Dear Broken Hearted One … When You’re In The Thick of a Break-Up.

Break-up, separation, relationship break-up, breaking up

Dear Broken Hearted One,

I’ve been where you are.

I know that loneliness, that messiness and that ache that steals you. 

I know that searing silence that comes at night before you fall asleep, and the lengths you’d go to to avoid it – keeping the light on, the music, the tv on low.

I know how empty space can be so heavy and thick with memories, that it can drive a longing so crushing it takes your breath for a while.

I know how it feels to not want to move – from the bed, the shower, the car, the house, the floor, but at the same time wanting to be anywhere else but where you are. 

I’ve cried so hard and felt pain so intense that it was only that primal, automatic magical thing that keeps a heart beating on its own that got me through.

When someone walks away, it can feel like a personal assault. So you wonder what you could have done, or how you could have been, that could have made the difference and keep the break-up away. Perhaps the answer is something and perhaps it’s nothing. It doesn’t matter. The thing is that we humans are a glorious, beautiful mess – a bundle of parts with some that are close enough to perfect and some that are nowhere near it.

Not everyone will love you for who you are, but who you are will always be enough – better than enough – for the right person. Loving enough, funny enough, smart enough, strong enough, gentle enough, giving enough, sane enough, crazy enough, level enough, wild enough, beautiful enough. The imperfect, messy parts of you won’t matter. On days they’ll drive the one who loves you crazy perhaps, but never enough to matter. Never enough to break-up. You will be loved anyway – sometimes despite them, sometimes because of them. 

That’s what love does. It makes the messiness of each of us not matter, then slowly, quietly and gently, it supports us in bringing the best version of ourselves to life. If it doesn’t do that – if it feels hard, or fragile, or unpredictable then it’s not love in its most nurturing, healthiest form – habit maybe, fondness maybe, love in the best way it can be – but not love in the way you deserve. In love there’ll be fighting, conflict, sometimes you’ll be crazy with hate, you’ll feel good, feel bad, want more, want less, but there will always be warmth, security, safety, a wanting and a fulfilment – and a view to the very best version of you.

People come into our lives to learn from us or to teach us and not everyone is meant to stay. There are so many reasons for this, and none of them have anything to do with you not being enough.

Sometimes the person we want isn’t ready or willing for the bending and flexing it takes to be in the relationship at that particular time. Perhaps he wants more bending and flexing from you, but so much that it will change you in a way that will make you less than you are meant to be. Sometimes, the growth just comes to an end, and the break-up that follows doesn’t mean the relationship wasn’t important or loving or exactly what each of you needed at the time. 

It probably feels as though the world is different to the one you’ve known and for a little while, it will be. Right now, something inside you is changing. It might feel as though you’re falling apart – I get that – but you will come back together in a way that’s stronger, wiser and more powerful. That’s what heartbreak is all about. Few things have the intensity that can breaks us into pieces like that, and make way for compassion, self-love and courage to fight to bring us back together, better than before an closer to the best possible version of ourselves. 

Every person will at some point feel the heartbreak you’re feeling now. Everyone will lose someone who was everything good about the world. Everyone will feel a loss that strips them back to bare. It’s awful. It’s intense. And it’s part of being human. 

The greatest thing to take from this is that everyone gets through it. Everyone gets up and moves forward and eventually finds themselves at a point where the heartbreak, the pain and the reasons it happened won’t matter. You don’t have to believe that. It will happen for you whether you believe it or not. For now, all you have to do is breathe, and get through today. Feel the love from the people around you and from those you’ve never met who have been broken hearted too, who would right now send you armfuls if they knew your story. 

[irp posts=”150″ name=”Your Body During a Breakup: The Science of a Broken Heart”]

We’re all in this human thing together. Perhaps we don’t go through the same thing at the same time and perhaps not in the same way, but there is something about pain and grief that connects us. We all get it – wherever we’ve come from and wherever we are, we’ve known it – love, loss, wanting and longing. We’ve all been there, and we all make it through.

There is a version of this life that has a happy, strong, powerful you in it. Give it time. It’s working on making it’s way to you. When you want to – and there’s plenty of time – open your wild, brave heart and let it know that you’re ready.

79 Comments

ligia

Dear Karen,

You wrote it beautifully.. I read many articles about the broken hearts hoping that somewhere I’ll see a little ray of light. I’m in agony! It’s been 3 years of massive pain, sadness, loneliness, feeling guilty. I can’t take it any longer.. I can’t stop thinking of the guy I love. He never loved me, I feel.. I did my best, always was here for him, I could do anything to be near him. When he treated me badly, I did not speak up, I was just very sad and hurt. I never told him how much he hurt m (with his words and his attitude towards me). I occasionally text him to ask how he is and occasionally he replies that he is great, so I wish him good luck with whatever he does. He doesn’t ask me how I am etc.. I still want to know what’s going on in his life.. he is simply not interested in me, doesn’t care, I know this.. I simply cannot let it go.. I made mistakes, I can’t forgive myself.. God, I just want to die!
I tried therapy, counselling etc, nothing helps. Your words were kind, but I lost hope.

