Anyone who has been through divorce knows the devastation of what it feels like to have love end.
It goes beyond having your heart broken when your boyfriend breaks up with you.
When you have been married or in a live in relationship that was seriously committed, you have built on a dream.
You have a home together. You have collected furniture and dishes and a duvet that you decided on together.
You’ve been on vacations and shared out of the way places where you sat and talked and laughed and confessed your most embarrassing moments.
You planned and imagined the future together. One more child. A trip to Bali. A cabin by a lake.
I remember the day I moved out of my home. Because I wanted to assess what we needed to do and make it as quick a job as possible for the family who was helping me, I was the first to arrive.
Turning the key in the lock, I knew it would be the last time. I stepped in and was immediately engulfed by the memories.
The sounds of kids feet running up the stairs, the clink of dishes in the dishwasher, the TV playing favorite movies, conversation around the kitchen table…echoed all around me.
This was the place I had painted, decorated, retreated to, loved. And now it was torn apart, boxes everywhere. Decisions had to be made about what stayed, what moved.
My daughter arrived to find me sitting on the floor against a wall, crying. It was so painful.
How Do You Move On From That?
I’ve heard that when divorce happens to you, it’s like a person has been ripped from your side where they were joined to you. What’s left? A bleeding wound that’s invisible to everyone else except you. I would venture to say that you don’t just deal with the person being ripped away – it’s as if life as you know it ends that day.
Some of us fall apart. Some of us carry on stoically as if there’s nothing wrong.
But the truth is this: We all feel the same excruciating pain. And all of us ask the same questions.
“Why is this happening to me?”
“Why couldn’t he love me?”
“Why wasn’t I the one he stayed and fought for?”
“Why was I such a fool to have given my heart away to someone like him?”
“What’s wrong with me??”
All justified. All normal. These kinds of questions come out in your anger, in your denial, in your depression. These are 3 of the 4 stages of grieving.
Far too many women never come back from divorce.
What I never dreamed possible that terrible night when I moved out of all I knew, was that only a few years later, I would be living in a love that was everything my last one wasn’t. Right then, I couldn’t have believed it was possible.
I had to come out of that “Back Room” of my life and enter the “Waiting Room” before I could go on to the “Sun Room” where my dreams could actually be realized.
But the saddest thing of all is that many women choose to stay in the “Waiting Room” the rest of their lives.
After being forced out of the “Back Room” where they lived in the house with the haunting sounds from the past, they still keep the door open. In fact, they go back there and spend time nurturing their hurt, their disappointments, resentments and, ultimately, their fear of this happening all over again.
To remain here blurs out any hope of a better future. Eventually, they think that’s all there is.
They have no idea that, if they were to turn a few degrees and look ahead, they would see the walk-way into the Sun Room, a beautiful place filled with the light of a new world built on the learnings of the Back Room and the Waiting Room combined.
The Door To the Back Room Must Close
What happened for me between the Back Room and living now in the Sun Room?
The most important thing I ever learned was that I was asking the wrong questions.
Questions are important. In life, we ask them all the time without realizing it AND we come up with answers. Not always the correct ones, either. We have to be very careful because the answers we come up with will often then become our beliefs about who we are and what life is about.
So you can see how vital it is to ask the right questions to begin with.
Instead of asking, “Why wasn’t I enough? Why couldn’t he love me?”, perhaps we need to ask:
“What was it we had in the beginning?”
“Where did it start to change?”
“When did we stop ‘giving’ and become more obsessed with ‘getting'”?
When you ask with a genuinely curious heart, the answers to these questions will give you surprising insights.
In the end, though, it may be true that you tried your hardest, you gave your all, were everything you thought you needed to be. You might have opened your heart and invited him in…but, here’s the thing – not all men can come in.
Sometimes he’s just not in a place where he’s able to. And especially if the walls of resentment grew high.
