The Seven Stages of Becoming Single Again

Ending a long term relationship can be devastating, destructive and depressing but… there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Having experienced at first hand a 21 year marriage blast apart with a hurricane force, I know that the effect is, to put it mildly, earth-stopping. If you’ve ever experienced being hung, drawn and quartered and then tried to put your self together again into some sort of presentable and functioning human being you’ll know exactly what I mean! But now, over 4 years later, I can begin to look at it all more positively.

As with grief there are distinct stages to go through when a relationship ends. Some of these stages may be re-visited more than once, and the order in which they are experienced may change, but basically these stages are:

(1)    Shock or Disbelief that the relationship has ended. It may have happened totally out of the blue, or have been brewing for years, but the shock of the break-up actually happening is often greeted with utter disbelief. And this is often echoed in the words of those around you.

(2) Denial  –  refusal to accept the breakdown in the relationship has occurred. You may want to try and carry on as usual and pretend everything is alright. As with (3) below this can have the affect of ‘trying again’ but without really  understanding why the break-up occurred or discussing changes that address the root of the problem(s).

 (3) Bargaining stage, eg ‘ if he/she has me back I’ll get home earlier, we’ll spend more time together…’ This stage can lead to real change that will improve a relationship but, if the root cause is not addressed and steps taken to really understand who you are and what you want out of life, this can act like elastoplast on a cut and simply provide a temporary dressing.

 (4) Feelings of Guilt and self recrimination. Learn from what has happened. This is a great learning opportunity for you and will help you in future relationships. Do not let these thoughts become self destructive. They will pass!

(5) Anger is a natural stage everyone must go through, where strong feelings of blame are harboured and vented. This can be hard for those around you to hear continuously, and you may often feel like a record that’s got stuck. That’s a good sign. When even you are getting tired of hearing yourself vent your feelings you’re probably ready to move on.

(6) Depression is a stage that comes and goes throughout. If it is intense you may need some therapy or medical help. It’s important to talk through your feelings with someone. Just hearing yourself put your feelings into words helps, and if you can write them down in some sort of private journal it can help enormously. Somehow it allows the journal to take care of the hurt and you no longer have to carry it around like a weeping wound that’s invisible to all but you. At the end of all this, however, there is a feeling of resignation. This is to be welcomed and will result in acceptance of the situation enabling you to move on.

(7) Acceptance and Hope  –  you’ve now reached a point where your life will change. The life you had with the partner you loved has ended. You have been through a tunnel of grief and mourning but it’s now time to write the next chapter of your life. Imagine yourself reaching behind you and firmly closing the door of your old life. Before you stands another door. One which you’ve not opened before. Take some time to think about what you’d like to lie beyond it. Open it when you feel excited enough to discover your future and take steps to ensure you find the happiness you deserve.

I work with many clients who are experiencing endings and new beginnings. We take a long time looking at ‘who’ you are. Often in long term relationships the ‘who’ has been lost or distorted to enable the relationship to continue and clients are often surprised to rediscover elements of themselves that they’d forgotten and had become dormant. Together we work closely to explore those elements and, like a child allowed out to play for the first time, discover a freedom of spirit and completeness as we rediscover who we really are.

You cannot know what lies beyond the door to your future, but by discovering who you are, your strengths, needs and values, you can move forward with self confidence and determination to discover a life you can feel enthusiastic about and have fun and real joy again.

If you are experiencing the ending of a relationship and would like to explore who you are and plan how to move forward  please do contact me in confidence. I’d love to help.

Photography by:

Salvatore Vuono http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=659

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