Letting go of someone you still love is never easy. It doesn't happen overnight. Even though you may be physically separated from the person you love, it's not always easy to cope with the emotional separation.
Breaking up with someone you love, or once loved, involves the physical act of moving away from each other. That in itself can be challenging. If you lived together as a couple, there is the physical dividing up of things that you shared together: your home, your furniture, your bank accounts, cars, and so on.
But when all those physical loose ends have been tied up and taken care of, the emotional loose ends associated with letting go of someone you're still in love with may linger for a long time. Here are some gentle ways that might help you start recovering from the pain of breaking up with someone who meant everything to you.
You are the expert on your own feelings. While there are many articles available online about coping with a painful breakup, you are a unique individual with a unique perspective. Always do what feels right for you.
Let Yourself Feel Sad
Breaking up with someone you love and having to let go of the life you had together aren’t minor events in your life. That’s why it is important to allow yourself to feel sad, to grieve your loss, and to give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you're feeling in the moment.
When people lose loved ones through death, few would judge or dismiss their grief. When you break up with someone, it’s also OK to grieve the loss of that relationship. The experience of letting go of someone you love is no less valid than any other type of loss you may experience in life.
Give Yourself Permission to Heal
You wouldn’t expect someone in mourning to just put on a happy face and hide their grief. So why do you expect that of yourself after a breakup? Allowing yourself to feel sad about a recent love loss is an important part of your recovery process. It can't be skipped over. There is no fast-forward button to speed you through this painful period of letting go.
Just like the sensation of physical pain is a sign that your body has been hurt and needs to heal, emotional pain is a sign that your mind, heart, and soul need to heal.
Acknowledge Your Feelings of Powerlessness
One of the things that hurts the most about loss is that you can’t always go back and undo what’s been done. You can’t always take back what was said or done that led to the breakup in the first place. Being able to let go of someone you're in love with and starting to heal from the pain means acknowledging there might not be anything you can do to change the fact that you're no longer with the one you love.
You may also feel powerless over how painful it is to watch someone you love slip away and move on with their life. This can be one of the worst parts of letting go: watching the love of your life let go of you and move on with life. Even if the person you broke up with deliberately caused you pain, you may feel powerless because you're left wondering what you ever did to deserve being treated so badly. (The answer is 'nothing.' No one deserves to be treated badly.)
But letting go and moving on sometimes means you must accept that you have no control over what other people say or do. You can’t change someone. You can’t make them feel something that they don’t feel. The only thing you can change is how you respond to the things that happen to you in life. And letting go of things you cherish and love is a natural part of life.
Take Things One Day at a Time
One of the scariest parts of letting go is the pain of knowing your future might not include that person you once loved, or still love, anymore. Thoughts of the future without your life partner can be overwhelming. Meditation, gratitude journals, and present moment mindfulness can help you stay focused on the here and now. The less time spent dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future, the sooner you can start healing and enjoying the wonderful world that exists all around you. Maybe there is someone out there who is also letting go of a loved one; perhaps your paths might cross one day.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help While You Adjust
It’s OK to seek professional support and guidance if you need to. Lawyers or mediators are not the only ones that can be involved in helping you end your marriage or long-term relationship. There are other people you can ask for help in figuring out how to let go of a relationship and move forward.
- A therapist or counselor can help you explore your painful breakup emotions in a safe, non-judgmental setting.
- A support group for people going through divorce or separation may be able to provide insight into the difficult process of letting go.
- An accountant can help you tackle messy money issues that might be lingering after the breakup. It's particularly hard to let go of a relationship if you feel financially dependent on someone.
- A cleaning company, a professional organizer, or your best friend can help you clear out some of the painful physical reminders of the life you once shared with the person you loved, or still love. Changing up your décor, getting rid of clutter, and taking pride in your new solo space can feel empowering and liberating for some people. Don't just practice letting go of love; practice letting go of junk and clutter and things that keep you from fully experiencing life.
Seek professional help if your feelings of loss and grief are taking over and affecting your ability to sleep, eat, or enjoy hobbies and activities that you once participated in.
If your health is deteriorating after the breakup, it's important to seek medical care. Depression and poor health can be very real physical manifestations after a painful breakup. Talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional if your feelings of loss are worsening. Letting go of someone you love does take time. But if you feel like you're going backwards more often than forwards, additional support and counselling may be needed to help you through a breakup. Remember, there is no shame in asking for help when copung with the pain of a breakup, separation, or divorce.
You Will Get Through This
Don’t give up on yourself, your friends, your family, and all the wonderful things that you do have going on in your life. Recovering from the pain of having to let go of someone you care for takes time.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Sadie Holloway