“Sometimes we have to let go of what’s killing us, even if it’s killing us to let go.” ~ Unknown
The end of a relationship usually brings with it a lot of things—pain, anguish, emptiness, anger, confusion, sadness, and the expectation that we should be able to move on as soon as possible.
It’s like saying “I broke up on Monday and by Tuesday I should be back to normal. I should be living my life as if nothing really happened. I should forget about it, let bygones be bygones, move on, and focus on my life.”
And all these “shoulds” are nothing but a recipe for more misery simply because they are in direct contradiction to what we’re actually experiencing in that moment and for thousands of such moments to come.
We can’t just move on. We cannot trick ourselves into believing that it doesn’t matter. We cannot put a lid on our pain and anguish and carry on as if nothing happened, and we certainly cannot get into another relationship with all this pain inside of us that’s waiting to spill out.
And when we do delude ourselves into believing that we must move on, we should date someone immediately or just let it go, we create a demon that’s going to wreck our internal and relational life at one time or another.
I don’t understand moving on. I only understand healing. And when a relationship ends, it leaves all these wounds inside of us that need to heal. And only we can do that.
Sadly, we rush ourselves into substituting one person for another in a sad attempt to fill that gnawing void inside of us. Yes, someone can occupy that space making it seem a little less empty, but that’s it. There’s no filling that void from the outside. It’s about healing it from within by acknowledging the pain, the hurt, and the sense of uncertainty that comes with it. It’s about giving our pain a closure that makes sense to us, then creating a new space for someone new.
It’s about picking up our shattered pieces and fitting them together to form a new us.
And so many of us just keep running after moving on and keep pushing each other to do the same.
When a relationship ends, we need time to heal from it. We need to develop an understanding of what happened or what didn’t happen. We need to tend to our own hurt instead of locking it in, because when we don’t, we remain stuck.
Only when we acknowledge what’s happening within us can we pave the way forward.
Here are seven reasons that often keep us stuck in past relationships:
1. You’re stuck in the blame game. A lot of us keep blaming ourselves or our exes for what went wrong. The more we blame, the worse we feel, and the worse we feel, the more we blame. Hence, it never ends. Eventually, we need to move to a position of understanding and acceptance of what happened and what couldn’t. We need to see things and people as they are. Blame keeps us stuck. Acceptance leads to options, and it takes time.
2. You’re more concerned about what they are doing than your own pain. Although it’s natural and instinctive to keep going over your ex’s life in an attempt to find out if they are impacted by the breakup just like you are, after a period of time this becomes the very thing that takes you off track. You lose sight of your own self and life and end up in a pit of misery.
3. You think you won’t find anyone better. The end of a relationship often brings out our deepest beliefs about ourselves to the surface. We feel that we’re not good enough and not worthy of finding a good partner or a relationship. Hence, we keep going back to the comfort and security of the previous love bond because it was the symbol of our self-worth, but that is not true. Our worth is not defined by the presence or absence of anything or any person, and that’s the lesson we all need to learn eventually.
4. You lost your sense of self in the relationship. When our identity and self-worth are defined by people and relationships, they become the crutches that we use to support ourselves. When those crutches are removed or get taken away, we crumble.
5. The end of the relationship brought up old traumas. At times, the end of a relationship is not an isolated event. It becomes the channel through which our mind and body begin to throw out the pain and anguish of past hurt and traumas, making it difficult for us to regain our stability.
6. You’re not giving yourself the time to grieve. In a bid to “move on,” we don’t allow ourselves to grieve the loss of something or someone significant in our life. We move to distract ourselves, drown our feelings, and push aside our thoughts. Eventually, it all comes up with greater force and energy than we can handle.
7. You’re waiting for closure. Sometimes it’s difficult to make sense of why something happened. You think you did your best, you gave it your all, and here you are facing the end of what could have been a new beginning, and it doesn’t make sense. So you wait endlessly for some explanation, some apology, or some regret to come your way. In the process, you keep losing yourself more and more. Sometimes, we need to get up and close some doors on our own.
Endings are painful, and there is no escaping that pain.
When you come face to face with an ending, it’s convenient to “move on.” However, what it really needs is healing.