The question As soon as I began to write this letter, I could feel the hot tears that were generated in their ducts. I have great friends and family, but I need an outsider’s opinion.
I’ve been seeing a man, for a few months. This ended about eight weeks ago. He was unhappy living in this country and had plans to move out even before we met, which he was always very open about, and I was aware the whole time that he was not emotionally available and was planning to leave. So I feel like I should have been prepared for the end of the relationship when it happened.
For about a month I felt good about it. Every day she thought less about him and thought about going out with other men. But now, I feel like things have started to go backwards and I can’t understand why. Now I feel more heartbroken, lost and sad than ever. I think about him almost constantly. I miss him more than I ever thought possible. My anguish is out of proportion to the amount of time we spend together.
I always felt that I would never be in danger of unrequited love. But, now that he’s gone, I feel completely crushed. I desperately want to get rid of this feeling.
Philippa’s answer He managed his feelings for a whole month by overriding them with his logic, but sometimes trying to suppress a feeling is like trying to hold water in a paper bag. It is not a long term solution. What happened here is that the Mrs. Logic part of you is trying to tell you what you should feel, but the feeling part has none of that. It may not make sense to you that your heart is broken, but that alone, unfortunately, will not make this flood of feelings subside. Human beings are more complicated than equations; We have emotions that we cannot make sense of and I am afraid you must accept that, although you rationally consider it most unreasonable, you experienced his departure as a great loss.
Continuing with the water metaphor, the paper bag has burst and the water is overflowing. But now you are going to take control of the faucet. You will have to turn on the tap and let out the feelings; otherwise the pressure will build, but you control where and when. To do this, set a schedule for it. Cries, rages and cries at the same time every day for half an hour. In fact, then you should cry and cry, even if you don’t feel like it. But the rest of the time, when you find yourself regretting, longing, desiring, crying, obsessing over, you must focus on your breathing. Watch your exhale, then your inhale. Then slow the exhale, but inhale normally. Next, focus on the upper part of the breath, the moment when you are neither inhaling nor exhaling, then on the lower part of the breath. Your mind will wander, the tears may still burn, but each time, refocus on your breathing.
Other activities you can do when unrequited love threatens to invade are complicated math problems, crossword puzzles, and other “right brain” logic activities. When you first wake up, if you find yourself restless, get out of bed and exercise with a video, focus on the instructions and get out of your mind and into your body. Another good distraction is to make a realistic and observed pencil drawing of your shoe. Do not worry about the appearance of the drawing, focus on looking at the shoe, observing it, recording all the details. It will require your full concentration.
In your daily half hour of grief, it’s time to remember your relationship. You could make a sanctuary; Light a candle; mourn; write her a love letter that you will never send, nothing but no more than half an hour a day and only in the allotted time. Be strict, set alarms. In this way, as you have your feelings and work through them, you are also gaining control over them. Your emotions will no longer rule you, but you will be the boss of them. It will require determination and willpower, and like any skill, it will improve with practice.
You were so good at telling yourself that there was no point in having any feelings about this that you managed to keep those feelings at bay for a month. That made me wonder: what other feelings have you managed to keep in that paper bag? Is there something else you told yourself that it wasn’t reasonable to have feelings? There may be other trauma behind your pain, which may partly explain why your feelings are so intense. You may need to unpack more mentally.
If you were in therapy with me, I would ask you to tell me about all the losses and disappointments you have had in your life. Instead of running away from these demons, when we confront them and learn to regulate our emotions around them, they won’t have as much power to show up and bite our butt.
And maybe in some of your mourning half hours you can get a friend or family member to hold you while you cry. You do not have to do this on your own.
If you have any questions, please send a short email to [email protected]
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism