Why is it that we continue to miss someone that we have broken up with because things were no longer working out for us in the relationship? Sometimes, even after you have moved on to a new relationship, a trail of memories and pain move through your heart and mind. The trail may be a faint one, but on certain days it might strike us with the intensity of a thunderstorm.
Is there a way of dealing with such intense pain and a sense of loss? Mourning a fully realised relationship that had stagnated over time is different from either of the partners breaking up without giving adequate reasons. While in the former you go through the rites of passage, in the latter the abandoned party looks for closure for a long time. But that's not the case in which the two people see that they have reached a dead-end in their relationship and the relationship has stopped adding value to their life. You didn't break up because you had fallen out of love, though that could also be a reason, you didn't break up because you had stopped caring for the person...the reason for the break up was simply that there was no practical way for your ambitions, goals, individual timelines for achieving those goals finding a common ground.
What is it that we are mourning?
1. Every relationship, unless it has been an abusive one, has beautiful moments of togetherness. Every relationship has a possibility of a full-blown life together. What we are missing is the possibility of what could have been. Sometimes, even after reaching irreconcilable differences with a long-time partner and leaving them on that ground, we suffer for a long time to come for the things that we had. Each relationship is unique. What two people create in an intimate space can never be replicated or replaced by others. It is the uniqueness we mourn.
2. We also mourn the many physical things that have been exchanged. When you are in a relationship many of your daily items remind you of the person, because those were given by them or bought in their presence. These things have a history associated with the past lover.
3. We mourn the comfort that we had with the person because comfort is built over many years.
4. We mourn our insecurities and that we may never find anyone better.
How do to deal with it?
1. Before one moves on and invites other people into their intimate space, s/he must fully mourn the broken relationship. The in-between time is one of great vulnerability. One might make wrong decisions and entangle oneself in relationships just to keep the loneliness and the sense of loss at bay.
2. The only way to mourn is to sit in your room and cry. It may mean crying yourself to sleep for a long time.
3. When the pain strikes too hard, you may feel weak and want to rush back into your ex's arms. But remind yourself why you broke up in the first place. Going back would mean inviting the stagnant energy in your life again.
4. If there had been a long relationship, there was a great deal of dependency on getting a few practical things done in each other's life. My ex-boyfriend would take care of my medical history and gadget requirements. As I had outsourced these jobs to him. I, on the other hand, would take care of his messages. Sometimes, I would practically type his messages and e-mails for him. But dependency is a very low bar to staying in a relationship. The end of a relationship calls for a commitment to ourselves that we wouldn't go back running to them when things get tough. Learn to do the things they did for you by yourself.
Dragging a stagnant relationship is painful. But ending it has its share of pain and suffering too. Ending at the right time is necessary or else you will damage each other beyond repair. But If you maintain dignity and emotional hygiene during that time, you will emerge out of it stronger and more independent.