2021 is a year of reflection. I plan to write a blog per week on things that touch my heart, I hope to share my heart with others because our journeys are connected. I hope to share stories from my life that have meant a lot and I hope to find meaning in those stories.
Today my heart has been mulling over how to rise up when a relationship break up could try to redefine your future. I know many of us are very familiar with this area, many of us have been hurt in relationships and have been left down bleeding. I share in this, I can’t lie to you I have broken hearts and mine has been broken too.
I still remember one of the break ups, I was new to Canada. I knew this girl before I left my country of Kenya. She lived in the USA. We had promised to keep our relationship to grow when I move to Canada. For the first few months we chatted over the phone for hours, those days there was no Whatsapp. Things were going well, we encouraged each other. Then I asked if I could go to visit her in Texas during Christmas holidays. She said yes, we started to work towards the visit. I was able to get a visa for USA.
Then somewhere around November of that year, my friend started to avoid talking to me, she could go for a week without answering to my messages. This went for a few weeks. I didn’t know what was happening with her. I made lots assumptions, I thought that work was taking too much time, I assumed that maybe she was sick, all of this thoughts floated in my thoughts.
I sent her emails to encourage her, I encouraged her to stay strong. She responded to me with brief emails, she didn’t write much. This hurt but at least she was communicating with me, so I was grateful. Then, early December she left me a message on my voicemail asking me to call on the coming Saturday evening.
“How are you?” she asked, when I called, she was flat, not as giggling as always. I told her that I was okay, but I was concerned that we were not having time like we used to.
“Joe, there is something I want to say to you… I don’t want you to come to Dallas,” she said, there was silence for a few minutes,” you see Joe I have a fiancé that I have been dating for sometime,” This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, it was raw and painful. As I left the phone that night I felt hurt and broken, that night the tape in my head rehearsed everything we had talked about for the last 1 year, it was awful and hurting. I didn’t sleep that night, and the following night. I hid myself from people for a few days. At one point I felt the urge to throw myself in front of an incoming Toronto Subway train, I was way too devastated and my self worth was so deeply destroyed. For a while I felt like I could not move on, and it was until a pastor friend started to invite me out for walks that I started to feel that life could continue.
Does my story sound familiar, I know it does especially if you have had a rejection or a break up where your self worth was punctured. I can tell you that whenever you go through a rejection, small or large you are left empty and hanging, and for some you feel like your soul has been taken away from you. To tell you the truth, the end of a relationship can feel devastating. It can be hard to sleep, eat, or concentrate. The things you once thought were fun don’t appeal anymore. Depending on how long you were together, or how intense the emotional attachment was, it may even feel like you don’t know what direction your life will take now.
This post is for anyone out there who is feeling the pain of separation. There are things you can do to get back up, process the pain and move from a state of survival to a state of thriving. Here are ten steps to help you during this time:
- Allow Yourself To Grieve: One of the things we hear all the time is to keep busy and not think about it. I don’t believe it’s possible to not think about something when it is having such an impact on your emotions and your overall life. While I don’t think it is healthy to isolate yourself all the time
- Don’t do a lot creeping. If you are consistently going to your ex’s social media pages or scrolling through your photos together, you may be sticking the knife in this elusive wound over and over again. At some point this behavior may be preventing you from moving on. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of this behavior? Will punishing yourself help you to feel better and/or move forward into a better place? If you’re serious about moving on and healing, you must let this relationship go. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to let go of your ex. Fully let go, which means leaving the relationship psychologically as well as physically. If you are still in pain after a breakup, don’t go seeking out their social media. This keeps your ex still psychologically very present in your life.
- Remember you are too valuable to settle for less than God’s best for you. Imagine anything on this earth that we value, and it’s incomparable to how God feels about us. Think for a moment about diamonds. They are one of the most precious items in creation. They are rare, beautiful and highly prized. But they are nothing compared to how God values us. I am a strong believer that God sometimes removes us from some relationships or situations would end up with more pain down the road because God has a Diamond prepared for us.In so doing, He will make even the most common stones reject you.Later after I had started to heal I had to assert myself forward with tender boldness. I dared to believe that I had a voice and, that no matter how dark things had become or could become , I had to to keep on moving forward, not only for myself but also for others who might need my encouragement.
- Take your broken heart to God.There are those who may think this bit of advice is needless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s why. You and I were created to love and be loved. When we get down to it, all we really want is to know there is someone who knows all about us and still loves us no matter what. Only God can love us this way. When we have that foundation of knowing we are loved no matter what, we can have the strength to face rejection from others. Only God can give us a deep sense of being loved because He always does, no matter what.
