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There's life after a break-up

Don't stay in isolation: Find a shoulder to lean on.   | Photo Credit: mail_grkrm

“To fall in love is awfully simple, but to fall out of love is simply awful.”

Bess Myerson

The hardest part of loving is letting go. It is hard because love makes us want to hold on. The fear of losing it can be intolerable. But like everything else, nothing is permanent. Sometimes, not only do we have to cope with changing seasons in our relationships but also watch them end. Break-ups can feel like deaths, following similar stages of grief. First comes shock and disbelief. Then there maybe a stage of bargaining, when one tries to convince the other how wonderful the relationship has been and promise to change. Then there might be anger, denial, depression and finally acceptance, all leading to an emotionally intense and painful period.

People who have been through break-ups know that it is the most vulnerable and painful time of their life. I think of break-ups as a time when “your soul explodes open”. How do we cope at a time like this? I've heard everything from let's party to let's pray. Healing is individual and intimate; there is no formula, but we can use cognitive methods to ease our way.

Allow yourself to grieve: I see that people do not allow themselves to be sad. We don't want to accept that it hurts like hell. Acknowledge your feelings, label them and accept it. There is no need to be superhuman and be “strong”. There is more strength in acceptance than in denial and running away. Cry if you feel sad.

Respect yourself: Try to reframe your thoughts to accept partial responsibility and not full. It takes two to make or break a relationship. Don't abuse your body because you do not have a man/woman in your life; avoid crazy binges on food, alcohol, drugs or pills. Respect yourself enough to not entertain thoughts of suicide or self-harm. If there was disrespect in the relationship, remember to treat yourself well and not like your ex did.

Seek support: Isolation can breed pain. Not everyone is in a social mood and sometimes one simply needs to withdraw in order to heal. But do find support from intimate ones or a counsellor to talk about feelings, fears and hopes. Let people close to you help you heal. Let everything come out unfettered.

Find meaning: Your relationship is a part of your life. Try to find meaning in other aspects like career, friends, parents, children, hobbies, religion and community involvement. See if you can be more involved in them.

Give yourself space: Don't push yourself to do what others feel is right for you. If you feel like crying in your bed for a while, do so. If you wish to be alone at a store, do so. Not everyone goes through the process the same way.

Try spirituality: Some people find such moments to be a turning point in their lives. Small spiritual practices such as reading spiritual quotes/texts, journaling or painting can help you cope by giving you a different perspective.

Try something new: This can be exciting and invigorating to the spirit. It can be a new hobby, physical routine, trip, retreat or any other ideas you can come up with.

Avoid people who are downers: Misery loves company, but you don't need double misery. It's a different thing to be with someone who can shoulder your pain and someone who keeps reminding you of what you have lost or what you could have done to save it. It's over. Let's move ahead.

Get angry: Yes, anger can sometimes be a great push towards healing and coping. Focus on the negatives, on reasons why the relationship did not work. This can be a great way to get out of the break-up low. Later when you have got out of your down phase, you can focus on mutual responsibility and acceptance.

Be kind: Be non-judgemental and kind towards yourself. The first few months after a break-up can be exceptionally painful and feel like an emotional rollercoaster with no stops. Recognise this and don't try to become “normal” instantly; forcing yourself into feeling what you can't will only make this process harder. It's okay to let yourself be.

Grief can become complicated and you must work through it. Each person has different levels of pain when it comes to break-ups, so don't judge yourself if you are in too much or too little pain. Remember, the best thing you can do for yourself is to be kind. If you find yourself becoming depressed, lonely, unable to cope or function do not hesitate to contact a counsellor for some additional support.

The writer is a Mumbai-based Psychotherapist. Website: >www.mansitherapy.com


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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 8:53:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/theres-life-after-a-breakup/article2324720.ece

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