It is not uncommon to feel this way when your heart is broken. The pain that comes after a breakup can be felt so deeply that it runs from the tip of our toes to the top of our head. Although it is a “broken heart”, the heart itself is certainly not the only thing that aches.
I had a friend who, post a break up after a 20-year relationship, described to me that the “we” she used to talk about was her and her partner. Now, the “we” refers to herself and her pain. Suffering is now her daily companion. She can’t leave home without taking her pain with her. It joins her for dinner, it accompanies her to work, and it goes to bed with her at night and wakes up with her in the morning. When she is in the shower, she can feel the hot water wash over her body, warming her down to her bones. She can smell the powerful scent of her shampoo, she can hear the drops of water hit the porcelain tub, she can open her mouth and allow the water to stream down her throat. And even with all of her senses activated, the suffering is still there. Over time… the suffering becomes glued to her. She is so used to the pain, she has no idea what it would feel like without it.
If you are one of those people who find yourself stuck, unable to move forward, or heal post a breakup, you are not alone.
I read an article over a year ago by Judith Sills and she reminded me of one important fact that is true no matter the root of your suffering… and that is, that the unknown of the future can be scarier than the suffering we are currently in, and the suffering we know. The feelings in the here-and-now, although painful or even unbearable, is still a far more familiar state then the unknown future and, that fact alone, can keep us tied to our suffering.
This section of Judith Sills article resonated with me at one point in time. Perhaps you will find some peace in it as well.
“Love itself is a powerful counterweight to letting go. Even when a relationship is out of your life – long after the breakup, the divorce, even the death – it may occupy your heart and your head. Letting go means loosening that internal attachment, and therefore losing that love – again. What makes the fresh loss worthwhile, of course, is that letting go of the old attachment opens up the real possibility of a new one in your life. That would be sufficient, even inspiring motivation. Except that it leaves a blank spot where the future lives, and we mostly fill such blank spots with fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of future loss and additional pain. Fear makes us cling to what we know, however bad it makes us feel”. Let it Go by Judith Sills
I work with clients who are struggling with the realities and pain of a breakup or a divorce. And, at some stage, what emerges is the fear of the unknown – the fear of the future and what it will, or will not hold. Many times those fears are attached to a story that is hard for someone to rewrite. The “what if’s” are taking control and each “what if” thought is followed by a feeling of dread, sadness, or distress. The hope of what the future offers is hard to see. And even harder to trust.