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Karen Young

We all make mistakes – it’s how we learn. What do you know now that you didn’t know then? How have you grown? This is all readying you for the relationship that is coming to you, but it won’t find you until you let go of the one that is causing your grief. When you make the decision that you have learned enough, punished yourself enough, hurt enough – and that you deserve healing and happiness – that is when things will start to change.

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JC

What an amazing article. I too found this while searching online for wisdom, insight, information to ease the pain and make sense of my feelings. And seeing how readers comment in a cathartic way, bleary-eyed and not well rested I feel compelled too as well.

This was my 1st real relationship after my amicable divorce. We broke up at 8 months. My now ex (pains me to write that) is a Conservative Jew & knew I was Catholic when he asked me out, knew I had two young Catholic children who lived w me 60% of the time. And at first very much believed if I converted we could make our lives work.

I was so proud of our relationship, we took it slow. Eased him in to the childrens’ lives. Didn’t rush falling and sharing our love. He’s never been married/no kids/no long term relationship in 10 years/never fell in love.

I felt happiness like no other. We didn’t talk about what our inter-faith home could look like much, I felt we would discuss when we were ready. But a few items mentioned in passing, such as my parents wanted to see me/my kids/future unborn kids (even if Jewish) on Christmas day type things.

He did Christmas w me and my little darling girls and he was entranced with the whole experience. And I do not have a very religious home at all. But my kids go to Catholic School (which is very common where I live) and my family of origin is Catholic.

I embraced the idea of conversion and engaged in some Jewish traditions happily. But yet, we still needed to discuss the potential merging.

Well, in the last 10 days I felt his Mother acting very distant to me on Facebook (my only barometer) and he went had dinner with his parents and then went and saw his grandparents (very strong influence on him) and when he came back he went into his man cave for 2 days and needed space. He emerged to break up with me.

He was very kind, said all the wonderful things I am, but he does not see us getting married. He began to site “oh well, I don’t really meet your needs” or “I feel bad you walk on egg shells sometimes around me” or “It just should not be this hard” and it really didn’t seem to be issues that you end a relationship that we had intended to end in marriage, including my two little girls. They really were not major issues in our life even. I said, “well those things take work sometimes and were two people evolving, but I don’t see it that way at all”

He sort of didn’t know what to say, he did look very sad and forlorn. Would say he’s very sorry and didn’t want to ever hurt me.

And finally I blurted out, “Is it because Im Catholic?” and he said, “Yes. I tried. I tried to accept Christmas. It just makes me too uncomfortable. You have your girls. I just can’t.”

And he even gently said, “Deep down you know this wasn’t meant to be” and I said, “Actually no I don’t believe that at all. Im stunned. Im heartbroken.”

We were so happy together, and with my children. He adored them. He said, “In our bubble we were perfect, but with all this outside stuff, it just isn’t going to work”

Of course there was more talk, he was very kind, about all the wonderful ways I have changed him and how wonderful I am and whatnot. And hopes to still know me…

But he’s made his choice. This was 2 days ago. And I am sick to my stomach. He has cut his ties with me.

And I just can’t help but the need to RATIONALIZE it. He knew I was Catholic, willing to convert, but had two Catholic kids and a very large Catholic family that only wanted to eat lunch with us on Christmas Day. My family is not hyper religious.

But I guess his is. I guess this is just not what his family does. And him being accepted and having approval from his family is paramount to him. He’s always seemed it, needed it, wanted it. And he got it, he’s a wonderful kind and accomplished man. And none of my religious state was new to him or them.

I firmly believe that he felt the challenges and needs to bend to what we both normally know coming. That it felt scary and uncomfortable and possibly even had his family saying, “I can’t believe you are going to celebrate Christmas”…and he chose fear.

He chose to avoid what is scary and new, to avoid disappointing his family, avoided what could be uncomfortable…but not in any way a shame on his religion because I would convert and we would celebrate all Jewish traditions.

Not that I even had a chance to discuss it thoroughly with him. Something clicked, his family likely assured his fears were accurate and while this girl is lovely and her children lovely, this is not right and end it now.

And it kills me. His absence kills me. Telling my kids killed me. His GAPING LACK OF PRESENCE IN MY WORLD is devastating me.

I ache physically (I read the article you posted on physical pains and coping, thank you).

I am just still REELING that after being single for so long, no love in his life, seeks me out, creates an intertwined life with me and my children meticulously and suddenly says, “I can’t. I tried, but its too uncomfortable”.

I wanted him to be stronger for me. Willing to do what is uncomfortable, challenge what he believed to be the only “right” way. Find HIS way and find it WITH ME. WITH US.

He waited his whole life to meet and fall in love with me and my girls. And now. Poof. Its hard and its scary and it could be messy even. YES. WELCOME TO AN ADULT RELATIONSHIP. and No, “shouldn’t it be easier” (he said that). I said, well a lot IS easy for us. But it takes work and ours certainly needed more logistical and whatnot arranging.

And he walked. In the face of love, a love he said at the breakup, was none he’s ever known. Walked. Chose fear of whats uncomfortable. Because we never had Jesus figures around, I don’t even go to Church. But its Catholics around us. And in our home in my children.

He knew this, which is why I believe the reality hit him and it got scary to do what is unknown and different and will take solving. His family wasn’t encouraging it, and there you have it.

And I am trying to cope and heal.

Thank you for listening, this is the most I have written about it yet.

