All of the advice about moving on from breakups and divorces is wrong. It’s so frustrating because all it does is keep you stuck in the past.
So many people say cliched things like things will get better, it’s all happening for the best or time will heal all wounds.
Most people just sit there and do nothing! They just wait for time to pass. Or worse, they go on and live their normal life. Start dating again and live their best life.
So they go back to their regularly scheduled life and try to live it as normal as possible only to find that it’s hard. Meeting someone and moving on with their life is challenging if you’re still stuck in the past.
You can try it but you won’t be showing up fully. You won’t show up with an open heart. You’ll be showing up with one foot in the past and one foot in the present.
Making peace with the past
The one thing that people miss in the letting go process is making peace with the past. I love Eckhart Tolle and all the wisdom teachers out there who are beating the drum of present moment living.
Yes, ideally, if you stopped thinking about the past and lived in the present, then you wouldn’t be pulled back by you past. You wouldn’t feel the heavy emotional weight and baggage of the past. You wouldn’t ruminate on the past.
Except if you’re like me, you’re human! I simply couldn’t bring myself to the present moment when I had so many thoughts and memories of my ex. I wanted to continue the life that we had planned together. I wanted to pursue the dreams. All the memories and dreams we had, I didn’t want to let go of.
My mind couldn’t stop re-thinking, re-playing and re-living all the past memories of my relationship. The past is a powerful drug that is hard to let go. Your mind is addicted to what you once had because of the certainty, the pleasure and the comfort of past times.
A middle way to letting go
Unlike what the wisdom teachers tell us, I don’t believe you simply can live in the present moment. You have to do some work on making peace with the past.
I’m also not a fan of traditional psychology and therapy when it comes to dealing with the past in relationships. Psychologists bring up a whole other can of worms. When I started visiting one, I went all the way back to my childhood and family history. She started opening up all kinds of boxes I had no interest in opening.
It blew my whole life open and I went into a tailspin with my life feeling completely out of control. I’m ultimately grateful for this experience but I wish I could have just worked on letting go of my ex.
Today, when I work with people, I take the middle way. I help them make peace with the past by using the tools of forgiveness, creating a healing ritual and working on closure of past events. I also help them tell a new and more empowering story about that past relationship.
I detail the process in my free ebook, 7 healing rituals. Sign up to the newsletter and you’ll automatically get this guide.
The root of what’s keeping you stuck
If you’re enlightened, you’re probably not reading this blog and you’re doing just fine living in the present moment.
If you’re human, then you likely need to make peace with the past in order to live in the present moment. The past holds keys as to what’s keeping you stuck. You have to carefully examine the relationship and the story you’re telling yourself and dig out the elements of your past that are keeping you stuck there.
If it’s been years and you don’t know what to do, please consider looking at the past to see what’s still causing you grief, what’s still unresolved and what you need to make peace with.
To let go completely:
- Inquire what in the past is unresolved and keeping you stuck
- Bring it to light and commit to exploring and understanding it
- Work on healing that one root block that’s keeping you stuck in the past.
If you haven’t done this or hadn’t planned to, please consider hiring a coach to help you figure out what’s keeping you stuck and then help you move forward and actively let go.
It was only when I went into the past and examined the problems in my relationship with my ex, I began to notice the open wounds that required care and healing.
I did the care and healing in the present so that I could repair the damages of the past. You can’t fix things by going back to the past but you can fix them here and now.
Examine and understand the past but do the healing and letting go work in the present. You can live in the present moment but actively work on healing the painful past moments of your life. If you don’t go back and discover what needs to be healed, it will be challenging to live in the present moment.
To live fully in the present, make peace with the past.
If you need coaching to figure out what’s keeping you stuck in the past, please consider a root ritual coaching session here or reply to this email.
I was a hermit for years of my life as I struggled to make peace with letting go of my ex.
I wasn’t one of these people who said live and let live after my divorce was over. I was going to hold onto that relationship to the bitter end of time while my ex moved on with her life, started dating, and got married within a few years.
