Counselling for Relationship Breakup, Separation or Divorce
Going through a divorce, separation or relationship breakup can be a really harrowing experience. There are lots of practicalities to deal with, but even more so – a lot of feelings and emotions that you may not have expected to be so overwhelming, or even to be there at all.
Following a relationship breakup of some kind, there will be a big part of your life which now requires you to change completely and also adjust to. Counselling for relationship breakups, separation or divorce can really help.
Why is the relationship breakup so hard?
Whatever you thought about yourself, the point at which you had reached in your life plan, and your plans for the future, which were somehow entwined with a ‘me in a relationship’ identity, the breakup of the relationship has also broken up those plans and means that a big part of your past life has ceased to exist.
Regardless of whether you are the one who instigated the breakup and had some time to plan it, or the one who has to live with decision of the other partner and is caught out by shock and surprise – this is a change that is likely to trigger the process of ‘life transition’ with a flood of emotions, feelings, new challenges and adjustments, to deal with.
By accepting the idea that what happened, the breakup, separation or divorce, was ‘a big thing’ and ‘important’, rather than adopting a ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude, you are more likely to firstly ‘notice’, and then understand and learn from your emotional responses, even if they seem hard to deal with at the time.
After a divorce or separation, and to help cope, you might seek some counselling to work through your feelings.
People deal with life events in their own way, for example your ex- partner might be able to move on quickly and throw themselves into a new relationship, however, for you it can take more time before you feel ready to move on. Sometimes a bit of support can bring encouragement to go through this process with your head up and the feeling that the process had been transformative.
What are the emotional reactions you may expect after the relationship breakup?
- How could she/he? What have I done?
Initially, following the breakup and when the process of change is just about to begin, you may feel anger, disbelief and hurt about what has happened and focus on projecting those feelings of, ‘anger’, ‘disbelief’, ‘hurt’ onto your ex-partner.These are feelings of resentment and although this is a natural response, it is important to be able to talk through these feelings in order to get beyond them, as you don’t want to be stuck in this phase of resentment forever.
- How will I ever trust again?
After the surge of anger and disbelief, reality begins to sink in and you realise that there is no way back. Feelings of grief, sadness and depression are ready to step in and take the place of your first emotional response.
- What is wrong with me? Who will ever look at me again?
Inevitably a rejection by someone you loved and cared about is a huge blow to your feelings of self-worth and can shatter any confidence you might have had.
- Am I a complete pushover?
You may be the one who didn’t want the relationship to end, hoping to find a way forward. However, that didn’t work and you found that your partner was determined and ruthless. As a result you feel violated, humiliated and powerless.
- What next? How can I cope on my own?
The ‘Anxiety about your future’ is as strong a force as ‘grief about the past’.You are faced with many possibilities that need considering, practicalities that need attending to, challenges that need resolving and ‘your next step’ that needs planning. You are completely lost about which direction to go in, where to start, feeling like you are stumbling around in the darkness.Anxiety tells you that they all need to be resolved now and you have no energy or courage to face them.
- Why do I have to lose my friends, my children?
As the breakup and separation process proceeds it may become apparent that you are not only losing the relationship with your partner but also with the friends you had in common, or your partner’s family members who you grew fond of. It may be extremely difficult to cope with is the loss or change in the relationship you have with your children.Feelings of hurt and sadness about the injustice of those losses may be very powerful and overwhelming. Loneliness and isolation amplify feelings of depression and sadness.
Some difficult situations you may face due to the emotional impact of a breakup, separation or divorce
- Difficulty to trust in a new relationship: when this happens, the other person can sense your lack of trust and as a result the new relationship fails, thus reinforcing the negative loop.
- The Re-bounding loop: Throwing yourself into a new relationship to mitigate the loneliness and anxiety you feel following the breakup
- Vulnerability to addictions: What starts as a solution to depression, perhaps that one drink at the end of the day, may easily become a necessary evil to get through the day
- An Inability to communicate about the children: Feelings of anger, hurt, resentment and humiliation cloud the need to find common language for the sake of the children’s wellbeing (be they yours, your partner’s, or both)
- Isolation: You decide not to risk new commitment – you can’t bear to be hurt again
- Lingering anger and resentment: You enter new commitments ‘armed to the teeth’, ready to attack at the first glimpse of whatever you fear the most. The fear being what hurt you the most in the previous relationship: ‘the infidelity’, ‘the controlling’, ‘the lack of respect’ etc. Whatever it was, you can’t bear to be hurt again.
Counselling for relationship breakup, separation & divorce
If any of the feelings or behaviours are familiar or relevant, you may benefit from exploring their impact on your wellbeing now and in the future. Counselling for breakups, separation or divorce offers space to be heard, to test your views and discuss your strategies.