On Healing, Part 2
> The dinner story was interesting. It sounds like it went well for
> you. I could feel the pit in my own stomach while you were awaiting
> her arrival. Thinking about someone who broke up with me, and hurt
> me very badly, I think I can relate. Kudos to you, I don’t think I
> could have done it. She sounds like she may be regretting some
> things. You should feel good about the fact that you have moved on
> AND UP in your life. Maybe she hasn’t been able to do that in her
> three years alone. I have admired your ability to continue your life
> despite the loss. Unfortunately, that is the one thing I failed to
> do, and continue to struggle with each day. Certainly my
> circumstances are different, but I have let my feelings of loss,
> anger, and regret consume my life. You are a good role model for me!
A role model, eh? Never thought I’d be a role model, but I’m flattered!
Anne — the good news is this — it’s NEVER TOO LATE to begin/continue the healing process. Even though it may have been a while ago that you had a loss, and just as those feelings are within you every day, they CAN BE HEALED.
Now, that being said, how to proceed? Before you read on, please understand that I take a *behaviorist* methodology when approaching healing of the heart. This may not work for you (in fact, it’s been a considerable failure for my housemate. His path is completely different).
My recommendation is to start simply. Get a notebook and a good pen and WRITE, Anne, WRITE. Keep a journal… You have to be careful that the journal doesn’t devolve into a simple recitation of the days’ events. There is a certain amount of that, but try for ‘higher level’ writing as much as possible. Don’t use the paper for anything other than a journal, and keep it private. No one should read what you write in there. As you sit down to write your first time, plan to spend a fair amount of time (a few hours or so) writing. There’s lots to write about the first time. I’ve been writing since I moved into the house, and probably write 4-5 nights a week, sometimes more as I feel I need to.
Another thing I recommend… Pick up a book called HOW TO SURVIVE THE LOSS OF A LOVE by Melba Colgrove, Harold Bloomfield, and Peter McWilliams. For me, this book was a roadmap toward healing, and it was very valuable.
Okay. So now you have some of the tools. Now it’s time to assess your situation and find out the areas that you want to refine. Notice I said ‘refine’. Not ‘fix’ or anything. You’re already a good person, Anne. That’s not the question. What you’re seeking is a refinement of those qualities that are already there, not the drastic reformation or re-creation of yourself. An analogy that works for me is that of ‘sanding’ — a piece of wood by itself is good, and it may take a little bit of ‘sanding’ to make it just the way you want… That’s kinda the feel here.
Spend some time analyzing your behavior. Be as objective as you can be. Think about behavior that either builds yourself up, or holds yourself back. Some of the more common behaviors folks exhibit are withdrawing from society (not going out or _making the effort_ to go out with friends, family), self-denial (not doing things that will comfort oneself in the time of loss), loss of feelings of self-worth (“No one would want me. I’m no good.”, etc.), timidity when approaching a new relationship/dating, and some self-destructive behavior (not eating, not taking care of oneself, etc.). These behaviors must be
understood and minimized for future experiences.
Take an honest, objective look at the relationship, and determine what role you played in the relationship, both the positive aspects and the negative. Avoid beating yourself up (“It was all my fault!”), or not taking responsibility (“It was all his fault!”). An honest assessment will allow you to identify your contributions to the relationship. Once you know what they were (knowing is half the battle!), you can make strides to refine them.
Instead of allowing counterproductive behaviors, you must CONSCIOUSLY strive to make yourself move forward. A ready example is right after a relationship ends, I tend to feel lethargic and draggy, desiring nothing more than to sit on my bed or ‘mope’ around the house all day. During my divorce, I became aware of that tendancy — I wanted to miss a lot of work.
Here is a look at my thought process during my divorce:
I’m sad today. I don’t want to go to work.
Well, if I miss a lot of work, you run the risk of adding another bad situation (loss of a job) to a bad situation (divorce). Heaven knows my plate is full right now.
There is no need to complicate matters any more!
I was aware that at certain (at first, infrequent) times during my work day, I’d become absorbed in my work and find myself NOT thinking about my personal situation.
I knew that it was a good thing to give my brain a ‘break’ from constantly pondering my personal situation.
Therefore, I threw myself into my job – I’d get there early, stay late, volunteer for extra duties, etc.
In that way, I gave myself a break from the constant pondering of the situation, improved my situation at work, and avoided heaping a bad situation on top of a bad situation. My coworkers would probably attest to my excellent ‘work ethic’ during that time… Little did they know that by doing extra work (and making many of them look bad!), I was helping myself heal!
Now, it’s important to know that I did the above as a COMPONENT of the healing process, NOT as the entire healing process. We’ve all seen people who _only_ throw themselves into their job and don’t work on themselves during times of loss. This is an incomplete approach, and yields incomplete (and unsatisfactory) results.
Phew! I’ve suddenly realized that I’ve been writing on this topic for some time here — this may be a lot to swallow, so I’ll stop for now. Also, I guess you know what “Cathedral of the Heart” is about now!