I’ve gone through one of the most excruciating and painful events I could have ever imagined: a separation with my ex that ultimately led to my divorce.
For years of my life, I was stuck thinking about her. I didn’t want to move on, let go, or do anything else in my life. I was struck with grief and stayed paralyzed, devastated, and in tears for years.
I went through years of doing the spiritual work and the emotional work to heal and overcome the grief of our relationship ending. I wished that I was one of those people who just woke up and moved on to the next person.
Not I. I thought of myself as the loyal person who was going to stand on the battlefield of love and fight until the deadly end. I was going to keep the memories of this relationship alive and keep her in my life like she was still there and the relationship never ended. I would just reject the notion that this relationship was no more.
So, I stayed and suffered for years; grieving for some of those years, hoping she’d come back some of those years or simply remaining numb for some of those years.
I felt this was the most special and holiest of relationships. I felt like this woman was my soulmate who had been sent to me through the cosmos and I had found through the most divine circumstances.
I never for a second thought this relationship could end. The relationship ending felt like my life should have ended as well.
When it did end, I wanted to know how she could have done this. I wanted to know why she did this. I wanted to know much longer she would remain away from what I knew was a holy relationship.
I was lost and confused without hope or motivation about my own life.
So, year after year, I struggled and stayed stuck in the past. I continued to do the work and went all over the world searching for answers. I looked for answers in the hundreds of books I read. I looked for answers in the many therapist’s visits I had. I looked for answers with the spiritual gurus I visited and the ashrams around the world.
I wanted to find answers about why the relationship ended and how I was to let go of this relationship ending.
What I found in my search instead
As I did the work over the last several years, most of the answers that I discovered were hardly about my ex.
In fact, what I discovered was that my ex was simply a mirror and helped me see very issues that I should work on in my life. She showed me my childhood traumas that I was never exposed to. She showed me my lack of self-love and lack of belief in myself. She showed me my habits of over-thinking, rumination, and living my life in the past.
She showed me my aversion to change and uncertainty in life. Finally, she showed me that I regularly saw myself stuck in my own circumstances and would rather suffer in the things that I couldn’t change than try to make some positive change in my life.
I went on a deep journey to discover how to let go of the relationship and move on from her. I did find the answers to that but this journey also exposed me to hidden pains and emotional wounds that I was never aware of.
What they say is true. Relationships are your greatest spiritual teachers. They will bring up all your crap so you can deal with it.
You may take the journey believing that it’s your ex is the problem and your ex is mean, abusive, or hurtful but what I realized ultimate is that…
Your Ex Is Your Teacher
Through your relationship and later through your breakup, you will examine what happened and what went wrong.
More than likely, if you do the work of healing, you will discover that many of the issues that came up in the relationship have to do with your life-long hurts that have not been healed.
As you progress through your breakup journey, you will continue to discover unresolved pain, childhood traumas and other emotional wounds. You will soon make the discovery that much of the issues from this breakup are internal ones that you have to work on understanding and healing.
You thought you only had to deal with the grief of the breakup but your breakup will open the floodgates to all the other issues that are lurking within.
Your job now is becoming aware, discovering the emotional wounds, and working on healing them. You will soon realize that all the problems and blame that you had put on your ex will turn inward. You will see how various emotional wounds and inner hurts contributed to the relationship deteriorating.
Now is the time to look within, become aware and work on healing life-long wounds. Your ex is your teacher in this classroom on heartbreak.
Your task is to do the homework assigned to you, learn the lessons that are available to you and grow through this experience.
Divorce is never easy, irrespective of whether the decision is mutual, the marriage was abusive, or the relationship was short-lived.
Things are much harder when kids are involved, but being child-free, it is not my story to tell.
What I can tell you is how I learned certain life lessons when my marriage ended, lessons I would never have learned otherwise.
So if you are going through a divorce, have been freshly divorced, or are simply considering one, take a look at what you stand to gain from your loss.
5 unexpected life lessons I learned from divorce
1. Divorce is empowering
Of all the things in the world, empowering is a word one would never think to associate with the failure of a relationship that is supposed to last forever.
However, that is exactly what it is, especially if your marriage was not healthy. In my case, I was unable to be true to myself when I was married.
