When someone makes the decision to leave a relationship emotions can run high, particularly if one person feels blind-sided. For some people, this will trigger anxiety due to their fear of being abandoned and feeling lonely; for others it is the loss of connection that triggers sadness and grief. Some may become consumed by the issue of sunken costs (time, energy, and money spent during the courtship) and they wind up stuck in an angry/negative loop. Maybe it’s even the perfect trifecta, which will compromise your ability to think clearly and rationally, and if you act out on your impulses, others will wonder is s/he “crazy or just plain stupid?” (Thank you Forrest Gump for that great line).
Sadly, there are no short-cuts, and the only way to regain your equilibrium is to allow yourself to go through the grief cycle– give yourself permission to experience each stage, and if you feel overwhelmed, reach out for some support throughout the process. In the meantime, here are some tips to help you avoid making some very poor decisions that you will later regret:
1. Don’t destroy anyone’s property, it is after all a crime;
2. Don’t make any threats, especially about someone’s safety;
3. Don’t call or send any emails/texts in the heat of the moment;
4. Don’t trespass and show up uninvited at anyone’s home or work; and
5. Don’t try to sabotage a person’s career or livelihood.
Instead, disconnect with your ex on social media, sever all other ties as neatly as possible and take the high road. As best you can, implement no contact and take down any reminders in your home like pictures or cards (this is understandably much harder to do when you have kids in common). When you ask that person to stop communicating with you, keep it simple. Here is an example of what to say:
Unfortunately, I was hoping over the past several weeks that we’d be able to rebuild trust and recover from your emotional infidelity. Thursday’s events, however, were the final straw for me. I have nothing else to say, and would appreciate that going forward you refrain from contacting me.
This simple message that I once wrote conveys what caused the breakdown and that no further communication should be expected. Your good-bye should not be a dissertation; less is best. If you are not sure the message is clear, run it by a few friends before you hit send. And just because the other person may continue to try to engage you, doesn’t mean you have to accept the invitation to re-enter Crazy Town.
Rather than spew venom, try to only share those nasty thoughts floating in your head with your shrink or close friends. If it makes you feel better, have a private bonfire and burn your ex’s cards, or throw darts at a dartboard with a photo of your ex. Some find it helpful to list all the negative qualities of a past partner as a reminder that all was not perfect. Eventually, you will get to the acceptance phase where it is becomes clear that the outcome you’d originally wished for was not meant to be.
Recognize that the first few weeks will be the toughest, so cut yourself some slack. You may feel like an addict that has just gone cold turkey because you are depriving your brain of that dopamine hit it once got on fairly regular basis. It takes real resolve to break the established daily pattern of checking in with your ex, but the sooner you can adapt to the new norm, the sooner you can appreciate the peace and quiet that will surround you and help calm your mind and mend your broken heart.
By Regina A. DeMeo