I wanted to ruminate endlessly, re-live the pain, and beat myself up for all the things that I had done to screw up that relationship. I wanted to suffer and criticize myself for all of my misdeeds. I wanted to punish myself for every single thing that I had done wrong.
When you’re not letting go of your ex, you see yourself as a criminal and perpetrator and see your ex as an innocent bystander and victim. I did all the misdeeds, and she was perfect, or so my mind thought. It never considered that she might have been as much at fault as I was in the relationship. My mind didn’t entertain the possibility she contributed half to what went wrong.
The comfort of not letting go
I didn’t intentionally plan on living in the past for years of my life. I was looking for answers and trying to find a way to let go completely. It took me years to do this, and I tried coaching, spirituality, personal development, church, and so many other kinds of practices. Some of these worked, and some didn’t.
Yet I think the thing that was keeping me stuck for a long time was that deep down; I didn’t want to let go at all.
Huh? You may be scratching your head. Why not?
It’s going to be odd for me to say this, but I didn’t’ want to let go because if I let go, I would have to start on a new life, and that was scary as hell.
I wanted to be protected by the past. I didn’t want to venture out into new relationships. I didn’t want to be vulnerable again. I didn’t want to date again or meet new people again. I didn’t want a new life because the old one felt so comfortable.
Do I regret this decision? Absolutely! I wasted years of my life when I could have just moved on, found a new partner, and enjoyed the next few years of my life post-divorce.
Instead, I stayed home and out of having a social life to mourn and cry for a lost and broken love. I suffered, grieved, struggled. I took Eat, Pray, Love adventures, found myself in spiritual retreats, and went all over the world looking for ways to let go of my past.
Maybe a part of me was punishing myself for my misbehavior in the relationship too. I didn’t feel worthy or deserving of getting my life back. So, I stayed stuck in the past, ruminating about the pain and sadness of that old relationship.
You’re here for a reason.
If you’re reading this and having trouble letting go of your past relationship or letting go of your ex, consider if you’re not letting go because it’s much more comfortable to remain in the throws of your past relationship.
If you’re stuck in heartbreak and loss, you don’t have to go out. You don’t have to date. You don’t have to learn how to date. You don’t have to ever open a dating app account. You don’t have to move forward. You don’t have to open your heart again. You can stay stuck and comfortable for years. Forever maybe.
You can stay stuck in the past, marinating about what had gone wrong. You can blame your ex, blame yourself, and blame everyone else in between. You can analyze, criticize, and examine every part of your life in the past.
It may not feel great to rehash your life, but it sure the heck beats venturing out and starting a new life.
Except if you’re here on this blog, then you know that you’re not trying to stay stuck and angry with what happened. You’re trying to get out. You’re trying to break free of the past and get your life back.
Yes, if you’re reading this, no matter how much your desire to keep your heart closed and remain comfortable, I am assuring you that you want to let go. You want the life that’s available for you. You don’t want the pain that comes with it.
A plan to let go
You’re also not letting go of your ex. What do you to let go? If I was to simplify the process, here are 4 things that you must do for letting go of your ex:
- Grieve the relationship, process your emotions and find closure for the past
- Get to the root issue that’s keeping you stuck and work on healing it
- Release the self-blame and guilt that you may be carrying around from the past
- Rebuild your self-worth and have a life plan going forward.
You can keep reading blogs on heartbreak and grieving, but if you don’t do the work, you’re going to be here forever. I would love your friendship, but I love you more, so I want you to stop reading and get on with your life.
I want you to have a happily ever after, and I know that you want that too. You don’t have to find that in another love, but you can fall in love with your life.
Life is short. The pandemic is long. Don’t wait for the pandemic to pass. Don’t wait for another year of your life to go by. Work on letting go now.
I want to help you if I can. Let’s do the work. My first coaching session with people usually involves identifying the root of what’s keeping them stuck in the past. After the root ritual, we work on finding healing, closure, and acceptance that the relationship is over.
It’s time to stop reading about letting go and actually let go once and for all. Your future will thank you for it.
If my words have resonated with you and you’re ready to get your life back, please reply to this email or sign up for coaching here.
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 met a wonderful woman in my most recent travels to Bali.
