The heartbreaks stages of healing and what you can do about it
Relationships are a beautiful thing, but when they come to an end, it can feel like the world is crashing down around you.
The loss of a relationship is no different than the loss of a loved one. We cry. We grieve. We struggle with anger, heartbreak, depression, and loneliness. As much as we try, we can’t just flip a switch and feel okay again.
The healing process after a breakup comes in stages that are similar to what we experience when we lose a loved one.
How could this be happening?! There’s no way your ex is serious about breaking up, right? A breakup can come as a shock, especially if you’re blindsided by the split. It can take a while to process everything that’s been said and done.
In the meantime, your mind has a hard time grasping the fact that your ex has called it quits. You’ve put everything into your relationship. You couldn’t imagine it falling apart.
Right now, it’s too painful to face the fact that your relationship is over.
It’s okay to be in denial. Denial is the first stage of the healing process. but to move forward, you will eventually need to face your pain and accept what is happening.
Seeking the Truth
Once you move out of the denial stage, you become a seeker. You’re desperate for answers; desperate to know why this happened.
- Why did your ex do this?
- Why didn’t your ex talk to you first? (There’s a good chance your partner did talk to you, but you weren’t listening)
- Why is this happening to me?
In your quest to become a truth-seeker, you may lose yourself and get caught up in irrational thoughts and behaviors. But even if you find the answers you’re looking for, they may not necessarily change anything or make you feel any better.
Truth-seeking can bring you some comfort, and during this stage, it helps to have a support network of friends and loved ones to help you process the answers you find.
Once you begin to face your pain and accept the reality of your breakup, a lot of emotions will come to the surface. Many of these emotions are ones you had been trying to suppress. Fear and dread may be the first ones to make an appearance.
After a break-up, the world is full of unknowns. If you had life plans with your ex or centered your world around your relationship, it may feel like your legs have been cut out from under you.
Once you start letting go of fear and dread, another strong emotion surfaces anger.
It’s important to remember that anger is a really important part of the healing process. It can be empowering, or it can be debilitating, depending on where it’s directed.
Regardless of who or what your anger is directed at, it’s important to feel it. Allow yourself to be angry. The more you try to suppress your anger, the longer it will take to heal.
Anger is a big first step in coming to grips with your pain, embracing it, and finally accepting it.
In your anger and grief, you may find yourself relapsing; trying to bargain with your ex to get back together.
Maybe you’ve been feeling angry with yourself and believe that you could have done more to keep your partner around. With that realization, you may make a plea for a second chance.
- I’ll be better
- I’ll win back my partner
- I’ll be more attentive
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of bargaining. But you can’t fix the relationship yourself. It takes two to tango, and it takes two to bring a relationship to its end.
The bargaining stage is your mind’s last-ditch effort to distract yourself from the experience of loss.
Once you move past the bargaining stage and realize that a second time around probably won’t work out, depression can set in.
You may experience intense feelings of emptiness as grief enters on a deeper level. It is okay to feel depressed. Remember that a breakup is a loss. Depression is an appropriate response to the loss of a relationship.
Recognize and accept your feelings of depression, but also recognize the need to work through these feelings and move forward with healing.
In the final stage of healing, you come to accept life without your ex. Acceptance shouldn’t be confused with happiness or joy. It doesn’t mean that you’ve moved on and are ready to start a new relationship. It just means that you have surrendered and accepted the fact that your relationship is a thing of the past.
It’s important to remember that everyone goes through these stages at different paces, and you may not necessarily go through them in this order. Grieving can take minutes, or it can take months to get over an ex.
There’s no right or wrong way to heal after a breakup. The most important thing is that you do heal and you do find a way to move on.
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