The choice to end a relationship or get a divorce is a tough one, to say the least. Adrienne C. Laursen, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of The Engagement Coach, shares 5 tips for getting through this difficult time and how to find hope for the future.
Understand The Healing Period Will Take Some Time
Why do break-ups hurt so much? Even if a relationship has become toxic or unsatisfying, breaking up is still very difficult. There is no rule for the length of time it takes to recover from a break-up, as every person and every relationship is different. What you can count on is it taking some time, likely a long time, to recover and heal fully from this loss. And the unfortunate part of it all is there's no short- cut. . . you just have to feel the sadness, anger, loneliness, etc. that comes along with it. Feeling those emotions can be scary; you may feel they will be too intense for you to handle and you'll be too depressed to recover. Unfortunately, grieving this loss and feeling the pain associated with it is the path to letting go of the old relationship and moving on in a healthy direction.
Allow Yourself to Grieve The Loss Of This Relationship And Everything That Came With It
Most people think of grief just in terms of death, but grief plays a large part in the loss of any relationship we deem significant. Breaking up or divorce involves multiple losses such as:
Loss of companionship and someone to spend quality time with
Loss of financial support, emotional support, parenting support, etc.
Loss of a social status, social circle, family and friends associated with your ex, pets or children you shared together
Loss of hopes, plan, goals & dreams you designed together as a couple
Give Yourself A Break & Gather Your Support System
Would you think poorly of a friend going through your situation if they acted less than "normal"? You are allowed the same courtesy so give yourself a break and understand that your world is going to be scattered, lonely, sad and confusing for a while. Give yourself permission to be sad and to function at a less than ideal level. You may notice that it's hard to concentrate at work, or that your desire to be social has diminished. Likely these are temporary setbacks and a normal part of the grieving process. Be sure to gather your support system. . . don't isolate yourself! Call on your family, friends, coworkers, etc. . . anyone you trust that can offer emotional support during this difficult time. If you don't have a support system, you may want to consider getting outside help from a Therapist.
Take Care Of Yourself, Even When You Don't Feel Like It
Self-Care. . . I know, I know, "therapist talk", right? Wrong! It is SO important to take care of yourself, especially when you're grieving. My favorite piece of advice is to find just one thing that will possibly give you enjoyment, something you've always wanted to do or try, but didn't have the time to start. This gives you hope that there is a future without your ex, that you can find enjoyment in something small, and that you can do it all by yourself. Other tips for nurturing yourself include:
Hold off on making any big decisions for a few months, until your head is a little clearer
Avoid using alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, etc. to cope
Try to stick to a routine so you don't feel so unbalanced
Put efforts on your calendar to avoid becoming isolated