Friday Night Date Place – Break Ups Part II: Still Mourning

I read yesterday that a break up is so painful it’s like mourning a death, and when I analyzed my emotions, it rang very true. When breaking up you’ve lost a loved one, someone very close to you, and trying to move on is heart-breaking. You have good moments and bad, and when you think your done thinking about them, they enter your mind out of nowhere and the tears begin to fall. In a way, I believe breaking up can be more painful because there isn’t any real closure. That person is still out their living their life, and you can’t reach out and wrap your arms around them.

There is something to be said for healing times, times of transition and recovery, after a break up. Granted, the times needed to recover are going to differ depending on whether you were the breakee versus being the breakers, as well as the circumstances of the break up, but there still ought to be a cooling off time if only to allow your feelings to settle.

I know many folks who go with the “Scorched Earth” policy (I, of course, have never been guilty of this), wherein the person they were involved in is essentially dead to them. To facilitate this “death”, the circumstances of the break up are particularly … sharp. Usually in a very loud and messy way – kind of like flouncing. They burn the bridges of any future type of relationship, including friendship. Sure, on the surface it may allow you to move on faster, but in reality, it is not dealing with the emotions of a situation. It’s a way of running away from them. Also, if we’re told to love each other as we love ourselves, we have to ask ourselves if destroying all bridges to further contact is what Christ had in mind.

We have a tendency to want to rush through grief. We don’t want to make others feel bad and, let’s face it, grief makes people feel uncomfortable. So that feeling of abandonment is increased as you fear friends avoiding you. It is also increased by the fact that you really have withdrawn from contact. You have a lot of emotions to sort through and deal with. To figure out if you want the chance to salvage a friendship for later. Wondering if you (or they) can ever be “just friends” ever again, and if it’s worth the natural phases of awkwardness and sensitive feelings. You have hurt and anger to have to sift through. Not to mention their absence has left a void, one that we feel needs to filled as soon as possible.

Because we’re afraid of being alone.

Don’t be afraid of time alone. Being alone is a perfectly natural response, a stage of grief as it were. A phase where you keep your head down, keep a low social profile, and lick your wounds. You don’t want to wallow there, thinking that bad things can’t keep finding you if you’re ducking life. Bad things may still happen, but you may also miss out on all sorts of interesting opportunities while you were busy hiding. A few things to do while in your self-imposed retreat:

Mourn. Let yourself really mourn, to fully experience the stages of grief. It is a heart-wrenching time and you are allowed to feel hurt or sad. Something you’d come to depend on died. I’m also a big fan of mourning rituals. We don’t appreciate ritual and tradition as a culture. Symbols have power and there is a power to ritual. So burn pictures, pack up the stuff they gave you, delete them from your top myspace friends. Do what you have to do.

Learn. This is a great opportunity for reflection. We have to avoid the trap of self-pity and self-defeatism (“I’m just one of those people meant to be alone” type talk). Re-examine and re-assess how you approach relationships. Take a look at your behavior and decision making that led to your choice of that prospective Significant Other – especially if you have a history of making bad choices. Then keep in mind that you may be doing everything right and, well, they were an ass. Or maybe they weren’t and things just weren’t meant to be. Also keep in mind, self-blame is not the same as learning

Go to God. Another role of the quiet time is one of prayer (for healing or thanksgiving, depending on the break up). Spend time with the Father of Compassion, the God of all comfort “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (II Corinthians 1:4). Let your friends, church, community be His arms of comfort. In other words, know when it’s time to come out of your exile.

Move on. Drunken nights aren’t dealing with anything, they are attempts at masking pain. Considering the nunnery isn’t dealing with anything, it is running away. Watching re-runs of Friends while eating Cheetos is not moving on, it’s not even living. Get (or reclaim) a life. Re-connect with old friends (and shame on you for dropping them just because you got a S.O.)

Sometimes break ups are necessary, so we strive for as clean a break as possible. In so doing, we have to always be considering what are the best ways to love one another. Even when you don’t want.

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Friday Night Date Place – Break Ups Part I: Mourning Times

Did I mention that I save everything? Including a note a friend wrote me February 8th, 1999 regarding mourning times:

For the “proper mourning time” it depends on whether you are the breaker (the one who broke it off) of the breakee (the one who was dumped – for lack of a better term). The breakee can take as much time as they feel they need. However, they need to make sure that the next person they start going out with is not, in their mind, a replacement for the ex and therefore they are just going out with the new person to get over the breaker. (As one of my favorite quotes says “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else” no that I would recommend living that way. I just like the quote.) I realize that some people feel the need to always be going out with someone lest people think there is something wrong with them. So for the breakee, I don’t think there’s a “proper” timeout.

Now for the breaker, I would recommend at least a month before “publicly” starting to date someone else, especially if both parties go to the same church, have mutual friends, etc. The reason for the month would be for the most part courtesy’s sake. Although obviously the breaker had a reason for calling off the relationship, it just doesn’t look good for them to the next week be all over someone else. And, like you stated, everyone likes to jump to conclusions about everything that isn’t their business to start with. I think they also should take a timeout to get themselves together before they start pursuing someone else. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just hangin’ out with members of the opposite sex, but it should be done quietly and probably with someone known for a while and probably not with someone that would be considered a close friend of the breakee (that just leads to conflict of interest and could start a whole other mess). … of course, these are my own judgment calls and I wouldn’t recommend them to everyone since everyone doesn’t exactly know how to handle themselves.

As far as getting involved in the next relationship, I would say there’s no real time limit for either parties, it’s just when they feel they are ready. However, I would strongly suggest a good month or two, possibly more depending on the person, timeout from any type of “serious” relationship. If handing out with the opposite sex, I would steer clear of conversation re: the most recent breakup. The timeout should be used for discerning God’s will, growth, reflection, etc.

I think a huge sign should be put up in Sunday School that reads “WE’RE NOT IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL ANYMORE, SO LET’S ALL ACT LIKE ADULTS, PAINFUL AS THAT MAY BE.” Some people just never get it, no matter what is done.

I think I’ll spend the next couple of Friday Night Date Place weeks on mourning times and break ups.

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If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.