“When you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s so much about tearing down the walls between you two that you sort of confuse what is you and what is them. When you lose them, you question: ‘What is left of me?’” – Corinne Bailey Rae
Corinne Bailey Rae lost her first husband in a tragic accident eight years ago, and I can honestly say that fortunately, I do not know that type of pain.
The unexpected death of someone that you committed to building a future with is an experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
While some of us cannot directly relate to this type of loss, we all know a thing or two about losing love in other forms. We know that a failed relationship is painful, and certainly not the outcome we’d hoped for or predicted. We wonder if we will ever meet “the one.”
Whether a relationship ended abruptly or was a long overdue separation, the pain is no less.
But if you allow it to, the end of your relationship can be a teachable moment. Here are five lessons to learn after losing love.
1. Fault Shouldn’t Be the Focus
When a relationship ends, one of the first things we do is attempt to figure out what went wrong. While it is good to reflect on the circumstances that led to your break up, dwelling in the place of blame is detrimental. It breeds resentment and keeps you in the habitat of stagnation. The best lesson one can learn is that of acceptance. Take ownership of your role in the demise of the relationship, and accept that your former mate might not. How they choose to deal with the relationship ending is none of your concern. Focusing more on improvements that you can make for next time will lighten your load of pain and resentment.
2. You Must Evolve
There are two types of people in this world: those that complain and those that change. Either way, you cannot do both. The loss of your relationship was necessary, otherwise it would not have happened. Whether or not the separation is temporary or permanent, it’s best to use the experience as a catalyst to strengthen your relationship with change and evolution. Nothing stays the same so living in the land of the past will not serve you well; but learning and becoming comfortable with the lesson of uncertainty will.
3. You’re Stronger Than You Think
When I love, I love hard. There is no “playing it cool” or keeping my guard up. If you happen to be like me, then you know that those of us who love the hardest often hurt the most. And we’re devastated when a relationship ends, even if we’re the ones who pull the plug. Losing the one you love has a way of making you feel like you’ll never be whole again. But it can also be one of the most freeing experiences of your life if you allow it to be. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, take time to get to know you again. Find ways to enjoy being alone and your confidence, strength and resilience will return. If it was never present, then you’ve got some work to do, and a relationship should not have been your primary focus to begin with.
4. True Bonds Never Break
When my father died, the best advice that I received came from a co-worker. She told me that I would just have to find another way to communicate with him. She explained to me that while he is no longer with me physically, I have tons of memories of him. True bonds can never be broken. If your significant other has died, your memories will live on forever. If you happened to part ways with your former mate, focusing on the good times can make you view the experience more favorably. While our romantic links may have an expiration date, how we choose to remember them never does. Remembering how people made you feel can also determine if they’re worth a memory at all.
5. Loving Again is Ultimately a Choice
The most important lesson of all is realizing that you ultimately determine if love will be in your life. No one can take that choice away from you no matter what they’ve done. If you choose to build a wall and be heartless, that’s on you. Only you can be held captive by what others have done to you. The pain of heartbreak should represent a temporary visit within the span of your life, but the length of time you let it linger is a personal choice.
Shantell E. Jamison is an editor for EBONY.com and JETmag.com. Not confined to chasing headlines, this Chicago-based writer, radio personality and cultural critic is also the author of “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self.”