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How To Mend a A Broken Heart

Abstract: A woman-centred psychotherapist gives invaluable tips on how to heal a broken heart after a break-up. Recently, I was asked, "How does one begin to heal from a painful loveaffair?" Oh,...

Abstract: A woman-centred psychotherapist gives invaluable tips on how to heal a broken heart after a break-up.

Recently, I was asked, "How does one begin to heal from a painful loveaffair?" Oh, if only there were a simple answer to heartbreak.

Alas, I have yetto find one.

After witnessing countless women’s journeys on the roadto healing from a hurtful love affair, the conclusion that I’ve come tois that ‘the only way out is through.’

This, dear reader, is probablyNOT the answer you were looking for.

However, I’m a big believer indealing with reality and not seeking simple solutions to complexproblems.

When a healthy intimate relationship ends, the pain can feel unbearableat times.

But when a hurtful, or abusive, relationship ends, not onlyare you dealing with the loss of the relationship; you’ve also got toheal from the trauma of the abuse.

I’m not sure if the relationship inquestion was abusive or not because I don’t have enough information togo on, but for the purposes of this column, I’m going to assume that itwasn’t in order to simplify things.

Please forgive me if I got itwrong.

If it was abusive, I strongly recommend that you seekpsychotherapy with someone who specializes in healing from abuse asthis is a very delicate matter that needs professional help.

So, in terms of healing from a relationship where there wasn’t abuseper se, but it just didn’t work due to other reasons (there can bemany), I will state again that THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH.

What Imean by that is that you have to allow yourself to go through thegrieving process until you’re done.

There’s no strict formula here forwhat that should look like or how long it should take, but in general,there are definite stages of grief.

I’ve taken the following fromElizabeth Kubler-Ross’ book, "On Death and Dying." In it, she outlinesfive stages that a dying person experiences when they are told they aredying.

The stages identified are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance 

Even though these stages were developed for people who are terminallyill; experience throughout the years has shown that they are equallyapplicable to many other forms of loss and grief.

So when arelationship ends, for example, you may go into denial and scream,“this can’t be happening to me!”Soon after that, you may explode with anger and think, “Why is thishappening to me?” You may blame your ex, yourself, or even God for theend of the relationship.

This can be especially intense if yourpartner cheated on you.

You may be enraged at the unfairness of it alland want to punish him/her and the person they cheated with.

Then comes the bargaining stage where you’re in so much pain after thebreak-up, that you’re willing to do anything in order to get thatperson back and you shriek, “I promise I'll be a better person ifyou’ll just come back to me.”

Then, you’re hit with the proverbial “blues.”

This is when you’refavourite place in your home is your freezer and you frequently gothere for a tub of Haagan Dazs (and NOT the low-fat kind either!) Billie Holiday records are also extremely handy at this stage, as arecountless bubble baths in which you soak your tired body, cry a riverof tears (all while listening to Billie on the stereo and consuming icecream- a sort of emotional ‘multitasking’, if you like).

Then, alas, the tears start to dry up, you don’t feel so crumby, andyou start to notice the good things in life again.

This final stage,the one you’ve earned through going through all of the preceding stagesand surviving, is called, “acceptance.”  This is when you pick yourselfup, dust yourself off, and get back on the saddle of life with arenewed sense of hope, some understanding, a dose of personal growth,and even a sense of humour.

Even though I’ve never had children, I’mimagining that this stage is like JUST AFTER YOU’VE GIVEN BIRTH, andyou almost forget how painful it all was and can see that it was allworth it.

To all of you who are trying to heal from a broken heart, I hope thatat least some of what I've shared here helps.

Esther Kane, MSW, Registered Clinical Counsellor, is the author of “Dump That Chump: A Ten-Step Plan for Ending Bad Relationships and Attracting the Fabulous Partner You Deserve (, and “What Your Mama Can’t or Won’t Teach You: Grown Women’s Stories of Their Teen Years ( Sign up for her free monthly e-zine, Women’s Community CounsellorHealth Fitness Articles, to uplift and inspire women at: 

Please consider this article for publication in your newsletter or website. Permission is granted to reprint for free with resource box and byline intact. Please send me a copy of your publication if you choose to include my article.

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