This is to the person who recently had to break up with a bad match. I know your heart was involved with this person and it hurts now. Pain is your beginning. Yet it still hurts—a lot. Thankfully you listened to your team and/or listened to yourself and noticed how this was a bad match and made the brave move to break up. You know deep down you are grateful for this decision but it still hurts so much. Yes, it does. Don’t try to numb this pain. Travel through this pain. Pain is a great teacher.
But it still hurts. Yes, it does.
Or you became the one who was dumped. That is such a harsh word yet it does describe the harsh new reality of your life. And it hurts so much. It really does.
Probably the most painful part is the change of pattern your life is now. You’ve had to change your schedule and your expectations. You may have already calculated that change in. But did you consider that your quiet phone would bother you so much? Missing your simple daily text communication reminds you of the pain. You can probably list other small life things that inadvertently flood you with memories you are not ready to have as memories yet.
You are also grieving the loss of relationships. Not just the one with your ex. The loss of relationships with his/her family and his/her friends. You loved these people too and they loved you. Here’s a hard truth for you. These relationships are over too. You may love his/her family more than you love your own but you are no longer a part of this family system. This has ended.
I know. You want to hang on to these relationships. They loved you too. But things are different now. For both of you to heal, learn, and move on you must end these relationships and grieve the end of these relationships. Not try to hang on to them (which always leads to contorted methods–always). I know the pain is great in your life right now so the loss of these relationships feels like too much. The loss of these relationships is a part of it. It is not separate. This is all part of the pain you are in right now.
Here is the brave dating practice that requires time. You need to take time to heal from these major life changes. You need to grieve the loss of these relationships. All of this happens with time. It doesn’t happen any faster.
You may need to change your friend circle. You may need to change the small group you belong to at church. You may need to take a temporary leave of absence from your church. As painful as this all feels (it is painful), it is best to create this separation in your life. You could try to hang on to the “friendship” with your ex or try to make everyone else not feel uncomfortable with all these changes by minimizing the changes (which would be contorting you) or set up boundaries when you can meet up with your ex’s family.
All of these are contortions and are just postponing the inevitable. The day is going to come—whether you were dumped or you did the ending—when you are going to snap and be so angry at this painful situation. Why not get a start on this transitionary period by creating the good endings so that this period which requires time can go a bit faster?
We have these scientifically defined stages of transition. The first stage in a transition is recognizing The Ending. This is what I’m talking about here.
The next stage in a transition is called The Neutral Zone though I more often call it “holy tension.” This is the part that requires time and sadly most people don’t allow for that to happen. I understand why but time is still necessary. The Neutral Zone has three basic parts:
A. full of confusion–which you feel is a sign that something is wrong with you
B. want to circumvent out of The Neutral Zone because of the anxiety that comes with transition
C. it is one of the most creative times in your life
Even though you knew this relationship had its flaws and needed to come to an end (even if you were dumped you still knew this, didn’t you?), you find yourself more confused than ever. You thought your life would get simpler after the break up. This is why you don’t allow time to do its work. Because for time to do its work it means you have to stay in this anxiety or holy tension becoming overwhelmed at times with pain and confusion.
And this is why The Neutral Zone/Holy Tension can be one of the most creative times in your life. When in anxiety you are paying attention to little things and seeking God more. True, you may be seeking God more to mostly end the anxiety but you still are. Thus you have ears to hear more. Your eyes are more open. The possibilities are wide open. The possibilities lead to creative juices churning. New ideas. New practices. New relationships. New challenges which you can definitely jump in on.
None of this happens without time. Lean into your team during this time too. If you don’t have a team, now is the perfect time to put one together.
The last stage of transition is The New Beginning. You would think this would come first. It would be nice if you got The New Beginning the day after the break up. But if you don’t recognize The Ending and if you don’t go through the anxiety of The Neutral Zone/Holy Tension, transition doesn’t happen. Growth and healing inside of you doesn’t happen. All of this requires time.
Ouch. But it is good. You may have to simply trust me on this one for now. But the day will come when you will say that this is good.
Be brave as you live in your holy tension. The New Beginning is coming when time is allowed.