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DS

Hi JC… I’m going through something very similar, though a little more recently. My fiance – yes, fiance, we had been engaged for over a year – left me because of religious differences which supposedly became very important to him a few months before our wedding. I understand the feeling of reeling. I understand the feeling of anger, of empathizing with his fear, and yet hating him for not being stronger, to figure out his fears and stay with a love that, like you said, is unlike any other love he had ever known.

How are you now? Is there hope for the future? It’s been over a month for me and while I feel better than I did when it first happened (which felt exactly as you described), I’m still so sad, and in shock.

Please reply if you can.

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Sanmathi

Hey, thank you so much for this article! Am so glad I found it. This relates to me so much and connects to the pain am going through right now. This phase is the toughest and the kind of strength this article gives me is immense. I can’t tell you how many times I have read this. I read it everytime I am about to breakdown and go back into the past. I feel better knowing that maybe just like millions have, I will survive this and be happy one day 🙂

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome! And yes – you absolutely will get through this. It’s an awful thing to go through, I know, but the heartbreak will end, and one it will all make sense. Love and healing to you.

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Jay

thank you for posting this, recently me and my boyfriend have been going through a rough patch and for now we are taking a break but this article helped me feel better about my current situation and feel like things will work out for us 🙂

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K

The only thing that prevented me from crying and drinking wine all day today is I was too busy reading your article and comments from people that are also in pain.
My hurt is raw, my boyfriend just broke up with me for the second time this week. He broke up with me on Sunday, I pleaded, begged, stood outside as I watch him drive away. I begged some more on the phone but by tuesday night I gave up and sent him a nice message that i will always love him. He said I’ll always be an angel in his eyes. Wednesday night he text and called and came over. We slept together. I told him I want him back and hr said thats something we have to talk about but not then because he had to get up early. The next morning he kept kissing me and hugging me like always. He even said he loved me too when i said i loved him. He told me he’d call me later but he i never hear from him unless i call him. Last night i sent him an angry text how enough is enough and that he’s used me etc. He said he didn’t use me and he said he will always be my friend. Ouch!! Then ofcourse I begged again, same hurt maybe more than the first time because the first time we broke up in person and he was breaking it off gently but last night he told me he doesn’t love me like that anymore. He said i am wonderful and amazing but I wasn’t meeting his sexual needs. That hurts! He said he wanted to feel desired too and he always the one initiating it. So we do not match he said. We are too different. This he just tells me after almost a year of us with hardly any fights!! Why wasn’t i given a warning that he felt this way? He could’ve told me first and then we can work on it but he is just so adamant on letting me go. Everyday he tells me he loves me and all of sudden he just realized I’m not what he’s looking for. Now its turning into the night and I want to send him a message if he can atleast stay with me just for tonight because I just need one more look at him and I dont want to fall asleeo knowing that I’ll wake up in the middle of the night crying and longing for him. I don’t want to see his side of the bed empty.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

One of the most painful experiences is fighting for something (or someone) that is trying to let go of you. Letting go can be excruciating, but this doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Things feel awful now – of course they do – and they might feel awful for a little while, but you are going to get through this. It takes time, but the pain of this will end. Hold tight and be kind to yourself – if he isn’t fighting hard to keep hold of you, there is nothing in this relationship for you. Love and strength to you.

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Pam

I’ve been reading a lot of your articles in the last week or two and I appreciate them a lot, it lets me know I’m not the only person out here that can feel so bad and still be alive.
So much of your advice is good and right, but it’s also easier said than done at times, I”m sure you know that and probably from experience.
I guess the toughest is in not making life changing decisions right now. That’s a big one for me and I have been through the whole gamut with it. I’m sure if anyone was paying attention they would say I am totally wishy washy right now and they’d walk away shaking their heads.

Unfortunately, I have decisions that have to be made such as where am I going to live, and which is the best way to get there. And there is a whole lot of hurry up and wait going on. I can’t do it this way, not enough money, but I can’t do it that way because it’s physically not possible and it just goes from there. block wall after block wall, not even counting how many times I’ve bounced between feelings of “I really don’t want to hurt him.”, to “I want him to feel as bad as I do right now!” Either way I go seems to be wrong or not feasible and it is stopping me from getting on with my life.
I wish someone would just sit me down and say, this is what you need to do and this is how you do it but we all know that won’t happen, nor would it be the smartest thing to do anyway.
And I am having some serious issues with trusting anyone at all right now and that doesn’t help because I know I need to vent but even when I possibly have a chance to, I feel something stopping me, fear I guess. I’m afraid that either they will not believe me or that I will fall so completely apart I may not make it back.
And the asshole that I’m dealing with right now won’t leave, he is staying in the shop because he says he has nowhere to go right now either. We are trying to be civil until we can figure this all out but there is so much hurt on my part and resentment I end up saying something and then getting more of what I started with, I feel like it will never end.
So, there I go, decisions I have to make and making all of them wrong, so its a case of going around in circles for now and more waiting and wondering and pain. If all you say is true and this will all make me a better person and make me stronger, I imagine myself coming out of this on the other end and being a SUPER HERO! Who knows, maybe I will try to stay in touch so you can witness how it all turns out because right now it does seem like it will ever end. But at least I got to vent even a little bit and maybe that will give me a little bit of peace for now. Thanks for reading this if you have and if anyone has any thoughts, I will be checking back now and then.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Pam I know you will get through this. Aside from the pain of a breakup, have to sort out the logistics of where to live etc can add massively to the heartache. Once you find your way through this – and you will find a way – you will be able to move forward. You will emerge from this an absolute superhero. It can’t be any other way when you let go and move on with openness to what comes next, which you are doing. I would love to hear how you move through this. I know there is a good turn in your story that’s waiting for you.

