Sometimes it happens: a person dearest to you suddenly says, “We cannot be together anymore.” You see him or her gather things, shut the door, and your mind goes numb. A huge part of your life, a huge piece of yourself is gone, and while your brain is stalled, desperately trying to realize the new situation and keep to the ground that is quickly shattering under your feet, deep inside your chest you somehow feel: this is real, and this is forever.
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Breakups are painful. Unlike many people believe, it is painful for the both sides: the dumper, if he or she truly loved you for a period of time, feels probably the same pain as you do. It is just that when he or she finally decides to leave you, they are often already past the shock and grief. As for the dumpee, it is only the beginning. And, unlike many Internet articles suggest, there is no quick way to deal with the pain; there is no shortcut, no magic pill that would help the dumpee suddenly wake up and feel alright. A breakup is a loss, and as in case of any loss, there will be grief and all the circles of hell.
In fact, there are going to be four of these circles, and then the exit from hell. The four circles, or stages of mourning are denial, anger, bargaining, and depression; the exit is acceptance, but we will talk about it later.
Denial is the reaction of your psyche aimed at protecting your personality from the incredible intensity of the initial post-breakup emotions. Denial can last for minutes or days, depending on what kind of person you are. Sometimes (although it is a pathology, and not common or typical) denial can last for decades: in fact, as well as each of the other stages. When in the denial stage, a dumpee often believes his/her ex has made a mistake, got confused, and will eventually realize it and return. After this usually comes anger: “How could he/she do this to me?” Many people find it difficult or even impossible to feel anger towards a person they held so dear, and instead direct this anger towards themselves, or try to choke it out somehow. It is important to let yourself feel anger: write hateful emails, tear up all your ex’s photos to pieces, break contact with him or her (and usually a dumpee tries to maintain contact with an ex during the denial stage), and so on. This anger is the result of frustration caused by a sudden breakup, and is natural; during this stage, it is important to let anger out, but in a way that will not harm other people physically or emotionally. Next comes bargaining: a dumpee hopes the relationship can be restored, and starts the attempts to return to their ex. And then there comes depression: a period of deep sadness, reflection, analysis of the mistakes made by both partners, tears, and isolation. During this period, it is important to not try to shove away the negative feelings with alcohol, drugs, rebound relationships, or in any other way, but feel this deep melancholy, and stay in it while it lasts. And finally, as a way out of hell, there comes acceptance. This is also a part of the grieving process, but compared to the previous four, it brings a person hope instead of suffering. Not the hope for reconciliation with an ex, but the hope—or better said, knowledge—that a dumpee can make it alone. Acceptance is the period or letting go, when one realizes that nothing can be fixed, nothing from the past is coming back, so he or she learns to live out his or her own life, and learns to understand and enjoy themselves and his or her life (Livestrong.com). Acceptance cannot be rushed; it comes only if the previous stages of grief have been passed completely—this is why it is crucial that one does not try to skip any of the stages.
All this does not mean, however, that one needs to go through the grieving process alone. It is natural during this period to feel isolated, or even to try isolate oneself. At the same time, there are many people around who can make dealing with the breakup easier; reaching out to good friends or family members is a helpful and wise first step in the recovery process—especially if any of them had gone through the same hardships before. It is crucial that one can trust these people, and that they are fully over their broken relationships—otherwise, a dumpee’s negativity can only be refueled. A supporting person must be able to listen to a dumpee without judging, criticizing, giving advice, and so on. If all of one’s friendships are connected to an ex, it is recommended to see a counselor or a psychotherapist who will help the dumpee get through the grieving process without getting stuck in each of the phases. Making new friendships, or joining a support group of people who have found themselves in the same situation can also help. Interests clubs, lectures, community activities, and so on are also an alternative to staying alone 24/7 and rummaging in one’s broken feelings (HelpGuide.org).
It is also important that a person takes good care of themselves. It is easy to put one’s hands down, start ignoring one’s own needs, and float with the river of sadness. However, this—along with trying to ignore or suppress one’s negative feelings—is a part of what holds recovery back. Therefore, during the period of grief, it is important to eat healthy food, exercise, have enough sleep, and avoid unnecessary stress (HelpGuide.org).
Breakups are never easy. Sometimes it takes a person years to get fully over someone who dumped them, and it depends not only on psychic constitution, so to say, but also on how (and whether) this person had passed all the five stages of the grieving process. This process includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and it is important that each of these stages is completely realized, felt, and lived through. Only in this case can one can fully recover and become able to build new, stronger, and more satisfying relationships.
“Stages of Grief after a Breakup.” Livestrong.com. Leaf Group, 03 May 2015. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
“Coping with a Breakup or Divorce: Moving on after a Relationship Ends.” HelpGuide.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
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