Letting Go is probably the most difficult thing for us to do in the loss of a relationship. We must learn to let go of many things.. not just the person. As we let go of an old way of life, we now must learn to live a new normal. And that takes time.
Mourning our losses is an important process that will help (over time) to move on and trust once again. Mourning? Yes, mourning. In an earlier article I wrote briefly on grief and the five stages of grief we must go through in order to reach any kind of acceptance. Just as we mourn the loss of a loved one to death, we must also grieve and mourn the pieces of our love relationship that ended.
New rituals, new social connections, new friends, letting go of family members, sometimes children and even faith tradition can be part of the process. Are you able to make a list of the things you are mourning? Can you make a list of those things that are the most difficult to let go of? I suggest you try. However painful it may be, it will help to name these things and take time to look at each one and the loss that surrounds them.
First, set aside time to do this alone. Get a pad of paper (make it a large one) and start writing what you miss. When that is complete, think about all the things you do not miss. By naming these things we are able to begin a process of letting go. Being honest in naming both those things you miss and do not miss is important. You may find that your list of what you do not miss is much longer than the miss list.
Here is a small example of mine:
What I will miss:
I will miss the fun we had golfing and laughing together. I will miss the way you used to look at me. I will miss lying on the couch with you watching movies.
I will miss visits with your parents on special holidays.
I will miss late night dinners and our talks.
I will miss your bright smile.
I will miss our camping adventures.
What I will not miss:
I will not miss your lies. I will not miss the silence when you couldn't talk about your feelings.
I will not miss your mistrust.
I will not miss your snide comments about how I look or dress.
I will not miss your put downs.
I will not miss your empty promises of a future together.
I will not miss your anger.
I will not miss your judgement of my family and friends.
I will not miss crying at night because I didn't know what I did wrong.
I will not miss your childish behavior.
I will not miss paying $$ for most of our fun, and all your complaining.
Take some quiet time alone to work through your list. You may want to have a glass of wine, a beer, or tea and a box of tissues available.
Letting go has a lot to do about control. Letting go of any control you do not have and never did have. We do not have control over the other person and his or her actions. This is where trust in a power higher than yourself comes in handy. If you are a person of faith, letting go and allowing God into your life will bring you peace. Having faith is all about trust. If you do trust in God, or other form of higher power, practice handing your old relationship over. You may need to do this everyday for a while especially if you are working through a fresh break up.
The longer the relationship the more letting go you will need to practice. Finding your new normal will take time but by taking small steps toward acceptance, you will begin to heal and eventually find yourself moving on. All the friendship advice in the world will not help you move on. You must work through steps on your own.
A very practical book that I use when facilitating divorce recovery groups is; Rebuilding, When Your Relationship Ends, by Dr. Bruce Fisher - 4th Edition. I find this book very helpful and have been using it for more than seven years.
After experiencing two divorces myself, I can honestly tell you that practicing practical steps to healing broken relationships is the way to go if you want to stop a pattern of heartbreak. Doing the work will be worth your time. And if you need to seek therapy please do so. The combination of a good therapist and a good support group will make all the difference when trying to change the way you live. Best wishes to you on your journey!