Guest post from Annie O’Neill
Will I ever love again? The short answer to this question is probably yes. However you have to adjust to your situation and work your way through the emotions of splitting up before you will be able to move on.
The end of a relationship is always tough whether or not it was your decision to end it. You may need to work through some of the following emotions:
The person who has been left often experiences feelings of rejection. This can lead to being over critical about yourself – ‘what did I do wrong?’ ‘What do I need to change?’ However, the fact that your relationship ended does not necessarily mean that you did anything wrong or need to change anything. Relationships end for all sorts of reasons. Whilst some introspection can be healthy, don’t go over criticise. Take any lessons on board and then put it behind you. Remember you are a wonderful person capable of loving and being loved.
If you chose to end the relationship the chances are you are feeling guilty about hurting the person you love or used to love. However, it is sometimes appropriate to end a relationship because it is destructive to one or both partners. If you feel guilty about not making the marriage work then think about why it didn’t work and learn any lessons you need to learn. Then put it behind you. Accept your guilt as being appropriate for the situation and do some personal development work.
It is natural to have some fear about venturing out on your own after being part of a couple. The first step is to face those fears – make a list of them and tackle them one at a time. Fears such as being lonely, finances, where you will live, what the future will hold, coping with decision making, being a single parent, losing your children, losing your friends, not being in control, being hurt again, change. Does one or more of these sound familiar? Tackle them one at a time – when necessary consult and expert (i.e. financial advisor, lawyer, life coach). Fear is natural, everyone is afraid sometimes even if they don’t show it. Fear stops us from taking unnecessary risks but it can also motivate us. There are exercises you can do to help you to take control of your fears.
It is also natural to have some anger towards your ex and/or about your situation. However, whether this is good or bad depends on how you express that anger. Venting your anger directly at your ex is not helpful. Equally, holding your anger in is unhelpful and can lead to depression. Most importantly using the children to ‘get back’ at your ex is completely unacceptable. You need to take responsibility for your anger and learn to express it in ways that will benefit you and help you grow stronger. Some of the things you can do are: phone a good friend (but not too often), do some physical exercise, scream and shout (preferably somewhere you can’t be heard!), have a good cry, write a long letter to your ex expressing all your feelings (but don’t send it). There are also some NLP exercises that your Coach can work through with you.
The end of a long-term relationship can be cause for grief but this is often not understood by people who have not been through it. Common symptoms of grief are feeling emotionally drained, not sleeping, pushing friends away if they get too close, lack of appetite, rapid mood changes and frequently sighing. It is important to work through your grief. One way of doing this is to keep a journal of how you are feeling and noting down what triggers your symptoms and what enables you to forget them.
Once you have come to terms with these negative emotions you can start to do some personal development work. Because the truth is that you can only really love someone else once you have learned to love yourself.
Accept that your relationship failed without proportioning blame. It doesn’t matter now – its over and you can’t change that. You must learn to love yourself, be ‘self sufficient’ then and only then will you be able to sustain a meaningful relationship with someone else.
There are several steps towards personal development you could take:
- There are literally hundreds of ‘self-help’ books out there but you have to make a commitment to actually carry out the exercises, which can be difficult to sustain without support.
- You can learn to meditate, which will help to reduce your stress levels and give you some inner peace.
- You can use affirmations. An Affirmation is simply a statement that is repeated often enough that you believe it with every fibre of your being. Susan Jeffers has a great Affirmation for newly single people – “I choose to live with a sense of excitement and possibility about all the uncertainty in my life”. What a great way to live – meeting new situations with a sense of curiosity rather than fear. For more about Affirmations see my Life After Divorce blog – http://lifeafterdivorce.wordpress.com/2007/11/27/rebuilding-your-life-1/
- You can use Visualisation. This is where you picture how you would like your life to be in great detail, making it feel like it is possible to have what you want. As Walt Disney said – “If you can dream it, you can do it”. For more information about Visualisation see my Life After Divorce blog.
- You can hire a Divorce Coach to help you to increase your confidence and self-esteem, identify negative emotions and beliefs that are holding you back, help you to clarify what you want and support you in achieving the goals you set yourself.
The steps you take can be big or small, only you know the pace you are comfortable with. The important thing is recognising that you are a wonderful person who deserves to live a happy and fulfilled life. Once you know this and you start liking who you and being comfortable with yourself your confidence will grow and you will be able to love again.
Divorce: Don’t just GO through it, GROW through it.
Annie O’Neill is a retired Divorce Coach. However, she maintains her blog ‘Life after Divorce’ which continues to support, encourage and inspire people who are going through divorce.