Most of us hate endings and good-byes. They are messy, awkward, difficult. So when a marriage, or relationship ends, even if we’re the one initiating it, we can feel terribly lost, afraid and confused. Panic can hit like a thunderbolt. Suddenly, we’re alone – the most scary feeling known to humans. This is why it’s common to pretend, to ourselves, that it hasn’t really happened. That way we try to avoid those terrifying feelings.
Endings are traumatic because they send us emotionally back to the way we felt as young babies. We’ve all experienced fear of abandonment. As babies we didn’t realise that when our mother left the room, she would come back. It can take years for a child to lose that terrifying fear. This fear remains with us, deep inside, all our lives. That’s why divorce and separation hurts so much. It puts us bang in touch with the primitive fear of being left and not surviving.
If you find it hard to accept the relationship is really over and still hope for a reconciliation, you’re probably in denial. If you still have sex with your ex-partner, it’s likely one of you still wants the relationship to continue. Perhaps contact is essential, if there are children. But while part of you hopes for a reconciliation, you’re denying the marriage, or relationship, has ended.
Your Questions Answered
How do I know that I’m in denial?
If you are initiating unnecessary contact with your ex partner, or having sex with your ex- partner, or if you are still hoping for a reconciliation, then you are in denial that the relationship has ended.
Why am I in denial?
Because you are afraid, feel terribly lost and are confused. The most scary feeling known to humans is to feel alone. That is why it’s common for us to pretend to ourselves that the relationship isn’t really over.
Why do I feel so sad?
The ending of a loving relationship may be the greatest emotional pain you will ever experience. The pain is so great that people often react with denial or disbelief. The problem with denial is that it stops you from accepting the ending and so leaves you with feelings of deep sadness. Sadness is natural but as you accept and rebuild, it will become less and less intense.
Why do endings have to be so traumatic?
Because they send us emotionally back to the fear of abandonment we all felt as young babies when our mothers left the room and we didn’t realise she would come back. That fear remains with us.
How do I move on?
Stop seeing your ex-partner unless it is absolutely necessary. You may need to see a counsellor to come to terms with the end of your relationship and to understand why your relationship has ended.
My local newspaper is full of adverts for discos for singles/over 30’s. Is this the place to meet new friends?
In many cases the singles scene can be a difficult experience. If you decide to go, then go with friends and purely for a fun evening. You may meet new friends but you may also meet people who are looking for little more than a one night stand. Go when you feel strong not when you feel desperate.
- Where contact is necessary, keep it brisk and businesslike. Cordiality does not require intimacy.
- Take no more interest in your ex-partner than you would your child’s teacher.
- If you don’t have children, don’t go on seeing your ex.
- Try to be honest about your feelings. They have less power over you when expressed than when repressed.
- If you can’t understand why your marriage ended, counselling may help.
Need to Knows
- Most of us hate endings
- It’s normal to be afraid of being alone
- If you’re still hoping for reconciliation, you’re in denial
- If you are having sex with your ex-partner, one of you is in denial
- It’s easier to accept the relationship is over if you stop seeing your ex
Please Submit Your Own Story…
Please consider sharing your story with others suffering now. How you coped? How you felt? What helped? What were the circumstances that led up to your separation? How do you cope with loneliness? The more you can share the better.
Your story really does help others who are going through the same gut wrenching pain. Your story reinforces the fact that they are not alone in their suffering.