Sunday, November 28, 2010
Relationship Break-Up - Living in the Void
Let’s be honest. I believe separation, divorce, and relationship break-ups always have a gift to offer us, but the initial breakup period hurts. For most of us, when we’re in relationship, it feels like we’re on solid ground. It may feel comfortable and soft to walk on, or it may be rocky and painful, but at least you know where you stand.
When a relationship ends, we are inevitably launched into a void or abyss, where there’s nothing solid yet to land on. This is when the emotional rollercoaster goes on overdrive. Falling into the void feels disorienting and we don’t know where or when we’re going to land on our feet again.
Living in the void is a critical time to really dance and flow with our feelings. We feel the grief, sadness and loss not only of the person, but the dreams we had and the opportunities that were not yet realized. This grief is intense and overwhelming. Even those who initiate the break-up are not immune from this, although the degree of their emotional suffering is different than those who were left behind.
Inevitably the conclusion was “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it. Oh, no! We have to go through it!” Our healing comes from going through and flowing with our feelings, not bottling them up or denying them.
There is discomfort in the void, often bordering on pain. Literally, our hearts ache. It seethes with anger. It curls up in despair. Yet it’s so important to take time in this vacuum. Emotions live on a spectrum, and when we cap the downside risk of pain, we simultaneously cap the up-side reward of joy and love. If we rush the process of grief we risk leaving some unresolved pain and issues within us that will make an encore appearance in a future relationship.
Imagine when a child develops an infection. It stubbornly grows into a swollen, painful abscess below the skin. Eventually the toxins built up to the point where the abscess burst, releasing the infection in the form of pus. It was the release the doctor was hoping for, but it was nonetheless painful. Yet to complete the healing process for the child, it wasn’t enough. The doctor had to make a small incision in the seeping wound to make it bigger. He had to probe within the wound with medical instruments and disinfectant to ensure all the pus was indeed leaving child’s body. The wound had to be intentionally left open for a few days to ensure that everything drained out so that the healing would be complete.
Just as my doctor selected from various medical instruments to probe the child’s wound, here are some recommendations for how to probe gingerly into our own wounds to ensure a complete healing.
1. Practice pranayam
One strategy I’ve been using effectively is to welcome and breathe into my wounded heart. Make sure you take deep, conscious breaths. Shallow breathing doesn’t allow sufficient oxygen to come into the body and creates stress. Deep belly breaths help to quiet the ego-mind that may begin to start racing with thoughts in an effort to avoid the pain. Breathing deeply while having an emotional moment will help you digest the feelings and be able to restore a sense of calm and grounded ness more quickly.
2. Your Journal is Your sponge
A journal is like a clean, sterile sponge for a seeping wound. A journal is a safe place to collect all of those internal thoughts and feelings that must be released. I would even argue that life in the void requires a journal. Otherwise the unreleased feelings and toxic thoughts that are created in relationship break-up simply continue to run rampant within your consciousness. It is also the doorway to connecting with the wisdom and gift of why you have manifested this situation in the first place. There are no rights and wrongs about how to journal properly. Its job is to provide an arena for catharsis and objectivity.
3. The Medicine of Music
Music is a powerful tool to explore and help you release emotion. One particular tune or lyric can touch your heart to either uplift you or stir the pot of sadness and grief. If you feel numb and don’t know how to jump-start the release of your emotions, music can do it.
4. Let the tears flow
No need to bottle them up or keep a stiff upper lip. Talk it out with a friend or out loud to yourself and vent out your emotions. Feelings flow like water. When we bottle them up, resist them or deny them, it’s like we damming up the water. Like the water in the dam also finds its own outlet so do emotions, especially when we least expect them to. Therefore many dams have trickling water which has found its way to the other side and they are called weeping holes as they help ease the water pressure on the dam walls. Similarly expressing emotions in terms of tears just helps us channels emotions in an appropriate manner and releases the tension built up inside us. This in fact prevents unexpected flooding due to dam walls caving away suddenly or inappropriate demonstration of emotions. Tears are not a sign of weakness or neediness, but as a sign you are honoring your heart and growing stronger.
5. Time heals
Break-ups are painful and people struggle to dodge that pain. Sometimes our loved ones, hating to see us in pain, may urge us to move forward quickly and out of the void. But the void is the place where we will find the wisdom of the relationship breakdown, so we need to take the time to do our own inner work.