Sometimes you can feel their closed heart. Sometimes you hear it in their words. One big-hearted woman I know told me of her ex-partner, “I will never have another man. He has spoilt me for life!”
She has spent the ensuing 14 years determinedly single as if somehow she’s teaching him a lesson. Another intelligent woman I know still bristles at the mention of her ex-husband’s name and speaks of him with scorn. Their divorce was 40 years ago.
Healing the Wounds
The wounds of a break-up can change us in a way that makes it almost impossible to move on. The best we can do is front up for another day, hoping that this might be the day I’ll be over him/her.
The truth is, healing from a break-up – moving from one phase of your life to another with love and compassion for yourself and your ex – doesn’t usually happen without your conscious action. In the words of Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of the book, Conscious Uncoupling – Five Steps to Living Happily Even After, “Time doesn’t heal all wounds. We do.”
Path to Peace
Some people discover the path to a peaceful post-break-up relationship themselves. One inspiring woman I know decided, when she divorced her husband due to his raging temper, that even though he hated her for leaving, she would coax him into a healthy relationship with her for the sake of their three children.
She related to him – and eventually with his new wife and their children – with consistent love, compassion and kindness. Ultimately they lived side-by-side, their children from both marriages flowing happily between their two homes. When he died in hospital in 2013, he did so with his children around him, along with his first and second wives, one each side, each holding his hand.
This isn’t possible or advisable for everyone, especially when the relationship has been unsafe, but how can you take the essence of what this visionary woman did to create more harmony with your ex-partner? And why should you bother?
The Consequences of Inaction
As you saw at the start of this article, if you’re not proactive in your healing, you could be giving your ex power over your heart for decades.
Research shows that ineffective grieving can make you vulnerable to depression, anxiety and physical illness, particularly heart problems. Not looking at your part in the breakdown makes it likely that if you do love again, the same patterns will emerge. Not finding a way to forge a respectful relationship with your child’s other parent can have consequences for your child’s mental and emotional health and their ability to form healthy relationships.
Eminent child psychologist, Dr John Irvine, points out that hearing one parent speaking ill of their other parent is one of the most hurtful things for children. Think about it: the other parent gave them half of their DNA – it’s half of who they are. And, it’s someone you once loved and chose to be in relationship with.
Since taking the high road doesn’t come naturally to most of us, Woodward Thomas wrote her ground-breaking book – based on her own break-up experience – as a guide for how to do it. Conscious Uncoupling is a five-step process providing a ‘road map’ for how to have a loving and civil parting.
As a Conscious Uncoupling coach, I support individuals with personalised guidance through this transformative process.
Conscious Uncoupling Tips
Promise yourself that you won’t let this experience calcify your heart closed – that you’ll use this as an opportunity for your own healing and growth.
Take an honest look at how you contributed to the unhealthy dynamic in your relationship. Where did you ignore your intuition, for example?
- Set and follow an intention to create a positive future, such as, “My intention is to create goodwill between us so our children can feel safe and supported in remaining close to us both.”
- Use a forgiveness practice (do a web search for Ho’oponopono) to work on forgiving yourself and your ex for the mistakes you both made.
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