“In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” ~Deepak Chopra
“We need to talk.”
Fuck…I know where this is going.
Anyone who’s heard those four little words knows there’s a 99.9% chance the conversation isn’t going to end well.
Yup, this isn’t going to end well…
And, it doesn’t.
It ends in a breakup.
Breakups suck. There’s no other way to put it. When we’ve invested months or years building our lives with someone in hopes of a “Happily Ever After”, the farthest thing from our mind is wondering if our relationship has an expiration date.
Yet, some do.
When a chapter of our life has come to an end, time will be needed to sort through the memories, to lick our wounds and to get ourselves back on track. If it was a serious and long-term relationship, then there may be a few chapters that need to be sorted through.
Synonymous with healthy breakups are partners giving each other time to reflect, respecting each others’ feelings and listening to the other person’s perspective.
When hearts are on the line, the most important act of compassion and empathy is to hear the other person. Because healthy breakups require emotional intelligence and intellectual maturity, they are usually met with mutual respect and well wishes given to each partner. Some may reminisce on happier times, and shed a few tears before the inevitable final hug and parting of ways.
. . .
Discards are cowardice and heinous; a realization (if only in hindsight) that the person you handed your heart to, never cared. Where mutual reciprocity and empathy are in place with each partner during a healthy breakup, now stands the silent treatment, a dash of indifference, and a heaping helping of devaluation.
Add in the person they were cheating on you with, a smear campaign pinning them as the victim, a complete disregard for your heart and emotions — and last but not least…poof… ghosted.
When you’re dealing with a discard, not only has that chapter of your life ended, the pages were ripped out, along with your heart. Respect, reflection and compassion are swapped for disrespect, rejection and betrayal; sadistic fun at your heart’s expense.
It’s little surprise that many who are on the receiving end of a discard experience significant grief and often trauma. And, it’s even less of a surprise that the person whom you may have believed was your life partner is now playing the same game with a new player.
…but it doesn’t do a damn thing to stop your pain or to help you heal in the aftermath.
When a healthy breakup occurs, about 6 weeks on average are necessary for emotional growth and awareness for each year spent in a committed relationship. Thus, approximately 6–7 months for reflection are common after a healthy 5-year relationship ends.
Because there’s emotional damage and betrayal to sort through post-discard, you may start off in shock while piecing together the red flags and warning signs that you didn’t see — or didn’t want to.
Bonus points if your ex is bragging to shared friends or on social media about their newest ‘soulmate’ while your head is spinning in disbelief on their level of cruelty.
While there is an abundance of information available about healing after a breakup, these suggestions don’t work well for anyone picking up the pieces after a toxic breakup. Pain needs to be assessed differently, time becomes irrelevant and healing is done in stages — often one step forward, two backward and three sideways until you start gaining traction.
And, while this situation says more about them than it does you, it doesn’t offer much consolation in helping you heal from the pain.
. . .
Key Points To Keep In Mind
Keep in mind that healing isn’t linear, it doesn’t have a template and your growth is directly proportionate to how much effort you give yourself.
The Patterns Are Seen. Because your heart was probably handed to you in pieces, now is the time to start piecing it back together as you start piecing together the patterns. Was there a long lovebombing phase, followed by indifference, devaluation and silent treatment that led up to the discard? Were there several discards that included cheating?
Recognizing how the patterns of this relationship were orchestrated and choreographed will help in recognizing the most important part: how this relationship’s patterns (and discard) compared with previous relationships. Chances are, several patterns will emerge which may include: personality traits among partners, how you treated each other, how relationship dynamics played out, and your own habits and patterns within each relationship.
Establishing relationship patterns — both within, and between — relationships, gives insight on how they play out. It also provides you insight into your personal patterns.
Your Needs Are Recognized. If it’s two things a toxic relationship teaches, it’s in recognizing where your boundaries need tightening and where your needs are lacking.
The “lovebombing” phase is ripe with information on where your basic needs may be lacking. What ‘sold’ you on that person, and on other partners before them? Was it their endless compliments, praise, motivation and encouragement they may have offered? Did they make you feel heard? Did they give the illusion of safety and security where you felt comfortable speaking to them about your deepest pain or biggest fears?
Typically, what ‘hooks’ a person during lovebombing is the area where their basic needs are lacking. For example, if in other relationships you felt invalidated or ignored, but in your most recent relationship they appeared to be attentive and interested in everything you had to say, you may have an unmet need that points to affiliation or in being heard.
Or, some whose basic physiological needs may have gone unmet before may get ‘hooked’ by having their partner buy them groceries or repair their car and so idealization may play out in this way.
By figuring out where your needs are, you’re tilting the power back in your court; you’re learning how to meet your own needs and don’t need them to validate your worth.
Your Identity Starts Emerging. Common to all relationships are shared experiences where you may have many ‘firsts’ — first time trying new hobbies, first time traveling to new places, first time exploring your sexuality. You may notice you’re becoming more open or comfortable expressing your opinions. While these are amazing personal traits to notice about your identity during a healthy relationship, it takes on a whole other level of self-identity after experiencing a bad relationship.
For example, you may now see how resilient you are from this recent experience, which now highlights other experiences in your life where you’ve had to be resilient.
Or, you may notice your determination or inner strength where you continued conquering your personal goals while facing emotional grief in the aftermath of a discard. These traits, skills and abilities help form your identity which you may not have been aware of until a toxic situation helped you see them.
They Were A Catalyst For Change. Specifically, your change. If you got discarded, then that means the relationship was toxic, the breakup was obviously toxic, and they were toxic. That also means a part of you was toxic for welcoming that situation into your life. Here’s where examining patterns of your past relationships can shed light on many things.
Post-discard, and usually smack-dab in the middle of your grieving is where change begins. If this relationship ending affected you differently or more deeply than others before it, that says a lot. It may speak of your emotional growth that happened during the relationship which can make a traumatic breakup even harder to bear.
It may speak of the level and depth of love you had for them, which again will make a traumatic breakup that much tougher. Or it may speak of how you grew and learned about yourself through the relationship and as a result of it.
Defining Alone vs. Lonely. More common than not, if you were discarded that means they already lined up your replacement they were grooming and cheating with, beforehand. Again, this speaks more of them than you, in that they can’t be alone, weren’t willing to grow or evolve in the relationship with you, or that they have a toxic idea of what love is.
However, you’ve now been handed a life lesson from this experience. It shows you how to recognize the difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Mastering these differences will spare you from getting involved in placeholder relationships, or in wasting your time on partners who only fill a void, but not your heart. It will also help you see how valuable your time spent alone is for growth, for empowerment and in building self-awareness.
These are gifts you were given. Granted, they were wrapped up in a toxic package, yet these gifts of awareness, an ability to build solid boundaries, a healthy self-identity, personal insight, and inner strength are the result of growth.
. . .
A final thought…
I get it that moving past a traumatic ending with what you believed was love will challenge you in every way. And I understand how tough it can be to wish them healed. However, by wishing them healed, you’re wishing them the same awareness and gifts that you’ve received. And that’s how cycles stop, and growth begins.
From pain, comes growth. And from growth…comes empowerment.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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