I have fallen in love 6 times in my life. Falling in love feels like a higher state of consciousness where all we care about is spending time with our beloved, where our happiness is her happiness as we would do anything to earn her grace. In that state, time ceases to exist as 10 hours with our lover feels like 2 minutes. Eating, drinking and sleeping are deemed non-important when we are love-intoxicated. It is a very powerful state that can induce fears among the person’s entourage as someone in love appears suddenly so unpredictable. For that reason, psychologists have described this state in less favorable terms as infatuation or limerence, denoting a state of obsession, unreasoned passion or even addiction. In my personal experience, it is a very beautiful state that needs to be cherished, enjoyed thoroughly and extended as long as possible as it is so precious. Reality eventually kicks in, and it always feels too early when it does.
The Universe is very interested in our growth and it knows that there is nothing better than an intimate relationship to boost our self-awareness. So, it baits us with the magnificent feeling of falling in love. When we merge with someone else, we die and we are being reborn. The person we are going to fall madly in love with is the person that has the potential to maximize our inner development. Unfortunately, we all know from our lives that the times when we grew the most may have been the most challenging, and this is true for intimate relationships. I fully subscribe to the Imago theory that was developed by the Hendrix’s. It says that we are attracted to partners that will help us relive and eventually heal the unresolved traumas from childhood. Sometimes partners are able to go through that growth and healing together. However, some other times, one partner may run away from the other and will see the break-up as the most conducive to their healing. It is a matter of individual choice, and it is best to honor the person’s free will rather than pretending we know better by emitting judgments. Nevertheless, breaking up from an intimate partner is one of the most painful experiences of our existence down here, only comparable to the death of a loved one.
Paradoxically, my most difficult break-up was with my first love when I was only 19. I did not make a formal commitment to her such as an engagement. There were no legal or financial complications. We were both very young and our break-up only impacted us emotionally with very little consequences for our friends & family. How is it possible that my break-ups involving children, parents or splitting all of our assets could have felt less difficult to handle? This confirms that our life experience, the healing tools at our disposal, and mature thinking are critical in supporting the grieving process of break-ups. For this reason, I want to share with you what I have learned in this process in hope that it may be helpful to you.
Follow the waves instead of resisting them
The process of uncoupling is brutal because it involves many parts of us: physical, emotional and mental. As we lose this special person in our life, our body may go into shock as we cannot hug them, touch them or cuddle with them anymore, especially if this aspect of the relationship was really fulfilling. We may miss sharing our feelings, the small attentions, feeling loved or their emotional presence. We may miss the long, passionate and intellectually stimulating conversations. It will really depend on the specific relationship dynamics. In any case, this leaves a big void in our life. It is best to acknowledge it and completely feel it rather than denying it. I would like to share a quote that was sent by a friend of mine: “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” – Jamie Anderson
People who cannot move on from a relationship are people who cannot grieve because they refuse to feel the pain associated with the loss. Their ego refuses to experience this suffering because it would make it mean that they contributed to the failure of the relationship, that they were flawed, that they were bad, that they are meant to be alone, that they are unlovable, that they deserved to be abandoned, and so on, and so forth. It is all about unhealed attachment traumas. Instead they become negatively obsessed with the former object of love that they used to glorify publicly. They attempt to appear as a victim, forgetting they entered the relationship full heartedly with their freedom of choice. We do not need to be perfect to be loved. To be human is to be imperfect and we make mistakes. I gave all that I had to my important relationships so I hold no regret. Yes, I made mistakes but I did not know better at the time, so there is nothing to dwell on.
After we have broken-up from a partner we loved, the pain will be acute, and the first waves will hit us hard. Last April, after I had just landed in France, if one of my friends would ask me how I was doing, I could not say a word but started shedding tears as the dissolution of the marriage had just started. This was healthy! After getting some sleep and recovering from jet lag, my mind was again in control and I lost touch again with my emotions. I had brought back my heart walls so as not to feel the pain of the break-up. Fortunately, my friend Jacques made me realize that I was getting in the way of my own grieving process. My mind was so afraid to feel out of control that it had started shutting down the feelings of loss. This was unhealthy. Societal expectations are therefore the opposite of what we need for our grieving process. The down waves may take the form of feeling unlovable, isolated, anxious or depressed for example. These emotions have to be experienced fully and somatically (with the body) with no judgment. The big mistake we make in our healing process is to overuse our mind while the body is so much better equipped to release trauma. Crying, shouting, shaking has done more for my healing than all of my analytical processes. Analysis should follow healing from the body and the emotions but not precede it. Fortunately, we have the ability to take advantage of our emotional suffering for healing purposes. So we can always benefit from a difficult and painful situation.
