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Apocalyptic Feelings

Why does the end of a relationship sometimes feel like the end of the world?

42% of people who commit suicide allegedly do so due to relationship issues.  Why?  7.5 billion people on the planet and we humans are willing to kill ourselves if ONE does not like us or treat us the way we think they should.  Why? Anyone who has been through the pain of a bad relationship or a bad breakup has likely experienced some level of intense triggers.   Do you feel empty and numb?  Like you have no future?  Is that a truth?  No, of course not.  We know it’s absurd to presume there is only right fit for us on this planet teeming with humanity. So why on earth do we feel this way? 

The feelings we have when we are deep in a relationship are not always about love for the other person or even the other person’s love for us.  It is often much more internalized.  What does this mean?

1) We tend to bundle up our personal hopes, dreams and fantasies and drape them over our significant other with the expectation of completion.   Think hard about someone you fell in love with.  Why did you fall in love with them?  If they were attractive, could it be that being with them made you feel more worthy and attractive?  If so, that may be more about your own desires, not your self-less love for them.  If they were smart, did it mean they made you proud in social settings?  Did it make you feel they would earn a good living and create the lifestyle you desired?  How often do we see women marry for lifestyle and the relationship fall apart the moment the woman achieves her own success?      Once you understand where your feelings come from, and connect with your own deepest personal hopes and needs so that you can meet those needs on your own, your relationship triggers will diminish.  Self-less, true love rarely involves triggers.   Once you have practiced this, a break-up will invoke appropriate nostalgia rather than panic, desperation, anger or fear.   The goal is to grow to a place where you no longer feel you need or must get love.  A place where you are full inside, you are even overflowing, and you are ready to share some of that bounty with an equally emotional competent peer.

2) Many of our reactions in “love” are based on love survival maps we learned in early childhood.  As children our very survival depended on a caregiver loving us.  It was literally life or death.  We learned to adapt to doing whatever was needed to guarantee their attention.   This survival instinct still shapes our behavior as adults, resulting in a host of unnecessary fears and actions driven by perceived rejection, inadequacy or abandonment.   We developed early coping skills to ensure that we received the quick fix doses of safety and love hormones like oxytocin in any way possible. We adapted by developing traits of narcissism or codependency or other coping strategies to obtain the best responses from caregivers so we could “make it.” This was good in the sense that it helped us survive childhood. 

As adults though, we are fully capable of being our own caregivers.  Gaining the love of others no longer has to dictate our survival.   It can be the cherry on top of an already full happy life. Once we can fill our own cup and meet our own needs, relationships no longer define or control us, they simply enhance us and become a place from which we can grow and give.

The best thing to do in a place of pain is to go deep and see what fears you are truly feeling and what needs you feel must be met. Then map out a way to meet them through productive actions of your own. If you fear being alone, join groups and associations, begin helping others, and build a community around yourself. If you feel financial loss, start mapping out a game plan for your financial future. If you feel angry, journal the feelings daily until you find their true source, so you can address it. You will find that the true source is always work you need to do for yourself, rather than something you need someone else to do for you. Know that no relationships last forever, and that is okay. Find gratitude for the experiences and lessons and reconnect with your inner self.

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