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Pam

Thank You Karen, for your kind reply, it’s nice to know someone is out there listening. Don’t start working on my cape just yet though, I fear it might be a while for this one although I’m starting to feel some resolve and a bit of strength and more than a little healthy anger for the way this all came down. And I feel so silly that I fell into this hook, line and sinker. How crazy is this, he’s been lying to me for 16 years and down deep inside I knew he didn’t love me, after a short time I even said it out loud and I guess I wanted so badly to be with this man, I was willing to accept even the fact that he didn’t love me, just to have him near. He said he did and slowly I became a little more secure about it, I thought enough time had passed that it was possible. And we went along for several years, him always finding faults and me bending backwards to try to be what he wanted. Talk about eggshells, I walked on them for so long I think that part of me is conditioned permanently.
I’ve tried talking to a few friends, but they say on no, not him. He’s such a kind gentle man. My closest friend even started telling me what i was doing wrong and how to make it better for him, blah blah. I let her ramble on and then finally told her I’ve had nothing but YEARS of criticism, and being told what I had to do and never ever getting it right and frankly, I am doing what I need to do this time, not what everyone else says. So, i quit talking to anyone or telling what my life was like, I didn’t know who to trust with my heart anymore and I started thinking that maybe he was right, maybe I was that low life thing he said I was, and maybe I deserved to be just where I was. And no wonder no one wants to hear what I say, they all thought I needed to quit whining and even told me I needed to get a life. Geez…isn’t it funny how people can tell you exactly what you need but they can’t look in the mirror and see what they need. Like to shut up and stop judging me maybe?
Anyway, I do have one friend now that believes me and she’s awesome, but I can’t let too much be laid on her shoulders, she’s not in the best of health and i don’t want to cause her more stress. It’s enough that she heard me out a few times and the first thing she said was , You stop that right now Pammie, you are a damn good person and you are not all those awful things and he wants to make you feel that way to keep you under his thumb, please don’t fall for that please. He thought I was just going to walk away from here and leave it to him, but this is my place, was before we got married and it still is now and I almost did that, walk away because I don’t know if I can take care of this place all by myself. Now i’m thinking that I can, and I will and since he says now he doesn’t love me, but oh how he tried, and on and on like that, then I think it’s getting time to force his hand. He needs to go, he has to, because I am sick of it all. I thought I would die when he said that, I even thought a few times of making that happen. but I realized the guy I was so in love with was never real, it was a fantasy, and he was just an actor, and good at his job. The man I see now doesn’t look or feel anything like the man I thought I married. I don’t even like him, let alone love him anymore and I think the only reason i haven’t thrown him out is the fear that what if he is right and I can’t make it out here alone? And even that isn’t so scary because one thing for certain, he will NEVER get my place if I am still able to stand up. He doesn’t deserve even one inch of it and that is my new resolve. He was so close, he will never know how close. But his mission has failed.

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Jen

I read this and wanted to cry. I feel so alone in my heartache right now. I do feel like this feeling will never pass. I can’t sleep, I have lost tons of weight and my insides feel like they will never become untwisted. This, while my ex moves on and is dating someone new and I am here, stuck in this pain that has completely enveloped me. I want to believe that it will one day go away, but for now, I see no end in sight. I am grateful to know that there are others who have felt this way and that are able to move through it to a place of peace and beauty.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Jen I’m sorry this is happening to you. I can hear how much pain you are in, but it will get better. I promise. The pain of a breakup feels suffocating but in time there will start to be good days as well as the bad days. Then the bad days will get less. Then a lot less. Then there will come a point where you are stronger, braver, wiser, and without pain, and so much more ready for (and so much closer to) the relationship that is absolutely right for you. I know this is hard to even imagine right now, and that’s okay. This will happen anyway. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the time you need to move through this – because it will pass in tme. It absolutely will.

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ft

I’m bookmarking this to read everyday.
15 months ago I got in a relationship with a wonderful man, but he’d lost his wife only 6 months previously and, despite assuring me he was ready to date, he wasn’t.
After 3 months of him becoming distant to me, last week he told me he no longer loved me because he wasn’t over his wife. After all the support I gave him, helping him deal with his depression, this has left me completely heart broken.
This gives me hope though.

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Hey Sigmund

This is heartbreaking for you. You will get through this – you absolutely will. There will be good days and bad days, but as time passes the bad days will disappear and the good days will get better. Be gentle with yourself in the meantime. Much love and strength to you.

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KK

I really found some strength in these words. Thank you so much for writing them.
I got left by my fiancee 2 weeks ago, no more than 12 hours had passed since the last time she told me she loved me, until I got woken up a saturday morning with her telling me she wanted to move out, because she didn’t love me anymore (at least in that way).

