Do you have questions about creating intimacy or developing mindful relationships? Confusing questions? Awkward ones? Deep, dark scary ones? I want them. Email your questions to: [email protected].
All relephant questions will be answered with loving kindness. (Yes. Every one.) Authors remain anonymous.
No judgments, just soulful answers.
Q. I am really struggling to heal from my last relationship.
It came to an end over a year ago now, although I continued to live in the house we shared up until a few months ago. I have stepped back and watch my ex become involved with a man who I feel is better than me in a lot of ways. This unfolded while I was still living in the house.
Whilst I’m happy for her on one level, I also feel as though our messy break up has basically crushed my masculinity, to the point where I no longer feel like a man. I have had a lot of counseling, quite a bit of reiki and spiritual healing, even started taking antidepressants to help me deal with the depression surrounding this.
I am so lonely I actually feel I’m worth nothing as a man. Which sometimes drives me to near suicidal depression. I want to know if there is hope for me to find my happiness again and maybe even find someone to love again. And also if you have any advice for what I can do to help myself heal in the meantime. Thanks so much.
A. Of course there is hope. Be gentle with yourself—you’ve come out of a relationship that in part defined who you were. Now that the relationship is over, you need to rediscover who you are without the added persona of your partner.
There is both a beauty and danger in being entwined with another soul. On the one hand, it’s delightful to feel connected. On the other hand, if we become enmeshed, there is a danger of binding our identity up with that other person, thereby shadowing the unique individual we truly are. In the best of relationships, we should be able to maintain self-hood—not isolation or indifference but a healthy sense of a separate self—while being connected to our beloved. The more rooted in self we are, the more we can give to a relationship.
Here are five powerful suggestions:
Remember where you come from. Some great mysterious force created everything in existence. That includes you. You carry within you the mystery of the universe. It may not feel all that miraculous right now, but it is a fact whether you feel it or not. As you move forward toward healing, keep this fact in mind. It will fuel you on your journey.
Stay in counseling. Ideally, find someone with a humanistic background, not merely behavioral. That is, work with someone who will help you to develop your self, not just change your behaviors.
Redefine manhood. What does it mean to be a man? On a sheet of paper, write down all the characteristics you can think of that make a man a man. Think of the definitions you grew up with, as well as the ones you came to hold as you became an adult. Now review that list. How many of these characteristics hit home in your belly as right? For example, being respectful to women may feel right to you, while hiding your emotions (i.e. being “strong”) may not. Revise your list to redefine how you want to be a man. You are under no obligation to show this list to anyone. This is for you to discover the kind of man you are comfortable being.
Find like-minded men. They exist. Moreover, they are on a similar path to you, trying to make their way and shine their light as evolved human beings. Sharing your experience of manhood with other men on the path—and holding space for their stories as well—is an immensely healing thing. There are virtual groups that meet online, so community is never far away.
Develop a solitude practice. Simply put, this means do something once a day that affirms you as a unique human being. The time-frame can be between two minutes and two hours. The only rule is that you honor your Self as a vibrant and worth being who deserves to be celebrated. You can find suggestions for starting your practice in the article linked here and in my book, Celebrating Solitude.
When you have created the foundation of self, you can finally open that self to another. It takes time, especially when we have been bound to someone else for a long time. I can assure you that by tearing down the old self now and rebuilding the brilliant self that only you can be, you will be ready for a much healthier relationship in the future. You’ll know when that time is because you will feel full of love. And that fullness will beg to spill over onto the woman who is right for you.
Author: Rachel Astarte
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Renee Hawk