Thursday, February 17, 2011
Hurting After a Breakup? Grab Hold of Comfort and Support from A Single Girl Who's Been There
Breakups hurt. That’s a fact. And everyone handles the demise of a relationship differently. Some people want to avoid interaction completely, so they stay home and isolate themselves from what they think will be further pain. Just flop on the couch, flip on the TV and zone out to a place where anger and anxiety disappear, even for just a few hours.
Another common tendency is to obsess about the relationship, and think about what happened (or didn’t happen) over and over again. You replay in your mind the last few conversations you had. You know the dialog of your breakup by heart (he said this, then I said that, then he said…), but you still don’t understand what really happened between the two of you to get to this painful point.
Like a hamster on a wheel that goes around and around but gets nowhere, your mind seeks answers, insight, and closure.
Breakups are painful because something has been wounded. And, much like a physical injury, an emotional wound needs care, comfort and recovery time.
Healing emotional pain from a relationship split begins when you stabilize the situation. Separate from the source of pain, the other person, so you can prevent further injury and begin the healing process. It’s like a cast on a broken arm, but it’s a heart boundary for a time and for a purpose.
For example, don’t go back and keep having repeated post-breakups talks or interactions with the person who broke your heart. It can be extremely difficult, like withdrawal from a drug, to keep your hand off the phone but it will be easier to heal in the end.
Don’t call or email him just to see how he is, and don’t drive by his house or office. You may be tempted to want to reach out to him and connect because that’s what you’re used to—it’s comfortable and familiar—but your goal here is not connecting, it’s disconnecting. It feels awful and lonely and different. But that’s just part of the process.
Of course, every situation is different. I’m not saying that you have to cut off all contact completely or forever. Some women I know have been able to be friends with people they’ve dated, but not right away. The truth is: A time of separation is essential if you are ever going to have a platonic friendship in the future.
Breakups can be complicated, and you may need to have a few talks to get to the finale. But use wisdom and discretion. Hard as it can be, I’ve found that being away from the other person completely, at least initially, was more healing in the long run than the slow hanging-on-to-fragments-of-what’s-left relationship death.
Pray about it and ask God how to best tie up the loose ends of your ending.
A wise woman has self respect and doesn’t grovel; she knows when to walk away and to whom to run—into the arms of her First Love and Great Physician, Jesus. He is the one who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
Remember, you won’t be in this painful place forever. In the meantime, here are some great ways to find the comfort and support you need…
Let yourself cry.
Say hello to “the God all comfort.” His love, His presence, and His word are healing gifts.
Prayer is a vital key in your healing process. Why not start each day with prayer for wisdom, guidance, healing and favor and end each day with a prayer of thanks and gratitude for all He’s done for you that day (whether you enjoyed it or endured it)?
Worship also brings healing, comfort, joy and a fresh encounter with God.
Put his stuff away. It’s hard to move forward into your new future when mementos of your past are pulling you back. If you’re not ready to discard them, box up all the photos and treasured objects he gave you and put them in storage until the time is right to get rid of them. Also, think about deleting his number from your cell phone so you’re not tempted to do some desperate dialing or texting in a weak moment.
Talk with trusted friends or family members.We need our friends to comfort and support us in our times of need. Telling your story can help to ease your heart’s pain and bring emotional healing. When someone listens we feel validated. Talk to your close friends or family members about your breakup story, not to bash the guy or cause harm, but to get it out of you—to release it, so you can find freedom and healing.
Write in a journal or notebook. When your feelings appear on a page (or even typed online), they are no longer swirling inside your head. You can vent your emotions, release your pain and do so in the privacy of your personal journal.
Think about asking God these questions and writing down your answers: Lord, what do you want me to learn from this relationship that just ended? What are you teaching me during this healing time? God has valuable life lesson in every season of our lives, even the dark times.
Nurture your spirit.When your heart is hurting it’s helpful to take care of yourself and remember what makes you feel good. Comfort comes in a variety of ways and uses some or all of our senses:
the touch of a friend’s hug, a therapeutic massage, or a warm comforter around you as you rest in an overstuffed chair by a roaring fire;
the sight of the stunning beauty of God’s creation (on vacation or right in your own backyard), or a redecorated apartment;
the smell fresh cut flowers filling your living room, or a new perfume;
the taste of your favorite comfort foods (like creamy mashed potatoes or a hot caramel latte);
the sound of relaxing music, the melody of a flowing river on a nature walk, or a phone call from a kind friend who is really good at cheering you up.
This is a time of transition. You’re going from a being couple to a single, from a “we” to a “me.” Change takes time and we all handle it differently, so be good to your self in the process.
Some days you will stumble and some days you will stand firm, but no matter what happens you walk on, knowing that you are one step closer to brighter days ahead.
Dear Lord, I am really hurting today. How could this happen? I simply do not understand. I am sad, and angry and hurt and heartbroken. I give you my pain and cast my cares into the ocean of your love and comfort. I choose to trust You, and remember that no matter what happens you are faithful, kind and good. Even when I do not see where the plot is going, You are still the author of my story. I need You, Lord. I need your close presence. Help me to rest in the comfort of your love. Restore my shattered heart. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. Her hope-filled and encouraging books include "Power Prayers for Women," "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" and "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times." Jackie also writes the Living Single blog on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk website.