In my personal experience, the up and down waves take on average a week, and the waves’ intensity get lower over time to eventually stabilize back to a normal state. Recently, during one of the down waves, I started feeling very heavy energy. I went to lunch with a friend anyway but the plumber called me just as I was about to order lunch. I had to come back home right away. I realize this was a wake-up call to make the healing process the priority instead of daily activities. We went into the healing room and I started expressing the raw feelings without any filters. In this case, it was about that I felt that people I loved the most saw me as a monster. I let my body purge these emotions, and could come back to the original childhood fragment related to my sister. My parents lacked emotional maturity and did not prepare her well for my venue into this world. She saw me as the newcomer that was stealing from her the small crumbs of love from our parents. She developed hatred towards me that I had to internalize to cope. So I developed self-hatred and I created in my reality situations to reflect that belief. I was able to let go somatically of that belief during this session. I worked on changing that belief during another healing session. Interestingly, at the end of that session, one of my loved ones that is demonizing me called me unexpectedly and we had a nice exchange. I knew then that my inner work was starting to work on the fabric of reality.
If you are getting a divorce, chances are that not all of the relationship was rosy and aspects of it were rather difficult. So the good news is that you will be experiencing up waves too! If your partner was over controlling and possessive, you may feel a sense of exhilaration from your newfound freedom. If your life was drowning in drama, you may feel relieved about experiencing peace and quiet again. If you were constantly criticized and always walked on eggshells, you may enjoy being again in an environment that is both supportive and nurturing. If you did not particularly enjoy your wife’s close friends, you may be happy to be away from them. Use these up waves to your advantage. Make sure to create opportunities for yourself to do the things you could not do when you were in the marriage to fully experience some of the benefits of the break-up. This will make you feel better about the divorce. On my end, I took a month in Europe to reconnect with old friends and family. There was nothing more healing than being surrounded by people who loved me and appreciated me for who I am. Healing is about having the opposite experience. I got inspired by doing things I was not able to do when I was married. This helped me to see the glass half full instead of half empty. Also we can only receive after we empty our cup so let us develop a sense of wonder of what is coming next into our life after the loss of love.
We have been conditioned in this society to do everything on our own. So naturally, when tragedy strikes, we have a tendency to isolate. This is not healthy. We are social creatures and need each other. After breaking up an important relationship, our emotional balance goes off so we should not make things worse by denying our most basic human need to feel supported, loved and cared for. I felt very fortunate that some good-hearted people showed up in my life and kept me company when I needed it the most. Good people naturally want to help especially when their support is appreciated. It feels empowering to them and they are often healing themselves through this process too. The key is to be authentic with your pain and your needs, and you will be surprised by the amount of goodness coming your way.
Real pain versus imaginary pain
As I mentioned before, break-ups are some of the most painful experiences we can go through. However, we can make the process of grieving easier or harder on ourselves with the quality of our thoughts. The feeling of loss is real and takes time to heal. However, there are a lot of other emotions that are not real in the sense that they are fabricated by erroneous thinking. Without the faulty thought, some of the negative emotions would not even exist. This is where our mature inner adult (IA) can help our hurt inner child (IC).
IC: “This person destroyed my life. I will never be able to recover. This person took everything away from me.”
IA: “This was a difficult experience and I chose it out of my free will. There are important lessons to learn from any painful relationship.”
IC: “What’s wrong with me that I cannot have a healthy and nurturing relationship? I am forever doomed. God hates me.”
IA: “I have learned important lessons of this past relationship and I am much better equipped as a result to attract the right type of person into my life. Though it was painful, I see this person as an important teacher. There are often many layers of healing we need to go through to manifest what we truly want.”