Even something as personal as coloring MY hair was a problem for my partner. It goes without saying then that writing about mental health, a topic dear to me, was not something I was encouraged to do.
So guess what I did after my divorce? I started blogging about mental health and dyed my hair red.
Uncoupling is what enabled me to be true to myself on every level.
I used to be a directionless writer, today I have found purpose as a sociocultural and mental health blogger.
2. Anyone can get PTSD
It’s a common assumption that only certain people can get PTSD, like soldiers back from war, or survivors of violent crimes. However, anyone can get PTSD because the definition of trauma varies from person to person.
An event that barely affects me might scar you for life, and vice versa. And I learned this personally because the way my marriage fell apart caused me Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder aka PTSD.
A therapist diagnosed me with it after a suicide attempt and low-functioning depression landed me in her office. It took a while, but I’ve learned to function pretty well in spite of my deep-rooted trauma.
Some days, I’m surprised I’m able to even breathe, but it never fails to astound me how far I’ve come along in my recovery. Trauma can be reduced and managed with the help of therapy and coaching.
3. You can learn to be resilient
If anyone had told me I would lose my life partner and survive the heartbreak, I would have laughed in their face.
I am a highly sensitive person and honestly, struggle with codependency issues.
So when I was officially single again, I didn’t think I had it in me to heal my heart and rise from the ashes. I had crumbled and I thought I was always going to be broken.
My psychologist proved me wrong by teaching me how to build my resilience, that is, my ability to bounce back. And if someone as weak as me could become emotionally strong, so can you.
Given that I also have traits of Borderline Personality Disorder, a condition that makes it hard for one to have emotional stability, there could be no better proof of the fact that over time, resilience can be learned by anyone.
4.There is no such thing as undying, unconditional love
Like most of us, I too used to believe that true love is unconditional.
This is nothing but a toxic lie perpetuated by pop culture, and I snapped out of it only because my marriage failed. We all know marriages end and divorce rates are on the rise, but for some reason, we all think we will be the exception.
Psychological reasons aside, I think the primary reason behind this is that we have romanticized till death do us part to an unhealthy degree.
It’s unrealistic to think that love is unconditional and marriages should last forever — every relationship is built on the foundation of some condition or the other, and it’s perfectly normal for a relationship to run its course.
Like me, once you see the illusion for what it is, you’ll be thankful for this much-needed reality check that will change your entire life for the better. Of course, true love exists, but is it conditional? Yes, and that’s a good thing.
5.You are not your relationship status
Just like your job, your marital status doesn’t define you. Your self-worth does not rely on whether you are single, married, separated, divorced, or widowed.
The most important thing you need to remember is this: you are not divorced, you have been divorced. It is an event of the past, not a label that you need to define yourself in the present. I learned this empowering life lesson not in therapy or from personal experience, but by reading a piece of writing of the inimitable Bhavana Nissima.
The second I realized the truth in her words, I felt powerful and back in control. There’s no denying that it hurts to get a divorce, but sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is accept reality and do our best to work with what we can.
No matter how bad it gets, life goes on and time heals most wounds. At the end of the day, you are all you have, and the most important relationship you need to work on is the one you have with yourself.
I have learned to put myself first without feeling guilty about it, and I hope with all my heart you learn to put yourself first too.
Are you ready to turn one of your hardest times into your greatest achievements?
My name is Mahevash (pronounced Ma-hey-vash) and I am a blogger, author, and poet. I talk about culture, society, and mental health so that you and I can help make the world a better place — and be whoever we want to be. You can find me at https://www.mahevashmuses.com/.
I couldn’t process the unbearable pain of a breakup and my ultimate divorce.
I have never felt the depth of intensity of emotional pain as much as I did then.
It was so scathing that all I wanted to do was hide from the world.
My inner world felt like the combination of a raging hurricane, a bullet shot to the heart, and like drowning in a tsunami.
This probably sounds quite morbid, but the unbearable pain of a breakup felt like all these things.
My divorce crushed my spirit and soul. It crushed me emotionally and also helped me realize something that nothing in life had ever prepared me for.
I was incompetent and clueless about my emotional being.
