“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” Sonia Ricotti
It’s not easy to love again after heartbreak.
I know because heartbreak has been my divine teacher.
And it’s taken me a very long time to come to terms with my breakup, accept my divorce and let go (mentally) of the person who occupied so much of my life.
It’s close to four years now and I FINALLY feel ready to move on.
Ready to let love into my life again.
Ready to open myself up again.
How I got here
When my marriage ended abruptly, my life began unraveling for a couple reasons. One, I loved my ex-wife, and despite our many challenges together, I was hopeful as ever of a love that would heal, transform and reignite. I felt it was only a matter of time before our differences would darken and our hearts would shine.
Two, my life unraveled because I couldn’t accept such a drastic change in it. Maybe I took love and marriage for granted. Or maybe I had the old-school version of relationships stuck in my mind – that relationships lasted no matter how challenging or tumultuous they were. The only solution, I believed, was to stay together and keep trying. And in the meantime, we had to keep working through the kinks.
Although divorce was what I ultimately came to accept, it was after much kicking and screaming on my part.
I didn’t want to let go of someone who I had come to see as part of me. Despite our differences, I had always felt soulfully connected to her.
Naturally, when she left, my soul felt empty and my life felt broken.
I went from a state of shock and pain to sadness and loss.
Much of this is chronicled in this blog, and much of what I’ve written describes how to come back from such dark and tragic places in our lives.
For me, the process of healing and letting go has taken place at a snail’s pace.
Over the past few years, my mind continued to replay the ups and downs of our relationship. Of course, during periods of grieving, your mind can hardly remember the downs.
You mostly remember the good times, the happy times and the joyful times.
I remembered the laughs, dreams and hopes we shared.
And every city or restaurant we had visited together triggered a reaction in me.
Every current conversation or movie triggered conversations and chatter of the past.
I saw her name everywhere and heard her name everywhere, including in magazines, books and movies.
I was clinging and holding on for dear life to this lost love. I felt that losing her was losing myself. This dying relationship felt like my own mortality.
It was not easy, as you know, to pick up the pieces, get through each day and move on.
The path back to myself has been long and treacherous. The path back to love has been fraught with tears, sorrow and sadness.
The path to moving on has required that I find the courage to let go of the past, accept the present and step into who I am today. The path to myself required that I put myself together after being completely broken.
It’s required that I stand up and step into my soul + my life.
If you have gotten out of a soul-crushing, life-crushing relationship and find yourself on the bathroom floor crying out to a God that doesn’t appear to exist, I bow to you and welcome you to join me on this journey to healing.
Your heart may be fractured, but your soul is about to emerge – stronger, more vibrant and more courageous than ever.
You may feel as though your breakup has shattered your life, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for living today.
To the contrary, if you go through this journey of healing you can find peace today, gratitude for what happened and joy in future possibilities.
Cracking open a fragile heart can unleash a timid soul.
You can become courageous again and be ready to open your soul to something new.
If you’re ready to let go and move on, let me take you through my own healing process.
9 ways to let go of your past relationship so that you can heal and open your heart to love again
1) Acceptance of what is.
For the longest time, I couldn’t accept heartbreak or divorce.
I had always believed our separation was temporary and that we would get back together one day.
Same with divorce. Even months and, I would say, years after the divorce, I thought there was hope for our relationship.
You might see this as positive thinking, delusion or denial.
See, heartbreak had caused so much personal pain that I just did not want to accept it as true. The divorce had caused so much emotional and family turmoil, I wished it would simply go away.
I was really fighting change and uncertainty – it was the first time in my life I felt like I had no control over a situation. So I tried to remain positive, visualizing and dreaming our relationship back together.
Of course, what I was really doing was denying this reality.
When you’re in denial about something in your life, you can’t move on.
When you refuse to accept uncertainty or events that are out of your control, you’re going to remain stuck.
If you’d like to move on from heartbreak, or anything really, surrender to the situation – let your life feel out of control for a bit. Trust that it will get better and that you’ll see light down the road, even if you’re in darkness now.
You may not know how to get out of the torture you’re feeling, but now there is a way out. It will come together as you go through the healing process.
Allow your intuition to shine the light and lead the way while healing.
Sometimes acceptance and surrender require simply standing back and not doing anything – not resisting or denying what you’re experiencing.
It’s acknowledging your situation as it is. It’s sitting with it and accepting it without an answer or action plan.
