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Our relationship expert Sophia Avery gives us this advice…

After the Breakup

Most of us have experience the ending of significant relationship.  Inevitably, some form of emotional disturbance follows the breakup. The pain is well documented in a, seemingly, endless number of songs, as Beyonce said, “…to the left, to the left.”  We wish someone would just create a pill, publish a manual, or put a video on YouTube to tell us how to recover after the love is gone.  Yet, the answer seems to remain a mystery—until now.  Let’s discuss the process of recovering from the heartache of a broken relationship.

First step, accept that the relationship is over. This may be the most difficult part of the process, especially if you weren’t aware of, or in agreement with the demise of the relationship.  Feelings of abandonment, rejection, anger, humiliation, and helplessness may overwhelm you, causing intense emotional pain.  It will lessen over time, but initially, the best way to cope is to allow yourself to feel the sadness, loneliness, and pain—cry it out, write your feelings in a journal, pray, and/or talk to a counselor. The painful feelings will decrease, in time.

If circumstances require you to see or be in touch with your ex, it can be even more painful, and most people don’t make the best decisions when they’re in pain.  So, speak with a neutral third party (mediator, counselor,  or pastor) to help you work out the common things such as division of property, the home, bank accounts, and if there are children, visitation, holidays, summer vacation, and child support. At the very least, try to be civil and professional with each other.

You may also have to deal come to terms with other losses. For example, if you work at the same job, attend the same church, enjoy the same clubs, or share the same friends, one of you may have to walk away from those, too. This secondary loss can cause additional pain that makes a bad situation, worse.  Allow yourself to grieve the fact that you’re losing these people and relationships as well, and then start looking for other organizations and activitities that can fill the void. At this point in your life, it’s important not to look for love anywhere else but within.

Second step, after a breakup, you will have to accept that you’re no longer a part of a couple, and then deal with the “you” that’s left.  You may feel incomplete, lost, confused, and alone–searching for your sense of identity.  You may wonder, “Who am I without him/her?”  Unable to answer this question, many of us go into a state of denial, thinking the break-up was only temporary or he/she didn’t mean it, and you continue engaging in conversation and acting as if the break-up never occurred.  This only delays the pain of the break-up, leaving us vulnerable to further pain when you realize our beloved has moved on!

The work for you, at this step, is to find out who you are, what you like, and also what you need to do in order to feel complete and whole within yourself.  This is the time to really start the healing process and get yourself together.  Start dating yourself! Seriously think about what you need to do to make yourself happy. Maybe you always wanted to go back to school, change your hair style, vacation with your boys (or girls), learn how to cook, start that business, or join a church.  It’s time to “Do YOU!” Invest in yourself, find yourself, know yourself, and love yourself.  This is the path to healing.

Third step, forgive. The hardest most important thing to do after a break-up is to forgive your ex.  Forgiveness is a critical part of healing, because, despite popular belief, it frees you up from the hatred and ill will you hold towards your ex.  While you’re sitting at home with hate in your heart, thinking about every horrible lie he told, angry over all the time you invested in the relationship, and crying about all the hopes and dreams you shared that are now dead, your ex is out with their new love interest…not even THINKING about you.  That’s when you must realize that forgiving doesn’t let your ex off the hook, it sets YOU free!

Forgiveness can be difficult, so here are the steps:

  1. Accept that it happened to you – It’s over.
  2. Acknowledge the pain you’re feeling  – Let yourself grieve for a while.
  3. Admit your part in the breakup- It’s easy to see what your ex did some wrong, but what did you do?
  4. Understand why the problems occurred – Breakups don’t just happen, they are the result of problems in your relationship. Figure out what the problems were and work through your part in them.
  5. Look for the lesson – What did you learn about yourself? What lessons have you learned from having been in this relationship that may help you grow and love better next time?
  6. Realize that people are only human and we all need to be forgiven. Sometimes unresolved issues from our past can wreck our current and future relationships.  Your ex isn’t a bad person; they’re just hurt…and we know “Hurt people, hurt people.”
  7. Forgive – Now that you’ve accepted the breakup, understand what happened, and know what the lessons are, it’s time to get on with your life. Set yourself free through forgiveness.

You may realize you still have love for your ex, and that’s okay.  Love doesn’t have to end when the relationship breaks up—sometimes it just changes. You may no longer have romantic feelings for your ex, but you still want to see them prosper and succeed.  Allow yourself to continue loving your ex, from afar, and in a way that you wish them the best in life. Continue to discover what’s best for you.

Forgiving your ex enables you to be free to love again. No matter how difficult and painful the journey may be, finding your one true love will be worth every step.

Sophia Avery, MA and Donavan Sterling West are a dynamic Relationship Counseling team!  If you’d like further information, discussion or a Couples counseling session, please visit www.facebook.com and search for “Avery-West Counseling Team” or visit our website at www.ChristianTalkTherapy.com

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