Until that point in my life, I had actively denied my emotions. As a child, my parents told me in no uncertain terms that boys didn’t cry and to be more like a man.
Looking around my family, I noticed that all the men didn’t show emotions.
I thought that to be a man was to bottle up my feelings. When I was married, I regularly felt intense pangs of emotions and reminded myself that I had to be emotionless.
Of a long series of mistakes in marriage, it was probably my biggest one. Whoever knew emotions were that important?
Not only did I not know that emotions were essential, but I also didn’t know how to process them. I didn’t know what to do with them.
Emotions have such an overwhelming influence on our lives, and I wonder why it is that society doesn’t teach us much about them?
Why isn’t everyone required to take a class called emotional regulation?
Anyway, if you’re going through the unbearable pain of a breakup, I’m here a simple message for you today.
The key to surviving and thriving through your breakup is learning how to process your emotions.”
It’s going to be tough if you’ve never had any practice or experience processing emotions but no better time than when facing your most unbearable pain of a breakup for you to start working on your emotions.
There’s nothing wrong with emotions.
They make you feel terrible, but they are not evil, bad, or have any sinister intentions. Emotions are there for you to get insight into your life. To be human is to have emotions. To be a healthy human is to be able to process emotions ell.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad.
One of the first things I hear from people who reach out to me is just how intolerable the emotional pain of a breakup is. They tell me it’s the most unbearable pain they have experienced. They tell me that they hurt beyond words.
I feel for them and feel their pain, and I want to say to them that it’s ok to feel this bad. It’s important to your grieving, letting go, and moving on. There is nothing wrong with feeling bad.
Imagine you had some incurable disease. What you’re doing is feeling the pain of that incurable disease and then feeling bad for feeling the pain of that incurable disease.
You’re wanting to hide that pain from others, keep that heavy pain to yourself so that you can show the world that you are fine. You want to be strong, so your ex and your network of people don’t see you in this hurt place.
The way over it is through it.
The way to get over the pain is to get through the pain, which means that you have to be willing to feel the unbearable emotions, process them, and then release them. You can’t step over it or avoid it.
Let’s say you’re feeling bad about feeling bad, so you do something like find another relationship, distract yourself or find some other unhealthy vice. What you’re doing is avoiding doing the work. You are going to be carrying around unresolved pain and trauma for years of your life just because you feel bad about feeling bad.
Get curious about the pain.
“Let your curiosity be greater than your fear,” Pema Chodron has said, and it’s one of my biggest lessons from her book When Things Fall Apart (affiliate link).
In the book, she suggests that we get curious and examine the things that are paining us. Let’s examine our emotions and look at it with interest. Let’s try to learn from it, understand it, and see what it has to say to us. Instead of simply feeling our emotions, we can think of our emotions as a sweet friend that we are trying to understand and extend compassion to.
It’s this very idea that makes you into a spiritual warrior. One of the most powerful passages from Pema Chodron’s book is this one.
“To stay with that shakiness — to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge — that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic — this is the spiritual path.”
I talk about it more on my Youtube video.
What this passage means to me is that the person doing this deep emotional work is walking the path of the spiritual warrior. When you catch yourself going through all the emotions, that’s when you’re doing the work. In this place of anger, bitterness, sadness is where the spiritual warrior operates.
If you find yourself in this place of facing a breakup and dealing with unbearable emotions, then now is the time to face the emotions, process the emotions and let go of the heaviness of the emotions that are consuming your life.
To process your emotions when facing the unbearable pain of a breakup:
Identify the emotions. Just naming the emotion or calling it out is a big first step to processing your emotions. Identify your emotions for yourself, so you’re familiar with what it is you’re feeling.
Observe your emotions. Notice the heaviness, darkness, and overwhelm of your emotions. Get better at observing your emotions. Use your curiosity to gage and understand the emotions you’re feeling. Be familiar with the common emotions whenever they arise.
Get to the root. Identify the circumstances in your life that are creating the emotions. What specifically about the breakup is making you feel bad? What is at the root cause of you feeling the way that you are? What event or thought is triggering your current emotional state.
Allow yourself to feel the emotions. Instead of judging or resisting your emotions, allow yourself to feel your emotions. It will be unbearable and painful, but if you are mindful of it, you’ll be more aware of the emotions you’re experiencing.
