RE­LA­TION­SHIPS How to use break-ups to forge new be­gin­nings

WE MIGHT NOT FEEL IT AT THE TIME, BUT THE END OF A RE­LA­TION­SHIP CAN HELP US BREAK NEG­A­TIVE BE­HAV­IOURS, GUID­ING US TO GREATER THINGS AHEAD, SAYS NATALIE LUE

In the Moment - - Contents -

We hu­mans have a habit of fore­cast­ing doom, and an­tic­i­pat­ing that we won’t get over some­one or some­thing. “I’m never gonna get over this!” I’ve de­clared nu­mer­ous times, only to then nd my­self dat­ing some­one new or be­liev­ing that the next re­la­tion­ship was ‘it’. Even­tu­ally, I had to ad­mit that ac­tu­ally doom didn’t await me – I would get over it.

Not only did these ex­pe­ri­ences demon­strate that I hadn’t known who ‘The One’ (or what ‘it’) was, they also showed me that as painful, frus­trat­ing or dis­ap­point­ing as these re­la­tion­ships might have been, I’d needed them.

When we go through a breakup, we’re of­ten so busy think­ing that we’re a ‘fail­ure’, that they were our soul­mate, and imag­in­ing a fu­ture lled with lone­li­ness tum­ble­weeds, that we don’t ac­knowl­edge what the re­la­tion­ship and our re­sponses are try­ing to teach us.

Re­la­tion­ships help us to heal, grow and learn, pro­vid­ing a win­dow to un­der­stand­ing who we are and what it is that we truly need and de­sire. It is only through our re­la­tion­ships that we get to shed old bag­gage and break pat­terns of think­ing and be­hav­iour that block and sab­o­tage what we want to have, to do and to ex­pe­ri­ence.

I went out with one emo­tion­ally un­avail­able guy af­ter an­other. They’d chase hard and then grad­u­ally re­treat down to a slow can­ter and even­tu­ally a hard stop.

Sud­denly, some­body who I hadn’t been too crazy about was now the ‘love of my life’ and I’d slide from a cool, calm, con dent woman to an anx­ious wreck, wor­ry­ing about what I’d done to ‘put them o ’.

I of­ten won­dered if there was some sort of se­cret in-built hom­ing de­vice that made me an easy tar­get. From where I was stand­ing, I wanted a re­la­tion­ship and com­mit­ment, it was just that I was hav­ing an ex­tended run of bad luck.

Over time, my re­la­tion­ships in­creased in pain and tox­i­c­ity. As my life came crash­ing down around me, I had to face the truth: my re­la­tion­ships were try­ing to show me some­thing. It wasn’t just about my­self but about my be­liefs, feel­ings and at­ti­tudes about my re­la­tion­ships and my past.

I re­alised that if I’d re­ally been sure of my­self and able to stand on my own two feet, I wouldn’t have kept hitch­ing my wagon to peo­ple who avoided in­ti­macy and com­mit­ment. I re­alised that I was car­ry­ing so much pain and mis­un­der­stand­ing about my child­hood and re­la­tion­ships that I didn’t be­lieve I was good enough. I was play­ing out harm­ful pat­terns in an e ort to ‘get’ love, try­ing to avoid fac­ing my­self and my pain.

Of­ten it’s not un­til a re­la­tion­ship ends that we re­alise cer­tain truths about our­selves. Of­ten it’s not un­til a re­la­tion­ship ends that we re­alise that we didn’t like who we were when we were in it. Some­times we don’t see that we’re spend­ing too much time try­ing to please oth­ers and not enough time be­ing our­selves, or we might recog­nise that we’re be­hav­ing as the per­son who we think we are, or the per­son that oth­ers have told us we might be. The nar­ra­tive that we’ve got­ten used to telling our­selves about our past ex­pe­ri­ences and our worth can make us be­lieve that we can’t do bet­ter, lead­ing us to ac­cept lies or de­cep­tion from some­one else.

But there are truths to be learned. Maybe we take a step back and no­tice that each of the peo­ple we’ve been go­ing out with has been sim­i­lar to some­one in our lives that we’ve been in­ad­ver­tently try­ing to get a sec­ond chance with. Or some­times we sud­denly be­come aware of our fear of be­ing alone, and how self-de ned we are by our re­la­tion­ships, just as we are in the midst of dis­solv­ing.

At the time, we of­ten don’t re­alise that we wouldn’t have dis­cov­ered these things were it not for this painful end­ing that’s rep­re­sent­ing the be­gin­ning of nd­ing our way back to us. We can be un­aware of blind spots, as­sump­tions and judge­ments that are in uenc­ing our choices, and it’s only when we re­alise that we’ve been think­ing and do­ing the same thing and ex­pect­ing a di er­ent re­sult, that we are forced to ques­tion our rules and ideas about who we re­ally are and what will re­ally make us happy.

When a re­la­tion­ship breaks down or a love in­ter­est doesn’t come to fruition and we then nd our­selves feel­ing as if our world is col­laps­ing, it’s a painful but nec­es­sary awak­en­ing to our need to own our­selves. To re­alise that there were items in our emo­tional suit­case, the weight and im­pact of which, we were un­aware of.

We wake up to our­selves. We start to re­mem­ber who we re­ally are. We be­come cu­ri­ous about what we are yet to have, to do or to ex­pe­ri­ence. We dis­cover our re­silience while at the same time learn­ing that we’re not per­fect and nor do we ever need to be. We ac­knowl­edge where we were set­tling for less and hid­ing from our pur­pose, our true self.

We do the things that we for­got about. We change jobs to the one that we re­ally want. We start busi­nesses. We reignite cre­ative pas­sions, for­got­ten in­ter­ests, and pay at­ten­tion to whis­per­ings that we didn’t have the space to truly hear. We re­build con­nec­tions and foster new ones. We grad­u­ally be­come kinder to our­selves, stead­ier. We re­build our lives in a way that al­lows us to be au­then­tic.

Ev­ery re­la­tion­ship ex­pe­ri­ence takes us closer to the en­rich­ing re­la­tion­ships that we truly need, de­sire and de­serve. Our great­est pains of­ten be­come our great­est growths. While we don’t know it at the time, with the bene t of hind­sight, we come to recog­nise that a breakup was the be­gin­ning of great things up ahead.

RE­LA­TION­SHIPS “Re­la­tion­ships help us to heal, grow and learn, pro­vid­ing a win­dow to un­der­stand­ing who we are and what we need.”

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