In the previous article we discussed the concepts behind relationship separation anxiety, and the first four concepts to consider when you feel that anxiety has taken up residence in your life. It is hard in an emotional state to ascertain for certain if you are engrossed in normal or stalled grief, for there is no time limit or period that is appropriate for the loss of a love.
The final stage of separation anxiety comes in how you chose to control (or not) your emotional state. This being said in a relatively simple sentence, be assured that it is more difficult than appears on the printed page. You may have to make a choice to feel balanced and at peace several times an hour until it becomes more natural to you; I chose at least daily to make meaning of my own journey in a positive way. How do you take this step to change your state and acknowledge your grief, without losing your mind or your life?
- Be positive. I realize that you may be well and truly angry, betrayed or hurt. I would encourage you to find a method of journaling to let those feelings out, and then to let them go, a form of emotional editing. Anger and bitterness are a root, once planted, are hard to eradicate from life. It can destroy you from the inside out, and is your responsibility. Initially, you may find that your friends and family form a support network that allows you to disqualify the worth or value of the person you have left behind. I would advise caution in trashing the internal reputation of your love, but instead to look at them with as much truth and clarity as you can muster. In my case, my love had (and has) a highly volatile emotional strata that enables impulse decisions both positive and negative. Dependent on stressors, his ability to interact with my own intensity could vary greatly. The end of our relationship was at best demeaning, cruel to all involved and way beyond his control. I also have to recognize that it was filled with truly hard choices for both of us, and didn’t take place in a vacuum. Perceptions from outside your relationship may not include the many moments that made courtship worthwhile. Be careful about negative thoughts and comments that come from anger or hurt. Am I angry? Yes, I vocalize it, journal it and let it go. Do I chose to forgive? Absolutely, and I talk openly about that through articles like this one. Does that restore relationship? Not necessarily.
- Make a Choice. Editing is a form of choosing my emotional state. If I were to believe, for instance, that the person I loved did not deeply love me, feelings of being worthless or clueless might be reinforced. Instead, look for the pattern in the following statements: I chose to honor what was real and what was present, even though it increases the pain of its loss. I chose/want to honor and acknowledge what was right, even amidst the pain. I chose also to set short term, obtainable goals each day of my life and focus my energy on them. I chose to move and live – this weekend, I rearranged my demented closet (it’s a whole room) and organized my clothes. I chose to work out at a local health club, and to look and feel as good as possible. I chose to select healthy foods and research what might be best for my emotional state from a nutritional angle. The converse – eating tons of carbs and candy, not taking a shower and crying for days on end – and not helpful for you or anyone that you love. Self abuse will increase your separation anxiety. Your choices are within your control. That is an important phrase. Within your control is the ability to make small steps, to pray, to journal, to make inroads to a “normal” life. Take back control of your emotions where you initially can, and then push those edges out moment by moment until you feel the anxiety lessen. Physical activity and concentration will help dissipate the feelings of terminal loneliness that can linger.
- Recognize Change. People will give you their best advice, and you might recognize that they are often cliche. “Time will make everything alright” is not true, but it will give you perspective and lessen the pain if not end it. “You’ll forget him/her.” Well, if you were truly in love, you will most likely not forget. Especially if the person changed your other relationships, your life…you will not forget. You will find a way to live with your dormant love feelings in harmony, if you try…and try. “There are lots of fish in the sea” – and you may still be a bird. Here is the bottom line. Life changes us, every moment of it. Love is one of the big ones, those movie crescendo moments. I will never forget the moment that the love of my life said good bye. He kissed me and whispered “I will always love you.” His footsteps in the hallway left me shattered on the floor. Nothing in the world has been the same since, and I doubt that the woman I am before him will ever return. I recognize the change in me and found that I am embracing my altered state as a little more wise, a little more cautious.
- Seek Growth. It is worth your while to talk these feelings with a neutral, trained person who largely listens and echoes your feelings without much advice. Your body naturally knows how to grieve – allow yourself to cry, to write, to be. Chose healthy outlets, in contrast to self medicating with any form of substance, substitute relationships or atypical behaviors. I have grown past my margins, but not without effort and pain. I have learned to notice and appreciate things that I may have breezed past before, slowed down a little. My present reality is based on a relationship has taken on a fullness that wasn’t evident in my life before; I believe in the deep, rich friendship and the enduring sense of stability that this love offers so freely. In every great grief, there is learning and growth. Will it end, the pain that you feel? Instead of a hissing monster in your life it will become more dormant, quiet for longer periods of time and leaving you to live free.
- Eat, Drink, Pray. You cannot hope to make yourself feel decent if you do not eat whole foods, drink clean water, move with at least moderate activity and breathe clean air. Those are the basics. You need sleep and sunlight. If you are not balanced in any of these areas, you’re going to feel blue and anxious. Search within yourself for your own faith, and look for beauty in life. Direct your thoughts and allow your mind to come to a place of calm. I do this with meditation and affirmations about what I am grateful for. It is impossible to obsess over loss when you are reaffirming your grateful attitude toward the sunshine, friends, family, health. Chose your thoughts. In meditation I find that my lost love will come into my frame of thinking, and I dedicate myself to sending him prayers of peace, love and light. I truly love him and pray for his happiness. It is my greatest hope that when he thinks of my those feelings and prayers are reflected back in the universe. Still, I chose the path of peace for my own healing.
- Time after time. There is no time line, but your goal is to move past the pain and into life again. Do it in your own steps, one at a time. Know that you will have both good and bad days. It’s been many months now since I last saw my love – and day after day I continue this journey of healing. Don’t allow yourself to wallow – that is stalled grief that can’t move. Recognize healthy movement in contrast to obsessing over what you perceive you lost – obsession always averts reality into a twisted perception of what did not happen. Be clear, be real. You’ve lost love and it does hurt. There are good and bad facets to the person that you loved, and they are (unless truly awful) neither demon nor angel. It’s okay to have fun, laugh, go out with your friends – and to cry into your pillow and make plans for a tropical holiday or cruise looking your best. Engage your imagination and be resourceful on your own behalf. Do not stalk the person digitally, personally or emotionally. No one is worth bankrupting your self respect and self affirmation over. It will not endear you to the individual that you profess to love. If you are “soul mates” he or she will be back in time, but not by force or coercion. If not, you have to be willing to let go and live on.
The steps of relationship recovery vary from person to person. These are a rough framework of how I as an individual seek wholeness and healing from the pain of lost love. In the moments, days and months to come, I will undoubtedly review and re-walk these paths many times. Eventually there is a time and space when you will step past the present memories and into a new reality that brings its own difficulty. It is my hope that when that day comes you engage it with the grace and peace of a person that has loved, learned and grown into the exceptional person that you have the potential to be.