Nobody enjoys the end of a relationship but our author Nadia Bokody has found the silver lining to this normally painful experience. Read on to discover the positive side of breaking up…
Break-ups are shit. They just are. But they often lead to incredible personal growth, which is why I – perhaps unconventionally – appreciate all of mine. It’s true we learn the most about ourselves in periods of adversity. And there is perhaps no greater example of adversity in your love life than going through a relationship breakdown.
It’s akin to having a warm, comfortable duvet ripped off you on a bitterly cold morning. Suddenly, everything that was familiar and easy to you, is now foreign and terrifying. Everything seems to hurt, all the time, and – much like that cold winter’s morning – the pain of heartbreak viscerally stings your skin with each hasty, shallow breath.
There truly is no pain quite like it. In fact, researchers even discovered our hearts quite literally physically ache when we are grieving a lost love – it’s not just in our head; it’s in our body too.
And slowly, but surely, I emerged from my sea of misery and not only existed again, but flourished.
But here’s the thing about pain I learned from my marriage breakdown: It doesn’t need to equal suffering.
Suffering is what happens when we refuse to accept reality, and insist on being stuck in a weird kind of limbo rooted in denial. Pain, on the other hand, is what happens when something really shitty happens – like a breakup. Yes, it hurts, but if we don’t resist it, and instead allow it to wash over us, it will eventually pass. (I promise.)
Suffering stays with us because when we suffer, we don’t actually allow ourselves to process our trauma. We remain stuck in it. And so, it can hang around for months, years and even decades.
When my marriage broke down, I saw an incredible therapist who taught me about this powerful distinction, and it was an immediate game-changer.
For the first time in my adult life, I allowed myself to wallow in my pain. To truly, deeply feel it. I cried over photo albums and old text messages, and spent sleepless nights listening to my aching heart beat as I sobbed about what I’d lost.
And slowly, but surely, I emerged from my sea of misery and not only existed again, but flourished. And so, while it might seem a little odd, my break-up gave me a new lease on life. It let me see the pain of love for just what it is: Pain. Pain needn’t equal suffering. And the moment you realise that, the moment you can start living again.