Experiencing a loss such as a break up can be one of the most traumatic experiences you will encounter in life and when you are in the midst of it your inner world can invariably feel as if it’s crumbling down around you.
It may feel like you’lll not get through this at the moment…..but you will. You CAN turn your life around for the better.
When I was at the early stages of my break up I felt a deep sense of loneliness, I felt confused and disorientated, not knowing if I was coming or going, like a zombie walking around but not fully functioning. I desperately wanted to take back control of my emotions instead I was allowing the emotions to take control of me.
But what were these emotions? How was I supposed to feel? How was I to channel them?
The very first helpful step I found in taking back control of my emotions was to understand them and to experience them. (its important to experience our emotions and understand them otherwise we can unconsciously suppress them where they later manifest in unhelpful ways).
Please remember, when journeying through this process, that you are a wonderful unique human being and you will experience your emotions in different ways to other people. You may experience the process that Im about to explain in an order or you may find yourself flitting back and forth between the varying stages.
Emotions aren’t neat or linear. They don’t follow any timelines or schedules. So you may cry one minute, become angry the next, withdraw, feel empty. Remember, your personal experience of this unsettling time is not wrong, there is no rule book, everyone grieves differently, but there are some commonalities in the stages and the order of feelings experienced during grief.
Another crucial thing to remember is to be kind to yourself, take your time and allow yourself to experience it in your own unique way.
Some women experience feelings of being stuck in a particular stage, you may find yourself unwilling or unable to move through the process, continuing to be angry, sad, or even in denial for a long period of time.
When this happens, most find it useful to speak with a coach or another professional to support them in moving out of that stage. Staying stuck means that you could be missing wonderful opportunities in reinventing a new life that can bring you the happiness you so greatly need in the here and now of your life.
Understanding your emotional response to a breakup
The 7 stages of grief that tend to follow a break-up:
- Shock – Shock is the beginning of the pain. Within this stage, you can’t believe what has happened, It’s hard to comprehend and be conscious of the breakup, and to see what your new situation is. During this stage emotionally, there can be a lack of reaction as we try to process the loss. For me I was walking around in a daze like a zombie experiencing an out of body encounter and barely functioning or you could act like nothing has happened at all, its life as usual, this is where we can enter into denial.
- Denial – I find this stage to be more prominent in women that have been left as opposed to those who have done the leaving. Its at this time when we say to ourselves ‘It can’t be true. This isn’t happening! You feel you cant be without your ex. You find it difficult to accept that it’s over. You cling onto every last hope in saving the relationship, at times this can be at the cost of your own well being. The pain at this stage is so raw that some women postpone the process but in doing so unrealistically replace the process with hope that the relationship can be saved. Some women can become stuck within this particular stage.
- Anger – Its around this time that feelings of disbelief can turn into frustration and anger. We begin to ask ourselves ‘Why is this happening to me?’ What did I do to deserve this?’ It is normal to feel anger toward the person(s) who caused the situation and also anger toward ourselves. Your feelings can become intense at this stage and we can act out of character unless we are able to understand and control this emotion, we may then experience guilt if we have acted upon this strong emotion.Finding healthy ways to deal with the anger is key to overcoming it.
- Bargaining – This is where we can try to find ways to turn the situation around and do anything to avoid accepting it’s over.We ask, ‘what if’ questions, to avoid the situation (“If I do this, then it won’t happen, “If only I had spent more time with him/her, he/she would have stayed.”) Its away of postponing the sadness.The thought of being without your ex is so intolerable that you’ll try to make your own pain go away by winning him or her back, at any cost. Remember, you’re probably not thinking logically at this point and are clinging on to any hope you can, in order not to lose what you came to rely on.
- Depression, Loneliness, Reflection – Its at this stage that we are moving toward the acceptance stage but we are still not able to cope with it. The loss starts to really sink in and we can become lonely, with loneliness sometimes a feeling of depression joins it. It is a stage where you can feel overwhelmed. You may feel foggy, heavy, and confused. However, it is also a time for reflection. In some ways, this is the first sign of acceptance. You are opening yourself up to the situation, accepting that the break up has happened.Now is the time to be working hard to not stay in this state. Its a time to begin intentionally making different choices and be active.Take action and sign up for that dance class you’ve always wanted to do. Go for hikes, a walk in nature. Meet with your friend for coffee. Aim for a goal and make the conscious effort to get out of the house so you can begin to see life from a more optimistic perspective.
- Initial Acceptance and Working Through – Great news, it is at this point you will begin to function again and feel less foggy, your mind will begin to feel more clear. At this point, it doesn’t mean that the feelings of sadness, anger, depression, guilt, or anything else will have necessarily gone completely. But the pain would have died down, and you will begin to feel more calm and relaxed.Its at this stage that you can begin to put pieces of your life back together and plan forward. The sorrow and sadness will likely still be there. But you will be able to move in the right direction towards the last stage, acceptance.
- Acceptance – You’ll be pleased to hear that this is the last stage of the process, a stage where you are able to cope with the process and come to terms with the loss. Not necessarily mean you’ve moved past the grief or loss but you are more able to really focus on you and your future and how you can reinvent your wonderful gift called life.Look to acceptance as a way to see that there will be more good days than bad on the horizon, but there will still be the bad days — and that’s OK. You will feel an acceptance of your new way of life and a feeling of possibility for the future.It is the beginning of hope.
The key to understanding the loss of a long term relationship is realizing that it is a very personal experience. You may find that you only need several weeks, wheras another person would require longer.
You may not experience all of these stages and thats okay. Your friend might be in a stage of anger for weeks while you only experience it for a few days. You might skip a stage or go back and forth for a while.
You don’t need to make sure the stages happen in order, being flexible helps and take as much time as you need to.
You may find that getting through the pain is difficult to do alone and thats okay, you can seek help which will make a huge impact in your life and healing.
If you find that you are not quite ready for coaching but are ready for the first step why not subscribe to my newsletter on my website, details below.
Also if this article has helped you, please do leave a comment, Id love to hear from you.
In the meantime, remember you have the power to shift from lost & stuck to clarity and confidence and you will get there.
Much Love. x