The Relationship Badass

Post Break-Up: 7 Stages of Relationship Grief

June 14, 2019

To make sure you are waking up with a great mindset and are setting yourself up for success every day, make sure to download your copy of The Ultimate Morning Routine here!   Have you heard of the 7 Stages of Grief? Or maybe you have only heard of 5… Often when someone we love […]

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Have you heard of the 7 Stages of Grief? Or maybe you have only heard of 5… Often when someone we love has passed away, we are faced with this flood of emotions that require us to work through the loss and move forward with our lives.

What if that person is not really dead, and you find yourself in this cycle?

As a society, we don’t really give the end of a relationship the same attention we do when someone passes away. Yet we all go through the same emotions.

I found myself in this cycle in 2018, but I couldn’t understand why. I no longer wanted to be with him, so what exactly was this feeling? What was I upset about?

That’s when it hit me. It’s grief. But for myself, I was not grieving the loss of him. I was grieving the end of my own life. A life I thought I was going to have.

The entire course of my life was no longer headed in the direction where I spent so many years imagining it going.

You see, in death when somebody dies, everyone gets together and talks about the good times. You have a support system, with people constantly stopping by, bringing you cookies, and pre-made meals. Heck, even some of the grocery stores send you a basket.

None of that happens at the end of a relationship.

What so many of us get, is scary truths. Dark hidden lies are brought to light. Most often many questions remain unanswered.

And then to top that all off, you have to walk out in public and see the fucker... (yes, I went there).

Rose to the head

But the truth is, the most painful questions often lie in, “Now what? What’s next?”

And that was where I was stuck. Grieving a life that never got to be. The true pain I was feeling was trapped within me wondering, what now?

This is the cycle so many of us go through during a breakup without even realizing it. It’s the cycle we go through when ANY part of our life takes a drastic hit or change.

 

1. Shock and Denial

Shock was what I felt the moment it all came apart.

The family, our home, and dreams all went black like turning the TV off before bed. The house is quiet and all you can hear is the buzz of the white noise.

The nothing feeling.

Standing in a dark hallway asking yourself now what? Isn’t there supposed to be doors in hallways? Not in the hallway of shock that I was in there wasn’t. Not in the hallway of, it’s over for good.

“But is it over for good?!”

…”Oh, hey there denial. I didn’t see you there.”

Denial was the idea that had me thinking that maybe it wasn’t really over. Telling myself that we can make it work. Trying to grasp onto all the good things that made the relationship worth staying in to reconcile. I mean this must just be a rough patch right? A bump in the road?

HELLO!?!? Can you hear me!? I asked you a question, I’m desperate here. This can’t possibly be true.

And that’s where shock and denial are. The belief that it can’t be true, and desperate for answers as to why.

trying to get noticed in the water

2. Pain and Guilt

Welcome to the party pain and guilt. You’re exactly what we needed. *Insert sarcastic eyeroll here*

As if we didn’t feel shitty enough, now we start blaming ourselves. We start to think that this is surely our fault. We must change EVERYTHING about ourselves! We get wrapped up in this idea that we aren’t good enough and if we change our hair, our clothes, our personality, and our quirks, THEN it will all be okay.

We just need a minute to figure out the logistics. Can you just stop stabbing me in the heart for a second while I figure this out?

Sometimes the stuff we consider changing are things we love about ourselves. Just in desperation to make things work. We are willing to lose ourselves, just to stay in a relationship because that’s the only life we see for ourselves.

 

3. Anger and Bargaining

Okay! I got it. It’s negotiation time.

And that’s what we do. We start this negotiation process not just with our lover but with God as well. I’ll change and then it will all be okay.

If I change X, Y and Z then “THEY” will be happy. Up until this point, we have thought very little about how this has affected us, and more about how we can just stay with them. Have we even considered our own happiness in all of this?

Enter ANGER.

Negotiations don’t seem to be going quite as planned, and that is when it hits you. This is what your life is starting to look like without that other person in it.

I remember having this feeling of a complete loss of control for my own life. That somebody else was pulling all the strings. The life I saw for myself and us was just no longer in sight, and it felt like I had completely wasted so many years of my life. And all for what?

desperate and hanging on

This person took my life from me. That is how it felt anyway.

I felt like a child who was happily playing with my toys, eating my candy and the person who was supposed to be my best friend was like, “Just kidding”. I’m taking all this away from you, and well, friends off.

