When a betrayal or breakup happens, it can be quite emotionally painful.
Finding out that your partner cheated, being told that your love is leaving you or similar scenarios can leave you feeling broken hearted. In fact, experiences like this can leave you feeling like you’ve been kicked in the gut!
Your breakup might have come as a surprise to you. This can make your broken heart pain all the worse. You might be at a loss for how best to recover and find your sense of ground again. Of course you want to feel better– and even happy, but you may be confused or even feel unable to actually do so.
To Abby, the last month has felt like she’s been in a boxing match– and she’s not coming away the winner.
About a month ago, her long-time boyfriend Chris admitted that he’s been sleeping with another woman for the past year and now he wants to break up, move out and move in with this other woman. While she was aware that their relationship had its problems, Abby had no clue this was going on. It feels like she was emotionally punched around and kicked in the gut.
Now Abby is trying to come to terms with the breakup of her relationship as well as the many intense emotions that are arising within her. For example, she is furious with Chris for deceiving her, but she doesn’t want to be one of “those” ex-girlfriends who can’t handle the breakup. Most of the time, Abby has been putting on a “brave” face, just trying to make it through each day.
Let it out.
We all handle stress and upheaval in life differently. Some people become hard and defended and try to “tough” it out. Others seem to be controlled by their intense emotions and have a difficult time feeling anything but sadness or anger about what happened.
There truly is not one correct way to handle your emotions.
We don’t advise you to stuff them down or ignore them. And we also don’t suggest that you allow your pain to take over your life and you. It is up to you to figure out that balance between allowing your emotions to flow and then releasing the hurt so that you don’t get stuck in it. This will undoubtedly vary depending on your situation and life.
Abby has realized that this “brave” face strategy is simply not working! She ends up feeling tense and aloof most of the time. She really wants the comfort and support of her friends but, in her attempt to be strong, she’s pushed them away as well.
One evening– exactly one month after Chris broke up with her– Abby finds herself home alone. She had planned to paint the bedroom, but instead, she can’t do it. She begins to cry and then very very angry.
Let out your emotions.
No matter what they are, just allow them to arise within you.
You don’t have to do more than that. You don’t have to understand why you’re feeling the way you are and you don’t need to worry about how long you’ll feel this particular way. What’s most important is that this release happens. If you are sad, give yourself permission to cry. If you are angry, go off by yourself and hit pillows, shred paper, scream and yell.
Try to keep yourself more focused on your feelings and less on the stories or events that you link to the feelings. As you allow for this release, you will most likely find relief and a lessening of the deep pain you might have been holding onto. Look up from your pain. Once you are in the habit of allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling and you are staying focused on the emotions more than stories, it can be easier to look up from your pain.
It is hard work to keep hurt feelings stuffed down. It also takes a lot of energy to continually replay painful past events and stories in your mind. Both of these strategies are understandable. And both of these strategies can actually leave you drained and consumed by the breakup, the past and the pain.
After you’ve experienced that sense of relief– no matter how small– from allowing your emotions, make a conscious decision to take a look at your life. Don’t make judgments about it more than noticing what’s happening right now for you.
Ask yourself how you feel about your life at the moment and what specifically you want and need. You might be surprised.
It could be that when you look up from your pain, you realize that your body wants more self-care. Perhaps you’ve let your diet go or you’ve stopped exercising recently. You may discover that there are specific actions you’d like to take to move toward a sense of completion about your breakup.
Abby finds a clearer moment within herself and looks at her life. She recognizes that she’d like to say a few things to Chris. She’s worked so hard to be the “cool and calm” ex-girlfriend, she hasn’t given herself the chance to speak her truth and feelings to him.
After this realization, Abby decides to write a letter to Chris. She composes several versions of the letter before feeling satisfied with one to mail to him. The letter is honest and direct. It focuses on how Abby felt about Chris’ actions and also makes it clear that she is not trying to reconcile with him. Abby feels a growing sense of peace having given herself the opportunity to express her emotions.
No matter how ragged and raw you feel after a breakup, know that you can– and most likely will– feel better. Give yourself the gift of feeling what you’re feeling and then inquire within to know what you need to experience even more relief.