I’ve often asked myself if we can ever fully let go of the person we once loved. The honest answer is no…I don’t think you can. This may shock you or put you in a deep depression, but it’s the truth. To some degree we will always hold feelings for our ex’s no matter how hard we try or no matter how much time has passed. You can be happy in a new relationship with the love of your life, but you will always feel that slight sense of attachment to them especially if you have children together. It’s impossible not to! The good news is that having that awareness can help you let go of any negative feelings and the only thing that will be left are those fleeting thoughts of a love lost. There will be times throughout the healing process that you feel like you are totally over them and then the next week you find yourself lamenting about the pain they caused you or making snide comments about them under your breath. That’s proof that you haven’t completely let go.
Over the past five years I have worked very hard to work through the emotions that come with getting a divorce. The first year is like you’re shell-shocked and your adjusting to a new normal. Half of you is happy to be free and the other half is having daily panic attacks worried about making it on your own. You go about your day in a fog hoping nobody notices the fact that you put your bra on inside out or you may have left the house without brushing your teeth.
In the second year the anxiety subsides once you see how everything is not going to fall apart. You’ve made a new life for yourself and realize you’re having fun with friends instead of drowning your pain in a bottle of wine. You can look back and see the progress you’ve made since last year because you are wearing all of your clothes right side in and you have fresh breath again. These are baby steps, but at least you’re headed in the right direction. You still have a lot of healing to do and you are frustrated by the fact that you still cry over your ex from time to time, but all of that is completely normal. You shared a life with that person– you had hopes and dreams for your future and now you have to start all over again…I get it…it can be sad. You are scared to be in a new relationship because you don’t want to be hurt again so you hide behind your fear and close your heart. You may be having a resurgence of anger and resentment because your ex may be in a new relationship and you’re still curled up in a corner licking your wounds.
The third year it gets easier. It’s the time you do a lot of soul searching. Emotionally you feel stronger and you start to become open to the possibility of love again. You have accepted that the other person has moved on and you find yourself stalking them less and less on social media. By now you have dated a few losers, but those losers are there to show you what you DON’T want. Some of you lucky bastards may have even found love by now and you’re navigating the sometimes treacherous feelings of doubt and insecurity that creep into your consciousness. Be careful not to let your past relationship sabotage your next. If you rush into things before you’ve fully let go of your ex or the pain that they may have caused you, the new partner will surely suffer for it. If they’re the ‘one’ then they will there with you through the hard times and heal your heart.
Year four and five are more of the same. If you’re still single then you are feeling a little desperate to find love, but that is completely counterintuitive to finding it. Desperation is VERY unattractive. Whether you’re male or female; desperation is a turn off and you can smell it a mile away. Don’t be needy or overly anxious about finding a new person in your life. They will come when the time is right…you just have to keep the faith. Settling for someone who’s a bigger jerk than your ex is also not the solution. This is the time when you need to embrace your freedom and enjoy doing the things that make you happy. You’re out of the depression phase and hopefully been able to let go of your past little by little. Now you can visualize a brighter future. If you’re stuck, here are some strategies for letting go of your ex:
Step 1: Remember why you divorce them in the first place. Often we go back to the memories of all the good times and have a bit of amnesia when we forget about all the bad times. Romanticizing our past relationship is something we are all guilty of, but you have to be honest about how horrible it really was or realize that you weren’t meant to be with them.
Step 2: Stop stalking them on social media. Every time you go on to their page you are bringing up negative feeling and holding on to them. Seeing pictures of them being happy with their new love is only going to make you sad, angry or resentful …so knock it off! You will know that you are letting go when the urge to stalk decreases.
Step 3: Forgiveness. Forgive them for hurting you and be grateful that they can no longer hurt you. Letting go of anger and resentment is the most important step to letting go. If you can’t forgive them and see that they loved you but made mistakes (like we all do) you will continue to hold on the past and never move forward.
Step 4: Acceptance. Come to the place of acceptance that they have moved on and you will too. Finding acceptance is easier if you see them as family and not as your ex-lover. Wish them well instead of fantasizing about smothering them with a pillow.
Step 5: Visualize the future instead of living in the past. Make a vision board or write a list of qualities you want in your next partner then believe that you will find them.
I know it’s easier said than done, but just make your mind up to do it and you will see how your attitude transforms. Like I said, you have to understand that you will never be able to completely let them go, but the more you can let go of the pain, the more you can release the hold they have on you. You will always be connected in some way. You will always be family and like family sometimes they can drive you crazy, but you love them just the same. If you can find it in your heart to love them and wish them well you can begin the journey towards your new future. Hopefully that future comes with a good man that can make you smile again. 😉
With Faith, Hope and Love,
P.S. I want to share a great post from my sister’s blog. She is a functional medicine nutritionist, certified holistic health and lifestyle coach who has helped me tremendously with my own weight loss and nutrition. Part of my own healing process came from learning how to take care of myself and I couldn’t have done it without her support. I highly recommend her program because it works! To find out more go to her FB page. She has an expansive knowledge of how your body functions in regards to nutrition, but also has an amazing insight on why we struggle with weight and body image. She is my rock and has helped me get through all the ups and downs over the years because she has a gift for telling you exactly what you need to hear with love and support.