Whether it’s a romantic relationship, a friendship or a falling out with family, there can come a time when you decide to part ways. In deciding to leave any relationship, there comes a moment when everything seems to crystalize and you reach a moment of clarity in which the decision has been made to part ways. Sure, sometimes you go back and forth and waffle for a while beforehand, but the moment is still there. One of you recognizes on some level that it’s time and before you know it, the words come out and it’s over.
And then the questions begin.
Did I make a mistake? Why did I lie to myself? Does he miss me? Was I too (fill in the blank)? What’s wrong with me?
These questions are unanswerable when you ask them. In the heat of your pain and grief over a break up, they only serve to confuse you and keep you stuck. I like to call it “looping”. Your brain will grab on to an unanswerable question and try to figure it out. And so it goes…you go around and around in your head trying to find a satisfactory answer. The reality is, right now, there are no satisfactory answers. The answers will only come once you have had time to heal.
Until the day when the answer appears, here are some things to consider.
Did I make a mistake?
The best answer I can give to you for this one is “probably not”.
Break ups don’t occur in a vacuum, there is a give and take in each case. Ultimately, one of you decided that the pain of being with the other was greater than the pain of being without them. Whether you chose to leave or were left, choosing yourself and your own happiness is not bad. Valuing yourself is imperative to happiness. It is their/your right to exit the situation if you are not.
In the aftermath of a breakup, we remember when it was good and how much fun we had. Such activity can blind us to the moments when things went bad. Give yourself a break and realize that you can’t know if it was a mistake for the relationship to end until you have healed completely and had time to look at the situation from a distance. It’s scary, I know, and you feel like you need to cling to someone in order not to feel the pain. Resist this urge and know that this is a time for you to honor your pain rather than cover it up. Be patient and be willing to just “coast” for a while until you can get your bearings..
Why did I lie to myself?
The problem with this question is that it keeps you in shame and guilt. It makes you feel as though you can’t trust yourself. Not trusting yourself leads to a sense of powerlessness. Powerlessness leads you to the same type of behavior over and over again, because you think you have no choice. Shame and guilt only perpetuate your behavior, once you step out of shame and guilt, you step into choice.
Instead, ask yourself this. At the moment that you thought that everything was going to be wonderful and you were going to be in a good relationship, did you believe it? I would guess that you did, otherwise you wouldn’t have proceeded.
It isn’t a lie if you thought it was true at the time. While it is entirely possible that you were projecting what you wanted to see on someone, the projection eventually faded. As time went on, it turned out that you were mistaken. What you thought was “a truth” turned out to be a hypothesis.. Your hypothesis was incorrect and you have now learned not to jump to conclusions about people. You didn’t lie to yourself.
You may think…”wow…that totally lets me off the hook!” and you may be unwilling to do so. Please, consider that this thinking is meant to let you off the hook. How are you going to move through the world if you feel that you can’t trust yourself? Blame and shame and guilt will only keep you stuck and perpetuate the behavior. Once you step out of these things, you step into choice. Being someone who makes empowered choices is a goal worth achieving.
Do They Miss Me?
This question comes from a broken place in which you wrongly assume that the other person’s experience is more important than yours. It’s not.
It also comes from a place in which you want them to validate your experience and value you. They can’t.
Or it comes from a place where you want them to hurt as much as you do. They won’t.
Your pain is your pain, their pain is theirs We each deal with our pain in our own way and there is really no point in comparing it.
When you are going through the aftermath of a break up, you have one job and one job only and that is to heal your heart. That means, dear one, that you must focus on you. Resist the urge to worry about the other person.
Was I too…
(needy, weird, loving, authentic, independent…ME??)
The most likely answer to that question is…yes…but the follow up question is “by whose standards?”
There are some people out there who dig intensity, some who dig neediness…some who dig black hair…some who dig blue eyes…some who dig freckles…some who dig big asses…so who the hell knows if you were too anything?
In the end, you need to be true to yourself. If who you are isn’t ok for someone, it makes no sense to try to change FOR them. It only makes sense to change if you decide that you need to. That is the only change that sticks.
Were you too needy? If you decide that you were, figure out why and change it. If not, add “daily communication” to your list of requirements for your ideal mate. Never be afraid of being “too” anything. Just recognize that what works for you, may not work for another and that is ok. You deserve to be in a relationship with someone who will value you as you are. It is not necessary to shrink to fit anyone else’s expectations.
What’s wrong with me??
This goes along with the previous question, and the answer is…there is nothing wrong with you.
You may have features of your personality that don’t fit with another person. You may have issues that you need to address in order for you to be happy, but that doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. It simply means that you have more to learn and there will always be more to learn.
I’m reminded of a conversation between my brother and another friend of mine. My brother is from Texas and my friend is from the New England.
My friend asked “Ric…where exactly is “yonder”?”
My brother thought for a minute and said “Well…it’s not here”.
That is how life works, we strive to get to yonder, but the fact is, we never really can, because once we get there, “yonder” has moved “over there”. Life is about the journey to get to yonder. So…take a deep breath, learn your lesson, let go of shame and guilt and angst over the choices that you have made and then make another choice. There is always going to be another lesson just over yonder. The trick is to enjoy the hills and valleys that you go through in order to get there.
You’re fine, you’ve got this. Things will get better with time. Take care of yourself and remember to be gentle.