Endings are one of the hardest parts of life, and romantic breakups are some of the most challenging endings of them all. No matter whether your breakup was amicable or a complete mess, there are normal feelings that accompany loss. Recognizing them as normal and bringing self-compassion to the process can go a long way towards healing and integrating. And somatic processing and energy healing can be great supports to move through this rainbow of crap that comes with a breakup. Here are some of the normal feelings that can arise when grieving a breakup. These are non-linear and come in cycles that can be unpredictable.
1. Withdrawal. This sucks, but try not to substitute in something else. If you can be with the parts of you that feel the missing-ness, you'll build the muscles of awareness and compassion. Be with your heart. Understand that breakups can feel like someone has died. Allow yourself to feel the withdrawal and loss.
2. Wanting answers. Feel this craving and longing. Just be with this. Do NOT ruminate. See if you can shift to the body's experience instead of the mind trying to game out understanding.
3. Rumination. No matter how hard you try, rumination can suck you in. Take some breaths and come back into your body. If you can, MOVE. Move your body, move on to an activity, move into the next thing. Rumination is a place where "just being with" is not going to help. Over time, the momentum of ruminating thoughts will become less of a stranglehold and will dissipate, but they have their own timing. Just keep pivoting, but more importantly, be gentle and kind. 4. Investing in a fantasy future. It can feel so good to connect with feelings of hope, but investing in a fantasy future is not actually about them or the two of you, it's about what's possible for YOU and how you want to FEEL: partnered, held, and completely loved without reservation. It's okay to imagine getting back together, but when it's happening, notice how it's a blend of what you loved from your experiences in the past and what you want in the future. It's a scenario that allows you to feel in your body how you want to feel. And it's hard at first to understand how you could ever feel that way on your own (especially when we have next to no examples of how an individual could feel partnered, held, and completely loved without being in a romantic relationship). But in the world of alchemy, energy healing, and somatic training, it is completely possible to completely feel this way in your body and know it as your natural state. Of course, if your fantasies of reconnection are rife with imbalanced power dynamics, a kind of "cheap power" instead of connection to love and goodness, then you'll want to shift your attention to where in your body this power struggle lives.
5. Scripting. Invoking the other person as the gaze/validator is most common in cis-gendered women while invoking the other person as the object of beauty "belonging" to you is most common in cis-gendered men. (There are MANY exceptions to this generalization, of course.) This invocation that allows you to be seen or to feel in possession of something precious is really, really tough. It's one of the primary invocations we turn to in order to feel whole when there is this big hole inside. First, acknowledge how tough it is. Because this headspace is so tough, it also holds a lot of opportunity. Invoking the Divine Feminine or Divine Mother to come and see you, witness you, can be challenging, but this is often the best way to feel seen again, and to feel held. Conversely, if you are feeling the loss of the person you were holding, you can also call upon the Divine Mother to come so that you can hold her instead. As best as you are able, soften into letting go, let yourself be loved by or hold the Divine Feminine or Divine Mother and let go of your ex. Release, release, release is the name of the game here. 6. Scripting part two. You think of "just one more thing" you'd like to say to them. DON'T. Write it down somewhere. Maybe. Or just say it aloud and then let it fucking go. Do not reach out to them. Your ending was as clean or as messy as it was. It was as loving or as spiteful as it was. It was as good or as bad as it was. and it's DONE. You are not going to be friends, at least not right away. You're not leaving the door open to stay in touch. You're not going to dangle to death on ellipses. It's done. Yes, yes, yes, someday you may see each other again. But truly, it has to be done and over first. There's a long road to wholeness ahead that you will walk before other possibilities emerge. I know. This one also sucks. 7. Scripting part three. Your energy will shift to try to find a new gazer/source of being seen or to a new person to hold, possess, and put your energy into. Unless this is your first breakup, you already know what this feels like and what it's about. This is a very important time to be alone despite what every country song would have you believe. Ideally, spend some time in nature where you can emote and express freely. Allow yourself to feel what's underneath the grasping. If your'e like 99% of my clients, you'll discover that your desire underneath is a desire for power and empowerment. What you really want is to be FREE. 8. Neediness. With all three forms of scripting above, the key driver is a feeling that your needs are not being met. The rule of thumb here is to shift your attention from them back to YOU. What do YOU want to do right now to feel better, what might soothe you are give you some tiny slice of relief or delight? Anytime you feel yourself shifting back to scripting the story of the two of you or prioritizing how someone else sees you instead of how you see you, there's where the loss of power and freedom is happening. As tech support explained to the person with their computer off, "I think I found your problem, ma'am." So... can you shift back to self valuation? Can you deflate the overvaluation of the other? If not, can you shift your attention, temporarily, to some specific imperfections in your ex. I promise you, you can make the list of even little things that show you they are not God and their gaze or presence is not what makes you whole. 