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Healing a broken heart

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Relationship break-upThe effect of a break-up between a man and a woman can be equated to a “loss” in one’s life. A person’s sense of belonging has severed - the fundamental bridge which connects two people – trust - has broken.

This has long-term repercussions on a person as one loses a sense of trust in others, an essential part of any relationship. If this remains unresolved, the person could turn into a distrustful person for life, caution Chennai-based counsellors.

Moreover, the insecurity level in the person who is “dumped” is high. They go through a terrible sense of low esteem, questioning one’s self-worth, dislike themselves and imagine a cruel prank is played on them.

Says Dr Abilasha, Chennai-based psychologist, an MSc practising for eight years, “The initial reaction is to block it all out. Their thinking capacity stops, they don’t want to live the reality and believe someone is playing a prank.”

Counsellors list stages such as grief, the process of overcoming grief, denial, anger, sadness, reconciliation and recovery, as emotions one experience when a relationship has fallen apart. Each individual’s responses are different but broadly speaking these stages are common to all.

“Each individual takes their own time but “band-aid work” has to be done. A person needs to go through the healing process,” says Saras Bhasker, another counselor. “You need to vent out your grief, come to terms with reality, deal with the sadness and restore your feeling of self-worth.”

Arundhati Swamy, a senior counselor, also agrees.

“Healing has to happen. One has to give time to heal. What you do in the healing process like talking to someone or seeking professional help is crucial. If any loss is unresolved, it becomes larger than it is.”

Most people confide in a close friend or family member or nowadays unload their feelings on Facebook or on online chats. What a person wants at this stage is “hope”, the capacity to pick up the threads.

Few can analyse what went wrong, talk to elders and resolve not to give up on life on their own, and opt for a second chance.

Look within

In this healing process, the person essentially needs to introspect and evaluate what went wrong. They need to look within and wonder if he or she could have done something to sustain the relationship. Or maybe, learn it was not in their control.

Turning to an academically and technically trained counselor, may be the best idea. Sometimes, friends and families may end up bringing their own reactions to the situation.

While, a professional will make them accept reality and help them not to fall into a victim mode. “Negative experiences can be looked at as a means to build one’s emotional strength,” says Saras Bhasker.

They need to be assured that there are better things waiting in the corner. However, the message is clear. “It’s absolutely possible to move on,” reiterates Saras Bhasker.

Apart from therapy, a person can also tap a good support system in life such as family, work and friends, concentrate on areas where goals have to be achieved or fall back on their faith. “A combination of any three should be actively pursued to provide the balance and channelise the pain to make you constructive once again,” says Arundhati.

In smaller measures, change your routine around. For example, one is used to a pattern, talking to your beloved (an ex now) on the phone before going to bed or meeting them for lunch everyday. You need to find an activity to fill this gap.

During the healing process of introspection, join a gym, learn a craft, visit orphanages and do voluntary work, get into comfort food or go window shopping to divert yourself.

To channelise your talents and abilities, look at whether your work life balance is happening, advises Arundhati. Network with people, stay connected with others who make you feel accepted and valued, she adds.

The don’ts

Don’t isolate yourself and build a barrier from the outside world. Don’t immediately sign up for meditation or yoga, which separates you from the rest of the world. Meditation and self-help methods help when a person is functioning at an average level.

Don’t get into victim or revenge mode. Revenge always delays the recovery process and carries emotional baggage.

Don’t get emotional about gifts given by the person. It will just kindle the hurt all the more. One person who could not come to grips with the reality of a break-up after eight years stored her lover’s sms in her phone for four years. She was holding on to a hope where there was no hope.

Do not pry into your ex’s affair by checking emails. Stop snooping. Also, if a friend is gossiping about your ex put an end to it.

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