It was like, uh “what in the actual fuck?”

Makes you want to throat punch a person doesn’t it? I don’t actually recommend going out there and doing it. (I didn’t and feel fabulous for not ever choosing to take that course of action – and I promise you that when you get to the other side of things you feel so much for having not.)

 

4. Depression

After the anger settles, and you finally begin to feel the emotions of how your life is no longer the way you thought it would be, you get to settle into depression. The thoughts of what was, what is, and what has changed about your future are becoming your reality.

My life plans were completely changing and amidst it all, I felt so lonely.

I couldn’t sleep at night. I slept for an hour or two at a time, and when I was awake I would read because the reading stopped my mind from racing. (I read a lot of freakin’ books).

I felt lonely in a room full of people. I was lost as to where my life was headed. It was the first time in my life I felt anxiety and understood what people were talking about.

I was depressed about my past and anxious about where my future was headed. And not anxious in a good way. I was scared shitless

This is where I spent a lot of time reflecting on all the good moments, and when I really struggled with how it could just be all over in an instant. How life can change in the blink of an eye.

 

5. Upward Turn

Just when I thought I was never going to get past the point of anger and sadness it came. Things started to get easier. I finally started to feel like I was coming up for air in the depths of the dark waters. I started to see the doors in the dark hallway of what was once shock and denial start to be built.

I started to imagine what I wanted from my new life. The idea of creating a new life was starting to sound rather appealing.

My new life appeared EXCITING.

6. Reconstruction/Work Through

The truth is, I had so much support along the way. I spent hours with friends just talking and working through the thoughts in my head.

That is extremely important about this aspect of the cycle, is talking about it. You truly are a soldier, moving along and working through it every step of the way.

Sometimes I would toggle between, shock, anger and depression. When I would be working through those moments of how much my life was changing. How my routine was no longer the same. What I did during the day, what type of groceries I bought, when I ate, what I ate, when I slept, what I watched on Netflix. Everything was different.

But it truly was exciting! As time passed I was building a new life for myself exactly the way I wanted it to be.  I was developing a routine and I was beginning to love myself again.

 

7. Acceptance

I was welcoming my new life with open arms. The doors are now open and the hallway is filled with light.

I was traveling alone and meeting tons of people and I had a whole array of new friends. I was building my tribe of new influential people in my life and figuring out just what an awesome person I was.

I was so grateful I didn’t change myself like I had planned back when I was hanging out with denial and bargaining. I was in a life that I created and I truly learned to love myself.

I can truly laugh again until the point of tears coming to my eyes. I dance like nobody is watching, and today I sing like nobody is listening. And yes, I have had some pretty crazy looks from people while driving who have seen me dancing and singing. But I don’t care. I am becoming myself again.

I am doing all the things I used to do before the relationship started to turn sour and fall apart. I am doing all the things that I had always talked about doing and more. I took lessons and learned how to play the piano. It was very humbling being 27 learning to play Jingle Bells with proper form and etiquette. But hey, I loved every second of it.

I ran the New York Marathon in November 2019. I have learned what it truly means to be strong and work through the shit. And it is honestly awesome. So do not stop until the miracle happens.

 

Bonus: Reflection

As I worked through the stages I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what I learned from it. This is one of the many stages people don’t talk about it. I would imagine it is an extension of acceptance.

Just like in death when we accept someone’s passing, we take time to reflect every now and again and remember them. For me, my reflection lies within.

Acceptance and excitement for life moving forward

What did I learn and what I am doing differently in my future?

1. The first thing I told myself was to not lose faith in people or relationships. To not project my past onto my future. To not treat my future loved one as if they were going to hurt me as I had been previously. 

2. I have learned to never allow an unhealthy relationship to go on that long ever again. The moment I begin to lose myself or stop loving who I am is when I need to either walk away, or acknowledge it and figure out how we are going to work through it.

3. I have learned that when people go through a breakup to allow them to share their grief. Just like we would if someone were to lose a loved one. Allow them to talk it through. To stop telling them they’re better off. To stop telling them to just move on. To allow them to share their feelings, support them, and tell them how much they are loved.

 

So as always, keep being your badass self. You got this and you are loved. 

Try our FREE morning routine to ensure you begin every day with love and self-confidence.

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