After the conversation winds down, you reach for the car door and your hand slides uneasily into the handle. Looking back toward the one who you thought would be a fixture in your future, it startles you to realize they are rapidly receding into your past. You’re extremely disheartened.
Is this really the end?
Heartbreak. Heartache. What Now?
As your head swirls, you sprawl out on your bed, securely entrenched under a pillow mountain, wailing and whining. Then amidst all the torrent of grief, a thought suddenly reverberates through your mind; tomorrow is the first day without your SO (Significant Other) in the picture. Recently I’ve scanned through my own flip book of break-up memories. The most dramatic culminated with a four sentence email to an unreturned phone call that stopped me in my tracks.
She met someone else and choose him over me.
For nights when relational tragedy strikes and you find yourself struggling to get your bearings consider these “day after” recovery steps. You must know that this break-up is NOT the end of your marital quest. In fact, break-ups can serve as a springboard to major progress toward connecting with your mate, either this person or someone else. This post is all about properly regaining your footing and continuing on in your marriage pursuit journey.
“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.” Psalms 18:33
1) Ground Yourself Spiritually
Red alert time has a way of driving us toward the Almighty. Cut off the noise and and sit before the Lord immediately in the morning. Pause your social media accounts, tune-out news cycles and pour out your emotions directly to your Creator. Absolutely avoid destructive behavior or communication (alcohol is not helpful here). As a protective buffer surround yourself with hymns and spiritual songs. During our college years “hibernation” was a term my friends coined to describe the self-imposed solitude on the day after a break-up. I can still recall hearing praise music billowing through my roommate’s door after his girlfriend ended their relationship. A few hours later he emerged a totally refreshed man. The pain wasn’t gone, but the healing process was in full swing.
2) Recall Previous Recoveries
For everyone with experience beyond the teen years, we’ve experienced pain gradually receding from our mind and hearts. Within your soul you have forensic proof that you eventually can (and will) move forward. Understandably wounds from the past may remain, but we must admit the pain has been significantly reduced. These recoveries are nothing short of miraculous, a mercy from God. YOU CAN LOVE AGAIN. You can HOPE again, and there will be other prospects with great marriage potential who will generate that internal butterfly flurry inside you. Remember the past and look again toward the future with a fresh sense of anticipation.
3) Rationally Consider Getting Back Together
As your mind begins to settle for it’s first break from the spin cycle, float this question, “Is there a chance that we might get back together?” Another angle to frame your analysis is to ask yourself if you learned anything from your time together, the lessons now more lucid due to the separation, or discovered something from their handling of the break-up that reveals a non-negotiable fault. If you identify a character fracture, evidence of an underlying moral or emotional deficiency giving you pause to continue on with this person, then give careful thought to permanently shutting the door. During the aftermath, be careful not to sour the image of your loved one in the eyes of your friends and family with careless words spoken out of anguish. If you do come back together you’ll be glad you tempered your words.
4) Rejoice In New Opportunities
My favorite moment in a post-break counseling session is when I get to remind them that the ocean is enormous. It really is. The pool of single men and women has never been higher and what that means for you at a juncture like this is that there are limitless potentials. Allow yourself to take a pause from despair and set your eyes on the possibilities. What is the best case scenario? Ponder the incredible man or woman that you might meet. In God’s grace, you’ve got great things coming!
5. Be With Friends
Few things in this life are sweeter than bonding with good friends. This is one of those times to cling to them. Don’t worry about being needy. On this day feel free to claim time to unload your thoughts and emotions as needed. The tide often pulls us towards solitude, but fellowship is part of the restorative recipe. Consider settings where you can be with friends and meet new people. Even with a reeling heart, the simple joy of an initial conversation can be quite encouraging.
6. Codify The Lessons
It’s therapeutic and profoundly valuable to write down and record your state of mind. What happened and how does it make you feel? While the intensity of the situation is still fresh, consider what you’ve learned. Maybe you discovered a character trait you know you would avoid going forward or realized that one certain pattern of behavior is detrimental to relational success. Harness this wisdom for what’s to come.
There were only four lines in the simple email which streamlined one precise, stabbing realization in my mind; I was out. Our early stage relationship was all set to flourish. We were having fun following a godly trail, when out of nowhere two phone calls went unreturned. Then a most unwelcome email wedged its way into my inbox and hit me like a rocket grenade. Knocked to the ground I remember clinging to the only firm foundation I knew. The sweet things of God. I had a CD (this was 2001) of praise tunes that played over and over. In the car, at work, at home this music inspired by God’s Holy Spirit soothed my soul. Like a shield, those melodies surrounded me with love, they wouldn’t let sink into total despair.
Amazing how over a decade later the emotion of those days can be so vivid.
You’ve been there. You’ve had the bottom fall out from under you like an earthquake that shook you to the core.
BUT, you’ve also experienced the miraculous wonder of regaining your footing. HE will help you back up again. Take one step forward in faith today. And one more tomorrow. You’ll see.