2. The second most important step I had to take was to ACCEPT.
The last stage of grieving is acceptance.
It was a real shocker for me to learn, that unless I accepted the past in a way that meant I could actually look back with love, I would never be able to move on.
At first, it just simply made me angry. It seemed impossible. I still hurt too much. It wasn’t my fault and, iafter all, f he had been different, I would have been different. Everything would have been different.
But, the idea turned out to be true because, until I did accept what had happened, and just let it be, actually forgive myself and him, he went everywhere I went (figuratively, of course).
I spent my time trying to prove to the world that what he said about me wasn’t true.
Any man I dated, I would try to be everything I wasn’t to my ex to prove that I was a good person, I was a good partner. And I would make the exact same mistakes.
I couldn’t deal with my ex, seeing him made me nauseous. Fear would well up inside again and I would be back into having nightmares.
But acceptance actually became my savior. All of that began to lessen.
Instead of avoiding thinking about him, I began to ask the questions I mentioned above.
I began to talk to a few close people and do some research.
In the end, I gained a clear understanding of why my ex couldn’t be the one for me. It was bigger than me or our actual relationship – as it turns out most relationship struggles are.
Accepting what I learned to be true gave me insight into other men that I had allowed to hurt me, as well.
None of them were able to be there for me. They just couldn’t be. It’s who they were.
That simple fact became the key factor that allowed me to close the door to my Back Room.
And closing that door opened up a whole new path ahead of me. I was able to look clearly at my own heart and what it was that I was longing for, actually needing in love.
3. I let my heart express itself in letters I never sent.
Sounds easy to say, “Just close the door to the Back Room” but it isn’t that easy, is it?
I’m going to give you some ideas for things you can do to let someone go. I did all of these spaced out over time. The temptation to go back there comes and goes, so, for awhile, you have to reinforce your decision to leave that Back Room door closed. And it takes a physical act of “letting go” to convince your brain that it’s done.
Take these ideas and choose what will work for you. Some will work better than others. Grieving is deeply personal. Find the way that works for you.
Write a letter to each of your ex’s in your life that let you down – but don’t send them. Talk to them by telling them as many things that you can think of that begins with these statements:
I wish that ______________
I’m sorry that ____________
I’m angry that ____________
I’m hurt that _____________
Then tell them you are releasing them. Let them go.
Write a letter back from each of them to you filled with things you wish you could have heard from them. It’s miraculously healing!
“Bury” your relationship with your ex and mark it with a stone marker. Write your names entwined together on a piece of paper. You can include a list of things you are still grieving as well – or a memento or a symbol of something that meant a lot to you or to the two of you.
Dig a hole in the ground somewhere and put it all in. Bury it and put some kind of marker on it. When you feel the tug back into feeling sorry for yourself again or anger or sadness, go back to that spot and feel the acceptance of the loss again. Move on as if you are accepting a death.
Buy a bunch of helium filled balloons and let them go. Write on each one something that you are releasing in your ex or your past relationship. Then, go somewhere alone and let them go. Watch as they get further and further away, smaller and smaller. The smaller they get, the further away you find yourself from the relationship, the man, the connection, until it’s gone, barely able to be seen or felt. When feelings return, recall the picture of them drifting, drifting, drifting off into the distance.
Choose a song or a poem that symbolizes YOU standing up for yourself and moving forward. Sing it, dance to it, read the poem every day and believe it. Consider using, “She Let Go“.
Write a list of everything you want in your ideal relationship. Use the “Perfect For Me Man Plan” as a sample template. Go over your list EVERY DAY until it’s your focus. What you focus on will be where your heart and brain will head. It’s as if you’re giving them a picture of the treasure. The map will appear as you start moving toward it.
There’s a reason you are in the Waiting Room right now. Step by step you are finding your way out back into the sun again. So much is out there for you, ahead.
Make it your aim, no matter what, to find yourself in a place where you can love passionately out of a wide open heart!