As I hustled down Market Street in San Francisco this morning, I was unexpectedly hit with that Wham! of missing him so deeply that it stopped me cold.
“Quit the drama!”, I told myself. “You will heal. This is part of breaking up. Be kind to yourself. You’re grieving. Give yourself time. It will pass.” Still, with all self messages and brave efforts I could conjure up – humming happy songs, whispering desperate meditations, walking erect and confident – the tears still welled up. As I walked along, I saw us in all the old familiar places. I missed him. Or did I hurt from the hole he left?
Either way, we’re all vulnerable to the emptiness we feel around divorce. It’s rough sledding – even for me, the coach who’s guided hundreds of women and men to rebuild strong, happy lives. I’m going through my own break up, and it hurts. Alot.
By the time I got to the office, my self support kicked in. I can do this! Yes, I can!
So, I decided to open my kimono and share my morning walk with you, who might also be recovering from divorce or a long term breakup: It’s damn hard work. Fighting the blues is exhausting. You feel as though there is no end to it.
Stop the presses: It does end! The blues do subside! I’ve seen it happen over and over. Think of yourself in a tunnel. You’re simply passing through. That sign outside the tunnel in Yellowstone says it all: The only way out is through. You’ve got to be in the dark for awhile before you get to the light.
I can’t make it go away for you, but I can help you navigate when you get caught in that swirl of sadness. Here’s what you need to know:
- Know that the jolt of melancholy will pass. Unfortunately, that heartache you feel is a necessary part of your recovery. Each time you ache, you move one step closer to your new life. Your heart is searching for how to heal. You can’t rush it. As painful as it may be, it’s actually very healthy. If you try to shove it down and ignore it, it will come back in years to come and bite you hard. So, do it now. Need to cry? Need to get angry? Let ‘er rip! Cry hard, get angry, punch a pillow – it’s your body’s way of releasing the angst, and it’s helping you heal.
- When you cry, get angry, or wail, time limit it. Actually set your timer for 30 minutes. At the end, wipe your nose, dry your eyes, and write down your sad thoughts in a journal, a “worry box”, and put them aside. Congratulations, you’ve just dumped them out of your brain.
- When you have an “up, happy” moment, notice it. Say to yourself, “Hey, look at me, I’m happy! Wow, it feels so good!” It may only last 4 seconds, but that’s 4 seconds that you didn’t have yesterday!
- Want to cry and can’t? Here’s a crazy one: for some folks, the deeper the hurt, the less they can cry. If this is you, add a little (just a sprinkle!) of drama: Check this out: It’s Billie Holliday’s original singing of I’ll be seeing you (in all the old familiar places). Here are the lyrics. Get out the tissue. Understand, however, that this is pure drama. But, honestly, weirdly, sometimes a little drama kicks in the tears. You cry. Then you can move forward. Red flag warning: Be sure you don’t buy permanent real estate in dramaland. Recognize it for what it is: a good pity party. When it’s over, move on. A good coach can help with this.
My favorite masseuse told me that tears release more toxins in your body than any other fluid – and that hard crying boosts your mood. Research bears it out: Take a look at Therese Borchard’s article in PBS’ This Emotional Life.
Your heart is mending. Consider your tears a miracle, a medicine, and a mood altering drug. It won’t remove the sadness for good, but it will propel your healing forward. Get out that Kleenex and have a healthy boo-hoo.