Why Breakups are Devastating and How to Heal From Pain
Have you ever had to go through a devastating breakup; the kind of breakup when you were hurting deeply, and it felt rather unlikely ever to find healing and bounce back from being an emotional wreck sobbing on the bathroom floor. Breakups do that to us; they rip us into million shreds from the inside out, and the emotional pain can be unbearable. But let’s pause for a moment and investigate why is that so? Why do breakups unstitch us so spectacularly and how can we heal from pain?
Why do relationship breakups hurt so much?
Breakups are devastating and we often think that emotional pain is caused by not having this so-called “amazing person” in our lives any longer. And some people believe that the sheer absence of our loved one is causing that pain and if so – getting our ex back into the picture will magically wipe that pain away. But no, this isn’t the case; the real reason why breakups are so incredibly devastating goes deeper than that.
We all have universal fundamental things we need and yearn for. Some of those desires that we share fulfill our physical needs like food, water, shelter; while others cover our emotional desires such as being loved, cared for, and feel respected.
Now please look back at your life, just for a moment. You might note something interesting, such as that the majority of troubles in life happen when we identify a desire for having someone or something outside of ourselves.
Without exception, we all want to be loved and cared for and feel that we belong.
Think about the early stages of your relationship that recently ended –– the “high” that you’ve experienced was that desire “to be loved” was being fulfilled. We get unbelievably attached to that person not necessarily because of who or how lovely they are, but because of the particular way in which they make us feel: worthy of love and belonging.
Moreover, when we don’t feel worthy of self-love, somehow in our minds it becomes THAT other person’s job to fill that emptiness for us – that person comes to represent the self-love you deprived yourself of –– and if it happens for them to no longer be a part of your life, the emotional devastation could feel catastrophic.
(Takes a deep breath and exhales slowly).
And so not only your loved one is suddenly out of the picture and no longer a part of your day-to-day life; they also took your deep sense of worth and your need to feel and be loved (which is fundamental to your emotional existence).
The Reason Why Breakups Could Be So Incredibly Devastating
“Breakups could be devastating because in a way it’s a death and therefore we’re programmed to grieve. It’s the change in connection with someone, the mulling over what could have been done better, a period of self-reflection and it’s also the breaking of an emotional attachment – we have friends we are very close to, but our romantic relationships differ due to the level of intimacy we experience.” –– Caroline F.
We had them, and now we don’t, they slipped through our fingers
We had them, and now we don’t, they slipped through our fingers –– which is the worst feeling human being can ever have. We long for them day and night, yearn for them, want to hear their voice, hear about their day; we might believe they were the last real shot in building a genuinely beautiful life together.
We could also start going down a dangerous memory lane hitting replay over and over again; revisiting random scenes of every event that took place in the relationship tirelessly trying to figure out what the hell went wrong and how could you mess things up so epically (am talking from my experience, of course)?!
But the most crucial thing to keep in mind is that it isn’t them we are missing, no. What we long for when we are hurting over the breakup is that warm sense of love and fulfillment.
Once you understand this on the emotional level soon you realize that there is the light at the end of the tunnel where the pain stops and your heart is healed; you will finally know that the healing will come, but not through getting back together with your ex.
It’s also worth noting that tirelessly trying to figure out exactly where things went wrong is a waste of your precious time. It never was about anything you did or said; it was always about the fact that you relied on someone else for something that only you can provide for yourself –– unconditional self-love and acceptance.
Many years ago, I once found myself in a mess of an on and off again relationship where I fell hard for someone who was ridiculously wrong for me, practically toxic. He was a hot mess himself: depressed, with awful mood swings, selfish, narcissistic, manipulative, and plain evil at times. When things blew up between us for the very last glorious time, I couldn’t even bear to stay in the same city with my ex, and so I packed my things and left. I left the country and started a new life. But I digress.
So, precisely what the heck I was thinking of being in that awful, gut-punching, soul-killing relationship?! Well, when I was with him, let’s call him ‘Ted,’ so, when I was with ‘Ted’ at times I felt like I was in a movie, I felt special.
I felt like someone could finally see me, the real me, and that I can trust him with even the things I wouldn’t dare to tell myself. The connection that we shared ran deep, was telepathic, electric, and and and indescribable. But I digress again. I didn’t care about his flaws, and he could have treated me like garbage at times, sure; the most important thing to me back then was that he chose me and wanted to spend time with me. I genuinely felt lucky – I was the one he came to with all his problems 24/7; I was the one he opened up to more than anyone else in the entire world.
While he wasn’t capable of loving me in the way I wanted to be loved, he still loved me in the only twisted way he was capable of giving that love, and that was enough to keep me around back then. Yes, I was unhappy in that relationship, but it didn’t matter too much, because at the end of the day I was loved.
When that relationship ended, I was emotionally devastated. I fell into a depression and thought I would never get out of that mental cage. I was a sobbing disaster residing on the bathroom floor for many weeks and months. I couldn’t focus on getting up and working on myself; I kept ruminating obsessively over every single aspect of that relationship. Without success, I tried to figure out EXACTLY what I did wrong and why all of a sudden, I was no longer worthy of his time, love, and attention.
And since I had no innate sense of self-worth and self-love, I continued to outsource that task of getting that fuzzy feeling from all the wrong outside sources –– of course, it didn’t heal my wounds; it only made me seek more validation from others, like a junkie on a lookout for the next good hit. The concept of self-love was alien to me.
When the relationship with ‘Ted’ ended, it didn’t matter how many guys wanted to hang out with me covering me with compliments from head to toe; it meant nothing because at the end of the day there was only one person’s nod of approval I yearned for (his). Nothing could ever compensate for the hard truth that the love of my life was now gone, and with it, my sense of self-worth I once possessed while being with him.
I am not going to deny, it took many years in traveling, soul-searching and deep work to finally realize that NO – he wasn’t that special spice ingredient that my life was lacking; self-love was. My entire life somehow I was barely getting by on merely ‘tolerating myself’. It had to change.
Yes, it took years, but I finally learned that all GREAT relationships start with self-love and self-acceptance. It’s a process. I am still learning to love myself exactly for who I am.
Why was it important to work on increasing self-love?
You see, people who know their true worth, who love and accept themselves can move on from experiences with dignity and their heads held high. I don’t think they see a romantic breakup as a tragedy of seismic importance or as a sign that they aren’t worthy of love. People like that can look back and admit, “Okay, in that relationship I had trust issues and found it difficult to open up. But hey, I will work on it so I can be better in my next relationship,” as opposed to, “That’s it. I’m dead inside. My heart is better to be closed forever so no one can ever break it again.”
Remember that getting your ex back in your life will never solve anything until you heal what’s within and take responsibility for the healing.
Healing is a process, and so is self-love.
Closure happens when you come to the conclusion that letting go and moving on with your life is much more important than endlessly projecting a fantasy of how the relationship could have been.