The end of a meaningful relationship can be one of the hardest things to navigate through. Yuck!! Even less meaningful relationships can stir up icky feelings when they end. Whether the end of the relationship was due to a break-up, the final straw with a friend, or a significant loss like death, they all hurt. No matter how strong, grounded, or even-keeled we think we are, these endings can make us feel like we’re the most unstable, unlovable, and unwanted person in the world. We all experience that pain and that heartache; we all ask ourselves the question of “why me?”.
Grief and loss tough. It exposes our innermost fears of mortality, loneliness, and rejection and is never an easy thing to deal with no matter how much experience we have with it. Often, when we experience a loss, our emotional brain kicks in and starts throwing up all kinds of defense mechanisms so to try and lessen the sting. We try and convince ourselves that it doesn’t really hurt that bad (denial/minimization), that it’s all the other person’s fault (projection/blame), that we’re better off without that other person (justification), that our deceased loved one is in a ‘better place’ (rationalization), or that we were the ones that messed everything up and therefore deserve to swim in the yuck (introjection). We tell ourselves this so that it doesn’t hurt as bad and we try to justify and rationalize the ending of the relationship. The reality is, though, that it does hurt and all we want to do is cry, yell, and just be sad.
As much as those feelings sting, it’s important that we lean into that sadness, fear and even anger; it’s a natural part of the grieving process. The more we try to push those feelings aside or down, the longer the pain will linger. The harder we try to keep our true feelings locked away, the stronger they become and the harder they’ll fight to be heard. That’s power that we don’t need to be giving away to unwanted feelings. Allow that door to open a crack and listen to what those feelings are trying to tell you. It’s okay to hear: “I’m sad that it’s over”, “I’m really mad that this happened”, “I’m super disappointed that it ended this way”, and “I’m scared of being alone”. In permitting these parts of us to be heard, we’re able to release some of that steam and let go of some of that yuck.
Perhaps the end of the relationship was your fault, maybe that person is in a ‘better place’, it’s possible that you are better off without that other person. In the end, though, what really matters is you and your healing. What is it that you need so that you can take care of your needs? Do you need some alone time so that you can have that good cry? How about surrounding yourself with people that love you and lift you up? Or what about a nice long afternoon at the dog park with your pup? Do what you need to do to embrace and hold yourself.
We all experience the pain and suffering that follows loss – you’re not alone in your suffering, even when it feels that way. Rather than viewing the termination of a relationship as an ending, in time try to shift to the possibility of it being a new beginning. This can be an opportunity for you to learn more about and love you. If and when the “yuck” feelings become too intense, reach out and talk to someone. Remember, you’re not broken, you’re human. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the grace and love that you deserve. It’s time to let go of the yuck of that ended relationship with that other person and embrace the beauty of the relationship with yourself.