When Sara Davison’s marriage broke down, she felt as though her life was over. It took every ounce of her strength to deal with the daily onslaught of raw emotions and practical difficulties that make the end of a long-term relationship so stressful. Here Sara – author of Uncoupling: How to survive and thrive after breakup and divorce – shares some of her advice for dealing with the inevitable emotional rollercoaster of relationship breakup.
Unless you have been through it, it is hard to explain the emotional impact felt when a long-term relationship breaks down. Having experienced it myself, I would imagine it is like being run over: it knocks you off your feet and sends you flying, even if it is your own decision.
The challenge that many of us face when we come out of a long-term relationship is that it takes time to heal and move on with our lives. We spend many months going over what happened in our minds and analysing the outcome. The pain of the break-up can last for a long time, and sometimes it can seem as if it will never fully leave us. With our self-esteem and self-confidence already damaged, it is important not to get into destructive patterns.
Be wary of destructive patterns
Watch out for the following unhealthy way of coping with the break-up:
• ‘Stuffing emotions’, in other words, not allowing yourself to feel any negative emotions. Allow yourself to feel sad or angry – it is a vital part of the healing process, as denying it can hold up your recovery and keep you in a negative place.
• Throwing yourself into work and not allowing yourself to process what has happened.
• Drinking more than you normally would to blot out the thoughts you can’t handle.
• Excessive partying and never wanting to be at home.
The above are all popular avoidance techniques for dealing with your break-up, but most of them interfere with the normal running of your life, and can sometimes lead to exhaustion and depression, which in turn will enhance all the negative feelings you will already be wrestling with. It is a traumatic time, so you need to take care of yourself and do all you can to keep your body and mind healthy and strong.
Allowing your emotions to flow will help
• Accept that you are going to feel a whole range of different emotions for a while. It’s important that you understand you are going through a big change in your life. I believe that everything happens for a reason and serves a purpose, and this has helped me through my journey.
• Everything is a phase – it might be tough right now, but it won’t last forever. The old adage ‘time is the best healer’ has been true for me, and as each day goes by the cloud lifts a little. It is difficult going, but it’s part of the healing process as you work through your feelings and create a happier mind. You have to decide that you are ready to feel better and that you are ready to make some changes and take some action.
• Be aware that you are not alone. There are many others experiencing heartbreak right now. Uncoupling creates so many different emotions, and every situation is different. Being clear about which emotions you are having to cope with will help you to deal with them better. It’s always a good idea to be consciously aware of how you are feeling because it will enable you to take control of your emotions, rather than just living with a constant negative feeling.
• Crying does help and is an important part of your healing process. It is a healthy and natural way of dealing with your feelings when you feel overwhelmed and sad; a way of releasing your negative emotions rather than ‘stuffing’ them. Crying is almost like having a cold where you need to blow your nose – you need to cry to get it all out of your system. When you create a compelling future to move towards, your crying will stop.
Tips to help prevent you feeling overwhelmed by your situation
• Take one day at a time. Some people feel as if they are standing at the bottom of a huge mountain looking up at it and feeling that they have to climb it in one step. There may be lots of changes and adjustments happening, but it’s important to take each day as it comes. Take small steps and don’t put pressure on yourself to solve all the issues today. Focus on getting through today as best you can, and see tomorrow as a fresh start.
• Writing about how you feel in a diary or your notebook can be very therapeutic. It allows you to express how you feel without any repercussions or being judged. Just noting down your emotions will help you to de-intensify your situation.
• Don’t try to answer all the questions in your head at one time. Some you will never be able to answer. Avoid spending time on questions such as ‘What’s wrong with me?’ or ‘What did I do wrong?’ Instead, ask yourself more positively focused questions such as ‘What can I do right now to help me through this?’
Sara Davison is a life and business expert whose personal experience has led her to create a unique divorce coaching programme that offers support to individuals going through the process of uncoupling. An NLP Master Practitioner with sixteen years’ coaching experience, Sara has a successful global business and is considered the UK’s premier divorce coach.