We’ve all experienced heartbreak, and who enjoys it? No-one! When a relationship finishes our feelings don’t just automatically stop. So, what do you do with them then?
- Stuff them down (your feelings), bottle them up, try and pretend you’re OK by putting on a brave face.
- Mope around, telling everyone who’ll listen (and many who don’t want to) how unfair everything is and all your ex’s flaws, or how he was the man of your dreams and you’re doomed to spinsterhood forever. Oh, and did I say how unfair it was and how basically nothing was your fault? There’s schizophrenia on his side of the family which just confirms that it must be him. Eat and drink yourself into oblivion, binge watching Netflix and ignoring the rest of the world.
- Deal with it. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings without judgement whatever they may be, rage, disappointment that you’ll never meet Mr. Right and how did he turn out to be Mr. Wrong? Probably the biggest feeling is grief. Feel it all.
Working through feelings (you can’t heal what you can’t feel) – the way to recover, reclaim your life, dignity, joy in living is a process. Like an aeroplane flying through a storm, this is your storm and it’s temporary, a patch, although at this point you’re consumed by it and convinced you’re doomed to feel this way forever, that it’s a permanent state.
1st step: Acknowledge you have the feelings.
2nd step: Observe non-judgementally, give yourself permission to have them.
3rd step: Perhaps you are saying, “What do I DO with them then?” Listen to what your feelings are saying.
4th step: Different parts of the body will respond. Where do you feel it? Ask your what body is telling you, what your feelings are telling you?
5th step: Write about it! Get it all down on paper in a letter to your ex that you’ll never send.
Throughout my own personal healing journey I have used “letters I’ll never send” many times. As a drug-free, take anywhere, easy tool, I’ve found it to repeatedly yield helpful, often profound results. It has facilitated healing in many ways. Letters not to send has helped me get in touch with deeper layers of myself, helped me see what’s really going on underneath the surface, and enabled me to explore emotions more fully, thus moving through them and enabling me to let go, move on. It has helped me create some distance between my inner turmoil and the object of my mental or emotional distress or obsession, whether that be due to a relationship break-up, my own fantasy and longing for one or a multitude of other life stressors.
- Writing letters not to send has helped me get unstuck. It’s helped me express how I feel to people I could no longer physically talk to, either because they have passed on or it would not be safe or appropriate to do so. They were, and still are, a regular part of my own mental and emotional health tool-kit.
- Letters not to send are for you, the writer, for your benefit, not the non-intended recipient/receiver. Like forgiveness they are for our good not the other person’s.
- They bring clarity, catharsis, release.
- They are both simple and profound.
- They help both access emotions and externalise them for a more objective view, thus enabling us to mindfully observe parts of our psyche, our thinking, our emotions and sometimes say, “Aha! It’s you again. What are you trying to tell me?”
Take some time to sit still – be with yourself. Write about your distress – your process on a fresh piece of lined or unlined paper. You’ll be surprised what emerges and what follows.
- Set up your sacred space to make it conducive to connecting with yourself and the Divine. Lighting a candle or having a diffuser going can really help. My favourite is lavender which is so relaxing.
- Set boundaries around your time and space to write your letter. Turn off your phone etc
- Be curious
- Ask yourself questions
- Be kind to yourself
- Write free-flow thinking and feeling
- Write uncensored
- Write without editing grammar, spelling, punctuation
- Be real, raw, relevant, authentic
- Be open to experience new and deeper feelings
- Feel everything – even feelings you think you “shouldn’t” have, e.g., guilt, rage, anger, disloyalty
- Validate yourself, your experiences, feelings, your truth
- Be present to what is
- Judge yourself, your thoughts and feelings
- Minimize your experiences and feelings, they are valid and true for you
- Be in a hurry
- Have expectations, whatever comes up is what’s needed to come up – allow it
- Compare yourself to others
- Be interrupted, protect this sacred space
- Edit, censor or inhibit in any way what needs to be written and felt
Writing a letter to your ex that you will not send is a safe way to let your feelings out.
Burning, shredding or destroying in some way can be a fitting finale. These letters are for you, to facilitate your self-directed healing. IF you are tempted to send the letter, please sleep on it first. Acting when you are highly emotional can bring about disaster and if you are one to return to old relationships realise that our brains can convince us to do things that aren’t always best in the long-run.
I’d love to hear your comments and outcomes, should you choose to accept this mission!
More in future posts.
© Karen Lighthouse 2022
Thanks for reading and take care until next time.
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Words by Karen Lighthouse.
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