Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron reminds us that every ending is also a new beginning. I keep trying to remember that right now. I keep trying to remember that I have to let go of this relationship to make space for what I really want and need in my life. But for me, these early days are bleak. They don’t feel like the beginning of anything. There is no sense of hopefulness, no sense yet of possibility. Mostly, it just feels like a big, black ending. The End. My stomach aches, I have no appetite, and I can’t trust my composure. I found myself suddenly in tears today, just seeing a photo of my guy on my desk.
I would dearly love to skip this ending phase and just get right on to a new beginning; I’d love to escape the pain altogether. But I know that isn’t an option. I have to go through this whether I want to or not. I need to remember that this place, however painful, is a place of powerful learning for me. And I need to remember that I can do this. I’ve done it before. So, here’s Sally’s foolproof plan for surviving a break up:
1. Call in my support system. When my marriage ended, I turned to three close friends, all of whom were colleagues. Those same three friends each listened and sympathized yesterday, each lending me the emotional support I needed. I know that in the coming weeks, they’ll be there to check in, to offer a hug or some wise advice, and to find ways to distract me and make me laugh. I made an appointment today to see my counselor too. I figure the more people looking out for me right now, the better.
2. Let myself grieve. It’s easy for me to get myself so busy that I don’t have time to think about what I’m going through. But I know I’ll have to face the pain eventually, so I’m trying to give myself some time everyday where it’s okay to feel sad, and where it’s okay to cry. I’m not going to wallow or get swept away, but I need to give myself time to cry and time to heal.
3. Stay busy. I started a new project at work today, something I can throw myself into wholeheartedly. I felt focused and energized, and I hardly thought about the break up at all. Then I raced from work to pick up my kids and launched into the craziness of the after-school routine. There’s nothing like a house full of kids to keep me distracted. (I had an extra child here for a play date, just in case three boys weren’t enough to keep me busy today!) I know I need time to feel sad and to mourn the end of this relationship, but not all day. Keeping busy makes a huge difference for me.
4. Practice extreme self-care. If I learned anything from my divorce, it was that I needed to take really good care of myself. And so I’m all about vitamin B and bubble baths; I’m all about getting eight hours of sleep (even if I need a sleeping pill to get there); I’m all about making time for writing, which for me is the best therapy available. I’m all about getting out to a Jazzercise class, a truly joyful activity for me. And I think it’s time to book a massage…
5. Keep asking, “What am I learning in this place?” The only good thing about being in this sad place is that I have so much to learn here. What I’m realizing today is that I’m remarkably calm. I’ve been here before. I’m not frightened. I feel a quiet sense of confidence, knowing that I can get through this, and knowing that, even though it doesn’t feel like it now, this ending really is a new beginning.