She was in Indonesia because her brother had just passed away. Her brother took his life because of a painful breakup and rejection of a young woman he had fallen in love with.
I was in Indonesia because I had fallen in love with Bali and maybe…to have been there for her during one of the most painful times in her life. As we spoke about grief and loss, our affection for each other began to grow.
At that time, we were living with rose-tinted glasses, like lovebirds without a care in the world. Time was on our side and the world was filled with promise and possibilities. It was pre-pandemic, pre-Corona times in early 2020.
Only when we both left Indonesia, did we realize that there may be something there more than a passing interest in each other. We both valued simplicity, spirituality, and living closer to our families. We both were from the East but living in the West. We both had experienced profound loss and heartbreak. We both had been divorced.
As she returned to Europe and got back to work, I stayed back a little longer in Asia. My plan was to head back to India for the spiritual experiences and cheaper cost of living. I wanted to go back to Kerala to spend more time with a Swami I had met late last year.
When I was visiting Malaysia where my family lives and is originally from, I found myself in the worldwide lockdown and shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
Initially, the distance was wonderful to allow love to bloom. We had plenty of time for video calls, twice daily Whatsapp calls and lots of love-filled texts throughout the day. We would be together soon, we both kept telling ourselves and each other. In the meantime, all I could do was keep sending my love virtually and local chocolate cupcake delivery through the internet.
We celebrated our one month anniversary which became 3 months and most recently, became 6 months. While our love for each other has grown over time, our optimism about being able to see each other hasn’t.
With each passing month and with more countries tightening restrictions and making it virtually impossible to travel, I wonder if and when I can ever get to Europe to see her.
To top it all off, I have an American passport which means I can literally travel to 15 countries and most of these countries aren’t in Europe. Asia and Europe has pretty much stopped Americans from traveling to their countries so I’m stuck at the moment.
I happen to be in the one country that I can be in the moment, Singapore, with very few places to go. I ended up here by a fluke and through an odd exception. Most of Europe is out of the question for someone with an American passport so I have no idea what to do next.
This pandemic feels like our generation’s world war. We are living apart in different countries around the world unable to travel, not because of any enemy threat, but a viral one. We are not able to see each other, be with each other, or love each other.
We are not alone in this struggle either. Plenty of couples around the world have been separated due to the virus. In fact, there’s been a movement to help unmarried couples reunite, with its own set of hashtags #lovenottourism #loveisessential. You can read more about it here.
Organizers are trying to remind the European Union that couples are not visiting each other because of tourism but because they are in a relationship with each other. There have been some successes as you can see in this article but not all countries are allowing for an unmarried couples visa. Even if they are allowing you in, each country has varied requirements about what’s sufficient for couples to meet each other.
This is a fascinating time for someone who used to practice US immigration law, where I helped reunite hundreds of fiances and spouses. I never thought that I would be on the other side of the immigration system, trying to unite with a loved one. I also never imagined a day would come that the U.S. passport would limit the countries I can travel to but here we are.
The travel restrictions have brought us closer together as distance does make the heart grow fonder, but also making us question if this relationship is viable. Can a couple be together if they are not physically able to be together? Should we keep trying? Should we keep waiting? Should we meet other people? Should we move on?
Right now, we are choosing to stick together and see what laws change and how soon. We are choosing to stick together because we know how hard it is to find relationships and people who are compatible with each other . It’s no easy task to find someone you get along easily with. It’s not easy to find someone with your shared values and the same outlook on life.
Life seems a little unfair at the moment. On one had, I met the person of my dreams. On the other, a worldwide pandemic is keeping us apart. Were we just a passing fancy that will remain memories in each other’s hearts or will we get together soon and live happily ever after?
I’m not sure what the answer is but I will keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or travel strategies, please do feel free to share.
Also, everything that I did to attract and find this person in my life can be found in this book that I wrote a few years back. Pick up Does True Love Exist today (affiliate link).
Hi, I’m Vishnu
I’m a writer and coach who helps people overcome devastating breakups and divorces. Instead of moving to the Himalayas, people find healing, clarity, and direction here. Learn more about me here.
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