2) Showing up to grieve.
You don’t have to hide, deny, suppress or run from your emotions.
Allow them to unfold and wash over you.
Show up to grieve – face grief boldly and courageously.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of – you’re entitled to feel hurt, sad, angry, devastated or any other feelings you’re experiencing.
In my case, I felt an avalanche of emotions and feelings for a couple of years after the divorce. I didn’t make them go away or hide them.
Lots of tears, sleepless nights and therapy numbed the pain and helped me come to terms with loss.
Sharing the pain with others, although I didn’t do this much at first, definitely helped me carry the burden of the breakup’s pain.
Show up and face your grief.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of in feeling everything you’re feeling. It’s normal. It’s human. And again, if it’s overwhelming, reach out to your inner circle or professionals to help you deal with the emotional weight you’re carrying.
3) Taking responsibility
You can take on a bitter attitude your entire life and curse your no-good &$^&@#@ ex for the pain and heartache she caused or….
You can take responsibility for your part in the relationship.
For much of the earlier stages of my grief, I blamed my ex. She did this…or didn’t do this…Most thoughts concluded with the feeling that it was her fault and I was the innocent victim.
Of course, it’s never this way. Both sides in a relationship gone sour are at fault.
You don’t have to blame yourself for it, but instead accept responsibility for it.
And if you think there’s nothing at all wrong with you and it was all your ex’s fault, try to take a more objective view. If you still can’t, you may not be ready to move on.
I now realize that I was living unconsciously in my relationship. I’m not sure what I was thinking or who I was back then, but it wasn’t the person today who came out of that relationship.
I was living a life of ego, anger, unrealistic expectations, control and non-communication.
I can justify all these things in my life and blame these many character flaws on others (hi parents!), or I can choose not to and take responsibility for them.
Only when I began to realize what I had done wrong could I continue the healing process.
When I was dead-certain it was all my ex’s fault, I was stuck in my ego and my healing. I couldn’t move on until I took responsibility.
Once I started taking responsibility I could also stop playing the role of “victim.”
When you play the role of the “victim,” your view of the relationship and your steps forward are skewed.
When it’s all the other person’s fault and you feel like you did nothing wrong, you’re likely not being honest with yourself. And more importantly, you’re stopping yourself from moving on.
If you can’t admit that you had a part in how this relationship ended, you can’t go through the other steps of healing I describe below. You’re likely stuck on being “right” rather than choosing to move on.
The longer you choose the state of denial and blame, the longer it will take for you to heal.
4) Forgiving yourself.
Once you take responsibility for your part, be willing to forgive yourself.
The goal here isn’t to hold yourself up to some gold standard, criticize yourself or remind yourself how much you screwed up.
It’s to forgive yourself for acting and behaving in ways that were not healthy. You most likely didn’t know what you were doing and you’ve grown because of your unconscious behavior.
Once you realize it wasn’t healthy and you see your mistakes, you’ve given yourself the gifts of awareness, insight and growth.
When you forgive yourself and bathe yourself in compassion, you can let go of the hot coals of anger and resentment you’re carrying.
In order to forgive, you have to ignore what others have said to you about yourself and the internal story you’re telling about yourself.
If you feel blame and guilt, you have even more reason to forgive yourself.
You’re not perfect, you’re human.
Even if you broke up with the perfect person and it was all your fault, forgive yourself. You have learned, grown and become the person who can do better the next time.
5) Forgiveness and saying thank you.
Harder than forgiving yourself is forgiving your ex.
Actually, you not only need to forgive your ex, but everyone else you blame in the relationship – his friends, her family, your parents, her parents and anyone else you believe bears responsibility for the parting of ways.
Forgiving isn’t easy and you’re never going to reach the ideal place of forgiveness. Forgiving when it feels right won’t work because it will never feel right.
Forgiveness is a process – one that, if you’re to reap the benefits, requires your participation.
You forgive even if you don’t want to. It’s true what they say about forgiveness – ultimately, forgiving others is a way to let go of the resentment and anger within. You’re really forgiving for yourself.
Set an intention to forgive.
Then write a letter (which you don’t send) to your ex, forgiving him or her for all the person’s wrongs and hurtful actions toward you. Forgiving your ex for breaking your trust, breaking your heart, taking advantage of you.
Forgiveness is a miracle-inducing action that will allow the vibrancy of the pain you’re feeling to subside.
