other.
For more information on Dr. Jim, log onto his website at LAtherapist.com
For more information on Dr. Jim, log onto his website at LAtherapist.com
Thanks for posting this. I've been trying to understand something someone is going through and this helps.
Thankyou. Currently in the anger stage. have found this article helpful and the advice makes a lot of sense.
I so needed to read this. I'm in between anger and sadness. I never looked at it as if I was my best friend. That gives me strength to know I made the right decision.
Thank you, it helps to see that I went through these stages after my sons father decided not to form a family with me. It felt like the biggest insult ever. I was in shock thru the pregnancy and between anger and sadness after he was born. In fact, I get angry just thinking about it, feel like I missed being joyful at an important event in my life, being pregnant and having a baby, something you look forward to as a kid.
I just hate how long this process has taken, over 5 yrs!
i needed this so much.its been 7 months and im still recovering from the pain..
i love him so much.now that he is gone and married to another girl in visayas last september..because of some invalid reason.all i can do is pray that God will help me to lift myself again and learn from that unfair and painful experience.
I'm now in the sadness stage...I just decided to write a letter to my ex...and in this letter I wrote down everything I was feeling...it actually made me feel a lot better and right after writing the letter...I felt some of the sadness go away...the healing process is underway!!
i think i'm in a disbelief and hoping stage , is there such stage? maybe angry too but for sure i'm far far faaaaar from acceptance .
i've gone through pleading and now i'm sad.... Why can't i feel angry? He cheated on me. I should be able to feel angry. But im sad now....
I just feel lost... lonely and so so sad.
Its hard but you'll make it. I went through the same exact thing n I was pregnant with twins it took me about 5yrs to actually get over him but im glad I did. He didnt deserve me or my babies but its strange now how he tells me he made the wrong decision 6yrs to late for that lol... Take care n b strong
I was in a relationship for 5 yrs on n off n i never called off.. She did.. N now thinkin about her hurts so much... It feels just like the 1st time she left me.. Y i keep comin back to her because i love her n ppl may think im stupid but i cant control my heart... All she said was "i need my social life" n now we hv 2 little ones n i just feel bad for them too because she doesnt let me spend enough time with them... N she doesnt spend time with them either because "she works" i really dnt know what i feel to be honest.. Some days i feel so strong n some so helpless... Angry.. Foegiveness... I dnt know i just wish i can get out of my system quick before she relize she messed up n want to come back again..
Ive myself just broken up , he broke up with me in a violent rage if people leave you for no good reason let them leave things and life happen for reasons that are only going to be clear when your completely alone and clear minded to see , saddness and acceptance does bring you a gift but its somthing thats already inside you that is now activated and thats your own strength from your survival mode a man who truly loves you will never hurt you , he would rather hurt himself and thats no lie ! focus on you now cut all contacts with your partner and soon enough you will feel yourself again but you'll be that little bit wiser !
My relationship has just finished a few days back so unfortunately I'm in the first stages, very, very painful at the moment and it's a struggle day to day living at the moment (dramatic maybe but true) I really hope I can take my ex girlfriend off of that ridiculous pedestal I have her on at the moment abd realise she's not the be all and end all.
You're in between the first and second stage.
this is an amazing article. it's put so many things into perspective. thank you for posting this.
I've just hit the anger stage after stupidly texting I still love her, to be hit with a very cold response. I replied oh well I'm off to France snowboarding next week, which I have just booked! Haha I didn't get a reply, feel a bit better now, and I'm sure I will feel a whole lot better when I'm on the piste!
Im coming out of anger and into such sadness. Feels like it will never end! Cant stop crying and i cant stand silence.... Cant sleep well.. How long does this last?
The whole stage of sadness is so true it some how heals you and brings you back to a path that is enriching in a new way
Very well written
This has help me to accept the fact that he's no longer part of my life, I just wish not to see him again, also I don't want to know nothing about his life almost for months. Im making a lot of changes in room, life, goals, myself. I want to be my new me.
True. Need to go through these stages. It won't kill you so just do what is needed to get rid and replace your ex. Commit to the breakup, and do it your way. Later you will receive the gift of peace and happiness from it. We must feel all these emotions to fade away. Also do not regret whatever you did or what happened during the recovery. Keep going, in 1 to 2 months you will be fine and brand nee you. Goodluck !!!
I so feel your pain...you are a wonderful person..
This was a long time ago however.
How are you feeling now??
Well I am still in denial. He is going to marry another woman and he still claims that he loves me, he just getting married to her because her family is forcing him (arrange marriage). I do not know how to break open out of the box with him still around, calling and hanging out. Uhm
I love this. So very relevant, and the best advice I have managed to find.
Thank you for posting this. I hope it would help me on what I'm going through right now.
He was my first love. I thought that it qould be the two of us forever. But things happen, people change, and also their feelings for you.. oh my, don't know what to do. And what's going to happen. :'(
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