Where is the Love?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Claudia Anderson PG Dipl Psych, Registered MBACP
2nd January, 20130 Comments
'Where is the love?'
You said was mine all mine, till the end of time,
Was it just a lie?
Where is the love?
With the descent of Christmas festivities and the ascent of a New Year - what will your resolutions bring? Out with the old and in with the New you? This can positively apply to many areas of your life, but this is article is centred around personal relationships, and the impact that change can have on those involved.
This can be a particularly difficult time of the year for those who want to end their relationship, (especially if it has been a long term one) and equally for those who feel a split in their midst. As the barrage of television 'sale' adverts continue, from comfy family sofas to Martians choosing household treats; adverts that create an air of stress and sensitivity are those featuring holidays. One partner may say, 'That's given me an idea, I must pop down to the Travel Agents and pick up a few brochures', whilst the other partner thinks 'To be honest, I just cant think that far ahead this year'
When one partner informs the other that a relationship is over, their initial response could be, 'I can't believe this is happening?' or 'Who is he/she?'. For some the latter question is easier to ask, as it enables them to find an outlet to direct their anger towards, and deflect any feelings of inadequacy. But when there is no 'third person' involved the situation can become increasingly untenable, forcing the recipient to deal with loss, confusion and hurt; challenging their sense of stability and self worth. The consequences are even greater, if children are involved.
The end of a relationship can be likened to a death, which begins a process of bereavement. And like any death, time needs to be given to grieve and to heal. There are numerous models of grief recovery which includes the work of Elizabeth Kubler - Ross. Illustrated in her book 'On Death and Dying', she outlines five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I have added further stages that clients experience.
These stages are not a fixed calibration, nor a linear programme of events - there is no real progression from one stage to the next; one can express hope one day, and anger the next, as grief manifests as a disarray of intense emotions, creating disorientation and emotional 'off balance' In a quest to find re-orientation the conscious and sub - conscious mind interprets these variant stages in a bid to attain inner peace and acceptance.
1. Shock and Dismay - initial reaction, numbed disbelief in order to avoid pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed, producing denial - this stage can last for weeks.
2. Pain, Fear and Guilt - as shock reduces, pain appears. This stage has to be experienced, unevaded. You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or did not do for your partner. Life feels chaotic, scary, during this time, and there is a pervading fear of the future.
3. Anger and Bargaining - frustration gives way to anger. The aggrieved partner may lash out and release bottled - up emotions. It is also a time of opposing behaviour, for example 'bargaining', to see if the relationship can be re - kindled; an eagerness to get things back to the way they were.
4. Depression, Reflection and Loneliness - this is a period of contemplation, self questioning and despondent reflection. During this time, you finally release the true magnitude of your loss.
5. The Upward Turn - as you start to adjust to your feelings of loss, life becomes calmer and more organised, depression begins to lift.
6. Reconstruction and Working Through - identifying/ seeking resolutions to problems. Acknowledging areas where the relationship was 'in crisis' working on practical and financial predicaments; reconstructing yourself and your life without him/her.
7. Acceptance and Hope - during this the last of the seven stages in this model, you learn to accept and deal with reality of your situation, looking forward to - building your life without your partner, moving from ambivalence to reparation.
Each phrase can apply to both parties, i.e. the instigator who initiates the end of the relationship can undergo thoughts of remorseful reflection, whilst feeling renewed optimism, that their decision is apt and will create cohesion for all concerned in the long run. However, the recipient is more likely to experience all of the stages in some shape or form and can be revisited at anytime at in life. For example, if your ex-partner maintains a fond relationship with your parents, or they blame you for the relationships demise. Also if your ex-partner begins a new family or moves to another city or country. It is also possible that you're in a new relationship and are contemplating whether you are ready for another commitment. Working through these stages empowers you to deal with these circumstances with confidence and capability. Professional help will provide you with the tools to enable you to deal with, what is for most a traumatic and life changing experience.
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