We now know that divorce is hitting one out of 2.5 marriages and many more people are separating from live in/long term relationships. And once single, many can find themselves without a relationship for a longer length of time than anticipated. So many people are turning to internet dating as a last resort to meet romantic partners, and although there are many success cases, for the majority it can feel like a soul-destroying and disappointing process and one that they wouldn’t necessarily choose for themselves.
Scientific research has likened the pain of a broken heart to that of a broken limb – And yet, when going through such ordeals, people still have to get up each morning – depressed, despairing, anxious, grieving, raging, disillusioned etc… – and perform at work, take care of the children, the bills, the needs of everyday life etc. In finding oneself alone, it’s become almost taboo to talk about the sorrow of loneliness, we don’t want to whinge on or bore our friends too much. It can be deeply painful especially if one is dealing with the added pain of a toxic break up, where there are strong feelings of anger, loss or betrayal. Day after day can feel pretty bleak and despairing when there isn’t someone special to share this life with, the little moments in each day, a cuddle, some TLC.
The new popular psychology tells us we should ‘embrace single-hood’, ‘be happy and ok about being alone’, and yes, how wonderful to find that place within where people are ok about their single status, (to get to a state of healthy and positive being with oneself). However, the reality of the experience is often far more painful and complex, particularly when it can feel to those in that situation (and huge numbers of people are!), like ’the entire world’ is a couple or a ‘happy’ family. When Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day, Saturday nights or Sundays become days to hide under the covers from…
And for those who are in relationships which are going through difficult times, it can seem like the rest of the world is enjoying a fun, loving and exciting life. Where everything can feel stagnant and joyless. I continually hear stories of despair about what it feels like to be living life on the treadmill, with no end in sight except facing the uphill task of a marriage break-up or the prospect of somehow resurrecting a ‘love almost lost’.
There’s a common therapeutic adage that says unconsciously we keep on re-creating or re-experiencing the same old patterns from our past in the hope that things will be different each time. But unless we are able to sit back and say ‘ok this keeps happening to me, it hurts and I don’t want to be going through this same old issue again’ then there is very little prospect of change. To add to that, there is something to be said for the sense of accomplishment and enjoyment people can get from being proactive and doing something positive for themselves despite any suffering they are going through. In this, taking some personal responsibility for what happens in our lives – why does this keep happening to me? What’s my part in all this? How would I like things to be different? What do I want to change? What can I learn from this? What do I want out of my life and most importantly, what CAN I do about it?
Given too, that we have a very limited sense of community anymore, then where do people go to give vent to their feelings, allow themselves to be supported with the intention to heal and move forwards in a creative and positive way? Counselling can provide the space to learn what you need from your experiences and begin to look anew at the opportunities for a new chapter – with or without a relationship.