I’m not at a point where I really think I can heal yet, we lived together, and I can’t bear to see her pack her part of our last 5 years together down and leave, so I’ve let her have the appartment for a week to move out, while I sleep on couches at different friends. I don’t think I’ll be able to do much of anything other than taking one day at the time, until she has moved out and I can start figuring out what to do.

I’m still in complete chock of what has happened. I respect that if she doesn’t love me anymore, we shouldn’t be together, but the fact that everything felt so perfectly fine until she ended it so suddenly is really messing with my head.

Sorry for not including my name, but it is somewhat googled rather often in a professional fasion, and can’t having clients reading this.

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Hey Sigmund

Breakups are awful but when they come so unexpectedly like this they can be particularly devastating. It’s good that you’re staying with friends. Being with people who care about you is important, even if it’s the last thing you feel like. There will be an adjustment and I know how painful that it, but you will be okay. In the meantime, be kind to yourself, stay active and spend time with people who care about you. Much love and strength to you.

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Megan

Thank you so much for this article, it’s definitely one of the best I’ve read. It’s really nice to read all of the comments and know that I’m not alone and the craziness that I feel is somewhat justified. I’m still dealing with my first heartbreak of 2 years even after almost 8 months of being apart. He was the definition of a bad boy (abuser, addict and a charmer) and it’s the hardest thing to let him go because he still has such a hold on me. Trying to start the new year by breaking bad habits and this article was a good start, Thank you(:

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Hey Sigmund

You are so not alone! Breakups can make us all feel like crazy people for a while but you have acted with great strength and self-love have done the right thing. Keep going. You’re well on your way to being a happier, more whole version of you.

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Penny Brim

Thank you for this. I’ve actually prolonged this heartbreak for over two years. Your article is so comforting.

Thank you again.

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Jen

This has been helpful during a very difficult time, but what about when the breakup is not you but a disconnect with your children? How do you deal with loving someone who loves you deeply back but can’t be with you because he can’t handle the family life? We were together 3 and a half years and both pretty devastated by the breakup. My son is diagnosed with ADHD and autism so our home life is pretty demanding so I get that is been challenging and I understand his reasons but how to deal with it?

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Hey Sigmund

This must be so deeply painful for you. The way to deal with this is the same as with any breakup. Your heart has been broken because it wants this man every day, and it sounds as though he wants you, but it doesn’t change that now is the time to adjust to a life without him in it or without him in it the way you want him to be. You will be going through a physical, emotional and psychological withdrawal. The breakup doesn’t change that you shared a deep and wonderful love, but the circumstances mean that being together felt impossible. The only way to move forward is to be warmed by the love that you continue to share, but to let go and let your heart, body and mind adjust to your new normal. This will take time, but it’s an important part of letting yourself heal. Spend time with people who care about you and do at least one thing a day to pull you out of the heartbreak, even if it’s just for a moment – read a magazine, go for a walk – anything. In time it will ease but until then, be kind to yourself and give the time some time.

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Jarka

I really needed to read this today… my partner broke-up with me after two years of relationship and planning our future together. Now, 4 weeks after the break-up, he’s in love with another girl and it makes me feel worthless and stupid that I’ve ever believed he loved me as much as I thought. ..thank you for writing this post. it helped at least a little bit.

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Hey Sigmund

I’m so sorry this has happened to you. It sounds like such a confusing breakup. You are not worthless and you are not stupid, and you will always be more than the relationship you are in. This man is on a different path to you, but it doesn’t mean that he never loved you the way you thought he did. You have outgrown this relationship and it’s so painful for you right now, I know, but go gently and give yourself time to heal. Be open to what comes next.

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Floor

Thank you so much for writing this article. It’s been over seven months since my long distance boyfriend broke up with me after I had done everything in my power to prevent that from happening. Even though I feel much better now, I wish I had read this while I was still in the -I’ll-stay-in-the-shower-forever phase. It’s spot on, honestly. Your words helped me understand myself and that period in my life better.

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Kay

Hello : ) I just wanted to thank you for your post it has helped me to know that I am not alone. I have been in the deep sorrow for 2 months now having to pick myself up off the floor many days and nights. I find myself not able to breathe crying every day or every other day. I am so broken hearted and yes I mean into a million pieces I keep asking myself why. I have been a great woman and mother to our 6 year old and in the relationship for 7 years loving unconditionally I have given my all, I have given my last. I have given everything I got mentally physically and emotionally only to find out that he has been in a 9 month or longer relationship with someone else. I only could prove 9 months through my phone records with thousands of text, phone calls and pictures. Late nights and days out while I’m home doing everything under the sun to keep everything together. Talk about a double life who was I with for so long? Huh now all I feel is resentment and heartache. Now he is sorry and want to try again but I always knew in my heart that it has been over for some time he is and was emotionally un available. I know I have to go on everyday and maintain being a mom to 2 beautiful girls 1 almost 18 and the other 6 but it is so hard. I say all this to say thank you from the bottom of my heart you let me know that you truly understand and there are soooooo many others who are feeling my pain and I want to say to you and them that no matter what happens in your life lwaus love yourself and be loyal to you never love another more than you love you. No two people will ever love the same. Please put your head up and smile again love again don’t let go of who you are and will be. ; )

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Hey Sigmund

I’m so sorry that you are going this this heartache. You clearly deserve so much better that to be hurting like this. It sounds as though you have worked really hard to make your relationship work, and what you have said is so insightful – ‘No two people will ever love the same’. Sometimes the way two people love will work together and sometimes it won’t. You have a strength and wisdom in you that is beautiful. There are so many people who will take comfort from your words. I hope that you are able to keep moving forward with love and kindness for yourself. You deserve to be loved by someone who thinks you’re wonderful.

