Have you ever suffered the emotional knifing of a relationship breakup? Why does it hurt so damn much? Why don’t we say “NEXT!” and smile joyfully as we trip down the road to the Plenty More Fish shop?

The sudden and aching void that forms when your honey, who you thought was your only soul mate, best friend, lover and life companion, gives you the news that “it’s over” can send you down a very dark road.

It can be a period of deep analysis tinged with daily oscillation from loving them to hating them and yourself, to try and gain some control and get to a better feeling place within. Despair sets in which triggers wanting them so badly you’ll even get in your car and go find them at some ungodly hour. Been there a few times.

The agony of a painful breakup is almost intellectually indescribable. Your heart and soul feel like they are being ripped from their foundations. The flash flood and continuous waves of feelings that you will never find someone like that again and what will life be like alone again? Will life ever return to a happy place?

Your mind sends your bodily functions into overdrive as thoughts tumble forth like a river of terrifying rapids…losing them means emotionally dying….it’s too scary…..why?…how?…are they seeing someone else?…I thought we were ok!

Loss and attachment

Breakups feel like a huge loss, a detachment from the attachment of loving and needing love from another.

Your attachment causes the pain, not the person breaking up with you. This is fact numero uno. It’s never about the person who has left you, so chasing them to explain why or to get closure is often futile.

It’s about you! They merely represent where you are at in your own self love stakes. If you depend on someone for love, it will likely be the death of the relationship eventually.

Perceived loss of love and pain seem to be two inseparable requirements to get the life badge “Welcome to being fully alive and human.”

I believe we come to Earth to experience the full portfolio of situations along with their matching and contrasting emotional braids and there’s nothing we can do to avoid it. In fact we ask for it, willingly strap ourselves in for the ride and experience the inevitable train crash.

Why? Because as human beings we seek wholeness through a complete range of experiences. As you get to experience every side of the coin within a given situation you become more in touch with who you are. Your own truth without any illusions. Are you getting then, that really you are simply not in control of anything, let alone relationships starting and ending? How do I know? I don’t but my love life path shows me this phenomenon every day.

For example, people who have been unfaithful will often get to experience what it feels like when another partner comes along and cheats on them. I have worked with couples where this has happened and being able to see life from both perspectives, boots them into choosing not to do it again because they understand the pain that their choices inflicted last time. This in built wisdom is very powerful and sobering and educating for a healthier future.

So the big question is. How do we love without attachment?

My theory is that we can’t because we are not there yet on our evolutionary path.

Losing love IS an illusion we are told time and again by gurus. From my viewing platform, breakups and people seeking inner happiness, the major drive for relationship changes, is a universal thing right now. Seeking is rife as are relationshipwreaks.

I believe we are collectively been asked to look at this pandemic dilemma through the eyes of how we deal with it internally. Think for a moment how many people you know who have or are suffering from relationship nightmares lately? Lots!

I believe that we are at a human growth edge. Our stage of evolution thus far renders us in pain when we feel loss. When someone dies, we grieve and when we breakup from our beloved, it hurts and often more than someone dying. That’s just the way it is.

It’s simply not in our current DNA to deal with things any other way. So give yourself a break for melting down and feeling totally destroyed, it’s NORMAL! People who get through quicker are either covering up for what’s really going on inside or they run from the growth that is trying to happen within them, via drink and drugs etc. or they have learned a new way through. Suffering is strength.

What’s happening to me?

So what is happening to you when you breakup with someone you really love?

I can only offer intellectual perspectives here within my own experiential stream. The following is designed to help you balm some wounds with an educational overtone. Take from this what feels true and bin the rest.

So you have broken up and whether you ended it but didn’t want to, or they did, you are hurting big time. Although I hate to use the word process, breaking up seems just that, with stages.

1) The raw stage – this is the gut wrenching early days when the pain feels at its greatest. Being here often means life stops for days or weeks. You can’t eat, or you overeat, you can’t work or do any of the normal things. Nothing in life seems motivating or interesting. You feel lost when you are out with friends but feel despairing when within your four walls. It feels like there’s no resting place. Everything good that life was, is now up in the air and you can’t come into land.

Understanding it – Imago Relationship theory states that we attract and have relationships with people that represent mainly the negative traits of our parents. We are programmed unconsciously to seek healing and growth from our childhood experiences within our adult intimate relationships. A totally fascinating theory and one I see playing out in every couple I have worked with. Mum and Dad are in our partners, to a greater or lesser degree and we are drawn to them because of this deep need to heal from whatever negative situations arose in childhood.

So if we are seeking healing and then our partner leaves us, no wonder at the pain? A second wounding in the same places that were not healed from before. The promise of healing turns up with everyone you meet but if it’s not met it can feel like double agony.

A theory perhaps, but this really resonates with me. One of my top two painful breakups of all time was with a man SO like my father it was uncanny. He didn’t get this stuff and nor did I at the time. Like my father, I didn’t actually like this man on many levels, but I was hooked and floundering for months when we broke up. It is often way deeper than what appears on the surface to you and others around you.

Please read Keeping the Love You Find by Harville Hendrix. He is one of Imago’s founders. This book and the other three in the series are gold. So much educational information in a small book!

This stage as with any other has no time frame so be kind to you and do what you need to do to rest. Live it fully is my advice. It eventually passes as does everything, I promise you.

