It seems to me that it is a common belief that breakups must be hard, that they must hurt. I’m here today to challenge that belief, offer a new perspective and empower you to break free, if breaking free is what you need to do.
Yes, very often breakups do hurt. They can be messy, complicated and hard.
Amazingly, beautifully, some come to an end and we simply feel relief, even joy.
So, does walking away without guilt or sadness make you nothing more than a selfish jerk with no heart, no feelings?
No, not at all.
In fact, one might argue that those that walk away, emotionally intact, are better able to see the whole picture and deal with it in a more appropriate, healthy manner.
Truth be told, there are many relationships that are destined to end.
Toxic relationships not only should end, they must end for you to be able to find your joy and live a truly authentic life, the life you were meant to live.
I’ve often read and completely believe that we arrive here on earth perfectly intact.
It is only as we begin to grow, listen, observe and learn the ways of this world that we slowly start losing pieces of ourselves. We also come with an ego and it is this ego that forms our beliefs, the very stories we will live by. We are taught, normally, by very well meaning parents, teachers and leaders, about what and how we need to feel, think and act in this world to survive.
Unfortunately this very teaching is often in direct contrast to our truest nature. Because of this, our minds become confused. Like stirring up the dirt from the bottom of a pond, it becomes hard to see.
Most of us are unaware of why we are confused. We sense that something is wrong, have a deep inner knowing that this is not how we were created to live and to love.
At some point, young or old, each of us reaches a point when we know that there is something more—that we deserve more.
Some call this a crisis.
I like to think that instead, it is more of an awakening.
Most of us do not experience one of these awakenings until we are older, but a fortunate few seemed better equipped to recognize when the time comes to made a decision regarding their choice of a romantic partner.
Why are some better at making these choices? I believe that it is a combination of their ability to hold onto what has always been whole within themselves, and that their teachers, (parents, adult role models) did their own internal work with regards to love and self discovery and were better at teaching and passing that along to them.
Those of us who repeatedly find ourselves in toxic, unhealthy relationships can more often than not trace it back to the role models we had. The living examples of romantic love that we grew up witnessing created the stories and beliefs that we ourselves have used as a foundation for building our own love lives, how they should look and feel.
This is not another “let’s blame our parents” piece. But it is important that we gently reflect on what we were shown and told about love, so that we may go back and find the disconnect, repair it, and learn to love in an entirely different new way.
So that we instinctively move away from toxic love and are drawn to healthy love as easily and naturally as we breathe.
If you are still reading this, it is my guess that you are in a relationship that you’re questioning and you are searching for answers. You feel confused, frightened, torn and overall muddy. Remember the pond? This relationship is stirring up all of the toxic beliefs and stories you’ve bought into, making it hard to clearly see what is wrong and what is keeping you there.
But see clearly you must, in order to live and love the way you were created to live and love. As cliché as it sounds you have to love yourself first and you have to love yourself enough.
So how do you clear your mind so that you will begin making better choices that will naturally lead to loving and caring for yourself first?
Michael Neill describes the unclear mind like the murky stirred up pond…the way you clear it is by being still.
When the dirt bottom of a pond is stirred up the only thing necessary, the only thing that will actually work, is to just leave it alone. Allow it to settle back down.
It must be still.
The harder you try to figure your relationship out, analyzing every detail, replaying conversations over and over again, the harder you try to know, the more illusive the answer will be. Your mind gets more and more unclear and making a decision becomes virtually impossible.
So stop, be quiet and still; let your mind settle down.
Let it clear. It will, and trust me, when it does, you will know.
Deep inside of you, you have all the answers you need.
If you are drawn to articles, books and posts about leaving a toxic relationship, but you are still unsure if what you are experiencing is toxic, you can bet there is a good chance either you or someone you love is up to their knees in one.
So, how do you know when a relationship should end and if it is time? How do you end it with dignity and grace?
Ask yourself these questions:
1. How do I feel? Do a serious body scan here, pay attention. When you are thinking about your relationship are you relaxed, calm, happy, or at the very least peaceful? Or are you tense, tired, and overwhelmed with a tightening in your belly?
2. When I step back and really look at the relationship, rationally, logically, without emotion, is it healthy?
3. If I were to insert (someone you love: your mom, sister, daughter, best friend) into my place in this relationship, would I be happy for her, encourage her to stay and work things out, or would I tell her to run?
If you’ve done the work and it clearly points to breaking free, then how can you do it without breaking your heart?
Remember, again, that not all relationships are made to last.
Love yourself first, choose yourself, and in doing so you are also caring for your soon to be ex. As crazy as it sounds, this can be the most loving thing you can do for them as well. Staying in an unhealthy relationship is not good for either of you. If there is any hope for future healing, someone has to break the cycle.
Give yourself permission to leave. Guilt is such a strong emotion. Rather than venture down that path, give yourself permission to take care of you. Be kind with your words and actions, but be firm. You know you must move on and you can do so without being cruel, finding fault and blaming your partner.
Make a plan; visualize your new life with excitement and anticipation. If you are feeling sad, it is likely that you are mourning the idea of what you are giving up more than what you are actually giving up.
Remember that just because it hurts, it is not an indication that it is wrong for the relationship to end.
Give yourself a hug and be proud that you have the strength to know better and seek better. Seek joy.
“You did then what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.” ~ Maya Angelou
Author: Trudy Stoner
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Bart Booms