Updated: Jan 10, 2019
I know. Breakups can be absolutely devastating. Been there. A few times. And I won't even lie and tell you that this pain is avoidable because it isn't. It's something you have to endure until it becomes manageable and hopefully at some point imperceptible. The truth is that many people never get over certain breakups and that can be for all kinds of reasons. It could be because you feel guilty for your part to play. Perhaps you considered your partner to be the love of your life. Maybe you share children with this person. Beautiful memories, good times, shared secrets, great chemistry, how they made you feel about yourself... all of these can make the pain of heartbreak unbearable. Of course, a very common reason for finding it hard to get over the hurt is if you were treated badly. This I can relate to.
My ex-spouse walked out on my 1-year-old daughter and I without warning or explanation, other than that he had been unfaithful and didn't want to be with me anymore. I have never been able to quite articulate the pain of that experience. He did this 6 months after my father died and nearly 12 months after our daughter nearly died at birth (and was still recovering) so his timing was especially hateful.Whilst I am not a perfect person, I can say without question that I didn't deserve that treatment. Neither did my daughter. In a million years I could never imagine being so selfish and bitter towards someone, even if they deserved it. But when people justify their actions to themselves they are capable of all kinds of evil. And so, after nearly 10 years of marriage, he upped, left and there was no turning back. After he relocated to another country 4 years later I filed for divorce (with all his detachment and proclamations of moving on he never filed.) Life was over as I once knew it and I was thrust into a new life whether I wanted to be or not.
I remember a couple of nights after the breakup, I was laying on my bed in the dark feeling like my world was ending. But I also felt confused because very strangely the room felt lighter in my ex's absence. These contrasting feelings eventually made sense months later. In the first 12 months after his departure I achieved more for myself than during the entire time we were together. Why? Because throughout my marriage I focused on him rather than myself. I made myself small so that he could be big. When I say 'big' I'm not referring to social or economic status. I simply mean that I wanted his success as much, if not more, than my own and was happy to put myself second. So, I supported his career and personal aspirations, and even carried us financially throughout most of the relationship, so that he could progress. Yet, on the day he left he told me, 'Your standards are too high.' Really? No. My standards were perfectly reasonable. If he considered commitment, faithfulness and honesty to be standards that were 'too high', what he was really saying was, 'My standards are low. And I don't want to be better.' Upon his departure, I was lighter because I was released from the burden of helping him to be a better man than he wanted to be. And I was finally free to invest in myself.
It isn't wrong to want reconciliation. In the right circumstances, reconciliation is the best solution for partners and children. However, reconciliation is only good when it is with someone who shares your values and who respects you and your relationship as much as you do. There are few things worse than being with someone who is incompatible with you. It can be soul-destroying. If your standards are higher than your partner's, you're setting yourself up for misery. Your partner will be dead weight holding you back from the fulfilling life and relationship you desire. So, when your dead weight walks out the door, it's okay to cry for a while. But be willing to let them go. There really is a quality life beyond the life you knew. Be courageous enough to fight for yourself rather than waste time longing for the devil you know. You're worth more than that.
Sometimes people leave because they simply don't have the integrity to be a good partner. It's devastating to be the one left behind; rejection is like a knife through the heart. But as women we are often so deeply invested emotionally, through loyalty and sometimes our fear of being alone, that we find it hard to let go of someone even when they're no good for us. I couldn't see it at the time but the end of my marriage was the beginning of a life far more enriching and successful than I ever could have imagined. My ex's selfishness turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. This was only the case because I made the breakup work for me. It took me a while. I grieved like anyone else would in my situation. But the more I focused on self-improvement is the more I realised that I deserved better than him. And if I knew what I was worth before I met him, I would never have been with him in the first place. Because ultimately, we are better judges of character when we are well-adjusted ourselves. The more balanced and happy we are is the better our choice of partner will be.
You have to decide that your life is worth living whether you're with your ex or not. You have to know that your own life is worth as much, and perhaps even more, investment than you put into your partner. After all, no matter who comes into your life, you are the only person who will be with you all of the time. It makes sense for you to learn to make yourself happy rather than wait around for someone else to. When someone wonderful does finally come into your life, you'll be healthy enough to fully enjoy that relationship. I am now remarried to a wonderful man who adopted my daughter. Everything I've learned from the breakdown of my first marriage, and from my time alone, has helped to build a solid foundation for my current relationship. If your ex doesn't want to rebuild your collapsed relationship, take the rubble to rebuild a new life for yourself.