Monday, October 20, 2008

ASK SYBD: HOW LONG DOES THE PAIN LAST?

This week's "ASK SYBD" is a rather-two-fold one which aims to answer the questions - "How long will the pain last?" and "I am doing all the right things, why aren't I over it". Both slight variations on the same theme as you'll agree. I'll tackle the first part and then hand over to benefactor HUSKY to answer the second bit.

QUESTION ONE: HOW LONG WITH THE PAIN LAST?

One of the most common queries on So You've Been Dumped is - “how long does it take to get over a break-up?” Though there is no answer to such a question, one thing does appear to be true - the length of the relationship does not always correlate to how long it takes to get over it.

There have been plenty of theories over the years about the healing process. Some people argue that it takes anywhere from a third to half of the time of the relationship to get over it – so depending on which one you believed, a six-year relationship could take either two or three years to recover from fully.

If that were the case, then I wonder why it took me close to two years to get over a six-week relationship and less time to get over my relationships that lasted several years?

Hmmm, the fact is there are no time scales because we are all so unique. That said, I personally estimate that it can often take about two years to get over a serious relationship – taking into account that any given person may define “serious” differently.

Yes, some people take less time, but some a lot longer and others never really get over a break-up fully.

Many people panic when I tell them that it can take a few years to fully recover, but I am not saying you will feel the pain for that whole time. I am saying you may find yourself a year down the road and something triggers old emotions you had long since thought had vanished. By the time you’ve gone through all of the stages and experienced some highs, lows, slips or setbacks, it can be a year or two years down the road when you realise you no longer have any attachment to that person and are unaffected by news of their nuptials, babies, or whatever.

Most people refuse to take the time to heal properly and end up doing anything they can to fast-forward their way through it. This can mean dating before they are really over their EX (rebounding), working too much, drinking or doing drugs – anything to escape the pain.

The aim of soyouvebeendumped.com is to help people suffering from a break up (or divorce) to heal at a natural and healthy speed – that is to say - not too fast but not too slow either. It is my hope that doing so will result in laying stronger foundations for future relationships.

So more often than not when people ask how long it will take, I want to respond with one of two things “how long is a piece of string?” or “it will take as long as it takes”. Neither of which would help the seeker on their path.

The trick is to not get too bogged down with it all. Throw out the calendar. Stop counting the days. Trust that you will get over it when you’re ready to. Each day you’re a little more over it – even when it feels like you’re not. It’s like dieting. You don’t see it on a day to day level but you do when you look at the bigger picture (or yo

QUESTION TWO - I'M DOING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS - WHY AREN'T I OVER IT?

As I mentioned, back by popular demand, after last week's story on RANDOM KINDNESS, HUSKY'S back to answer this common question.

It's been a few weeks or months since the breakup, and you no longer feel like you've been hit by a train. You've stopped contact and stopped crying. You've read self-help books, been jogging to get those endorphins flowing, taken up a new hobby and had lots of nights out with your mates.

While you're relishing your free and single existence, ready and able to let a new love into your life when the opportunity arises...or are you?

You're not sad, but you're not particularly happy either. You're just...blah. Stuck. Plateauing. You're sure you used to enjoy life before the ex came along, so why can't you now? You should be over it!

The first thing to do is eliminate the word 'should' from your vocabulary. Nobody can tell you what you should or shouldn't be feeling - not your friends, not your family, not even you. There's no set timetable for recovering from a broken heart, and if you dwell on why you're not getting better you may set yourself back further.

Are there specific things that make you blue - a particular situation or time of day? Try changing your routine to avoid them. If you find yourself at a loose end at weekends, plan a trip. Hate seeing couples holding hands in the park? Walk home another way.

If you feel stuck in a rut, what could you do to change it? Maybe now is the time to think about moving house or a career change. Move your life in a new direction.

But often there's no cause or pattern to the feelings. You might describe yourself as 'a bit down' or 'out of sorts', or, if you wanted a more impressive word, suffering from 'malaise'. A malaise is literally an illness, so what's the prognosis?

If there was a mathematical equation for 'getting over it', it would include two factors. Let's call them T for Time and E for Effort. T times E equals R for Recovery. (There would probably be other letters involved - X for Ex, for example - but I never was any good at algebra.)

No matter how many new activities you hurl yourself into, you still need Time as well as Effort. You can't hurry yourself over a breakup any more than you could train for a marathon in one weekend of intensive exercise. But equally, you still won't be ready for that marathon in a year's time if you don't work hard for it. T times E.

What makes you so sure you aren't getting better? Maybe you don't notice your own progress, but it's hard to spot gradual changes. You don't notice a plant growing day by day, but photograph it every day for a week or a month and you'll see it shooting up from picture to picture.

You can apply a similar technique to your life. Keep a mood diary - every night, give the day you've just had a score out of 10. Those marks do keep climbing up, even if there's an occasional dip.

If you're really stuck and there seems to be no joy in your world at all, seek help. How can you tell if you're clinically depressed? If you've been feeling down for many months with no sign of improvement, if nothing brings you genuine happiness even for a moment, if your friends are starting to drift away because you're no fun any more, then it might be time to ask a professional for advice. You don't feel like that? Lucky you - you're all right!

Finally, remember that it's normal to have the odd wistful moment of wishing you had someone, no matter how full and happy your life is. When you're in a relationship, you might well find yourself casting an occasional envious glance at your single friends. Until then, keep seizing all the opportunities your free and easy lifestyle brings!

Thanks Husky! I will leave you readers with one small peice of advice written years ago on SYBD but a tidbit I've always loved,...It is imperative to know that when it first happens to you, "you will have desperate days, awful days, bad days, and okay days. In time though, the awful days will become bad days; the bad days will become okay days; and okay days will actually become GOOD days." I think it came from a member called baloo - but don't quote me on that. It's a cracker.

Just a little reminder "This too shall pass". Happy healing. With love from SYBD.

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