Letting go of someone you have been with for a long time is hard. To move on you have to experience several stages of emotions. Only when you have successfully traversed yourself through the various emotions can you successfully let go of the person with no negative feelings.
We often do not consider that a relationship will ever end. More so if we feel like our partner is the love of our life. But life is fluid, and no one can say what will happen next. Breaking up with someone like that breaks your heart in countless pieces leaving you in a downward spiral of emotions. Nothing makes sense, you breathe hard, food becomes tasteless, and every sound feels like ephemeral hope.
Be it months, years, or decades, a breakup can make you feel like your dreams for your future have shattered. And this feeling that one goes through at the end of a long-term relationship is shared by billions of people like you and me. Being heartbroken is as normal as falling madly in love with someone.
While a breakup may feel like the end of the world, it is not. You will get through it as everyone else have. Your story is your own and it is not yet time to put the pen down. But to reach the point of complete recovery from your breakup, you must go through 9 stages of emotions. These stages help you process the sudden change in your life, accept reality, and move on towards building a better life for yourself.
Unnecessary baggage only slows down the traveler. And believe there is a very long road ahead of you. Shed your emotional baggage to make room for joy in the future.
Let’s explore the 9 stages of emotions in more detail.
1. Disbelief or Denial:
Denial is your brain’s safety mechanism against major emotional trauma. Instead of letting you go through all the emotions at once, denial helps make space for positive emotions. Only after you have exhausted all your strength denying the reality can you accept it entirely.
At this point, acceptance of reality is still miles away and you need to put in a lot of work for yourself. To come out of denial you will need to relinquish your contacts with your ex. The more you will come in contact will them, the more your emotions will get stressed and there is a chance that you lash out, turning things sour if they already weren’t.
Keep yourself from getting in touch with your ex, be it through calls, messages, social media, or in person. For now, let things be the way they are. If there is a chance for them to improve, your ex will reach out to you on their own. If not, you are already on the road to recovery.
Giving yourself time and space to feel every emotion would be the best thing you would do for yourself. Holding your emotions would only lead to an outburst down the line. Try keeping your head clear, start a healthy physical activity, and move towards a calmer state of mind.
When you come out of denial you at least see the reality. Our brain is designed to assign causes to every effect. It automatically tries and makes connections between things and events to keep them stored in our memory. So, when you see that you have broken up with the love of your life, your brain starts making connections between not-so-related things and you start blaming either you or the other person.
Blame keeps shifting according to how and what you are thinking about. You will single out every shortcoming you or your partner had and blame them for the eventual breakup. The more you overthink and overanalyze the more you will get deeper into this spiral of blame.
But the fact is, blaming yourself or anyone else for that matter for the events that have happened in the past is not going to change anything.
You will blame yourself. You will blame the other person too. And sometimes both. But you have to get through this emotional state too. Keep yourself from making any contact with your ex, and refrain from taking any action that has the potential to make things worse.
This stage may come interchangeably with the following two emotional stages of anger and sadness. You will become angry at yourself for things you possibly couldn’t have helped. You will become deeply sad about your loss. And you will need a lot of support to help you through the second stage.
Keep in frequent contact with your family and friends. If possible, stay with your friends for a while. Keep in mind, it’s not your fault.
This is the next emotional stage your brain gets you into after the breakup. As a consequence of your denial and blame, you are angry and want answers. You want answers for all the wrongs that were done to you. And you won’t stop until you get the answers that satisfy your anger.
However dramatic and dangerous it may feel, your anger shows that you are on the right path. You are raging, venting out at times, and this good. You have started processing your emotions and this is what all the work is for. Process your emotions and gain acceptance.
During this emotional stage ask your friends to keep an eye on you if you are not sure of yourself. Refrain from doing yourself any physical damage; punching a wall hurts a lot and might even give you a grade 3 boxer’s fracture.
This emotional stage is tough and ugly. You will lash out at your friends for helping you out, at yourself for being a fool, at the world for being unfair for whatever reasons. However ugly, this stage might be, it still is progress and a step in the right direction.