One of the first things I did in my journey to healing was to forgive my ex. I didn’t want to at the time, but I forgave anyway. And I continued forgiving her throughout the healing process.
After you begin your mission of forgiveness, you can truly heal by becoming grateful to this former person in your life.
Once you see how he or she transformed your life and improved your being, you can’t help but be grateful. Express that gratitude by writing or sending a silent wish to the person.
I am more grateful to my former wife today for our relationship.
Although our relationship was a struggle, it broke open the floodgates to conscious living, finding my truth and myself (even my purpose). It has led to my greatest personal development, character development and spiritual awareness.
This relationship broke my heart wide open so that I could see my soul and, today, live from this place.
I am thankful.
6) Bringing yourself back to the present.
When you have suffered a breakup and are trying to get over it, something that sabotages your recovery is living in the past – which I did a lot of.
As I’ve talked about, my resistance to change and my inability to accept life events made me want to go back and relive the glory days of our relationship.
I thought constantly about all the good times, the shared laughs, the highlights and the happy times. I longed for a time and day that no longer existed.
When you get in the habit of living in the past, though, the negative and painful times also pop into your mind.
Imagine living a life that has nothing to do with today. I was doing that for a couple of years; continually reliving the past because I felt safe there and took comfort in knowing that my future life could be like my past life.
I was being nostalgic and sentimental; I had a better sense of myself in the past.
Who was I, after all, without my ex and my past?
Letting go of past living is scary, but so essential to moving on.
Life is beautiful, rich and filled with so many lovely experiences. You can’t really experience the beauty of life if you’re not here at this moment.
Catch yourself going back to the past and become aware of your tendency to daydream about the good days.
Pay attention and create present moment awareness in your life.
Think of your past as a movie, with scenes flashing into your mind, but try to avoid jumping back into those scenes and reliving them.
You’ve already suffered enough. By not living in the present moment, you’re allowing your past relationship and your ex to repeatedly harm you.
Choose yourself. Choose today. Choose the present moment.
7) Soul lessons. Life lessons.
As you move forward, don’t forget the lessons of this relationship. And the lessons from life’s lowest point.
If you haven’t learned any lessons, don’t rob yourself of the opportunity to grow and gain more insight.
As you take responsibility for your part, what have you learned about yourself?
What do you need to change? What do you need to let go of? How do you live more in alignment with your true nature? How do you live a more authentic life? How do you connect and relate to other people? How can you communicate better?
Ask yourself these questions and get curious about how to make improvements in your life and future relationships.
Life has taught you a heavy but invaluable lesson. Do life and your former relationship justice by walking away from it with wisdom.
Ask yourself what the relationship was here to teach you and glean the answers from this question.
8) Cultivate compassion and love.
As you come back to the world of new relationships and new possibilities, cultivate more compassion and love in your life. First, for yourself.
Learn to have a passionate affair with yourself (I wrote this manifesto about how to do so) so that you’re embracing your darkest parts and your wounds.
Don’t beat yourself up over what happened. Treat yourself as you would your gentlest and kindest friend.
Allow love to infuse the thoughts, emotions and feelings in your life.
Establish a spiritual practice to help you generate love from your internal being.
From your inner core, imagine love spreading outward toward others. Imagine love from within expanding from you to the entire world.
Breathe in compassion. Breathe out anger. Breathe in compassion. Breathe out judgment.
Breathe in love. Breathe out the past. Breathe in love. Breathe out the pain.
9) Step into your life with courage.
Once you accept what happened, go through the healing process and are ready for a comeback, be ready to step out of your broken heart and into your life.
What I mean by this is to embrace everything that has happened to you and then find the courage to move forward.
Find the courage within for each step of the journey toward healing and then the courage to come out of healing.
Take small steps toward living a new life. Small steps in saying “yes” to coffee and “yes” to meeting new people.
Small steps in reacting differently to people, in changing your past behavior and in improving who you are as a person.
Yes, your past happened – own it – but the future is happening now and you can write how that goes.
You’ve come out of heartache and failure – you know what it’s like to be at life’s low point, but this has certainly prepared you for life’s glory days.
You’ve experienced crisis. Now you’re ready for brilliance.
Coming out of your shell to meet your best life takes courage. Take those small steps of courage to live an inspired, love-filled and soul-rich life.
Did you enjoy this post? Please share it with your friends and family who have experienced heartache and are trying to move on.
* Photo credit.