9. Sudden emotionality. This can come out in so many forms and so many situations, seemingly out of nowhere. There will be triggers everywhere - photos, songs, even just the mention of something you'd wanted to do together in the future can trigger a flash flood of sadness, anger, loss, upset, confusion or any other uncomfortable feelings in the rainbow of shit that accompanies a breakup. This is normal. Remind yourself again and again that yes, you control your behavior, but emotions have their own timing and defy control. Wise stewardship is the aim here, not bottling. Be with the emotions, especially when feelings of loss arise, and you might see the old scripts revealing themselves. You might see clearly the old ways of being in relationship that you want to let go of. These are opportune moments to rescript: "I wanted X and now I'll never get X," can become, "I know I wanted X because I thought it would make me feel _______." And "I know I want to feel that way and it's possible I'll feel that way in the future," can become "There are so many ways to feel ______ and it's inevitable that I'll feel ________ sooner or later." Take this slowly and continue shifting to "how I want to feel". 10. Anger. Lots of kinds of anger. Sometimes the blade will be turned on yourself. This is the sneakiest one. When you notice it, pivot it to anger at old conditioning, patriarchal norms, fucked up stories and systems and cultures we were raised in. Pivot it to anger at all the ways you were taught men and women were supposed to behave in relationship and all the ways you were taught that relationships were supposed to make you whole. That's bullshit. Because you are a whole person. This pivoting of anger will help you healthfully express grief. It is right to mourn the relationships you could have had if the world had been different; ones in which you could have been your whole self. This, too, is an acknowledgement of the hope you have and your commitment to being your whole self in relationship with others and with yourself. When anger aligns with grief, it not only fuels hope and spiritual commitment, it allows for love and appreciation to continue to flow for the loving and healthy experiences you had in the past. In this way, you are not robbed of the love your ex(es) gave you, and you are not robbed of the love you gave them. 11. Feeling unseen. Again, the neediness. Again, the scripting, Just remember, we all do need validation. We're human. Seeking validation is not the problem. But truth be told, if you go out into the world, connect with people in all your imperfections, and begin sharing your experiences with others again, eventually you will find other souls with whom you resonate and that box of validation will start getting checked again. 12. Pain. Lots of kinds of pain. Pain in the heart. Pain in the head. Pain in parts of the body that seem unrelated to the breakup. Breathing and movement is key here, even if it's just rolling around a bit. Even if you're taking much needed down time, want to make sure you're actively connecting with the body and regularly moving a bit, singing, narrating aloud your experience, and/or making sound. Rest is often what pain calls for. And wise, organic, curious expression is also what pain calls for. 13. Dramatization. This breakup is NOT A BIG DEAL. Yes, I know right now IT IS A BIG DEAL. Can you see how both are true? When you find yourself in a very intense story of the relationship, past or future, it's time to say out loud, no matter how big of a lie it may seem, "THIS IS NOT A BIG DEAL." And when it does feel that this breakup is a big deal, be mindful of how much you are telling the story and looking for an audience. Notice when you are sharing about the breakup in order to keep the juice of the longing or the aftershocks of the emotion going. Notice when you're sharing in hopes of keeping something alive. Notice when you're getting power or attention out of the story. Grieving a relationship does need holding, simple holding, but sense-making and storytelling with others about a breakup are rarely comforting. Having friends hold us, physically or energetically, as we simply process in our bodies the loss we are experiencing is infinitely more valuable that analyzing or even understanding the "why". And when you resist stirring the pot and instead choose to come into relationship with grieving in the body, there is less identity as either a victim or perpetrator. As best you are able, zoom out to the whole story of your life or look to elders who have experienced many, many chapters in life. In the grand scheme, without being heartless, see how this will eventually be both an important moment and also no big deal. 14. Wanting to control or police situations with other people. Tricky, tricky, eh? Yes, looking to get our power back can lead to all sorts of tightness in the heart in other areas of life. Again, whenever possible, notice and let go. Notice and let go. Notice and let go. Allow the pain that is underneath the anxiety, anger, defensiveness, or hurt to be here and be allowed. 15. Fogginess. It's normal for the body to tune out or manufacture confusion or dullness as a way prevent overload. Keep coming back to basics. What is there to do, just for today? Just in this moment? Just do the next thing. 16. Vulnerability, rawness, tenderness, needing space. It's important to listen to this because it answers its own questions. The mind will want to know, "how can I protect myself from pain and loss? How can I make sure I don't get into messes like this again?" These questions will pop up out of natural instincts to protect the self, but feeling this way and taking space IS what answers these questions. Ultimately, being vulnerable, being tender, and taking space is what allows us to be undefended. They are what allows us to have clarity in the midst of the great and beautiful messes of life. 17. AT LAST.... Acceptance, equilibrium, empowerment, wise detachment, love, appreciation and openness. Please, please, please relish these moments when they are present. Feel them in your body and know them as your true nature. They are the truth. Whew! What a rainbow. A couple last notes as you make your way through: First, the idea of "death 'til us part" is outdated and dangerous. It implies that success is based on length and not quality. Relationships should be valued according to what YOU value, what YOU want, and how they support YOU in growing. They should not be evaluated based on longevity. Death does not equal success.
Secondly, healing, like growth and manifesting new realities, is not linear. This is nearly impossible to understand with the mind, but your heart can sense this, the strange circuitous route by which all of you is learning. May you make your way gently, with courage and deep knowing of your future happiness.