One of the reasons that endings can cause such painful emotions is due to the false belief that anything should or could possibly be permanent.
Sometimes it is sad and sometimes it is beautiful, but nothing in life is permanent.
As Stevie Wonder’s song “Stay Gold” explains,
“Steal away into that way back when
You thought that all would last forever
But like the weather
Nothing can ever…and be in time
When we meet someone we click with, we may hold blind faith that the connection will last forever, or at least for a period of time that safely mirrors our expectations.
However, if something ends abruptly, we can then be left shocked and in despair wondering how we are going to get through the break up, as we were wholly unprepared for someone to suddenly pull the metaphoric rug out from underneath us.
We may then feel unstable, unworthy, distraught, angry, heartbroken, and yearning for a reunion when someone we love decides to leave.
But, there is another approach I have found that offers an alternative option to pain, regret, and sorrow.
It comes through a deep understanding of the meaning of the Buddhist notions of impermanence, non-attachment—and also maintaining a profound sense of gratitude at all times (or as much as possible).
Suffering usually stems from attaching unrealistic expectations to our circumstances. When we consciously or subconsciously expect that someone is going to treat us as we believe we deserve to be treated, or when we expect that they will remain at our sides forever, we open ourselves up to the risk of a great deal of suffering.
I discovered this the hard way, as many others most likely did, and lest we forget that the Buddha did not achieve enlightenment immediately—he too had to learn difficult but invaluable lessons before attaining profound wisdom.
Long ago, I believed that love meant holding on tight in order to prevent the risk of losing someone. However, grasping is essentially suffocating, and, if we are truthful with ourselves, we will see that holding on isn’t really authentic love at all. It is simply a need to try to control the situation, as we are preventing love from floating freely—just in case it floats too far away.
But when we try to cage and define love, we limit it and it is unable to receive the chance to grow and blossom.
It can feel terrifying to let go in love and to allow love’s essence to naturally come and go without restrictions. However, if we do, we will find that loving freely significantly reduces the pain and suffering when things don’t turn out as we hoped they might.
When things don’t flow according to plan, it is a vital spiritual lesson that we take responsibility for our part in the separation, without being tempted to cast all the blame in other directions. It is also extremely important to do this lightly, with forgiveness, and with gentleness, as being harsh with ourselves or others just causes layers upon layers of suffering and will only weigh us further down and prolong the healing process.
It is also important to take time out for reflection, which can be done through contemplative meditation. This can help us gain a deeper understanding into what might have led to the break up and it can also help us to intimately empathize so that we gain insight into how the other person may be feeling.
Relationships are often deeply painful for both involved, and often we can become so consumed in our own suffering that we forget that our former partner may also be struggling to come to terms with the break up—even if they were the one who initiated ending the relationship.
Holding a vast amount of space for grieving and healing is also beneficial. This means continuously breathing through strong emotions as they come and go, while understanding that it’s okay to feel the pain, as it is just temporary sensations, and the intensity will pass.
When we attempt to contain or resist our emotions, they become trapped in our energy-body and can cause prolonged suffering. It isn’t always easy to feel through our emotions and it can be agonizingly messy. However, the only way out of pain is to acknowledge it and then to go all the way through until we reach the other side.
As much as it is important to feel through the painful emotions, it is also important to know our limits. If we really aren’t feeling strong enough to process our emotions, it is absolutely okay to put them on hold until we feel we have the strength to deal with them.
Our healing journey is ours to decide how to move through. So long as we remain aware that our emotions are lingering and waiting to reenter, we can hold them at bay while we nourish and care for our mind, body, and soul in whatever ways we need to until we feel we are ready to embrace them.
One of the most important things to try to do throughout this process is to keep the heart wide open. It can be so tempting to close it due to the fear of experiencing this type of heartbreak again. However, if we remain fearful, we will end up attracting more situations that will bring us fear and leave us feeling hurt and in pain.
If, instead, we freely radiate love and accept that life is an entire mixture of positive and negative experiences, which as hard as we try we cannot avoid, we will find that our fated path is far easier to muddle through, regardless of how turbulent the terrain is at times.
Instead of feeling as though everything is upside down, we can look at our situations as spiritual growth and ask, “What soul-lesson am I being shown here?”
This allows us to effortlessly travel inward to see where we are holding back or pushing too strongly and too far ahead. It also helps us see where our unhealed emotional wounds are triggering us to react and respond in ways that are not healthy and are not a reflection of how we want to be.
Sometimes the reason that people leave is so that we can trace back and face our past to look more closely at the issues we have with abandonment and rejection. Often the pain we currently feel has little to do with our current situations and far more to do with what has hurt us previously.
Spending time alone to gently bathe in our emotions can be difficult, but it is also a compassionate way of acknowledging what we are going through so that we can heal ourselves. It offers us the opportunity to visit our current open wounds as well as the ones from our past so that they can be tended to, soothed, and healed.
It is my personal belief that every person that enters, remains, or leaves our life does so for a “higher” reason and each experience is a sacred opportunity to heal, grow, or to learn more about ourselves on a much deeper level.
Relationships aren’t always as pretty as fairytales lead us to believe. The false fantasies that we conjure are often wholly different from our reality. When we come to understand that our unrealistically high expectations are what cause the majority of our suffering, we can then start to appreciate that no one, including ourselves, is perfect. So why do we sometimes place that bar so high?
People aren’t perfect. Relationships aren’t perfect.
Often it is within those imperfect moments with imperfect people that we find the true meaning of love—and those tender moments can happen when we reach acceptance and are grateful for what we have and also for whatever or whomever is no longer around.
Truthfully, we don’t lose anything in love. People change, situations change, and no matter how hard we try, it is impossible to avoid this—but we don’t lose anything. The nature of life just moves everyone and everything onward.
People cannot stay the same and neither can our circumstances, so it is inevitable that everything internal and external will ebb and flow.
We all perceive, sense, and feel everything differently. What we are feeling could be the opposite of what someone close to us is feeling, even if we have appeared to go through the same experience together.
We are all unique and throughout our lives we will change and grow in totally different ways. However, love is the one assured thing that can continue on, regardless of who or what is around us, and regardless of any changes—so long as we keep our heart vulnerable, brave, and pried fully open.
When we discover how to continuously radiate love despite who comes and goes, we will notice that the majority of our pain and suffering dissipates, and peace and harmony floods in to occupy the missing space.