Express your emotions. Say it out. Write it out. Sing it out. Dance it out. Find a way to express your emotions in a healthy way. Use poetry, writing or art. Use talk therapy or intimate conversations with friends. If you find your emotions too heavy to handle, share your emotions with a friend or professional if needed.
Face your emotions with compassion. Look at the emotions that arise with compassion. Inquire about your emotions. Find out the message they have for you. View it through a lense of kindness and compassion. Thank them for alerting you to whatever it is they want you to know. Thank your emotions for looking out for you and supporting your life.
At the end of the day, you’re going through a grieving process. This is what grieving looks like. You have to process in order to let go. The heaviness of the emotions will decrease over time if you continue doing the work of processing your emotions. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
You will not only come out healthier because of processing the unbearable pain of a breakup, but you’ll become more resilient in life. The people who are able to get through the hard stuff can process their emotions better and can be more open to love in the future.
The people who can’t process their emotions, suffer, and want to harm themselves or pick up unhealthy habits. Remember, emotions are emotions. There’s nothing bad about emotions and nothing to be ashamed of.
Face them, welcome them, speak to them, understand them, and process them. Go through the pain you’re feeling so you can let go of these unpleasant feelings.
If you need some support, reach out for coaching here. If you’re seeking some advice, send me an email here. For my book on letting go, pick up The Sacred Art of Letting Go here. (affiliate link)
When I tell people that I write about heartbreak all day and coach the heartbroken, I get all kinds of reactions.
Often, I don’t mention the work that I do at all because I can’t explain this phenomenon to other people. I can’t tell them why I’m willing to do work that seems depressing and dark. Why I’m swimming in sadness and grieve.
Yet I don’t see it this way. To me, heartbreak is the first step to a complete life overhaul. When heartbroken, people make the greatest improvements,
It may seem like sad and depressing work but I find it the most empowering work I can imagine. If you have suffered a broken heart, it’s worse than
As far as writing about heartbreak, I started writing about my own breakup in the beginning because I was hurting so much after my divorce.
I wanted to share my path to recovery and my journey to help other people get over their own breakups and divorce.
Heartbreak Can Kill
Most people suffer in heartbreak after their breakups. They feel knocked out but the gravity of the breakup.
The pain is about the worst thing you could humanly experience. Heartbreak can kill our soul, our spirit, our emotional center.
Yet, now I’m realizing that heartbreak can kill people. This doesn’t get talked about much.
The media doesn’t talk much about suicide because of heartbreak because they don’t want more and more people copying others and taking their own lives.
I Have a Stronger Reason Now
Not only does breakup take people’s lives but it took the life of someone very close to me.
The woman whom I am dating now and I only met because of a tragic breakup. Her younger brother took his own life by suicide. He killed himself when the woman he fell in love with rejected him.
The woman I am dating and I met while she was returning home to Indonesia for her brother’s funeral. She wished that her brother had spoken to her about his relationship problems and his breakup. They handn’t communicated.
Then he passed away.
Her returning to Indonesia for her brother’s funeral was how we had our most unlikely meeting.
We met in the midst of tragedy and ironically on Valentine’s Day.
Love Can Kill
So many of us don’t have the tools to overcome heartbreak and move on with our lives. Our first heartbreak or most passionate heartbreak can be life-crippling and soul-crushing.
It can tear us down and make us plunge into depression, lead us to the midst of darkness and or make us wonder about the meaning of life.
Heartbreak can also lead to death.
Heartbreak kills people who can’t cope with the pain of the breakup when they chose to end their lives through suicide.
Heartbreak can lead to broken heart syndrome, a medically-diagnosed disease, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy. According to the American Heart Association, “In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.”
It’s time to do the work.
Now more than ever, we must process heartbreak and come out on the other side of it.
If you’re going through heartbreak, don’t sit on the pain and sorrow for months and years on end.
The myth about heartbreak is that it will get better on its own and with time. I never found that to be the case. It took a grieving, processing, and rebuilding to heal from heartbreak. It took reframing and self-love.
I want to make sure that everyone going through heartbreak finds their way out. Heartbreak may not just take your peace of mind but your life.
