You meet someone. You fall deeply in love and then life happens and the relationship ends. Sometimes it’s timing. Other times it’s through the loss of death. And yet, in many other cases it was the need to mature and grow as individuals apart. A dear friend recently asked me, “How can you continue in other relationships? What do you do when you realize that your heart belongs to someone else?” I pondered long and hard. I thought about my own love affairs, those who still hold and tug my heart in places that I will never release. But, in a world that is driven by romance novels and movies it’s really difficult to decipher what you should do when the heart chooses to love another. It’s almost impossible to explain to another what you are feeling inside. I couldn’t answer my friend at the time, but here are six questions to ask in order to heal from an intense break-up:
1. Was he or she really “the one?” We perceive that there is only “one” great love. There could be many “ones.” There might be “the one” who knew your every move and story; the one who was the best kisser; the one who was the best comedian; the one who loved your children. “The one” is a concept we have created to personalize that one person who was the best at a certain thing. The worst thing you can do is tell another who is hurting, “time heals all wounds,” or “you will heal from this.” There is no time limit on hurt and grieving. The heart knows what it wants. Sometimes we neglect to appreciate what we have until it’s over. It’s a human default. It has little to do with intelligence. The heart may just be owned by an ex forever. You can try to substitute it with drugs, alcohol, sex or other addictions, but it’s truly difficult to move on. And, that’s okay! You don’t have to figure things out today. It might take years before making peace with how you feel. Every so often, those loves re-enter our lives. Because of lessons and growth, we appreciate them in a profound level that was never there before.
2. What was the thing that connected you? When we are in other relationships we create a false perception of what we are missing. Life happens through us, not to us. People move on. We are bombarded with quotes about missing love, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” There is a reason you are now in another relationship. This person touched you in some way. There was a new connection. But, there are also those who do not move into other relationships. They are paralyzed by the loss. The connection was over. Can you remain friends with an ex-lover? Can you still partake in their lives without sex? Can you continue that relationship while starting another? These are questions only you can answer honestly.
3. What did you learn from the relationship? Every relationship brings lessons. There is a time and place for each one. The deeper the connection, the harder the challenges. Intense relationships have a way of turning us upside down, right side up and in circles. They don’t just go away after they have existed in your life. It doesn’t matter if it was a love affair in your teens, a two-week fling, or years of sharing a life with children and family. Relationships force us to grow and learn in ways that can break and mend us. If you can revisit with that person, what would you say to him/her? What would you say was their purpose in your life? Cutting past chords of love is truly difficult when you know that your heart was given solely to that person. It’s never easy to take full responsibility for our behaviors. How you act with another is a reflection of your own insecurities.
4. Was it lust or love? We tend to mix the two. Lust drives us to lose our minds in the process of sharing with a lover. We feel things in a physical level that clouds the mind. Love, however, will continue to poke and force you to stay without restrictions. Ask yourself if it was a physical relationship or one that transcends through time? Some lovers leave imprints that cannot be forgotten. In bed it was magical, but outside in the real world, it was disastrous. You must decide if what you are missing is the sexual connection or was this a life partner that completely had your back in all your decisions?
5. Why did it end? This is one of the most honest questions you can ask yourself. You can make a mistake once. If you make it more than that it is considered a decision. You chose to stay or leave. There is usually a pattern that you can track. Was he or she selfish with their time and needs? Was it a possessive relationship? Where you taken for granted? Did you feel appreciated? Where you heard and understood? Was it timing? You may ask yourself many other questions. There is always one or two authentic reasons that the relationship ended (unless death pulled you apart).
6. Are you replacing him/her with another without healing? Most people have no clue that they will enter other relationships with similar traits. Awareness is absent when hurt takes over. How do you get over someone that made you come alive? Often times you replace them with familiarity. Being honest with yourself about how you feel in this new relationship will serve as a marking point. It’s not fair to your new mate, or yourself, if you are still holding on to another who (you feel) stole your heart. Healing doesn’t happen over night. Healing requires pulling out roots and seeing things without pointing the finger to your ex. Healing is about you and coming to terms with the reality that maybe, perhaps, your instincts were letting you know that the relationship was toxic. Not all lovers raise us to the highest form of love.
How do you heal from a past love? There is no one set answer. I am definitely no expert in matters of love. Each person is different. What I do believe is that you must take care of yourself. You must find a place to love yourself beyond anyone else. It’s not selfish. It’s not egotistical. It’s self-love. It’s imperative to allow time the space to gently introduce another in your life. Jumping from one to another adds to the intensity of loss. Your heart might never feel what it did with “the one,” but a new “one” might just show you a deeper form of love that reflects who you really are.