This morning when you woke up you expected to see a notification letting you know you had a text message. Instead you were met with the sickening sight of no new notifications. You close your eyes and try to fall back asleep. You consider that maybe when you wake up again, a text will be there. But you know it wont. It can’t, because that relationship ended last night.
I know you are in no place to talk right now but I wanted to write you a letter that may help you feel a tad less hopeless.
It’s a terrible feeling when reality greets you with the gift of grief. This is not a gift you want. It is too much. Too heavy. Too overwhelming. This is because grief is not just a psychological experience. It is very much physical.
You see grief shows up in our bodies all the time. Have you ever heard of Phantom Limb Syndrome? This is where a person can see they had a limb surgically removed but mentally the brain is still receiving messages of pain from nerves. Those nerves were once attached to the removed limb. For a long time the only thing the nerves knew was how to be in a habitually painful relationship with the limb. It takes the nerves a while to accept that they don’t have to keep being in pain.
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. That is the journey of grief.
When going through a break-up, you experience the same journey. Your body grew very accustomed to another person. Their sudden absence doesn’t make sense at first and it wont. Especially when the other person is still living. I call this living grief. It can be much harder than grieving someone who is physically gone.
Your mind and body has to come to a harsh reality that the other person’s decisions are outside of your control. You will try to fight-it and control it. You will even live in the what-if’s for a while, but you can’t stay. It is not acceptance. That is just a phase in the grieving process known as bargaining. Keep going.
Your brain takes a while to process this loss. It will feel painful because your body is getting messages from your brain that it is in pain. Your brain uses the same hormones and neurons to send the message of pain whether it is physical or mental. Pain is pain.
You are not broken, you’re just in the process of healing.
Also, don’t be surprised when the next time you see them, you become overwhelmed. A part of you might still see them as someone you love, and your heart might race. Another part of you may fight tears because they are a reminder of rejection, a reminder of something you no longer have.
This doesn’t mean you haven’t made progress. All of these feelings and thoughts are normal.
Your body and mind are just trying to do their job and protect you. When you see a snake, your brain has a way of warning you that the snake may hurt you. If your body and brain didn’t warn you, you would continue to do things that hurt you. When you see someone that has hurt you, your brain sends the same warning signals.
Give yourself some space and grace. Your body has been there for you when others have walked away. This is the journey. It is different for everyone.
Please reach out if you find you are stuck.