Someone very close to me lost her brother due to heartbreak and suicide. I’m going to work even harder now to help people with broken hearts heal and move on.
Did I think I could find someone better than my ex?
My ex-wife is an amazing woman who overcame so many challenges in her life to become the woman she has become today.
She is a doctor, beautiful, smart, outgoing, organized, and charming. She was a great cook and great host. She had a great laugh and enjoyed living life to the fullest.
How was I ever going to find someone better than my ex?
Believe it or not, I was devastated about the divorce because I thought that the most amazing person I could find was going to be in my past.
When someone is so beautiful, smart, and gregarious, how could I ever compete?
I didn’t want second best.
I already met the most wonderful person and spent years with her so how would anyone else ever come close?
If you are feeling regret about letting go of your ex, I want you to listen particularly close today.
I’ve made it to the other side.
I struggled for years to let go but was finally able to. Letting go of my ex was my life’s biggest struggle but with all the work I did, I have become a free and happy person once again.
I started dating and found it frustrating for sure. I never found anyone that even came close to my ex until the person I am with today.
The Gods must have decided to throw me a bone by bringing this miraculous woman into my life.
We met in the most unbelievable circumstances while a friend was waiting in the transit lounge on the way to Bali.
Yes, my woman friend met her. My friend met this beautiful village girl in an Asian airport and told me about her.
I was with my friend one day when my friend decided to call this beautiful Asian girl. Said beautiful Asian woman was doing her hair at the hair-dresser.
Within an hour call, I suddenly found myself on the call with her as well. What started as one call with her at the hair-dresser’s has turned into one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever had.
She too is amazing.
Then, I realized that she’s actually more amazing than my ex in this way.
She’s perfect for me.
She may not be as smart as my ex, ambitious as my ex, a go-getter like my ex but we fit each other like a jigsaw puzzle.
She’s a simple girl who told me that her number 1 priority in life was being happy. Ummm…yes, please!
So although she is not necessarily better than my ex in any objective way, she is better than my ex in the way that it counts most. She’s a great fit for me.
We share similar values, views of the world and have similar life goals.
In my view, since I found someone who is a much better fit for me, I found someone better than my ex.
If you have come out of a relationship or have been out one for a while and feel like you won’t meet anyone better, I’m here to tell you otherwise. If you’re still hoping your ex comes back, I have good news for you.
The only thing that’s in the way between you and someone who’s a great fit for you is your belief about your ability to find someone who’s right for you.
Here are 4 things you can do to improve your prospects of finding someone who’s better for you than your ex.
1. Let go of your ex completely.
I’m glad you’re here because I’m going to teach you how to let go of your ex. I’m going to show you how to forgive, change the story about your past, and get to the root cause of what’s keeping you stuck.
If you need support and want to move on sooner, consider hiring me to coach you. I’ve been where you are and can help you get over your breakup and get your life back.
2. Believe it’s possible to find someone new.
Change your beliefs about love. This is going to be challenging if you came out of a bad breakup or divorce. You’re going to have painful and twisted beliefs about love to start with. This is going to require adopting a new set of beliefs and practicing trusting people again.
The most important thing you can do to find a better partner is to become a higher quality version of yourself. If you’re vibrating at a higher frequency, you’ll attract people who are at your energy level. In addition to raising your vibrations and your worth, do the inner work of self-discovery, self-examination, and improvement.
You can’t find someone better or find someone compatible until you know who it is you’re looking for. You need to spend a few minutes outlining this person. I found the person I was looking for because I outlined them in this dream partner worksheet, got clear on them and envisioned them daily.
Do this worksheet and listen to this to audio meditation more than once. Do this worksheet weekly or monthly if you’re able to. Visualize the person you want on a daily basis.
You can absolutely find someone better than your ex by finding someone who’s a good fit for you.
But remember, this is going to take some work. I’m not sure if I mention this enough in my articles. Reading my articles or knowing what the process is not enough.
I wish you the very best on your relationship journey and wish you all the love and happiness you’re looking for.
It’s going to require active steps, daily habits and work on your part. If you do the work you will reap the rewards of a new love that you never imagined possible.
If you need support or coaching in this process, reply to this email or fill out the coaching inquiry form here.