Step 2: Processing

The days and weeks following a break-up are hard. Mixed emotions, even relief and euphoria if things weren’t quite right, and the mood swings in between.

Encountering the painful spaces and moments that are no longer filled with his presence–the morning conversation, the texts throughout the day, the last “Nite,” and no falling asleep holding hands, or hello kisses, or hugs. The big smiles, contagious giggles, private jokes, and back-and-forth banter.

Missing the tenderness and fun of the early days. Reliving the good memories, and bursting into tears out of the blue when someone mentions planning a trip to a place you once enjoyed together. Driving by the places you used to go, and eventually, stopping and going in to reclaim them for yourself.

Re-evaluating life, with the seeming misdirections that come to mind. Bargaining and settling–or not.

Reframing everything–what were the challenges, the sticking points? What caused me to hold back; what caused him to shut down? Maybe it wasn’t such a great fit after all? I was really tired of __________???

Once you reach a point of acceptance, detaching from your former partner can bring you some comfort. Getting him out of your system, or deciding at the very least that when the thoughts come–because they will–you will not dwell on them; your brain will change the subject.

Grief is not linear; it is different for everyone. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Sometimes we skip steps, and sometimes we go back, over and over again. It’s tempting to shut down the process, to try to avoid the feelings, but stuffing the emotion only holds you hostage.

Instead, notice how you feel as though you were outside your body: “I observe that I feel…uncomfortable. Sad. A lump in my throat.” or a gutwrenching “I just can’t believe this is happening to me. . .again.” Imagine yourself standing in a beautiful waterfall, your emotions flowing over and away from you like the water. And then relax and let them go.

Above all, be honest with yourself. As you are able to handle it, recognize and acknowledge your part in what happened. Be willing to take responsibility for it, and think all the way through to your why’s–your motivations in doing (or in NOT doing) certain things.

Our own actions, which we may not understand in the moment, are often indicators of a subconscious understanding of something that our heart or gut or intuition perceives, but that we are not yet ready to deal with in a conscious way. You can learn to recognize these behaviors in yourself as indicators of red flags that need first to be discerned and then somehow addressed. “Why did I act that way? And where did that come from?”

Once you recognize when your subconscious signals red flags, then you are empowered to ask, “How do I want to handle that differently in the future?” when something is up, or to choose what you want to do before getting off track or going too far down the wrong road.

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