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How to Overcome the Pain of Your Separation

Two essential tools to ease your suffering and finally begin to heal

Breakup pain

There’s nothing quite like it.

The heaviness on your chest, the constant reminders of the person you don’t see any more. The shocking sensation of feeling like you have left something really important behind. Emptiness that hollows you out and leaves you exhausted and ragged.

When you are in this state, you just want the suffering to end.

When I was going through my last breakup, I felt like I was never going to come out of the pain. I honestly felt as though I was never going to stop feeling so damn low. I was stuck on obsessive thinking and blame.

Moving through breakup pain and out the other side is a unique and personal experience. Nobody can predict how long it is going to take. For some, like me, it can take years.

However, through doing a lot of reflection and reading, I discovered two very important concepts that enabled me to finally become unstuck and rid myself of the constant suffering I was living in.

Ownership and Forgiveness

Without going through these two processes, you are going to get stuck in rumination, blame, guilt and what-ifs.

These thoughts and behaviours will keep you stuck in pain and suffering for longer than you need to be.

What does taking ownership mean?

Ownership can be a very daunting concept. Sometimes you can think that you have taken ownership, but you are only looking at the surface level.

For example, you know that you were messy, and that really annoyed your partner. Perhaps you had a tendency to be grumpy when you were tired. You didn’t get along with your partner’s family. Maybe you each had hobbies that didn’t interest each other much.

You accept those things and feel as if you understand how that could have contributed to the end.

True ownership is going a lot deeper than that and getting past the barriers of denial. Denial can be extremely hard to recognise in ourselves, because denial is what keeps us safe from emotional pain.

Most of us avoid emotional pain at all costs.

We need to acknowledge our deeper, more subconscious behaviours. Were you keeping your partner at arm’s length emotionally? Do you have a fear of intimacy which prevented you from going all in?

Are you flirting with, or deep into an addiction that you haven’t acknowledged? Heavy drinking, workaholism, shopping, drug use, gambling, porn?

Were you allowing your partner to do the majority of work on the relationship? If your partner was coming to you to bring up issues and you were shutting them down, or minimising them, that is leaving them to do all the work.

Quality relationships require effort and time.

Can you honestly look at yourself and say that you were putting in as much effort as your partner was? If not, it’s time to get real with yourself about why.

Ownership is a complex issue because it requires us to go beneath our top layer. It asks us to go into the subconscious mind and identify repeated patterns, programming, beliefs, conditioning, self defenses and coping mechanisms. As human beings, we are always in survival and defence mode on a primal level.

The end of a relationship will bring out all of our greatest fears and insecurities. This will obviously be a time when our brain wants to shift into a protective mindset.

Which is why being proactive about owning our part is so important.

If we take true ownership, we can shift the blockages that prevent us from doing the honest inventory that is essential for moving on. Taking ownership means accepting that you played a role in the ending of this relationship. This even applies if you were cheated on or left for someone else. You must end victim thinking.

I’m not saying you are in any way to blame for those actions, but could you consider that there may have been red flags you overlooked at the very beginning? Was there a chance you ignored what your intuition was telling you?

Here are the steps I took to help me take ownership:

  • Stayed single so that I had the time and space to reflect on the relationship and find the lessons that I needed to learn.

  • Considered my patterns and behaviours in a non judgemental way. No blame, just observation and noticing.

  • Educated myself on attachment styles so I could see if I may have been engulfing or avoiding my ex partner.

  • Acknowledged my childhood experiences that may have contributed to some of the behaviours that I bought into my relationship.

  • Accepted that I played a role in the breakdown of the relationship.

Once you have been brave enough to thoroughly own your part in the breakup, you are ready to move into forgiveness.

Forgiveness — What it really means

I’ve spoken a lot about forgiveness because it is often misunderstood. We think of forgiveness as meaning that we absolve a person of all responsibility for hurting us, or not treating us with care when they promised to.

Or we think that forgiveness is something that we give to other people, and not to ourselves. However, we can look at forgiveness as a salve for the pain experienced in the ownership phase. If you were courageous enough to admit that you contributed to some of the dysfunction, you may get stuck in blame.

Emotional blockages which stop us from moving through breakup pain and out the other side, usually stem from the inability to forgive ourselves and our exes.

What does forgiving someone really mean? It means getting above your own ego, and acknowledging higher levels of humanity.

It’s an understanding that you can use forgiveness as a way to turn the breakup into an opportunity for deeper healing of past trauma, and develop your emotional maturity.

Forgiving yourself or someone for mistakes and wrongs can be very difficult, but without forgiveness, moving on is a lot harder to do.

Even if your partner was extremely toxic or abusive, they are acting on subconscious blueprints that were likely set when they were children.

This doesn’t excuse or justify their wrongs.

Honest humility can help you understand that people come together in relationships for reasons that go beyond attraction, romance, love.

Some relationships begin purely because there are unresolved issues and trauma in our subconsciousness.

We are drawn to these relationships because they are opportunities to try and find a resolution to this pain and suffering. We think the relationship is going to heal us.

Sometimes, the healing we are searching for takes place once the relationship is over.

If you could see yourself and your ex partner through this lens, would you be able to reach for a little more forgiveness?

Forgiveness requires faith that your experience was one piece of the bigger mosaic of your life. That the pain you are experiencing now is a necessary step to feeling the inner peace you were looking for by entering the relationship in the first place.

* * * *

Separation grief and pain is a world unto itself. It’s all encompassing, and at times debilitating. The only way out of it, is through it. You can use ownership and forgiveness as tools to help you get unstuck and start enjoying life again.

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