To step forward into the next phase of life after a devastating breakup or loss takes more than just time. Wanting to move on when a part of our future is lost - plans made, shared dreams, mutual commitments - requires us to explore the painful question of “now what?” and redefine ourselves.
Here are the 4 steps involved in this deep personal process.
1. Embrace your truest, rawest emotions.
Acknowledge the emotional ground on which you’re standing – honestly and nonjudgmentally. Denial, alcohol, “trying” to forget or waiting for the loss to stop hurting just won’t take you to feeling whole again. Embracing your grief will. Be sad, really sad. Cry. Yell. Sob. It’s okay. It’s all ways to honor what you’ve lost – recognizing its value and meaning to you.
This isn’t time for regret, shame, or self-hate. These “extras” just complicate matters. Dwelling on “coulda, woulda, shoulda” will separate you from your truest, deepest response to the situation. Learning how to be in control of yourself starts with acceptance. What happened, happened.
Embrace your sadness like you’d embrace an orphan. With both arms.
2. Open yourself to be supported.
Friends. Family. Support groups. Online communities. Books. Your dog. The bird that comes to your window. The ground under you. The sun that rises every morning. The air you breathe. There’s just so much support out there if you can open yourself to these caring, nourishing connections.
You don’t have to act a certain way - be your current, mourning, griefed self, without a mask and let real support be there for you. No one expects you to heal overnight. Be open about your pain and allow others to give you a shoulder to cry on. Don’t try to control your life with your mind - feel your heart instead. And share how you feel.
3. Integrate the experience into your being.
Only after you’ve truly and totally embraced your grief. Think, what have you learned from your relationship? From the break up? The loss? How did this person and the experience help you become who you are? How did you grow?
Think. Next time you open your heart, will it have a certain learned quality to it? Will you be more conscious, present, and open? Give yourself credit
for all the things you have integrated into you and how much healing you have brought into your life. Bring your pieces together by acknowledging your invaluable part in your own life.
4. Get ready for the new.
Once you go through sadness, support and integration, you’ll be ready for a new phase. Your insights and experience will help you be stronger and more grounded as you move into the future. You’ll be able to dream again. Make plans. Have zest to do things. The people who’ve helped you will still be there. Show your gratitude. Create love.
Don’t feel bad when you feel happy. You’ve mourned, you’ve reflected, and now it’s only natural for you to gravitate towards those emotions we call positive. Happiness, laughter and joy will start visiting you frequently - don’t close your door to them out of guilt. You deserve to continue to live. Be alive. Really live.
Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting.
It doesn’t mean denying the pain. Moving on means becoming a new self, perhaps unexpectedly, but always gracefully. Integrating many experiences into your being. Redefining who you are and what you want. Re-dreaming. Re-desiring. Re-becoming. Moving on means walking through the tunnel of sadness only to become a whole, happy, more grown self.
Moving on is re-birthing. Takes long. It’s painful. Sometimes physically. Requires trusting the unknown. Like birth. But when it happens, it’s beautiful. And so worth it.
Trust the journey you are on.