A “Desperate Housewife” said, “The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. And if you hate me, that means you still care and we’re still connected.”
Once a relationship ends there can exist both negative and/or positive attachments. Often in the case of divorce, there is a negative one, while after the death of a spouse with whom there was a good relationship, there exists a positive attachment. Whichever the case, in order to welcome new love into your life, these attachments must be loosened.
Think about how it feels when a string is tied tightly around your finger. The pressure turns your focus on it; it’s annoying and can cut off your circulation; and, if not untied, can cause further damage to your finger. So it is with attachments to prior partners. You focus on the past (either good or bad), and it has a detrimental effect on your emotional state of mind, which, in turn, hampers your forward moving action.
In my book, Love After Loss: Writing the Rest of Your Story, I discuss readjusting the picture of a late or ex-spouse. Following is an excerpt.
It is the natural tendency of a bereaved survivor to elevate his or her spouse to the position of a saint, once he or she is gone. Whether you had a good or bad marriage, death seems to erase all those annoying little habits that used to drive you up a wall! While it is important to remember the positive things and not dwell on the negative, it may be detrimental to your recovery to complete a sainthood application for your lost loved one. No one is perfect, and no relationship is without some strife. This does not mean your loved one was a bad person — only that he/she was human and had human failings.
In the case of divorce, the opposite may be true: you may want to complete an application for devilhood! However, the result is the same — it stops you from moving forward. Try to remember that once there was a time when you saw the good in each other. Attempt to put the pain of your break-up aside and try focusing on the positive aspects of your ex-spouse.
Just as one day you hope that your children will see you as a person as well as a parent, and, therefore, accept any mistakes you have made and will make in the future, attempt to see your ex-spouse as simply a human being that has and will make mistakes. This allows for the possibility of forgiveness, both towards your ex-spouse and yourself. As an added bonus, this type of attitude may make custodial arrangements run more smoothly.
WHY MUST YOU READJUST THE PICTURE?
Concerning the death of a spouse/partner, as part of your grief work, you must learn to readjust the picture you hold in your mind of your late loved one. Realistically evaluate your relationship and come to terms with this new picture. The two of you might have had a special way you dealt with finances, problems, children, etc. It worked when there were two of you. However, now you are making decisions by yourself, and you have to do what works for you. If you believe that your late spouse did everything the way it was supposed to be done, then you will have a hard time feeling good about any different decisions you may make.
Furthermore, as you move on with your life and consider dating and possible remarriage, it will be very hard for a new romantic interest to compete with a dead saint. Each person is an individual and must be evaluated on his/her own merits. It is not fair to compare a new girl or boyfriend to your late spouse. Cherish the gifts your spouse gave you and then look for new ways of approaching life to enter your realm of consciousness. Believe you are a gift to everyone you encounter and that everyone you meet has a gift to offer to you.
Concerning divorce and ex-spouses, it is important to also readjust or re-frame the role he or she will play in your life going forward. If you cannot sever (or at least loosen) the attachment, the bitter taste of failure may remain in your mouth and discolor anything (and anyone) new you meet. The former relationship failed for a reason. Most times, the harsh words and hurt feelings cannot be erased. Change your perception by considering the tough times as instructive examples of how you do not want to live your life.
Finally, along with loosening attachments and readjusting the picture of a late or ex-spouse, you must also learn to loosen the attachment to the “pre-loss you” and thereby adjust your personal picture. Any sort of momentous experience changes you, so it is virtually impossible for you to be the same person as you were before your loss. Work towards finding and developing the “new single you.” This is the person who will be able to seek and welcome new love.
Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story is available as a Kindle or Nook book, as well as a soft-cover at the following links.
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