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Lovesick Abroad

I recently ended a relationship due to infidelity after moving abroad and now live in an unfamiliar country where I am working to get back on my feet. I start a new position soon and was concerned the emotions stemming from this event could interfere with my success. The heartbreak is tremendous and learning to deal with the emotion challenging. Your writing is inspirational in finding the patience to learn from these painful emotions as they pass and to prepare space for the strong person I am becoming. Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re very welcome. Ending a relationship is hard enough, but when infidelity is added in the pain can be unbearable. You will become stronger for this – you already have. It takes an enormous amount of strength, courage and self-love to end a relationship that has unexpectedly let you down. You have done the right thing. I wish you love and comfort.

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A

Thanks for writing this article… it’s good to be reminded that everyone goes through this. I’m experiencing it for the first time after breaking up with my long term boyfriend. Finding it particularly hard to move on as I initiated the breakup (things didn’t feel right but for no real reason, but it stopped me giving him the affection he needed so it just wasn’t fair) but now I’ve had some time apart to think clearly I can see so many little ways that I gave up instead of trying to fix things. I’m sure it’s quite common for people to regret a breakup and want to fix things, and my people assure me that if by some miracle we did get back together we would just hit the same problems again, but I can’t stop wishing and hoping and missing him.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re very welcome. I completely understand the pull you have to be with him again. Not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to stay there. When someone walks away, or when we walk away from a relationships that’s been important, it can be devastating, and you wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t miss him and wish for things to be the way they were. That doesn’t mean that going back into the relationship is the best thing for you. You left for a reason, even if you’re not able to really pin down what that reason was. The fact is that it didn’t feel right, and it’s important for you to listen to that. You will emerge from this, and you will flourish, closer to the best version of yourself that you can be.

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Robin

I’m trying to get past it and let go of him. I’m 65 yrs old. Just too tired to fight it anymore due to major health issues. I’m going to focus on positive things. Just hurts to have lost my 2 grandkids in the process. It’s all because his wife is a major control freak and makes his life difficult if he wants me in it.

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Julie Weeks

Hi there… I love your articles… they are so spot on. The only thing I’d like to see is that they be written for either sex… so many of them are written only from/for females. The above article would be so good for my son… a tender, gentle man who has been through a terrible break up. This would be perfect, except it is written to women. It’s just something maybe worth exploring. Thank you for your wise and respectful articles.

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Hey Sigmund

Yes – I really take your point. Up until quite recently, it has been mostly women who were coming to the website but lately there have been a few more men signing up to the newsletter and following on Facebook, which is wonderful because the material is relevant for both men and women. I’ll certainly be keeping this in mind and am really grateful for your feedback. It really help to know what people are after, so thank you. In the meantime here is a version of this article that might be helpful for your son http://wp.me/p5hkQx-ll . Breakups are awful, and I hope it’s able to offer him some comfort as he heals.

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Elizabeth

I was married for 14 years to an alcoholic. By the time we divorced, feelings were long gone and I was happy…content. Three months later I allowed myself to fall for a wonderful man who played to my vulnerabilities of which I wasn’t aware. I loved him hard and him me. However, without giving myself time to heal from my divorce I fell for this man with both good and bad characteristics and it must end. I can’t waste another 14 years. So it’s over. Now I’m mourning the loss of two identical relationships. Friends and family lose patience. It’s so nice to read from you and be reminded that this will pass and I’m not alone.

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Hey Sigmund

After ending a loveless relationship it would be easy to fall for someone who lights a spark in you. It sounds as though you have ended you new relationship from a place of strength and wisdom, realising it’s the beginning of another familiar pattern. This must have been a really difficult thing to do, especially if you felt a lot of love for this man. It sounds like you’ve made a really good decision, but it doesn’t mean it’s an easy one. Give yourself time. Your grief will certainly pass and there’s no hurry to work through it. When you are able to be so clear about what is right or wrong for you, and able to make difficult decisions with such strength and clarity, there has to be happiness ahead for you.

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Arianna

I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 2 months. Even though the relationship was not that long, the pain is just as deep. We went to high school together and I’ve had a crush on him since he was a sophomore. When we dated I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I didn’t think it could get much better. But then he went to church camp and after he got back, he told me that he couldn’t have a relationship because he needs to focus more on God right now. And I totally got that but it still shattered my in half. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I’m such a different person from who I was 4 months ago. Pain changes someone. I’ve never been in this much pain in my entire life. Even though it’s been almost a month since the breakup, I’m still shattered. I still cry a lot, it will hit me out of nowhere. I’m so delicate and I’m pushing everyone away but the more I read of these, I realize it gets easier with time. And yours is diffinitely one of the best I’ve read! God is trying to help me heal but very slowly. I believe he is teaching me something though all this pain. And this article really helped me see that I’m no the only one. Thank you for posting this. It has helped me see that it will get better and it all takes time. Time is definitely not on my side I feel like. I wish the pain would just go away. Your words feel like glue mending my broken heart back together. Thank you for your encouraging words! I throughly enjoyed reading your material and I’m looking forward to reading more!

