I receive an email from a young woman who reads my blog. “How do you move on when a relationship ends if you still love that person?” she asked.
If that isn’t one of the hardest things to do, I don’t know what is. The end can bring us to our knees.
I remembered sitting in bed after Nick and I broke up waiting for him to call even though I told him not to call me. And wanting desperately to call him even though I know I shouldn’t. And when the phone did ring, I felt the gentle wings of butterflies take flight in my stomach. I didn’t answer. But the fact that he called comforted me in ways that I don't quite understand and can't explain.
I’ve been in enough failed relationships to know that I would mourn him. I mourned men that I loved and men I didn't love. A breakup can hit as hard as if it were the death of a loved one. It's only the end of a chapter, but we experience it as the end of a story, the death of hopes and dreams, and tomorrows.
Leaving Nick did not mean I didn’t love him. It did not mean that I was no longer attracted to him. The intimacy between us was as real as our issues. Sex did not and could not override our issues, and neither could our issues override our desire.
How do you move on?
I can only speak for what has worked for me.
1) Make a clean break and distance yourself from the person. Do not engage him or her in any way. Don’t try to be friends. It is too soon, you will end up back together with the same problems. I did not dare allow myself to be alone in a room with him for fear that the mere sight of him would make me throb and shiver and ache with longing. Sex is powerful. It’s the key that will open Pandora’s box. Humans have a natural inclination to resist change. There's comfort in the familiar even if that familiar is unhealthy.
2) If he is still calling, stop taking his calls. Nick called me every night when he was away. He continued even after we ended. I stopped taking his calls. One day the calls stopped.
3) Take care of yourself. Run an extra mile. Shop. Hit the spa. Hang out with friends and family who love and support you. Find someone to talk to about your feelings. Do things that not just keep you busy, but which helps you feel good about yourself. It is important to feel good about yourself.
My failed relationships have taught me that a broken heart will grab hold of anything to escape the pain. And the mind will start to doubt. It’s hard to think clearly when you’re hurting. The reasons for leaving will ebb and flow like changing tide. You cannot trust yourself, your heart will deceive you. And if you allow it, you will forget, until the next time.
That’s why the butterflies soared in my stomach when nick called. It was familiar and my unstable emotions found comfort in it. That’s also why the first break seldom last, and the second, and sometimes even the third…
But time does heal.
I remind myself of that when I'm nursing a heartbreak. I think back to the men I thought I would love forever... that I have gotten over. Know that whatever you are feeling is temporary.
Know that time heals.