One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever make is the decision to leave a relationship.
2020 was a year of divorce and breakups for most of my clients. I spent hundreds of hours sitting with people who were moving through big life decisions. On a worldly scale, the purging, endings, and breaking down of the old ways was a major theme for all of us.
As I write this, I’ve never been married, divorced, or engaged. I have gone through my fair share of breakups and learned a few things along the way. I don’t pretend to know it all, and by the end of reading this article, I can’t guarantee you’ll have the answers to the matters of your own heart.
But my intention is to encourage you to trust yourself and embody hope through your process.
Before we begin, I need to tell you a short story that planted the seed to the work I do today and, ultimately, my view on relationships.
I was in a Somatic Touch Training just outside of San Francisco a few years ago. It was a stormy weekend and the group of us were in this quaint little hotel in Sausalito learning about trauma healing.
On the first day during break, the woman sitting in front of me turns around and says, “Hey, where are you from? You look Latina. It’s great to see other women of colour at these trainings. It’s rare.”
I gave her a big smile and a knowing look. Thinking to myself, wow this woman’s a straight-shooter.
“Gosh, and you’re so young! If I had done this work at your age. I wouldn’t have two ex-husbands.” Confirmed. She was indeed a straight-shooter.
I was speechless. As I looked at this 40-something, vibrant lady with a big ring on her finger, I didn’t know if I ought to laugh or say something more kosher. I burst out laughing, and so did she. We bonded and kept the real-talk running the whole weekend.
This is to say each one of us has our own unique path in relationships, and it’s our responsibility to embrace and own our journey.
When you’re in a relationship and you start healing your childhood wounds, you will start to grow in a new direction. You’ll see life through a lens that’s not limited by fear and unresolved toxic patterns.
You’ll walk the path that brings you home to your truth.
If your partner isn’t actively doing their own healing, you may find yourself growing in different directions. If you need to end things to stay true to yourself, please know this:
It doesn’t mean your time together meant nothing.
It doesn’t mean it was a failure.
It got you to where you are today, and that’s worth cherishing.
I don’t believe in failure. Especially when it comes to long-term relationships.
Is a marriage a failure if it has an ending?
I think our culture says, yes.
But I say no. That belief is limiting.
If we don’t learn anything from the relationship, then I think it’s fair to say that we failed. We failed to learn, heal, and evolve. And, unfortunately, if we don’t repair that wound, we’ll repeat it in the next relationship.
When it comes to trauma healing and relationships, this is the conversation I find myself having time and time again, so I want to continue the conversation here with you.
As you heal from living in survival mode, you’re freeing up space for a new way of being. All the layers that were part of your survival-self are falling to the wayside.
The soul-stifling layers that say…
I’ll take care of you and prioritize your feelings over mine.
Emotional dismissing is normal.
Punishing is normal.
I’m not worthy enough.
Underneath those layers is your soul, your truth. As you get to know your power and truth in a more tangible way, don’t be surprised if you grow in a different direction than your partner.
It doesn’t mean either of you are bad people; it simply means that you’re choosing to stay on the freeway, and they’re taking exit 33.
This is to say, you can’t force anyone to go to therapy. You can’t “fix” a relationship when the other 50 percent of the partnership has a completely different agenda. It’s simply a losing game. If your person wants to jump aboard and stay on the freeway with you, it needs to be self-motivated.
If you’re going through a breakup right now, here are three nuggets of wisdom that might help you trust yourself through it:
1. Grieving before the breakup even happens is completely normal.
Loss anticipation is a real thing. Thinking about all the good times you had with them. The grieving process can start with the simple knowing that you need to make a change. Grief is here to help you grow into the human you’re truly meant to be.
Sometimes it takes years to fully process a loss. If you have unhealed grievances from your past, they could be triggered at a breakup, so some of the sadness could be from your past experiences.
Think of a time when you had a paper cut on your hand and it wasn’t quite healed yet, but you squeeze a lemon and some of the juice went into your cut. Well, it’s similar, in the sense that if the initial wound isn’t completely healed, the hurt and pain will feel more intense on an open wound.
2. No need to rush the un-coupling. A slow cadence is often good for all hearts involved.
Many people who have unhealed abandonment wounds will want to rip the Band-Aid off and get it over with quickly. Understandable, but when you have a deep bond with someone, I do not recommend this. Moving at a slow cadence will help each person’s attachment system readjust with more resilience and ease.
As you gradually un-couple, build a solid support system around you with trained professionals and friends. This way, you’ll naturally drift apart and turn to that person for comfort less and less.
3. Resistance and self-doubt will pop into the chat box often, but don’t let them hold you back.
Our fears like to wear masks. Resistance and self-doubt are just fear in disguise, trying to hold you back from trusting yourself. The what-ifs and fantasy thoughts are a natural part of the process, but don’t obsess over them or you’ll keep yourself stuck. If at a soul level you know it’s the right thing to do, then trust that.
Healing childhood wounds gives you the energy to create a new life for yourself.
Sometimes that’s not the same person who vowed till death do us part. But it is the person who said, “Hey, if my soul feels like it’s dying in this union, I need to end it. For the highest good for all involved.”
It takes tremendous strength and honesty to own those words.
The more you trust those hints of insights, the stronger your sense of self will grow.