Relationship Breakup:Understanding the Myths & Learning to Heal Mary Lynn Manns, Ph.D. PAL : UNCA Psychology Department February 12, 2009
It is better to have loved and lost than to live with that psycho for the rest of your life.refrigerator magnet lent to me by Dr. Pam Laughon
Purpose of this Presentation • to help you understand what you’re going through during the loss of a relationship • to help you understand how you can help others who are going through the loss of a relationship • to provide some healing techniques
The unique struggles ina break-up… • Feelings of rejection and betrayal • Seeing your ex with a new love • Potentially unrealistic hope • Friends who are caught in the middle • Few, if any, support systems • Therapists who may not really understand • Misunderstanding of the emotions • Expectations that you can just “get over it”
There is a lot of suffering out therebut very little understandingand very little help….As a result, many people aresuffering in silence.
Myth:After a certain amount of time(3 weeks, 3 months, 6 months)you should be “over it” and “move on”….
It was a good ten months before I slept a whole night without my good friend, Tylenol PM. Jane I lived for months on ginger ale, bananas, pepto bismol, and fingernails (and lost about 40 pounds overall). Marcia I am happily married now, but even years after my break-up, I still get a little sad when I think of my ex every Sunday morning because he and I used to read the newspaper together. Chris
I’ve been going through hell for the last months. Yet, he is doing fine and is having a lot of fun with his new girlfriend. How can he just jump from what we had into a relationship with someone else?Sophie
It doesn’t go away just because you want it to.Barb, referring to her intense sadness and anger
Healthy change is not an event… it is a process • It will not happen just because you declare you are "over it" or because other people say you should be. • You will need time to reestablish your identity and way of life. • Everyone has to take his or her own unique journey-- honor your pace and trust the process.
It was almost 10 years after my break-up. I was watching a Lifetime movie about a couple who was getting a divorce. Totally unexpectedly, intense emotions consumed me and I cried like a baby. I realized I never dealt with the pain of my break-up properly – it was still a part of me.Elizabeth
Myth:It will be easier to get over an exwho has done dreadful thingsor is just plain wrong for you...
My friends try to help me by reminding me what he did. He did some terrible things…. so they don’t understand why I still love him so much, but I do. I just can’t flip a switch in my brain and make the love go away.Susan
My friends tell me I dodged a bullet. Yes, well, I know that…but I loved that bullet.Linda
I am making lists of all the awful things he did, and all his annoying habits. But it doesn’t cause me to simply forget all the wonderful things I saw in him.Amy
Love is emotional, not logical • You did not fall in love for logical reasons • You did not stay in love for logical reasons • Logical arguments will not will not cause you to fall out of love • The facts have very little ability to ease the complex feelings of love
Myth:Your friend who experienced arelationship loss will be finebecause s/he is a strong person.
People keep telling that I’ll be fine and get through this because I’ve been so strong and confident my whole life. Yes, that is the way it used to be, but not any more.Ellie
I can’t be myself around my friends. I’m falling apart and they have no idea.Amy My friends told me: We hate him now, but if you keep going on and on about him, we will start hating you.Sherrie I am worried I am wearing out my friends. Lynn
I have a lot of well-meaning people around me. But the two worst words I can hear from them is: “Move on”…. I can’t, so it makes me feel so weak.Barb
The shock and pain can create profound changes in your friend • Give your friend permission to let go • Keep a watchful eye • Recognize that “moving on” involves both the physical and the emotional • Offer your support rather than a cure
I feel like my house has burnt down and someone just brought me a pair of pajamas.I really appreciate the gift, but my house still burnt down. Sophie
Myth:If you concentrate on what you have, you will stop thinking about whatyou have lost.
I read somewhere that I should create a gratitude journal, so I did. Counting my blessings is important – it allows me to appreciate what I have. But, can this really allow me to get over who I have lost? Susan
You cannot simply replace one thing for another. However… • Whatever you give your attention to will only get stronger. • Focus your attention on all the healthy things you need to do to heal, rather than everything that nails you to the pain.
Barb: My new love, Greg, made the pain of my break-up go away. He is my salvation. Pat: And what if something happens to Greg?
Within a month after the break-up, I joined match.com… wow, what a disaster that was!Sally
You have a void in your life – don’t fill it with liquor – fill it with work.Advice to Brie on Desperate Housewives
Are you looking outside yourself for the answer? • Don’t use distractions to postpone your grief -- take the time and effort to truly heal • Look for the answer in something you can control – in yourself • Learn how to be happy without a dependence on other people and things
The pain was so strong that I just wanted it to stop now. I could think of only one way to make this pain end… it was getting scary.Susan
The breaking of your heart has caused you to be kicked in the head… • The pain got your attention – use it to propel you to a different level. • It is healthier for the long run to go through the grief, rather than around it. • If you resist the pain, you won’t learn the lesson and you will repeat the class.
What I’ve learned so far… There is a lack of understanding about recovery from a break-up – yet, it needs to be taken as seriously as any other loss. The road to healing is not intellectual and logical; it is emotional and even irrational. Most people ignore the grief, rather than go through it, because they don’t understand how to heal. Breaking up is hard. Finding help should not be.
Psychologist: Be patient -- windows and doors will eventually open for you.Cheryl: But how do I keep from suffocating until they do?
Healing is an inside job • Make the public private • Express your feelings • Create your own future • Eat, sleep, exercise • Evaluate your support systems • Laugh
Carole: … the path we are on is for a greater purpose and that it is an opportunity to open a door to another facet of who we are and who we can become…You are working really hard at getting the old “you” back but I believe that a new “you” will emerge with all of the wonderful qualities of the "old" but with many "new" gifts that will benefit not only you personally but all with whom you come in contact.