If it’s been many months or years since your divorce, have you started dating again?
If not, why? Because you genuinely want to be single? Or because you still haven’t healed and recovered from the trauma of the breakup? Because you’re not yet over your ex?
When people ask you questions like these, do you get defensive and angry? Do you insist you’re fine? Or, at the other end of the scale, do you sigh and tell them you couldn’t dream of it – you’re not ready – it still hurts too much to move on?
If you’re single for any other reason than because this feels right for you right now (for example, you firmly want and need your own space, company and freedom to do your own thing at the moment) the chances are that you are actively choosing to drag out your suffering. And if that’s the case, you really need to ask yourself why.
Why are you resigning yourself to the idea that you can’t or won’t heal?
Living in pain and misery saps the lifeblood, the joy, the vitality out of you. It takes all the sheen off your existence. Holding on to your suffering represents an active choice to life a less awesome and fulfilling life. So what are you getting out of it that could possibly make up for something so horrible?
You might be shocked by this question.
Perhaps you’ve never really thought of yourself as clinging to your pain. Probably, you’ve never thought about, or admitted to yourself that you actually get something out of it. After all, you’re the victim of the situation, right? You’re the martyr. It’s your happiness that’s being sacrificed. You’re the one that’s been hurt and can’t heal. You’re the one that needs the pity.
Delicious, isn’t it?
But it feels so good….
Few things are as emotionally intoxicating as having the moral high ground. For as long as you feel hurt and wronged, you also feel yourself to be above reproach. Perhaps you also have external validation – sympathy, hugs, attention, a free pass to sit around in your PJs and eat ice cream.
Or perhaps it’s internal: the more pain you feel, the more real, intense or important the love was or the more profound the breakup. … And, of course, the more justification you have to avoid putting yourself in an emotionally vulnerable situation again, even if that means a life of loneliness and pain.
Any of this sound familiar?
In your heart of hearts, do you think you might have chosen not to heal because, in the short term, the payoff seems worth the pain? If so, I’d like you to try a little exercise.
Take a look at the cards above. Which statement in the black box is closest to how you feel right now?
Now look at the statements under the black box. Note any of these that you agree with that are interfering with your healing process, or that you know are side effects of failing to heal.
Finally, read the words above the box. These represent all the things that we miss out on by holding on tight to our suffering instead of moving on and getting better. Which of these are you lacking as a result of your pain / do you feel the lack of most sharply from your life?
Imagine five years were to go by. Or ten. Or the rest of your life. What would it mean to you to never experience these things again in all that time? How much duller would life be? How would it affect your happiness, your memories, your relationship with your kids, family members and friends? Is losing all that worth those perks below the line?
If not, it’s time to let go and start your healing process. Now. There’s no more time to waste.