I’ve been helping a dear client through the unraveling of her eleven-year marriage, which is giving me pause to reflect back on the gold of my illuminations surrounding relationship breakups. Six years ago, I was facing the disillusionment of my own marriage, and struggling with a “why me?” belief that life was happening to me. But as the fog of fear slowly began to lift, I caught a glimpse of a gift that would heal my heart and change the relationship I had with Love forever. There is nothing quite like adversity for discovering who we really are at our core. Whilst I had zero control over the behavior, actions and choices of others, I clung to the realization that I had full control over my own, and in that illuminating moment, I realized that life was actually happening for me. What follows is a self-compassion guide of what I learned when I chose Love over fear.
Acknowledge the hurt you feel is very real. There’s a certain brand of pain reserved specifically for the ending of a romantic relationship or marriage and it’s often a bitter tasting cocktail of disappointment, anger, resentment and just plain suckery. So often, we’ll do anything to avoid the taste, but these shadow emotions are just as important for us to feel as the brightness of joy, peace and love. They’re all essential parts of living the whole human experience. Glossing over this critical step not only sets you up for the likelihood of a rinse, repeat heartbreak, it denies you access to the illumination you’ll need for empowering different choices required by your future self.
Take a morning, a weekend or a “Get me outta here” reprieve to sit with the suckery and acknowledge the heft of the blow. Write, rant, cry it out. The pain needs to release. Setting it up and allowing it to do its job doesn’t have to feel like you’re rubbing salt on the wound, its simply a self-honoring act of kindness you can give to yourself.
Be Kind. It’s hard when everything hurts. Lashing out, talking trash, blaming, dissing, judging, and attacking may feel justified and downright entitled, but ultimately we’re adding suffering to the pain, and more pain will surely ensue. I’m a big fan of self -compassion; I like how it softens my edges and the edges of those around me. It sets the bar of what to expect of myself and offers an invitation for others to follow suit. If you have kids, be mindful of their own pain and the fact that they see and feel everything. Our words, and our behavior are the lessons we’re learning and teaching. Kindness takes crappiness to higher ground.