Shake off the hurt, have a Merry love-filled Christmas!
Laina Makuzha Love by Design
With all the cheer going round this season, it can be such a damper having to deal with heartbreak at such a time. It might be a little harder than normal — one might feel all alone — what with all the celebratory buzz in the air.
On the romantic scene, it was a rather trying year for many relationships, plagued by turmoil including suicides and tragedies that were purportedly caused by or fuelled by conflict related to romantic relationships, a jilted lover, a cheated spouse, misinformation and malice such as gossip.
Things happen, life happens as it often does. So you find sometimes a relationship or marriage hasn’t worked, maybe after decades of being with someone. The sheer thought of living without them, starting over, or changing lifestyle can be gut-rending.
One thing that could be drawn or learnt from all this is romantic relationships can impact our mental health whether positively or negatively.
Relationship conflict, when not handled well, can have a clear negative impact on health, with effects on blood pressure, contributing to heart disease, and correlating with other conditions. It can also affect your emotional well-being, leaving you feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, and less confident in handling other stress you face in life.
Know this, that being on your own is fine, as long as it is what you want. It also has its innumerable pros. However, if you are looking for love or open to it in the future, there’s no shame in that either. I often say everybody needs love, even the toughest of individuals.
It’s Christmas eve as you read this, even with a heart break, some kind of disappointment, or just feeling exasperated by all this talk about love and relationships, I suggest shaking it all off to have a most rewarding and happy holiday season.
Focus on doing good for not only yourself and your family, but think of, and look out for where else and how else you can make a difference for others. Sometime the joy comes from bringing joy to others, seeing their happy faces — imagine someone having a lovely Christmas because of you, be it a gesture, tangible gift, words of affirmation, contact after long periods of no communication, a visit and more.
You might find your own pain lighter while busy spreading kindness to others and taking the focus away from what has disappointed or depressed you.
If you need help dealing with a painful break up, even though there may be no prescribed cure for a broken heart, there are resources and experts I know that can give helpful pointers during the healing process.
My absolute go to, for anything troubling me, is turning to God for his kind of process through the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting Him to never leave you nor forsake you. I’ve learnt to lean on His Word, such as Prov 3v5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path” — and He has come through for me each time, without fail. But do get in touch if you might like to hear or share more on this.
Meantime, sifting through loads and loads of tips and advice, I came across tips I thought would be practical. The emphasis is on acknowledging what has happened, accepting it and giving oneself the time to “mourn” so to speak. Thereafter, however, one needs to allow themselves to face the healing process which doesn’t happen overnight but is possible. You might have heard people say “This too shall pass”. And it’s true.
A clinical psychologist, family therapist, and the author, Barbara Dydyk, says the end of a relationship is often likened to a death. “The analogy is fitting,” she says adding “It’s the death of your marriage and the death of all the fantasies you had about the future together.”
“As a result, during separation and divorce you’ll experience the same kinds of feelings you would as if you were mourning the death of a close relative or friend, she explains, emotions that include denial, sadness and anger for starters.”
She gives many tips and I picked these few:
Take care of yourself
Watch a movie that takes your mind off the pain, maybe comedy. Get a pedicure. Take a hot bath with some ridiculously expensive organic bubble bath — whatever you do when you’re at “the end of your rope” it’s important to indulge in self-care.
For those with kids, use the time that the kids are with their other parent or their grandparents to engage in some “me-time” or self care. For men, you may perhaps enjoy time in your “man-cave” or company of trusted friends.
“It doesn’t need to be major — going to the spa for the weekend — it’s just that you’re in touch with what’s going on for you and taking care of it,” says Dydyk.
Taking care of yourself can be as simple as making sure you get a decent sleep and eat three healthy meals a day, she adds.
Don’t beat yourself up
Just be honest, for instance if you were the love rat whose betrayal tore the household apart, or if you initiated the divorce, it’s likely you’ll be feeling pretty down on yourself. That’s natural. But deal with your guilt with a minimum of self-hatred.
In such a case where you were the cause, Dydyk offers this advice: “Accept that it’s a mistake and that you can’t go back and change it. Forgive yourself and accept that life has to go on and that you can’t tie your kids up and the family in self-flagellating feelings and behaviour,”. She also discourages against fighting with one’s ex as that perpetuates or prolongs the pain.
All this talk of healing from break ups, or starting afresh in love, can seem daunting for someone who’s been through pain. In fact I have some thoughts to share for those looking for or waiting love, especially mature folks — eg age 40 plus.
That’s because that at that age in life, you have been through something. Some want to throw in the towel, saying they are simply fed up of trying. But if you are a firm believer in love, or used to be — don’t despair — there’s plenty of hope! And that’s not a joke. Love is out there. We do learn from our past but just don’t live every waking moment thinking about what didn’t work, or worrying about being alone.
Use that time to do some soul searching and ‘cleansing’, taking out all toxicity from your mind and heart, realising if you yourself are genuinely a well meaning individual, love is out there searching for you too.
In this season that seems to ride on love, I’ve seen relationships mended, new love found and families reconciling, finding common ground and peace.
Even if your reason for celebrating the holiday is just that it’s a national or global holiday- it’s undeniable that there is a warmth about the kindness that is shared at Christmas. Embrace it. Do your part too. Here we’re not getting into the age old debate of whether celebrating Christmas (or not) is right or wrong. That’s a story for another day.
All I’m saying is, I truly wish you would open your eyes to the beauty of God’s creation, enjoy it, open your heart. Cautiously yes, but not entirely shutting the door to love.
If you are out there and you know in your heart that you could use some love, change your attitude towards it, as a starting point, be forth coming — and watch how it can surprise you when you least expect. Everyone is capable of love, even those who think they “can’t deal”(with it).
In my view the greatest example of love is from God Himself, who has unconditional love for all His children. He who gave us His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life. Let’s keep talking about how to have better relationships and stronger families.
As we wrap up 2022 and look forward to starting the new year inspired, empowered and applying love to all that we do, I say Merry Christmas to you and here’s to greater love and prosperity in the new year.
I would love to hear your experience with love, your thoughts and lessons learnt in love or even questions, How are you making it work? Share with us your stories of triumph over relationship/marriage challenges- you might also help someone.
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