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Hey Sigmund

Arianna I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through this pain. The pain of a breakup is awful, I know. This is your time to heal and grow and you will come through this. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now but I promise, you will. Here is some information that might help you to understand why your pain feels so deep https://www.heysigmund.com/your-body-during-a-breakup/ . I wish you much love and strength.

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Victoria

What a great article and resonates close to my heart. I’ve been through breakups before and found it easy to move on, but after my last relationship of 5 years, almost 12 months the heartbreak still effects me and I genuinely don’t feel confident that anyone will ever fill that gap. Its still in my thoughts every day but not as painful, I don’t cry all the time anymore and I am living my life well. Its reassuring I’m not alone in my thoughts

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Hey Sigmund

Oh Victoria you are certainly not alone! The deeper the love the deeper the pain. Some breakups take everything you’ve got to get through them, but you will get through. I know it might not feel like it at the moment but time takes time, so be gentle on yourself. Sometimes a lot of the moves forward are too small to notice day by day, and sometimes there are backward steps, but they will be there. Just keep heading in the right direction and don’t spend too much time looking back – there’s nothing for you there – but there will be love and happiness ahead of you. If you are living well and the pain is lessening, it sounds as though you are starting to position yourself to open up to it. You deserve that.

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Tony

I am struggling through a breakup of a relationship with my girlfriend that spanned 19 years. She accepted job out of town and I couldn’t deal with a long distant relationship. Its so tough especially when I think of the good times we had when we travelled, went to concerts, dancing, etc. My sadness starts in the morning and lasts all day. My motivation is down, eating habits are altered as a I am never hungry and I reduced my exercise routine. I am a mess. I just want relief. I am also seeing a therapist. Your article was excellent It was so optimistic and heartfelt. Thank you so much.

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Ann

Tony how are you fairing on 2 years later? This does sound like exactly what i am going through. I cannot recall the last time a enjoyed a meal. I just feel like i don’t recognize who i am anymore.
3 year relationship, engaged to be married this dec, i have this constant lump in my throat, i don’t trust myself to go through this- esp when it seems the break-up has not affected him in anyway. This one is tough, waay tougher than anything i have had to endure.

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willow's momma

Thank you for this. Although I know better and frankly, I knew better, I tried… And it failed

I know heart break and I know it will , one day, pass.
But …. For now, loss and grief are my daily companions…. I know as I am getting older, I do not want to go through this again… The joy , which was awesome! was still…NOT worth the inevitable pain.

I will be glad when this passes.

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Hey Sigmund

The heart wants what the heart wants, and as much as we might know better in our heads the pull of the heart will always be a strong one. I hope this passes for you soon. I know the pain of a relationship being over can be unbearable some days. Much love to you.

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Andrea

Karen, I don’t have the words to thank you for that e-mail you replied and for this amazing, touching, perfect article.
God gave you the power to heal people through words, really.
Thank you for having that kind heart and help people through this AWFUL times :(:

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Hey Sigmund

Hi Andrea. Thank you so much – this means a lot to me. I’m pleased the email and the article have been able to help you through such an awful time. Breakups are horrible but you are amazing and there are happier times ahead for you x

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NUbia

whoever wrote this thank you. My soul needed to hear this my mind needed to understand this. Thank you. I am going through a divorce and this heartbreak is truly new to me well this level of heartbreak.

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Hey Sigmund

Nubia, you’re very welcome. Divorce is an awful thing to go through and I’m sorry it’s happening to you. Much love and strength to you.

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Whenever the brain registers threat, it organises the body to fight the danger, flee from it, or hide from it. 

Here’s the rub. ‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually dangerous, but about what the brain perceives. It also isn’t always obvious. For a strong, powerful, magnificent, protective brain, ‘threat’ might count as anything that comes with even the teeniest potential of making a mistake, failure, humiliation, judgement, shame, separation from important adults, exclusion, unfamiliarity, unpredictability. They’re the things that can make any of us feel vulnerable.

Once the brain registers threat the body will respond. This can drive all sorts of behaviour. Some will be obvious and some won’t be. The responses can be ones that make them bigger (aggression, tantrums) or ones that make them smaller (going quiet or still, shrinking, withdrawing). All are attempts to get the body to safety. None are about misbehaviour, misintent, or disrespect. 

One of the ways bodies stay safe is by hiding, or by getting small. When children are in distress, they might look calm, but unless there is a felt sense of safety, the body will be surging with neurochemicals that make it impossible for that young brain to learn or connect. 

We all have our things that can send us there. These things are different for all of us, and often below our awareness. The responses to these ‘things’ are automatic and instinctive, and we won’t always know what has sent us there. 

We just need to be mindful that sometimes it’s when children seem like no trouble at all that they need our help the most. The signs can include a wilted body, sad or distant eyes, making the body smaller, wriggly bodies, a heavy head. 

