Mourning After: What You Really Miss When It’s Over
Ending a relationship is hard, it hurts, and the effects are long lasting. The same way that you will never forget your first loves, you will certainly never forget your worst breakups. I think that when a relationship ends one mistake we make while recovering is focusing solely on the person we’ve separated from. We may blame them, fake hate them, or tell ourselves that we cannot possibly live without them. This way of thinking gives the exes way too much power and honestly diverts the needed attention from ourselves. We tend to wallow in the feelings of missing them not realizing that in many ways we are in a state of mourning which goes well beyond the other person. When we can see that there’s more to the breakup than who we broke up with, we gain more clarity and objectivity. When our heads are clear we can repair and prepare our hearts for the love that is waiting on the other side. But first, we have to mourn what we feel we’ve lost.
So when you say that you miss him what you really may be mourning is:
Time: My goodness did I struggle with this one! It is so easy to count the months or years that you spent with someone crying over the time that “they took” from you. For anyone who is struggling with the concept of lost time, I would ask if you learned anything. In the end you may have stayed longer than you should have, prolonged the breakup knowing it was inevitable, or settled for lies, deceit, and broken promises as the clock ticked away. However there is no need to obsess over time that you will never get back. The relationship lasted as long as it did because that is how long you needed to learn from it. In the midst of being angry and depressed it is hard to acknowledge this. So if you are saying to yourself “I didn’t learn anything, in fact this relationship was a waste”, please pause, take a breath, and look again because I promise you the lessons are there. If you can apply that wisdom to your dating life and next relationships then sis, you’ve won and that is what the time was for. You didn’t lose it, you just exchanged it for experience!
The Happy Ending: You had it all figured out. This was going to be the best love you’ve ever known, and it would last forever. Then just like that, you’re single again. Repeating this pattern multiple times can be heart wrenching. After each breakup it is very likely that you will mourn the way you feel it should have been- the dream, the possibilities, and the fairy tale. For some of you it was the idea of what could be that kept you in the relationship in the first place (falling for potential). If you can’t move past how it was so right until it went left, you will remain in a dark space. You can’t keep looking back, beating yourself up over the outcome. Let it go and remind yourself as many times as you need to that your love story is still being written. Get out of trying to make things happen according to your will and release your need to know how it will all turn out.
The Good Times: No relationship is 100% good or bad. As much as you may not want to admit it, you had some good maybe even amazing times with your ex. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging or reminiscing, in fact this is a healthy response. These moments are a testament to your ability to connect and experience love. Let the memories be just that, memories. Don’t make too much of them either way. Don’t block the recollection of good times because that makes you bitter but you shouldn’t cling onto them either because that keeps you stuck. See the good as an example of what you want in your next relationship while storing the bad in your “never again” file.
Safety and Security: Once you enter a relationship and become familiar, that comfort becomes a safety net. There is a sense of certainty that you have now, a constant presence in your daily life. Even in abusive relationships you may come to expect the unexpected (trauma response). Then when you break up, everything you knew is no longer and that can bring feelings of instability, especially in the beginning. You must find a way to feel safe outside of the relationship again. Lean on your friends, family, and most importantly God who will never leave or forsake you. After a breakup you may not know what the future holds in your dating life but that doesn’t mean you aren’t safe.
The Sexual Connection: I mean, how could I not mention the sex? Yes I am now practicing celibacy but that hasn’t always been the case so I understand how sex can keep you tied to someone. Even if it isn’t “good sex” you can still form a deep connection and if the sex is great, well that will really have you open! More than just the act of sex alone, it is the physical joining (touching, kissing, warm body contact) that can be hard to go without when you’ve had it routinely. Sexual ties are hard to break so you have to be intentional about keeping your mind elsewhere and staying away from any sexual triggers (music, television, social media, pornography, clubs/bars, etc.), including your ex himself. The last thing you want to do is end up in his or some random’s bed after a night of lustful urges. That definitely won’t help you move on.
The Physical Presence: When you are into someone they stimulate all five senses. During a breakup you may find yourself missing the details of your ex (his touch, smell, his voice or laugh, his smile, the taste of his lips…ok, you get where I am going with this). My point is that it’s possible to miss someone psychologically. It is important to understand this because you may find yourself trying to run back to him to satisfy what may feel like a craving. Before you send that text or head to his house please understand that what you are feeling is normal, it’s science not a sign to reconnect.
Not Being Single: Some people end a relationship and cannot wait to get back out there. Others loathe the very thought of it. If this is you then you will mourn your previous relationship status. Know that more than the person you miss the partnership. These feelings are to be expected but you shouldn’t become burdened by the thought of being by yourself for a while. Singleness is not a curse. It is a gift, a period for you to prepare for your next, best, and forever love. If you cannot settle into your singleness, you will find yourself settling in another relationship.
Listen, I have experienced a few breakups in my life including my divorce. I know how difficult it is to move on after you’ve invested so much. The longer and more serious the relationship, the more it hurts, I get it. Of course when someone you love is removed from your life you will miss him. After a while though your sadness will be less about him and more about the residue that he left behind. Being able to make this distinction is everything because it enlightens and empowers you. You can appreciate the memory of his presence and be at peace with his absence.
Moment of reflection: Are you going through a breakup? What aspects of your previous relationship are you mourning? What is your plan to make the most of your singleness? What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned? How will you use this time to prepare for the love you desire and deserve?