IC: “This person has to pay for what he did to me and my children. I will make him pay for the rest of eternity so that he does not hurt anyone like he hurt me.”
IA: “I hope this person can be happy in their future relationships. I am glad I am not in his life anymore so that I can attract a relationship that feels better. If the same pattern appears again in any future relationship, I will know that the problem may be more related to me than him.”
If the inner child is really hurt, it is best for the inner adult to start validating the inner child before sharing his wisdom. For example, in the first situation, this would look like “I feel that this person destroyed my life and took everything away from me. Sometimes I may feel that I will never be able to recover. However, I have been through similar difficult break-ups in the past and I have survived. I actually keep attracting better partners. I can see this was a difficult experience but I chose it out of my free will and no one forced me into it. There are some important lessons I learned from this relationship”. Use your intuition to balance effectively your IC and IA. If you were to let your toddler run the show in your household, things would be quickly out of control and your sweet child would turn into a high-chair tyrant. Meet all the emotional needs of your inner child but do not lose yourself in the process. An important role of the IA is to educate the IC to grow-up. Emotional validation has to come with accountability so that we do not get stuck in a victim role, which is one of the lowest vibrational states.
Keeping contact or not after a break-up?
People who break-up that still love each other will feel very hurt. It is often very difficult for them to stay in contact, and any exchange with the estranged partner may feel like re-traumatization. In an ideal world, especially if there are children involved, it would be best for former partners to stay friendly and on social terms. In my experience, it is however only feasible when the love has faded away for both partners and they have moved on with their respective lives. There is no sense of loss anymore or hard feelings. This can take time. How likely is this when a couple has just broken up? Very unlikely. If one person is not in love anymore but the other person is, then the situation is just as difficult. I am of the opinion that people need to do what is best for their personal healing. However, if children are involved, put the children’s healing first while not succumbing to ex-partner control dramas. I have kept in touch with a couple of the women I have been in love with in the past, and I have found these relationships rewarding. However, it often took years before we were able to reconnect. This should not be forced, as the newly gained friendship would need to be unconditional and away from all the failed expectations of the past. So in most cases, a clean cut in the short-term may be preferable to support the emotional healing of the recently broken up couple.
Gratitude as the ultimate healing tool
By doing important healing work in Europe supported by friends and family, I found the resources to write a blog about the end of the marriage in a way that was genuinely grateful. And this time, I was not bypassing. I could appreciate all the wonderful times and all the gifts that came from the relationship. It was now up to me to create in my life and in myself all the things I previously adored in her. When we are grateful, we cannot be resentful. When we are grateful, we cannot feel like a victim. When we are grateful, we cannot feel revengeful. When we are grateful, we are looking forward to a bright future and we are not lost dwelling on the past. When we are grateful, we do not close ourselves off and on the contrary, we keep our heart open to new possibilities. We should not rush ourselves into this state however. Before we can reach genuine gratitude, all raw emotions of powerlessness, anger, resentment, sadness and loss have to be experienced. And sometimes, we have to go through these emotions multiples times through various cycles. Our emotions need be true, and we should not pretend we are feeling something that we are not. This is a big part of living an authentic life. We need to find the courage to express openly how we feel when we are in a safe environment unconcerned of the good opinions of others
How long does it take to heal from a break-up?
If we are committed to our healing, have a supportive environment, and can rely on a wise IA (Inner Adult), I think one month per year of the relationship is a fair expectation. Otherwise, it may take much longer and actually some people never get over some past relationships. Sometimes the grieving or pulling away will actually start when you are still in the relationship. During the grieving phase, strict celibacy is most recommended. Our sexual energy is the finest energy at our disposal and this energy can be turned inward for healing. This will work marvels and help you shift to a new level. If we genuinely listen to our body during a grieving cycle, we will notice that the body has no desire to expand its energy sexually. Only the mind may do so in order to prevent experiencing difficult emotions as it follows an addictive pattern. Our mind is a good servant but a poor master. Our heart and body wisdom are far more reliable to know what is best for us. Do not rush your grieving process. Slower is often faster.
How about you? I am interested to know more about your own break-up stories, what you learned from them, and what helped your grieving process.