4. Deep Sadness:
This stage will eventually come for you. When you have gone through anger as much as you can and see that nothing is changing, sadness sets in. Allow yourself to feel sad and do not try to cover it up with fake smiles.
Overcoming your sadness is the key to complete acceptance. Feeling sad means that you acknowledge that your long-term relationship is now over. Negative on the surface, sadness is a positive emotion that over time will make you feel light. Grief will make you introspect your life and your personality.
Every event in your life changes you in a certain way. Your breakup would change you too. Going through these emotional stages will help you find your better version. But you must not wallow. Everything is going to be okay in the future, you will find someone more amazing that falls for you. As I have said earlier, life is fluid, determining what would happen before it does is a fool’s chore.
Breakups are normal. They do not mean that you are a bad person. They do not make you unlovable either. Your world sure would feel like shattering, but it is not.
Go out with your friends, watch movies, do adventure or any other activity that you love or used to. Trying to find yourself again is the best way to deal with immense sadness.
5. Stalking on social media:
Oh, how simple we humans are. Now that you have overcome sadness, you will try to peek into what your ex is doing in their life. And social media stalking is now the easiest way to do so. This might sound like a low point in your life, you might sometimes feel like you have lost all your sense of honor and pride, but it’s okay.
You will try to figure out what your ex is doing and try posting things that would show that you have already recovered. You might not have even had a shower in days, but your social media posts will make it sure that viewer knows that you are having the time of your life.
Jealousy is often the resultant emotion of social media stalking as you will overthink and overanalyze everything they post. You might get competitive and try to force yourself in doing better. In reality, none of these matters. Like you, your ex might also be on a stage of the recovery process. Whether or not you are further ahead in the recovery process does not matter.
Now that you have stalked your ex to your heart’s content, you will feel empty. The loss, the grief, the journey you have had till now will amount to nothing in your eyes. Numbness is a strange emotion where you are neither happy nor sad, you just exist not feeling, not seeing, not understanding anything.
You will feel a lot relieved if you are one of those who feel extreme sadness or anger. You would want to stay alone and put your mind to nothing but existing. This emotional stage does not last long and signifies that acceptance of reality is now within your reach.
At this stage, you are not in pain, but your wounds might just itch a little and make you a little uncomfortable from time to time. But now your mind has accepted the truth and is on the road to moving on. You are now over the thought of making things right and know that the relationship is now over for good.
Acceptance makes you feel lighter, you will catch yourself with a small smile over everything that has happened. You will feel surprised to see that small smile after days/months of struggle. While your mind might still say that love is for fools, you would no longer on the maybes and what-ifs that come with a breakup.
You will start getting back on track in both your personal and professional life. Healthy habits that you started during Denial, will start showing their results now. All the efforts and confidence that you put in yourself are now coming together to build a new you.
8. Looking to the Future:
After a few weeks or months of having accepted the reality, you will see that your smile is now wider and more frequent. You are now starting to make plans with your friends and family. That positivity you once had is now coming back to you.
You now realize the value of your life and the value of moving forward. The tables have now turned and you gaining back control over yourself and your life. This is the perfect time to go for a holiday, have a change of scenery, and start making new memories.
You might sometimes feel a tinge of sadness over your loss but with a smile for all the happy memories you have. You are turning back to your wonderful self and that is amazing progress.
Also, this might be the time when you come face-to-face with your ex. Do not fret it, you are already over them, and meeting your ex would only prove you that. Smile at them, hug them lightly, and let them go on their way.
9. Moving On:
Someone caught your eyes, and you are itching to ask them out? Congratulations. You have started to move on. You have finally completed the 9 stages of emotions and are putting your efforts toward building a better future. Your ex is now a happy or just a memory, your dreams are coming alive, and the fresh air now makes you feel alive and free.
The 9 stages of emotions after coming out of a long-term relationship are hard to go through but extremely crucial. These stages bring out the negativity and help you replace it with positive feelings, attitudes, and dreams.