It can also look as though they are ignoring you or being quietly defiant. They aren’t - their bodies are trying to keep them safe. A  body in flight or flight can’t hear words as well as it can when it’s calm.

What they need (what all kids need) are big signs of safety from the adult in the room - loving, warm, voices and faces that are communicating clear intent: ‘I’m here, I see you and I’ve got you. You are safe, and you can do this. I’m with you.’♥️
I’d love to invite you to an online webinar:
‘Thriving in a Stressful World: Practical Ways to Help Ourselves and Our Children Feel Secure And Calm’

As we emerge from the pandemic, stressors are heightened, and anxiety is an ever more common experience. We know from research that the important adults in the life of a child or teen have enormous capacity to help their world feel again, and to bring a felt sense of calm and safety to those young ones. This felt sense of security is essential for learning, regulation, and general well-being. 

I’m thrilled to be joining @marc.brackett and Dr Farah Schroder to explore the role of emotion regulation and the function of anxiety in our lives. Participants will learn ways to help express and regulate their own, and their children’s, emotions, even when our world may feel a little scary and stressful. We will also share practical and holistic strategies that can be most effective in fostering well-being for both ourselves and children. 

In this webinar, hosted by @dalailamacenter you will have the opportunity to learn creative, evidence-informed takeaways to help you and the children in your care build resilience and foster a sense of security and calmness. Join us for this 1 ½ hour session, including a dynamic Q&A period.
 
Webinar Details:
Thursday, October 14, 2021
1:30 - 3:00 PM PST
 
Registrants will receive a Zoom link to attend the webinar live, as well as a private link to a recording of the webinar to watch if they cannot join in at the scheduled time.

Register here:
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/thriving-in-a-stressful-world-a-heart-mind-live-webinar-tickets-170348045590

The link to register is in my story.♥️
So much of what our kids and teens are going through isn’t normal - online school, extended separation from their loved people, lockdowns, masks. Even if what they are going through isn’t ‘normal’, their response will be completely understandable. Not all children will respond the same way if course, but whatever they feel will be understandable, relatable, and ‘normal’. 

Whether they feel anxious, confused, frustrated, angry, or nothing at all, it’s important that their response is normalised. Research has found that children are more likely to struggle with traumatic events if they believe their response isn’t normal. This is because they tend to be more likely to interpret their response as a sign of breakage. 

Try, ‘What’s happening is scary. There’s no ‘right’ way to feel and different people will feel different things. It’s okay to feel whatever you feel.’

Any message you can give them that you can handle all their feelings and all their words will help them feel safer, and their world feel steadier.♥️
We need to change the way we think about discipline. It’s true that traditional ‘discipline’ (separation, shame, consequences/punishment that don’t make sense) might bring compliant children, but what happens when the fear of punishment or separation isn’t there? Or when they learn that the best way to avoid punishment is to keep you out of the loop?

Our greatest parenting ‘tool’ is our use of self - our wisdom, modelling, conversations, but for any of this to have influence we need access to their ‘thinking’ brain - the prefrontal cortex - the part that can learn, think through consequences, plan, make deliberate decisions. During stress this part switches off. It is this way for all of us. None of us are up for lectures or learning (or adorable behaviour) when we’re stressed.

The greatest stress for young brains is a felt sense of separation from their important people. It’s why time-outs, shame, calm down corners/chairs/spaces which insist on separation just don’t work. They create compliance, but a compliant child doesn’t mean a calm child. As long as a child doesn’t feel calm and safe, we have no access to the part of the brain that can learn and be influenced by us.

Behind all behaviour is a need - power,  influence, independence, attention (connection), to belong, sleep - to name a few). The need will be valid. Children are still figuring out the world (aren’t we all) and their way of meeting a need won’t always make sense. Sometimes it will make us furious. (And sometimes because of that we’ll also lose our thinking brains and say or do things that aren’t great.)

So what do we do when they get it wrong? The same thing we hope our people will do when we get things wrong. First, we recognise that the behaviour is not a sign of a bad child or a bad parent, but their best attempt to meet a need with limited available resources. Then we collect them - we calm ourselves so we can bring calm to them. Breathe, be with. Then we connect through validation. Finally, when their bodies are calm and their thinking brain is back, talk about what’s happened, what they can do differently next time, and how they can put things right. Collect, connect, redirect.
Our nervous systems are talking to each other every minute of every day. We will catch what our children are feeling and they will catch ours. We feel their distress, and this can feed their distress. Our capacity to self-regulate is the circuit breaker. 

Children create their distress in us as a way to recruit support to help them carry the emotional load. It’s how it’s meant to be. Whatever you are feeling is likely to be a reflection what your children are feeling. If you are frustrated, angry, helpless, scared, it’s likely that they are feeling that way too. Every response in you and in them is relevant. 

You don’t need to fix their feelings. Let their feelings come, so they can go. The healing is in the happening. 

In that moment of big feelings it’s more about who you are than what you do. Feel what they feel with a strong, steady heart. They will feel you there with them. They will feel it in you that you get them, that you can handle whatever they are feeling, and that you are there. This will help calm them more than anything. We feel safest when we are ‘with’. Feel the feeling, breathe, and be with - and you don’t need to do more than that. 
There will be a time for teaching, learning, redirecting, but the middle of a storm is not that time.♥️

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