How do you know if you had moved on?

March 17, 2009

A young man asked me this question after recently going through some upheavals in his relationship.  I thought about the possible answers I could give him – and later that evening, during our stroll at the state university campus, I shared with him my processed thoughts.

Later on I made a promise that I will write a blog about it.  Days had passed and I could not write about it.  I just could not bring it all together.

But a promise is a promise.

How does one know? How do you really know that you had moved on? How do you know that what are you going through are real tell-tale signs of a heart that had fully recovered, or at least, is on its path toward self-recovery?

What are some of the stages that we may need to go through toward our healing?

I think the 5-fold stages of emotional coping described by Kubler-Ross comes very handy to explain the process.

1. SHOCK and DENIAL – this is the most immediate response when a relationship ends.  Things are unfurling so fast that the whole system is in shock.

2. ANGER – this is part of the grieving stage that could be very confusing at times.  Men and women manifest this stage differently.  Others are very verbal about this while others utilize the passive-aggressive mode.

3. BARGAINING – this is the stage where we literally and figuratively beg for the whole thing to stop by promising that we will be better.  A little sense of false hope is usually seen here as we “promise” to become a better person.

4. DEPRESSION – the growing anger and frustration we feel make a 180 degree turn and it is now directed at us.  Stage Number 2 is often directed at an external source. But Stage number four is internally driven.  This is the stage where we do not care anymore.

5. ACCEPTANCE – this is the stage where a sense of surrender and readiness to accept the situation is slowly being felt.

These stages often do not manifest themselves in a clean and clear fashion.  Many times they are so muddled together that it is not easy to say where the person is any given point.  There are ups and downs. Many times a person feels so discouraged when a sense of anger is coming out when this person thought that he/she is already onthe acceptance phase….

When relationships end, a sense of dying is what we also experience.  A part of you that used to be defined in a certain way would also need to be re-defined.  People around you would need to also adjust to the changes that are happening to you.  Now they need to get used to seeing you by yourself instead of always being with this person.  Your friends would need to know and discern now, the appropriate-ness of discussing with you the other person, especially when you have a lot of mutual friends.

Part of the grieving process that you would need to go through is to say goodbye to the places that may be significant for both of you.  This means a re-framing of your memories associated with certain events (Christmas, New year’s, Thanksgiving, Summer camps, college semestral breaks etc) would need to be done carefully.  This time, the definitions, associations and memories of certain places and events would need to be solely defined by you.

And this would take time.

When you hear a certain love song – it is natural to remember what once was.

When you see certain attributes of other people – they may remind you of the person that you once loved.

When you remember or go to places where you used to eat – you may need to find ways by which new memories would fill up any void that you may feel.

And all of these things are done one at a time.  Many times, people rush into new relationships just to get over the break-up, only to realize that such hasty emotional hook-ups make the break-up more difficult to get over with.

How do you know that you had moved on?

When a new sense of personhood definition is already made manifest in your being.

You begin to define yourself again, not by what you have lost, but by what you  are about to gain.

You begin to sense a new life and you welcome the possibilities of the future – without feeling a sense of regret or blame.

In the end, you will realize that you are in the pathway of moving on, when you again discover the more meaningful, significant  sense of you.


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