Moving forward after a breakup

“Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a teardrop.”
~ Anonymous
The ending of a relationship can be very difficult, even traumatic, especially if you did not want it to end. It can be like a death, and you may go through stages similar to those experienced in grieving a death.
The stages can occur in any order and may repeat. They include some or all of the following: 1) Denial – one has the sense that this cannot be happening, or that the situation will change, 2) Anger- here the denial gives way to feelings of “Why me? “It’s not fair!” How can this happen to me? along with feelings of blame. 3) Bargaining- “Maybe it doesn’t have to end?” “Maybe we could try again?’ “Give me another chance.” 4) Depression – here the sadness and fears for the future set in. One may fear being lonely, being alone forever, never being happy again, 5) Acceptance- finally one accepts the reality of the situation and understands the need to try to move on.
Some may get stuck, holding on to the past, and never really get to the acceptance stage. They may stay with the anger, or remain depressed because they keep looking back, rather than trying to create a future.
A breakup can trigger feelings of insecurity and abandonment. One can worry about what will happen next. If the relationship has been a long one, then separation is a major life change. Sometimes there is the realization that the relationship was not working, or not a happy place to be, but one has held on due to a fear of change.
Often people imagine they will not survive the loss. They might imagine financial disaster, being alone for the rest of their life, or never being happy again. They focus on the worst-case scenarios, which creates anxiety and depression.
The truth is, people do ultimately survive after a death or separation. At first it is not easy, but it will not always feel as bad as it does in the beginning. Reach out to others and let them support you.
Do not think of a separation or divorce as a failure. If a car no longer runs, or home no longer serves our needs, we do not define ourselves as failures.
In order to move beyond survival, and to thrive, we must adopt a more positive perspective. We need to consider that perhaps everything does happen for a reason, and that our lives indeed are unfolding as they should. Often we need to move way into the future before we can look back and see that the worst thing that could have happened, turned out to be the best thing.
When taking a road trip, you do not spend all of your time looking at the rear-view mirror. In the journey of life, it is wise not to do that either.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit Follow Gwen on Facebook for inspiration.