Recovering Gently from a Relationship Breakdown
If you are not yet ready to do a lot of loving things for yourself that will make you feel better and help you inch back toward your pre-breakup level of self-esteem or better, you may be feeling self-destructive. That’s normal. This section is about passing some time safely.
Drugs and Alcohol
You know your limits better than anyone else, but it is also known that your judgment probably isn’t at its best right now. Having several cocktails a few nights in a row in the wake of a breakup may be perfectly fine for some people, even great.
For you, this might be reckless or worse. So take time to consider if you are making appropriate decisions about drugs and alcohol use. Whatever choices you make, remember that it is completely normal for you to be in a lot of pain right now.
Also keep in mind that in order to get through the pain, you have to feel it. Your brain is at work processing and accepting your heartbreak even as you are lying on the couch crying. But if you numb your brain with mind-altering substances for the next month, it won’t perform its usual functions and you won’t get any closer to feeling better.
Imagine a place that is a safe happy place for you. It can be the cubby house in your grandparents’ backyard where you used to play with your cousin. It can be your fantasy of a thatched hut on a tropical beach as the sun is setting. Now, how does it smell? What is there besides you? A hammock, a toy, the sound of lapping waves?
Get acquainted with this place. And then go there in your mind whenever you start to feel panicky or overwhelmed with grief. Go there when you are sitting on the train, when you are in a crowded elevator, when you are at home alone and feel as if you are falling apart. Stay there in your mind until you feel a little better.
Now pick your favourite place in your home. It could be the bathroom with the bathtub full of bubbles or sitting in your favourite chair by the window – and then decide that this is your safety zone. That means that when you go to that place, things are all right, things are going to get better. Nothing bad happens to you in that place. The next time YOU start feeling really bad, go to your safety zone.
As many a late night infomercial will tell you, it’s amazing how you can get yourself to feel better by using the power of your own mind.
Sometimes you’ve just got to do nothing but lie in bed in a fetal position and be a miserable wretch. Try not to spend more than one complete day doing this. After twenty-four hours of said behaviour, you should try to move a little.
Walking for five minutes. You may not feel ready to get out of the house, or even out of bed, but a brief walk around the block and a little fresh air might make for a helpful time-out.
Great advice for people suffering the emotional pain and resulting physical symptoms of a break up. I believe it is important for people to understand that they have permission to feel lousy and wretched, and that these feelings are normal.
Thanks very much for this. I can use it as I work as a counsellor for the Salvos. Very, very gentle and considerate for the hurting.