Of all the rough spots confronting a single woman, a breakup is perhaps the most excruciating. That the union was never formalized and its dissolution comes without legalese doesn't lessen the hurt. Your beloved has taken himself out of your world, and even his most gentle goodbye is a kick in the gut. Unmarried, you're a victim of divorce.
My hunch is that you've been part of more than one premarital divorce and promised yourself to never again leave yourself vulnerable. But when a special man appears, you fall back into the same pattern. Because you so desperately want it to work, you throw your all into the relationship. You drop your single buddies in favor of coupled friends; you drop out of groups and activities that once interested you — and when the relationship ends, your whole world turns to ashes. You feel scattered — hurt, angry, resentful. Still, somewhere deep inside, you know you are OK as a person and haven't been rejected because of some intrinsic worthlessness. But the fact remains that your whole world needs rebuilding. The challenge is to summon the energy to do the job, especially when you know deep down that the whole scenario could very well happen again and again, a future of agonies and ecstasies.
There is a way out, but it certainly is not to stop risking your heart. By consciously keeping your personal sphere of interests, friends and activities, your world won't cease to be if and when love ends. Keeping that balance requires a conscious decision not to wrap your life around your beloved's, to fight against the tendency to fuse one's very soul in the heat of togetherness — a tendency you know to be a major flaw in the female psyche.
Keeping a separateness within your togetherness is actually generosity. Your self-interest reduces the pressure on your partner to be all things to you. It makes you much more interesting and distributes both partners' rights and responsibilities more evenly. The biggest plus of all is that it equips you to handle that terrible moment when someone you love makes a decision you don't like.
But all of that is in the future. To deal with the ache right now, think back over the split to find some moments of calm, peace and relief. However fleeting, those moments can become the linchpin of a gradual and steady recovery.
Remind yourself that love is not the only adrenaline. Too many women make love the only part of their lives in which they accept a challenge. Once you dare to find new interests and friends, love will lose its pre-eminence among emotional situations. (Guaranteed.)
When you feel you must cry, let the tears fall. Cry hard. You'll find you can't cry hard very long. The body stops itself. By giving vent to the tears, your crying jags will become shorter and less intense. The feeling of emptiness slips away faster if you allow yourself to play it out thoroughly. And after some time elapses, you might even want to re-examine your "divorce" by asking yourself what you can feed yourself to fill the emptiness inside. (Please, don't stuff yourself with food!) Think about it until next time, when we absolutely will gorge on facts and feelings after the fall. To be continued.
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