Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Denial & Moving On From a Divorce or Breakup

Denial and Moving On from a Divorce or Breakup by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

One of the early stages of grieving a loss is denial, and the breakup or divorce of a love relationship will most likely catapult you into a place of denial at some point along the way.

I've mentioned before that I was so deeply in denial after my divorce that I denied to myself and friends that I was even in denial. I could even see people laughing and shaking their heads at me. Maybe they had a little worry and concern mixed in there too. But I believed myself to be such a rational person, I just couldn't fathom I would hideout in denial for so long.

However, denial is such a shadowy thing and when you are in denial you can't even see that you're stuck there until you start to make your way out of it.

If you've recently experienced the breakup of a relationship or your marriage ended in divorce you might be in denial right now. Hey, that's okay with me, I think I stayed in denial for about two years, so I'm no expert over here.

In fact, I'm guessing denial was a safe place for me to be until I was ready to truly feel and own up to the painful reality of my situation. Denial was my personal coping mechanism or survival instinct kicking in. It allowed me get up every morning and function like a normal person until I got to a better place in my life. I needed to take baby steps until my heart could handle the full intensity of my disappointment and grief.

Here are some ways you might be in denial regarding the end of your relationship:

  • You keep yourself very busy with lots of projects, fun activities, or work so as to not feel the pain of your loss.
  • Secretly, in the farthest reaches of your brain, you nurture a little thought that says, "Maybe in the distant future we will get back together."
  • You place a lot of the blame for the end of your relationship on your partner and don't take responsibility for your own actions and choices.
  • You keep thinking, "If only he/she would get counseling, everything would improve and we could be together again."
  • You keep dreaming up mental stories of "If only..." running through your head. 

Your love relationship ended. It's over and how and when you chose to accept it is completely up to you. Just know that when you do, it will be one of the most painful experiences because it is like the death of someone you loved, so I hope you will be gentle with yourself.

Here are some questions to ask along the way as a reality check:

  • Am I comfortable telling friends that my relationship or marriage is over?
  • Have I started to understand and take responsibility for the reasons my love relationship ended?
  • Do I see my breakup or divorce as a creative process that will help me grow?
  • Am I investing energy into my own personal growth for the future or am I still thinking about my past relationship?
  • Do I escape into fantasies about getting back together?
  • Have I learned how to feel happy and loved without a partner before I commit to another relationship?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Breakup or Divorce: Dealing with Guilt and Shame

Breakup or Divorce: Dealing with Guilt and Shame by Beth Hemmila of Breakup Care Package

Easy is a blindfold.
- Beth Hemmila
When you breakup or get divorced there is a boatload of shame tagging along behind you. Even though statistics indicate that 41% of first marriages end in divorce, which seems like a huge chunk of the population to me, our culture still seems to attach a lot of unconscious shame to this life experience of letting go.

Consequently, the end of your relationship is going to give you an opportunity to work with a lot of deep shame that has been lurking behind you perhaps your entire life, asking for your love and attention. Working with your uncomfortable feelings won't be easy but in the following post, I've given you a sense of how you might be with the shame that accompanies a breakup or divorce.


You can't escape from suffering. Rinse and repeat.

I know this concept very well, but unfortunately my mind is convinced there will be a glorious end to the pain, hassles, challenges, and discomforts of my life. In fact, secretly I believe I am an escape artist with the power to exit stage left wherever pain exists. What's waiting for me off stage that's so exciting? The belief that things will be easy.

But what I keep hearing life say back to me is that there is no escape. If you run from suffering, it follows you and takes another form. It knocks on your door and says, "Hey, What's up? I've been looking for you all over the place."

One of the deepest forms of suffering we all share is shame. Something that I think most of us would like to avoid. Many times we see ourselves trying escape difficult situations, relationships, jobs, and circumstances -- things we can name and point to with a childlike certainty. However, what's more illusive is when we are running away from our own shame. It's hard to see and touch. Shame is difficult to explain to another person because it's all wrapped up in our mysterious thoughts and feelings.

Shame is like a scruffy, mangy, flea-ridden dog from the streets who tags along behind you looking for a handout. Maybe at first you don't see him, but then he patiently waits outside your door all skinny and beat up, making noise, disrupting your day, asking you to pay attention. You don't want to give him the time of day because he might cause you discomfort.

This is what shame feels like to me. You can't shake him. He sticks to you like glue asking for your time and a morsel of your love.

The other day while I was having yet another big lesson in no escape from shame, I felt my mind scurry around looking for solutions, band aids, and a way out. Then I realized that without a doubt there was no where to run. So I sat and laughed. And then I cried because I finally understood what it was like to have equanimity for myself.

In Buddhism, equanimity means to "stand in the middle of all this," and I have written about it before in regards to dealing with other people and circumstances outside yourself, but I have never explored how you can apply it to your own self. How do you stand in the middle of all you have created from your relationship and its ending, including the shame that follows you like a shadow wherever you go, and just be with it?

What I discovered is that perhaps you have to be like a kindly grandmother with your shame. Sit there. See it. Maybe even hold it's hand. You're not there to fix, heal or change your shame but to just be with it. To practice a sort of soft patience as you and your shame breathe in time together. To rest in the middle of all of it and recognize everything will be okay just as it is.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Growing Up & Breaking Up

Growing Up and Breaking Up by Beth Hemmila of The Breakup Care Package

Sometimes breaking up or divorce is a healthy sign that you or your partner are growing. And as we already know growing up is never easy or without heartache.

As you grow older you learn more about who you are, what you want to do, and who you want to spend time with. If you're moving in a positive direction, you may be developing more self-esteem and taking on more and more responsibility. You may have a whole new set of values that weren't there when you met your partner.

There is a possibility that as you grow up, you and your partner may grow apart. When you separate it's important to keep in mind that as you discover new parts of yourself, you may also see new things in your former partner as they meet and create new relationships with other people. Releasing yourself and your partner from a relationship that may have stagnated is like separating flowers in the garden that have become overgrown -- sometimes you need to uproot them and find a new location for each of them to thrive.

Some people have a mid-life crisis and the timing of this experience coincides with divorce, but what I believe is truly involved is that personal needs have shifted. What you now value and may need might not be what your partner desires as a couple. You've discovered more about yourself and refined your journey.

You've changed the what and who that are important to you. Perhaps you want to shift careers, have more quality time with the kids, and take on new adventures. Alternatively, something you held in common may have disappeared, and you and your partner don't have the connection you once felt such as when the kids have grown up and moved away.

It's scary to spend so much time with another person and realize at some point you'll have to let them go either through death or a process of breaking up. However, growing up and evolving into new people is one way we create more interconnection with the world and continue our spiritual journeys.

Two movies you might check out that are both eloquent and painful in their exploration of the growing up and breaking up process are:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

3 Steps for Moving On After a Breakup or Divorce

3 Steps for Moving On After a Breakup or Divorce by Beth Hemmila

Life is like catching a bus, and there are 3 steps you can use to help navigate difficult circumstances such as a breakup or divorce. 


In life, you get to decide what bus you want to get on. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Who do you want to hang out with? The first thing to do is set your intentions.


Next you need to figure out where this bus picks you up and when. You need to make preparations and ready yourself to be at life's bus stop on time so you can catch the ride to where you're going.

Showing Up

Lastly you need to show up. If you arrive late, then your bus might pass you by. Life's bus doesn't bother to look behind while you're chasing after it. The bus doesn't stop for anyone. It just keeps rolling on.

The Other Method

Alas, if you didn't make a decision on your intentions, prepare, or show up on time. Life will always bring another bus along. It might not be the one you wanted but this can be fun too!