2) The oscillation stage – I observe this as the story telling stage where you create stories in your mind about him/her and about how it is/was when you were together. It’s a very analytical stage where you try and find the truth of everything that has happened. This stage often manifests as daily and even hourly story changes in an effort to get to a better feeling place. A place of self balming and often ego strutting.

You convince yourself one day that your now ex is in the wrong and how, in the relationship, they fell well short of what a boyfriend/girlfriend should be. This is usually an awakening as well when you see what others have been saying for months and even years, but were never willing to see. Now you can join your friends and slag them off! Feels good right? Yep and again it’s an attempt to get to a better feeling place. Why not! It’s part of the process.

The next day/week you may collapse back into despair and feel like running to them. You tell your friends that maybe they were the perfect ones and you were the evil witch/wizard. No wonder they left and didn’t want to love you. All manner of sense is thrown out again as once more you feel the pain of detachment. And oh boy feelings here can be hellishly intense. I know people who have driven to find their exes, written them letters etc.

I remember leaving weekly tape recordings for my ex husband begging him to rethink. Go with it, but keep in mind you. You are who you need during those times. Talk it through with others. Always helps to bounce your thoughts off them. Be open, be vulnerable, feel it all!

One of the most tender places I have shared and agreed on with friends is the story that says “but how can you not love me, when I am all these things?” The ego has a very hard time getting through this. Often it fuels more oscillation as you won’t allow your ex to let go. You scheme endless ways to connect with them. I spent 5 months after ending a six month relationship not letting my ex go because I just wasn’t in the business of believing he wanted to end it and not try any more. My story was that if he loved me he would swim the deepest ocean…blah blah! A whopper of a story eh! Very painful though. Egos never want to lose!

Understanding it – this stage, to me, is intrinsic in trying to work it all out so you can self heal (for now!) and start to put a measure of it all to bed. We are programmed to move forward and expand into the next thing, hence the effort to intellectualise it all. Many people who breakup don’t have access to or see their ex and therefore have absolutely no idea what’s going on with them, hence the stories that form to fill gaps between the apparent facts.

A word of caution here. Try not to make up stories! Go with the oscillation until it slows, because it will! Talk it out with friends or do whatever brings you into a better place. Time is indeed a healer.

When someone leaves you, it is never about you but the stories they tell themselves about you and about whether they are prepared to do their own healing in relationship with you. Many people get to a growth edge and suddenly decide it’s over because they don’t wanna work on their stuff that you have brought up. It’s not personal. We are all mirrors to each other remember!

I order you to go read I Need Your Love Is That True? and do The Work of Byron Katie. Her message is simple. Stories keep you chained to suffering. Believe it and watch your thoughts.

3) No Man’s Land Stage – this is often marked by the feeling of a hurricane having blown through and you are emotionally laid out to dry. You may feel numb or spent and this stage can be marked by a huge wave of tiredness formed by all the nights awake fretting and worrying in previous stages.

The stories have worn thin because at some level you can’t be tricked into believing them and you are done talking to everyone and yourself. A small glimmer of light appears at the end of the tunnel. You don’t think about your ex 24/7 and when you do you get angry. How dare they! You are slowly finding pleasure in food and life but with a hangover feeling throughout your whole being.

Understanding it – again it is never about the ex. “How dare they!” roughly translates to “How dare I let myself go through all of that!” How very dare you indeed! But when you love someone and you break up while still very much in love, you have to learn to kill off/numb/put to bed that love hence the long winded process.

Awakening huge love for someone is often overpowering and out of body, so when people break up we believe we are never going to feel it again. It feels like they have taken away love. But love isn’t something to obtain. See my previous blog on this subject.

4) A new day dawns stage – much time has passed, rivers of tears have been shed and analysing is complete. Anger is spent and balance dawns like the sun rising. Welcome to the final phase of breaking up. Well done! You have lived it fully like the longest roller coaster and got to know yourself deeply through it all. You may not have all the answers or any closure, but something in you, not describable with words, settles. It just happens. One morning the angst is gone. If you feel a natural completion, rather than a feeling it’s all been swept under an enormous carpet, you are done.

You notice yourself going to the hairdressers and coming out with a new look. You have renewed drive to visit the gym and get back in shape. You wax, tweeze and buff your way (male groomers own up!) back to the old you! You clear out old clothes and things and buy new. A rebirth happens. The chrysalis flourishes to a butterfly in more ways than one.

Understanding it – You have let go of the attachment to your ex. Surrender has happened. You can never be the same internally but often you are unaware. It will take the next relationship to show you how far you have come but have no fear you won’t attract another partner like your ex. Trust me. As you experience each breakup you move into a place of knowing more of what you will and won’t allow next time.

Each relationship puts you to the test to help you find your authentic self who is totally worthy of every bit of love and approval because you have given it to yourself via your greatest gift. The learning.

And so my dear conscious relationship seekers I offer you finally some profound words from Mark Twain.

“The impulse of any person towards anything is the impulse to content his own spirit- the necessity of contenting his own spirit and winning its approval. The unselfish man may think he is doing something solely for the other person’s sake, but it is not so; he is contenting his own spirit first and the other person’s benefit has to ALWAYS take second place.”

‘Til Next time

Author's Bio: 

I help you find the bravery required to create a relationship space that will foster the birth of your authenticity. I help your relationship navigate the waters of conflict through focus on safety and acceptance of the other. Your healing and growth depends on it.