Written by Lilli Morgan & Caitlyn Cook.
Relationships are the best. Relationships are the worst. They’re evolving, beautiful, mysterious, chaotic, frustrating and confronting. I have lots of relationships: with myself, with others, my mother, Netflix, work, chocolate, Spotify... Sometimes I hit a sweet spot in these relationships and my universe explodes into pleasure. Other times I wake up with a guilt-hangover wondering what the hell happened.
Intentionally exploring relationships can be an incredible avenue to self-discovery, expansion, fun. In some ways, relationships are a profound spiritual pathway. One of the significant parts of a relationship where we can learn, grow, be confronted, feel the depths of vulnerability and intimacy, is breaking up.
Ouuuuch. The sticky part of the relationship none of us seem to want to get to.
Because, they f*cking hurt. And can be sad, complicated, confusing. Generally no matter how mutual, generous and loving the process is, break ups can still hurt a lot. It’s a process of extricating yourself from another, redefining your future, discovering yourSelf. It can be tough.
And, what makes it harder, is how we are culturally engendered to resist, shame or avoid break ups.
Break ups are seen as the ‘failure’ of a relationship.
But, why? When things start to feel irreparably stuck, when you’re no longer growing and being your best self with your partner, isn’t it the smartest thing to call it? Rather than telling the relationship what it should be and instead listening to what it’s telling you: I need space. I want adventure. I want closeness. I want ease… Isn’t it better to tune into that knowledge and decide where to take the relationship next?
As painful and scary as it can be, taking an honest look at your relationship and shifting status quo is a great act of kindness and bravery. Along with solace and compassion, shouldn’t we congratulate people on their Kali courage to make big shifts rather than painfully (and often futilely) forge forward?
Of course, I don’t believe we should all just throw in the towel when the going gets tough—who ever thought two humans could work together without lumps, bumps and vertigo? I do however believe we can shift our fear and judgment about transitioning relationships to where they need to go. Which can mean breaking up.
Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is to break our own heart. Or let someone break it. We need to let go of the feeling of failure and blame of endings and transitions.
And while we’re at it, have plenty of compassion, patience and hope with ourselves! Whether it’s the deep grief for a partner, a friendship, a companion, a snuggle buddy, sometimes break ups are the toughest things we'll go through in our lives. And the most important.
To help you through what can be a tricky, awkward and sore transition phase, here are the keys that have helped me go through and get over break ups in ways that feel healthy, loving and real.
How to get over a break up with grace, strength & wholeness
1. Don't rush it... but don't avoid it
Be patient with yourself and your process. Healing feelings of loss is different for everyone and takes time. There is no set timeline.
Sometimes we use distractions as a way of avoiding the discomfort of pain. It’s healthy to not obsess over the pain or keep playing tug-of-war with it, but be brave and use this time of healing as a great source of information. Compassionately reflect and discover what worked, what didn’t; what you need, what you don’t. Lean into your pain—there’s gold there.
2. Honour your pain
The biggest pain comes from resistance. Let the pain run through you. Yell into the mountains, ugly cry—loudly, go for a long walk, tune into what your body needs to release. Practice self-compassion and acknowledge all the feelings you're having. Talk to someone, write it down.
3. Own your stuff with compassion
Know what’s your stuff and what is your partner’s stuff. You may be hurting, but don’t give your power away by putting all blame, shame and error on your partner. There are two people in a relationship and there are two people in a breakup who both need to take self-responsibility. Hear each other out. Listen to each other with compassion.
4. Honour your relationship
Time doesn't heal all wounds. You do. Take the time to reflect, learn, clear the clutter of the relationship so that you can make space for future relationships. Not all baggage is bad. Get together with your partner, physically or spiritually, and talk about your resentments, things you’re grateful for in the relationship and things you'll miss about the relationship. It also gives you a chance to say thanks and goodbye to this form of your relationship.
Here are 6 steps to completing a relationship. Brilliant stuff — highly recommended.
5. Transition your relationship
Breaking up doesn't have to be the end of your relationship. You have shared histories, memories, passions, friends, worlds, love, dreams—would you like to continue to share them in a new dynamic?
Especially if there are kids or shared friends involved, there is something beautiful about checking in with each other and choosing to transition your relationship into its next phase. You both get to choose how this looks and how and when it happens.
Imagine a world where separated parents talked to each other, respected each other and didn't use their children as emotional bait. A world where they could be in the same room, with new partners, and even new children. A world where they came from a place of love rather than a place of anger and fear.
6. Re-centre yourself
Sometimes we can lose parts of ourselves in a relationship. Sometimes we rely on others for what we really need to give ourselves. Coming out of a relationship, it’s important to get back to your own centre. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one you will ever have, so make sure that's solid first. From there, everything else will fall into place.
Here’s a quick and powerful exercise to re-centre yourself:
Ask yourself what do you need to feel happy in a relationship? Write them down. Then flip each statement and write them as positive “I” statements. For example, I need to feel seen and adored becomes I see and adore myself. And I need to feel held and supported becomes I hold and support myself.