Every week I support client’s that are struggling to manage a divorce, separation, or break up. My client’s often feel very alone in their experience. However, I have found that most clients have common reactions at the end of their relationship. Prior to moving forward in our work together I like to support my client’s by normalizing their reactions. If you’ve recently experienced the end of a relationship, start here. Remind yourself that you are normal: heartbreak, self doubt, fears, criticism, anger, and yearning are all part of grieving the loss of a significant person in your life and starting over. Take a moment to read over these experiences and ask yourself if any of these seem familiar to you. When you find one take a deep breath and remind yourself that there is a path to healing and that this is the starting point.
Common Reactions After a Break-Up
“What if I am alone forever?”
“Will I ever be able to walk through our old neighborhood again without breaking down?”
“What if their next partner is better than me?”
“What if this pain never goes away?”
“Will our friends still be my friend?”
“My friends are really pissing me off – they just don’t get it!”
“Everyone in the office is so annoying today!”
“How could he/she do this to me! He/ She is such an asshole!”
“I hope she/he ends up alone!”
“Weddings are so stupid! I’m sick of going to celebrate other people’s love!”
“I know I shouldn’t but I just miss him/her so much”
“I had this great thing happen today and it took everything in me not to share it with him/her”
“It’s crazy, I know, but I would do anything just to have one more night to cuddle up together”
“I miss our house. I really really miss our house.”
“I just don’t know if I will ever get over this, I am so so sad”
“Every time I hear this song on the radio I just cry and cry, usually I cry on my entire ride home from work”.
“Everything is making me sad these days. I never used to, but I even cry at commercials”.
“I feel so sad for my ex. I just want them to be happy. I can’t bear to think of him/her alone”.
“There must be something really wrong with me to have stayed with that guy/girl!”
“I must have been too difficult to live with”.
“I really let myself go – I guess he/she just found someone prettier/smarter/more fun”.
“It’s all my fault I should have listened better/talked more/put down more boundaries/ been easier to get along with, etc. etc”.
“I can’t do this by myself”
“I bet she was right when she/he said that I will never figure it out without him/her”
“I don’t even know how to date anymore”
“Will I be able to keep up with the bills?”
“Do I even know how to mow the lawn/ run the dishwasher / pay the mortgage?”
This is the start. Normalize yourself. Empathize with yourself. And when you’re ready let’s move forward. Our next article will focus on processing the relationship and learning from it.
Elizabeth Earnshaw, LMFT is marriage therapist in Philadelphia, PA