We’ve touched on the difficulties of walking away from a relationship even when it is dead, in a previous post. But how do you start to heal once you’ve finally made the cut?
Know upfront, when leaving, that you will always need to deal with the memories.
Unpacking the emotions of the relationship is crucial to your survival as a whole person. Its also important because you don’t want to transfer learnings of a bad relationship into the next relationship. For example, you may have learnt that your partner was sarcastic, or always had a hidden agenda. You may therefore immediately see a hidden agenda in a new partner (where there isn’t one), or interpret as sarcasm a comment that is quite innocent. This type of transference isn’t going to disappear overnight, and it isn’t going to disappear until you have left EMOTIONALLY . You will need to face and work through the memories, to see them as they truly were without the pink shades of love or hope or striving to make something work before you can say that you feel healed. The good news is that it can be very liberating to finally be able to see things properly. Thank G*d that hindsight is 20/20 and we are usually able to see things in the past for what they were a few years later on.
So the memories:
Its the hardest part of leaving; the memories – and knowing you’re going to need to work through them. But resolving the memories is also the most rewarding part of leaving, because you finally understand get it. You understand why it didn’t work, what you truly need in a partner, and what your own personal boundaries are. There’s something to be said about failed relationships (not people who fail in relationships, understand the difference) Failed relationships simply serve to show us how far to bend backwards, and how far to stand up straight for what we believe in, for our rights, for our right even to SPEAK our needs and have them understood and acknowledged and respected. Failed relationships also show us where we went wrong; we don’t need to announce to the world what our weaknesses are but by acknowledging them in a sober, calm and peaceful way we can reach the understanding that we are human, fallible, and we, like everyone else, are a work in progress.
Whether the person was good, bad, or ugly, there will always be memories. It’s easier said than done to just move on, but if you can do that, great. For some women though, memories are difficult recollections of times of proximity or laughter; times that, when remembered, will make you wonder if you could’ve done this or that differently. How do you work through that?
Wading through and coming out sane:
Toolkit – Pick a memory and think about it. Now recognise that the emotion of that time (how to it felt in that moment) is different to what you would feel if you were to be in that momentnow. How would you feel if you were there now? Did you see that shift? Did you feel it? Maybe what you feel now is sorrow, loss, or a sense of “what a pity”. But that is easier to deal with than “love” that doesn’t exist anymore because what can you do with something invisible, right? This is the time to free yourself from guilt and to also avoid the trap of blaming either themselves or you so that you don’t build up bitterness inside yourself. Visualise yourself saying goodbye to the people in those memories. They are not you. Things are as they are now. That part of you contributed to making you who you are but it ISN’T you in the memory – it is the you of the past. So if it teaches you something then that is what was needed. The lesson. You may need to do this a couple more times as memories creep on you, but it is by far better than trying to deal with a ball of emotional wool that sits unaddressed in your gut and drags you from memory to memory or pain to pain. Where there is regret and feelings of loss, allow that to heal. Give yourself time to grieve because of the loss. Where it leaves you relieved, appreciate the gift of freedom. Maybe you were the one left behind, the dreamer, the hoper. Know that it is okay. It will be okay. Change and challenges are a part of life; its how you deal with them that makes you the best person you can be. And isn’t that the purpose of it all?
As you recall a memory, (over time), recognise yourself in each of those memories as someone who was trying, someone who was blinded maybe, someone who was desperate, whatever it may be. That person is not who you are now. Things have changed. Life does that. Try to allow that to settle in you, to accept that memories are a part of who you were because that is okay. It is okay to have been gullible, stupid, wrong, right, whatever. You still have value as a human being as long as you are able to grow, to learn, and to love.
Letting them go
In everything there is a choice. A mature choice to let go of the role of memories, to simply shift your focus when you’ve dealt with them, will be needed. Write them down, and then burn it, for example, is a tool that can work. Loss, even a loss you want, means working through baggage. Chose to give your memories to your past, to shift focus to your present so that you don’t lose out on a whole new chapter of life. And know this. Tomorrow will be better. Next week will improve too. And soon, the memories will be just something that “happened” but is no longer something that drags you down. Then, the memories will be something that have built you, and made you appreciate life more.
Please know that some memories fade, and others are recognised as being part of what you wanted to see rather than the actual occurrence. I call this “looking through the pink glasses”/ During a relationship, people strive to see the best in others and so memories are made and “remembered” in a very different way once the relationship is over.
In summary, leaving is the hardest bit, but when leaving, don’t forget to go. To leave behind those things which no longer serve so that you can be healthy and happy in your new tomorrow.