How to Heal Emotional Baggage After A Divorce or Break-up
I help people move on and heal from broken marriages and relationships. One-on-one coaching is a great way to move through these experiences.
Divorce and break-ups are experiences unlike any other. It is the culmination of all of your hopes and dreams for the future crashing down around you. You’re left with an ending you may have never wanted, or wanted for so long, but in either case, it’s one of the most challenging roller coaster rides you will ever find yourself on.
Sometimes it may feel like your emotional state is permanent and that it’s never going to change. You may wonder…How do I deal with these intense, overwhelming and unbearable emotions? Or how am I ever going to let go of all this emotional baggage?
These are some of the most painful feelings a human can experience. The good news is… feeling your feelings means the healing process is underway.
I wish there was a short cut or a magic pill. While there is no easy fix, there is understanding and moving through your grief, which is the beginning of the healing that you need. It’s frightening, it’s daunting, but you got this!
1. Experience your grief
Grief comes in waves. The only way out is through.
Some days you’ll feel great, everything is fine, it seems like a new chapter in life is finally underway and then boom… the tsunami of emotions hits and the crying comes on like an avalanche that has no end.
Grief is different for everyone.
For some, it’s crying.
For others it’s rage.
It could be a return to unhealthy habits.
It could be in the form of self-isolating.
Just when you thought you’ve taken 5 significant steps forward, you’ve fallen 20 steps behind and fallen flat on your face and you don’t know how to pick yourself up.
In those moments it’s important to remember that if you don’t know how to pick yourself up or how you ever will, you don’t need to figure that out right away.
Meet yourself where you are and allow your feelings to be there. This may sound impossible but…resisting it will allow it to persist. Embracing it will allow it to flow.
Our culture doesn’t set us up for success when it comes to grief. We are socialized to push emotions away.
The messages we receive tell us that we are weak if we experience feelings, that we are hysterical if we emote, and that something is wrong with us, that needs fixing if we are depressed.
Depression or anxiety as a result of a major loss can be a signal that you are normal and healthy. It’s okay to feel a spectrum of human despair.
However, it has to come out. If you let it out by crying, screaming, or any other verbal release that’s a great thing! It’s not going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it. You have to feel the pain to release it. When the waves of grief come when the painfully frightening feelings arrive the healing is happening.
2. Don’t rush the process
Struggle is a part of life, suffering is a choice.
You so badly just want to move on and be done with it and have a “normal” life again. But what is normal? We want comfort or ease in this incarnation but it’s not what we were promised.
Our souls are here to grow and learn through experiences, relationships, and challenges.
For instance, there is a Japanese tradition of fixing broken pottery by filling the cracks with gold. The pottery is then more beautiful and of higher value after being broken and mended back together.
If we view ourselves and our grief, our gold, in the same way, we can then embrace our pain knowing that it is making us more whole and more valuable than we were before we became “broken.”
3. Take an inventory of the baggage we are holding onto
Even when we believe we are over “the person”, it takes longer to get over how we were mistreated or not valued. If it takes time, that’s ok. Be patient with yourself. In other words, healing is sometimes like peeling away the layers of an onion.
One frustrating part of healing from the emotional baggage of your marriage is the never-ending list of “what if’s”.
Some of those intrusive thoughts may include:
What if I had never married this person?
What if I had left much sooner?
What if I could have saved the marriage?
What if it was all my fault?
What if I had seen the signs earlier?
What if I had been more of x, y, or z?
If you were mistreated, you may be haunted by how we were spoken to or treated by our exes. We move on to the next phase of our lives with lingering questions belonging to the variety of;
Was this my fault?
How did I allow that to continue?
Did I deserve what happened?
Did that happen because I wasn’t good enough?
If we don’t take the time to ponder these questions as they arise, preferably with outside help of someone we trust to provide us with an objective perspective, we may not heal properly and bring this baggage into our next relationship.
Like moving into a new house… and all the clutter and garbage of the previous owner is still there. Yuck.
It’s pretty easy to remove physical clutter if you can get the motivation, but how can we clear out the emotional baggage, pain, and clutter from a previous relationship or marriage when we can’t always identify where it is, why it’s there, or how to let it go?
For example, it’s almost like trying to clean out a closet in the dark with your hands tied behind your back!
And where do you even start? It’s all so overwhelming like a thousand tiny necklace chains tied together, there’s no clear starting point and no clear ending point.
You just have to start where you are. Just keep approaching it, keep tending to it and eventually there will be movement, flow, release, and healing. It’s an understatement to say love can be hard.
People have heartbreaks that they carry around for decades after a divorce or an unexpected ending. It can feel impossible to move on. This is why I do what I do. I don’t want anyone to feel as stuck as I did.
4. Fall in love with the parts of yourself that your ex discredited.
The way people treat you is their karma, the way you respond is yours. So often when we are abused, neglected, manipulated, or lied to we fear that it was something we lacked that caused our lover, our best friend to do such things. It never is.
People are not always as flawless as we hold them up to be. Our loved ones have their own struggles and pains and aren’t always aware of how their actions are inflicting pain and or damaging your self-esteem on purpose.
Whatever the reasons behind their actions….your job is to heal the emotional baggage, not to question it’s accuracy.
Faults and flaws of another person have nothing to do with you. Recognizing this is a huge step. And the best way to begin to heal the emotional baggage after a divorce or break-up.
5. Believe you are enough
Repeat after me, “I am enough.” You are enough. The inappropriate behavior of another person has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you.
When our ex downplays your achievements, interests, and passions we know intellectually that these hurtful statements were not true and did not even make sense, yet it still creates confusion and doubt, that can get deeply embedded into your subconscious.
The thing about a particular breed of abusive partners is that they are truly so insecure about losing you, that they will spin it the other way around to make you feel afraid of losing them because you may not be enough.
Often our ex’s are in such a bad place within themselves that they can’t embrace the beauty and wonder in each of us. And that had everything to do with them, and nothing to do with you.
6. Create much needed time for yourself
Use that time to think about the parts of yourself or your life that someone else diminished and use that time to remind yourself how truly awesome, lovable, and spectacular you are.
Spend time with friends who value those parts of yourself. Never be afraid to share what’s happened in your relationship with your support system. That’s what they are there for. Many people feel so ashamed for being in a toxic relationship that they can’t even bear the thought of their friends or family judging them or viewing them as “weak.” But you’re human, and they are too. And there is nothing like the positive affirmations of loving friends and relatives after being emotionally beaten down by your partner. Words have power and that power goes both ways.
7. Write or state positive affirmations about yourself
It also helps to remember that the wounds that our ex’s carry originated from another source before the wound was passed to them. Or, there was a traumatic experience in their lives that rendered them this way. That’s not meant to excuse the behavior by any means, but it can help you to forgive them.
If taking this journey seems impossible to you right now, there is help.
I know from experience, how miserable you can feel in an unhappy relationship and how important it is to heal from emotional baggage before starting a new one.
I’ve dedicated my professional life to helping people move on and heal from broken marriages and relationships. One-on-one coaching is a great way to move through these experiences.
My own journey through healing from emotional baggage after my divorce was so profound I have dedicated my professional life to helping others do the same. If you are interested in coaching or want to learn more about how I work with my clients, let’s talk. www.jacquelineneuwirth.com