The work of emotional healing isn’t linear, especially when you are working through the disappointment and pain of a relationship ending. Neither can we, nor should we, put a defined timeframe on how long it will take to complete the healing journey. The process of healing from a difficult and painful experience is deeply personal and there is no one size fits all way of doing it. However, most of us will discover that healing is a continuous process, characterised by pendulum like swings that move us back and forth, between a range of emotions – from anger to frustration, to progress, to emotional exhaustion, to strength, to tears, to acceptance and a every other emotion in between.
Healing isn’t just hot baths, candles, chocolate, movie marathons, and the comfort of good friends. Of course it is absolutely fine and normal to indulge in such things, since we need to be gentle and patient with ourselves. But the real process of healing, requires us to dig into uncomfortable spaces and to ask questions of ourselves that we may not wish to answer. We have be willing to unpack what has happened, explore our own behaviours and patterns and sit for a time in the difficult feelings that ebb and flow. Healing isn’t pretty and it doesn’t come without a lot of effort and commitment, but through the process we definitely grow and discover new parts of ourselves, and realise just how strong we can be.
You will make notable progress and feel on an upwards trajectory, and still fall back down sometimes, with little or no warning. Such blips are commonplace in the early stages of healing, yet they can also spontaneously occur months and even years after the event has passed when you consider yourself to be in a great place and at peace with what happened. Often times the trigger is unexpected and small, yet enough to stir up feelings we thought had been processed and resolved. It might be hearing a song, seeing that person from afar, noticing the date and recalling a once special occasion or hearing about them from a friend.
Our emotions are always right below the surface and even a healed heart will still twinge in response to remnants of passed pain; it’s just a momentary connection to what once was. When emotions bubble to the surface, it’s important not to default into self-judgement and criticism for allowing yourself to briefly fall back. Allow yourself some time and space to feel and be, even if that involves tears and sadness, and know that this moment will pass as quickly as it arose because you have the tools to deal with it. These momentary blips do not nullify your progress; they are just a reminder that healing is a zig-zag pathway of emotion.
Healing isn’t an event, a definable moment in time, in which we are ‘fixed’ for ever more. Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself and remember that healing has its own timeline, and you don’t have to end each day feeling that you’ve taken huge leaps and bounds. Be gentle with yourself and be patient with the process. Moving on from a difficult situation is not a straight forward path, but know that every day you keep showing up and doing the hard work will ultimately lead you to a better understanding of yourself and allow you to live more fully in the present.