You don't have to be a highly evolved paragon of enlightenment in order to ease suffering and bestow blessings - Caroline Myss (Image: Marco Battaglini)
I went through a break up recently - one of those processes that is absolutely universal and yet also feels extremely isolating. During that time, friends’ and authors’ snippets of wisdom were incredibly helpful to me, so I wanted to share some of that as most anyone who reads this has or will go through this.
The most important thing to know is that it’s not about them. What all this pain, loss, and sadness is really about is you. That’s both a liberating and terrifying realization. Now you have to face all your stuff that drove you to bond with someone when, for whatever reason, you were ill-prepared to do so and drives you to seek attachment in general (to be clear, not all attachment is bad, but addiction to attachment is – more about that below).
Self care is about as overused, overabused, goopified, yuppified a term as you can get. And yet...most of us weren’t taught a. what this really is and b. how to practice. I think Dr. Howard Halpern has my favorite definition;
You must learn to listen to the demands of that inner infant and become for her the best possible parent you can be. Nurture, guide, be good to that child, love her deeply, do nice things for her, tell her you will build her self-esteem and confidence and tell her you will always be there for her and never berate her. Also teach her that all of her needs may not be gratified immediately and that she can cope with the pain, that being alone is ok, not to attach to get needs met. The more you can stop yourself from these desperate attempts to avoid facing your own separateness, the more you can experience a mature, self-respecting, almost stately sense of who you are.
Got it? Pretty tall order. But, if just reading that paragraph gave you some warm fuzzies, I think there’s hope for you.
I’ll leave you from one more gem from the venerable Dr. Halpern; “The intensity of your withdrawal symptoms does not indicate the strength of your love but the strength of your addiction.” This answered a lot of questions for me. My recent break up, though something I provoked, was more challenging than that of my longest relationship. And I realized that was due to a dependency that kicked in as other aspects of my life (work, home) were incredibly insecure. Becoming overly dependent on another person’s love is surely a weakness, but it is also a quintesssentially human one, so go gentle on your sweet self, shore up your life so that you don’t do it again, and self care like a boss.