Are you trying to make peace with letting go of someone who left you?
Have you been working through the end of the relationship but are having a hard time accepting that it is over and moving on?
You are not alone.
The end a relationship is like a death and learning to accept it can be beyond difficult. All of the hopes and dreams we had for the future have been dashed – how do we recover from that?
Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help you make peace with letting go of someone who left you and move on to a life full of happiness and love.
#1 – Mourn.
For many of us, when we are struggling with pain, we tell ourselves to suck it up. Appearing to be sad about the end of the relationship makes us look weak and we don’t want that.
Our friends tell us to move on – that our person wasn’t worthy of us and that we will find someone who will love us some day. So, just move on. You are better off.
I am here to tell you that this attitude, while understandable, isn’t going to help you make peace with letting go of someone who left you. It is important that, to process what has happened, you feel the pain.
What do I mean? I mean whatever it is that you need to do to let the pain that you are feeling out of your body. Cry, scream, yell, throw something (not at someone though) – whatever you need to do to feel your feelings and release them. Holding in your emotions will only magnify them.
It’s okay for you to take some time to get past this. To sit on the couch and eat ice cream, to drink a little too much with your friends, to hang out with your family, who loves you best. These things are important. Your heart has had a shock and it will need time to recuperate.
So, take some time, no matter what people say, to let out your emotions and work through and recover from the pain. Doing so will help you move on.
#2 – Make a list.
One of the reasons that it’s hard for us to get over a break up and move on is because of the tricks that our brains play on us.
After we break up with someone, or are broken up with, we no longer have time with our people. We no longer are building up memories, good and bad, but instead are left with memories of things past. And, for some reason, our brains only hold on to the good things, the things about our relationship that made us happy.
Perhaps the memories consist of how things were at the beginning or the time you went to the Bahamas together or the brew fest you attended last fall. Those were all positive parts of your relationship and ones that you hold onto.
The reality of the relationship might be somewhat different. Perhaps the person they were in the beginning is not at all the person they ended up being. Perhaps in the Bahamas they drank way too much and you spent a lot of time alone. Perhaps they were crabby at the end of the brew fest and you had to leave early. The brain doesn’t remember those things – it only remembers the good ones.
So, I encourage everyone to make a list while they are trying to get past a break up, a list of all of the things that weren’t good about the relationship. Even if you were broken up with suddenly, I would bet that if you did some soul searching there would be things that were happening that you might have ignored. Write those things down.
Having a list will make a big difference as you work to get over a break up and move on.
#3 – Let go of the victim mentality.
Ok, so, your person has left you and you are alone, devastated, and that is a truly horrible thing. And perhaps you are convinced that your person is a horrible person to just walk out on you even though nothing was wrong. Perhaps you are telling yourself that you are the victim in all of this.
Now, I am not saying that you haven’t been blindsided and hurt deeply – this is how it is at the end of a relationship, especially if you have been left. But I would argue that perhaps some of what you are telling yourself isn’t, in fact, based on truth and that if you continue to play the victim in your breakup, if you continue to take no responsibility for its demise, then trying to make peace with letting go of someone who left you will be impossible.
Are you sitting around feeling sorry for yourself? Are you telling yourself that you did nothing wrong and that it was all on your ex and that they treated you horribly and that you don’t deserve this after all you have done for them and that they were wrong and you were right etc. etc. etc.?
While some of what you are thinking might be true, I would encourage you to examine your role in the demise of the relationship. Even if they cheated on you, you played some role in making the space for your partner to want to fool around. I am NOT saying that this is your fault but I am saying that holding on to being a victim here isn’t going to let you get past this.
For years, after my ex-husband left me for another woman, I played the victim – the person who was abandoned by the man who swore in front of our friends and family to love me forever. Not being able to break out of the victim mode held me back from healing. Once I was finally able to see that, while I was still hurt, I wasn’t blameless in what happened and by doing so I was finally able to start making peace with the end of my marriage.
#4 – Don’t sabotage yourself.
Ok, be honest. When was the last time you stalked your ex? Was it one minute, one hour, one day or one month ago? How did it feel when you stalked them? Great? I am guessing not.
We do many things to sabotage ourselves when we are trying to make peace with letting go of someone who left. We stalk them online, wondering what they are doing and who they are doing it with. We seek closure, sometimes more than once. We move on too quickly, only to run back to our ex, begging for another chance. We let our ex come and go, taking advantage of our emotional fragility.
If you want to make peace with letting go of your ex, it is essential that you don’t sabotage yourself. That you do the things that you need to do to keep yourself strong in the face of all the pain.
Make sure you take care of yourself. You sleep and eat and exercise. Spend time with people who love you and who will remind you how amazing you are. Do things that make you feel good, like a massage or a pedicure. Buy yourself something pretty. Build yourself an altar to your hopes and dreams.
Don’t spend even a moment more sabotaging yourself, making yourself weaker in the face of what happened. Stand up for yourself and prepare to move on.
#5 – Take stock of what you want.
For many of us, when we are broken up with, we are sure that we will never love or be loved again. We believe that this person is the only person who could ever make us happy.
I would like to argue that the person who just left you is not the only person who can make you happy but is, instead, simply the one who is in front of you right now. The one who you gave time and effort and your heart to. But not, I promise, the only person for you.
Now is the time to take stock of what you want in a person. What kind of person would make your heart sing, who would make you feel safe and secure, who would be the kind of person who would stand by you no matter what?
After this, take stock of the kind of person your ex was. Were they the kind of person who would be able to be who you would want? Who could give you what you want in life and love?
Be honest with yourself. Don’t say ‘they could be if only…’ If your person isn’t who you would want them to be right now, let them go. People might change but only if they want to. Don’t love someone for who they could be.
Your person is out there and they aren’t the person who just let you go.
Knowing how to make peace with letting go of someone who left you is an important part of moving forward.
If you hold onto anger and resentment, getting past your person and finding a healthy and happy relationship will be impossible.
So, make sure you mourn the end of your relationship, make a list of things that you know weren’t good in the relationship, let go of your victim mentality, don’t sabotage yourself and look ahead to the future instead of looking back.
I know that it feels impossible now but, if you can make peace with letting go of someone who left you, you will be able to move forward and get the life, and love, that you have always dreamed of.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.