New Year's Eve brought the ending of my relationship. Ouch - for both of us. I learned a lot about what has been called "conscious uncoupling" - breaking up with love and respect. We had shared so much love, that I wanted our break up to reflect and honour that. I wanted it to be part of healing the pain of separation, not adding to it. We spent 24 hours celebrating "us" as a way of letting go. It was very emotional, tender and healing.
I understand that 24 hours might be completely out of the question for the majority of separating couples! However, these 3 steps still apply even when the love has waned..or betrayal or disappointment has slowly (or suddenly) killed the relationship. Take what time you can...even an hour or two focused on this process has the potential to be very healing.
The point of a respectful break up is to walk away feeling free and complete - do it for you! It's hard to feel free and complete whilst hanging on to anger, hatred, resentment or bitterness.
Trying at least one of these steps (if all 3 seem impossible) will help the healing process regardless of where you are starting from. (Please note - This is only appropriate if the relationship was not based on physical or emotional abuse - it presupposes a relationship that was based on love and respect even if that disappeared somewhere along the way). You may need to do some forgiveness work before attempting these steps if the break up came suddenly as a result of betrayal.
- Let go of being "right" even just for a day or so...being right doesn't leave much room for a healing break up - letting it go softens the edges enough to allow in forgiveness, completion, love, respect and freedom,. Being right is so subjective (even when you are 100% sure you are in the right, it's still subjective!) - and it polarizes you and your ex partner. It creates a clear division, one on either side of battle lines - unless your ex is ready to give a genuine apology and you are ready to accept it...And even in that rare situation, letting go of being right deepens the acceptance and appreciation of a heart felt apology.
- Set aside time to honour each other and what you have shared together. Yes I know this might feel impossible! If you have children, start there...if you hadn't ever met your ex, the miracle of your children being here would never have happened...Build on what you can honour and celebrate from there. Share your favourite memories. Share the things you really appreciated about him/ her. The completion of a relationship doesn't discount the good things that you shared. Doing this will help you to remember that the whole relationship wasn't a huge fuck up in your life.
- Talk about the boundaries that will help you moving forward...do you need a period of no contact? Do you want to remain in contact but not see each other? What do you want to know about (eg new partners) or not? The answers to these questions will vary hugely of course if you have children together, and depending on the nature of your separation. Take the time to listen to each other and see if you can come to agreement that works for both of you. Be willing to share your vulnerability - it opens up space for real and raw communication and that in itself is healing.
Go gently...it takes time to heal from a break up. And if you manage to uncouple with some love and respect, celebrate the freedom and sense of completion that brings - and the space for new beginnings to blossom!