We’ve all felt pain in love. Heartbreak especially can be a huge wake up call and teaches us to reflect on our actions and how we got to where we are.
Heartbreak can be a catalyst to our own evolvement, when we choose to see it that way.
The pain can jolt us into an awakened state where we ask real questions of ourselves, allowing us to move through the pain.
Or the pain can cause us to move around it, avoid it and become numb.
I was talking to a client who experienced heartbreak 6 months ago, but didn’t feel over it. Let’s call her Sara. She said, “After we broke up I couldn’t sleep. I was crying all the time, and I couldn’t even eat for weeks. I felt broken inside.
I would wake up with anxiety, ruminating on how it all could have been different. I wondered why I wasn’t enough for him or why I couldn’t inspire him to choose me. Was there something missing in me, or something fundamentally wrong with me?”
These thoughts are so normal and exactly what most of us feel in the face of heartbreak; it could be a break up or if you’re in a relationship, it can feel like your partner doesn’t fully see or choose you.
These thoughts are our way of ruminating in the pain.
I said to her, typically when we’re holding onto someone and can’t seem to get over the situation, there are many reasons. One possibility is feeling like we didn’t honor ourselves in the process. Meaning we didn’t express what we really wanted or felt.
Maybe because we got swept away in the old paradigm of “let him lead, and we follow,” as if we don’t have a choice or a say.
Maybe we were terrified of being judged for saying exactly what we wanted.
Maybe we were attached because our worthiness was wrapped up in the relationship, and if we “did it wrong” or made a mistake, then our worst fear of someone pulling away or leaving would come true.
Maybe we were concerned with burdening or hurting someone else, so we held back.
When we hold back our true feelings and thoughts, we hold those expressions as hostage. We do this unconsciously, but we do it because then we don’t have to fully let go.
Some part of us can keep that person close, or keep the heartbreak as a reminder to never make that mistake again, or as a way to say, “What if it could have been different?”
So I told Sara, “It’s important for you to let him know how you feel, fully, by writing him a letter. Say everything you couldn’t in person. This letter could be something you do or do not send.
This isn’t a letter where you blame him and share how much you dislike him or the way he treated you, that can be part of it but not the focus.
The focus is to write it from a place of owning your role in it. Within relationships, you have your 50% and he has his. You are just expressing your 50% and showing him how his 50% impacted you.
Write without adjusting or fearing what he will or won’t say back. Fully express how much you loved or liked him or your fears around why you felt you couldn’t say what you wanted.”
Sara said she would write it, but didn’t feel it was healthy for her to revisit all of the pain and emotions again. She said, “What’s done is done, why do I have to go back?”
I said, “Aren’t you replaying things in your head everyday?” She said yes. I asked, “So what makes this different?”
This was her resistance talking. We can be really clever in the ways we avoid really moving through pain.
In our next call Sara said, “I wrote the letter. I know I don’t want to send it because as I wrote it, I felt miserable. I relived the entire thing again, and for an entire day felt totally bad.”
Then a week later, she emailed me saying how she isn’t thinking about him as much, and how she feels like she can move on, and hasn’t been able to say that in months. She even started talking/dating someone.
I wrote her back saying, “There is a difference in ruminating in the pain, versus progressing through the pain.”
When most of us feel heartbreak, we oscillate between blaming ourselves and the other person, which can often be ruminating in the pain.
What Sara did through that letter was dig deep, reflect, and express her side. Although painful, this was progressing through the pain.
You know you have progressed through the pain when you feel lighter and freer, less stuck and open to what’s possible.
I would love to hear from you. Is there a pain you’re ruminating in? Let me know in the comments below.