Most of us have been there, in that heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, despair of a breakup.
Sometimes we initiate the ending. Sometimes they do. And sometimes it’s mutual. But no matter who ends it, there’s usually pain and sadness all round. It is one of those things in life we experience, and if we’re honest, it’s one of those things we would rather not experience.
Yes, breaking up is definitely hard to do.
I have had three significant breakups in my life. The first love breakup. Young and naïve and in hindsight, a very necessary breakup, although I did not think that at the time.
The second breakup, a big one. The ending of a long-term marriage. I could never have anticipated that I would not stay with him forever. A good man and father to our two amazing kids. We grew apart, and upon reflection, there were faults on both sides. We perhaps stayed together longer than we should have, and that probably hurt us both more in the end.
The third breakup, a relationship that on paper should never have been. Whilst there were many things that seemed so right, there were many that were so wrong. So much beauty and so much ugly. But with it all, a deep love that could not be sustained in a healthy way.
Each of these breakups had me floundering, at different depths and for different amounts of time, but nevertheless, they all had a profound impact on me—that I have only been able to reflect upon in more recent times.
And I have learnt something incredibly valuable. Breakups can be breakthroughs, if we have the gift of honest insight.
It’s not easy to look inside yourself; in fact, it’s bloody hard. There’s a bravery and a vulnerability required because the truth isn’t always pretty. Sometimes we need the courage to seek professional help. I am a big believer of “we attract what we need not necessarily what we want” because we need to be triggered into healing and growth. We have things to learn and we can only do this once we can see the breakup as a breakthrough.
Sometimes, sadly, those we attract don’t love us how we want to be loved. They hurt us. We hurt them. They teach us. We teach them. But these are our breakthroughs—if we choose to go on that journey.
The way we are conditioned and the belief systems we hold will always come out to play in our relationships. And whilst we are always on a journey of healing and growth, we do need to be in a certain space if we are to attract a more healthy romantic partner.
What if we after the hurt and pain subsided, we were able to see what the relationship taught us, were able to work on those parts of ourselves to become healthy whole individuals alone and attract the same sort of healthy partner into our lives? What if after the breakdown that comes after the breakup, we were able to move toward the breakthroughs—because we understood with absolute clarity that the breakthroughs were going to be some of our most defining moments of insight and learnings that would lead us to a better self and a better relationship?
What breakthroughs look like:
>> Comfortable being alone. We lose the fear of being alone and replace it with a confidence and inner peace because we know we are whole just as we are.
>> We understand the difference between loving someone and the idea of love. We finally realise that our conditioning and our beliefs around a partner making us whole isn’t true. We know love isn’t a fairy tale and that we have in the past romanticised our partners because we wanted that idea of love. We wanted to be in love. We wanted a relationship. And instead, we work on loving ourselves so that when we meet a mate, we see them for who they are and not who we want them to be.
>> We accept any abandonment wounds we have and seek professional help to heal them. We know that those abandonment wounds will keep us in unhealthy relationships longer then we should be there. They will have us terrified of trouble in the relationship or make us scared the relationship will end. We fear being rejected. We will be constantly triggered and face issues in all our relationships until they are fully addressed.
>> We know wanting and needing are two different things. Need comes from insecurity and fear, whereas want comes from desire. When we finally reach this space we become discerning as to who we let into our life. We know we will be perfectly fine without a partner, so we don’t chase love, but we will also be happy if we meet someone who compliments our life.
>> We are fulfilled and whole. We reach a place where we can meet our own needs. We fill our own cup and not only see ourselves as a whole being, but we feel whole. That leads us to inner happiness and peace.
>> We learn what boundaries are. We understand that our fear of having solid boundaries was due to our eagerness to please, at the expense of our feelings. That by allowing people to cross our boundaries, we taught them how to disrespect us. That by having and communicating our boundaries, we teach people what’s acceptable to us and how to respect us on the deepest level.
>> Our healing leads us to want to learn. Many people are still in the dark about relationships. Yes, we know communication is important, and so is trust and respect and so on. But there’s a lot within us: what we experience in our childhood, what beliefs we form, and our family environment; how we attach (secure, anxious, avoidant, or a combination); what our love language is; how any traumas have manifested. All of this plays a huge part in our relationships. Having a deep understanding of ourselves and learning these things with future partners can help us navigate our relationship.
>> Having hard and honest conversations up front. We avoid this because we don’t want to scare partners away. We don’t think it’s important as we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We don’t want to know the answers. But a massive breakthrough is the knowledge that this stuff is crucial and can save a lot of pain down the track. Things like expectations around intimacy. Having kids. Raising kids. Running a house. Financial management. Family input. Non-negotiables. These should be discussed sooner rather than later.
The sad truth is some people flit from relationship to relationship, attracting the same kind of partners, struggling with the same issues, and inevitably, painfully breaking up. I think there’s a lot of bypassing going on, with people doing surface level healing but not really doing the work, and the result of this is repeated cycles. I say this a lot, but we cannot heal from things we are unaware of. We cannot heal from things we bury and ignore. And we definitely cannot heal by bypassing.
It took me a long time, a lot of pain, self reflection, honesty, and in the end, support from a good therapist to turn my breakups into breakthroughs. The freedom, self-love, and self-worth that comes with these breakthroughs is, in my opinion, worth the pain. But you have to want it enough and be prepared to really go within and see the darkness, messiness, and your own toxicity to change.
We resist it. We fight it. We blame others. We listen to what society tells us we should be doing. We chase something new to fill our voids. We let our pain consume us until we become bitter, angry, and resentful because we don’t want to see our truth and do the work. Instead of seeing our difficulties as potential breakthroughs to change our beliefs and life, we let them fester and remain rooted in the same spot, over and over again.
Let those sad, painful, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching breakups be your greatest teacher. Let them lead you to your most insightful breakthroughs. Let them catapult you into a journey of healing and growth so that you break your cycle, become a better version of yourself, and finally see your worth. Then your happiness, wholeness, and fulfilment will not be dependent on whether you are in a relationship or single.
And what a freeing feeling that is.
“There is no breakthrough without a breakdown.” ~ Tony Robbins