- Forgiveness is a crucial element to healing from the past. It can be therapeutic to verbally ask another person for forgiveness or to hear someone ask for your forgiveness. But more often than not, true forgiveness is an internal, personal commitment. Choosing to forgive ourselves and those who have hurt us is a daily decision. It’s this heroic act of love, which often goes unseen and unheard, that transforms and heals our hearts.
- Self-care is important. Focus on truly nourishing and healing activities after a breakup. Eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercise and lots of socialization with friends. Self-care is sometimes misunderstood and does not include doing things that deplete you.
- Write it! .Every therapist, mental health professional and self-help guru you come across will tell you to journal. There’s one reason you hear this advice so often – it works. As you know, I decided to not only write for myself in a journal, but also for you through this blog. When you’re writing, you’re thinking about your experiences, you’re processing your feelings and you’re putting your life down on paper. You’re watching the process of suffering and healing that you’re going through – essentially, another form of mindfulness.Reflect, think, process and write!
- There’s nothing wrong with me. Stop Blaming Yourself,Blame the Chemicals. No, you are not going crazy. After a separation, there is a lot going on in the brain, and understanding the neuroscience of heartbreak will help you realize that feeling sad after a breakup is natural. The same flood of chemicals that causes you to be happy in lust during the beginning stages of love, are the exact same chemicals that cause you to painfully suffer when the relationship ends. Your brain is in withdrawal. The part of the brain affected (ventral segmental area of the brain) is associated with motivation, goal-oriented behavior, and the rewards system is responsible for the release of dopamine. Dopamine is that feel good chemical that leaves you wanting more of whatever stimulus gave you the reward in the first place — whether the stimulus is nicotine, chocolate or a loving touch from your partner. Dopamine cravings give you motivation, encouraging you to act accordingly in order to get more of whatever it is you need, and in the case of romance, that need is your beloved. The brain is expecting the reward to come (validation from partner, acknowledgement, return of affection, etc), but after a breakup, the reward is either delayed or doesn’t come at all. Even though on a cognitive level you know the relationship is over, the neurons in your brain that are expecting reward don’t shut down, keeping you unconsciously in love and addicted to your ex. Under this circumstances it is easier to feel diminished, small, low sense of self, and again and again doubt yourself but I want to let you know that your break ups has nothing to do with the beautiful or gifted person you are. You should tell yourself positive affirmations that you are beautiful, you are capable of doing more and nothing can erase that. And what if we take away all of those things and truly declare, “there’s nothing wrong with me, “ and furthermore, “I get to ask for what I want?”
- Talk about it with people you trust. There’s a sense that you would be bothering your friends by being in pain in front of someone who is seemingly fine. So many people tell themselves they’ll heal silently with Netflix, quiet nights, and time. However, hiding is the opposite of what is needed after ending a relationship. Even though there are situations in which a relationship with a partner just has to end, breaking up is especially painful, and can be isolating. In fact, a team of friends, family, and a therapist can provide essential support, protection, and understanding in helping to end a relationship powerfully. For me, what helped me get through break ups is talking to people I could trust. My pastor, friends, co-workers, anyone willing to listen really. When the people who love you know you’re hurting, they really do rally around you. Reaching out to people resulted in more frequent invites to walks, home-cooked meals and movie nights.
- Get outside help if you need it. If reaching out to others doesn’t come naturally, consider seeing a counselor or joining a support group. The most important thing is that you have at least one place where you feel comfortable opening up.
Remember, in the wake of a breakup—or any kind of heartbreak—-it is very hard to know what to do or where to turn, how to make tears to stop? It is very hard to get your ex out of your head? And no one can define for you how to simply move on? There is, of course, no right way to do this kind of thing—no clear path, no roadmap. Getting over heartbreak isn’t a matter of crossing things off some kind of emotional to-do list; it’s hard work, and every single breakup brings new memories to mourn, new tears to shed, new questions to ponder.
Remember, this moment will not last forever and you will experience relief. Reach out for help. Validate your feelings and then choose to shift your attention to something else. Do not be afraid to keep starting over. And do not ever give up.Everyone heals differently, so listen to your internal wisdom and do what’s right for you. In time, you can get through this and will move on. If you prefer not to get through it alone, you can see a counsellor/therapist or priest, or even a friend.