The Most Important Thing to Ask Yourself After a Breakup

“The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.” ~Ralph Blum

Divorce. Not an activity that I ever had on my to-do list and not something I contemplated when I got engaged in Paris. Who does?

We’ve all heard the statistics that one in three marriages ends in divorce. Yet this is something that happens to someone else and certainly not a possibility to focus on while skipping down the aisle.

People change or they don’t, as the case may be. Unless both parties are exceptional communicators, it can be challenging to stay on the same page as time passes. The meltdown of my relationship was such a surreal experience and not something that I could have prepared for.

The vision of the future, with my husband playing a starring role, was completely shattered. All those plans, expectations, and assumptions were no longer relevant. That delightful man, once my best friend and lover rolled into one, was suddenly behaving like an unpleasant stranger.

It was the shock of this new situation each morning that brought me back to the reality that the present moment is the only guarantee. That concept was no longer a platitude but something that was agonizing and raw. The feelings of failure and betrayal were overwhelming.

Months of an avalanche of painful emotions brought me back in touch with deep self-inquiry. Yet another life experience to show me that the relationship with myself was the only guaranteed long-term relationship. Cliché as it sounds, the breakdown of my marriage was a breakthrough I’d been seeking.

I was forced to examine where we had been applying a Band-Aid solution to cover some deeper problems. This grieving processing of letting go of this man cracked me open and forced me into deep vulnerability. It was time for me to bring the focus back to me and ask myself some big questions.

Who am I outside of this relationship?

What’s important to me?

How do I suddenly stop loving him? (Is that even possible or necessary?)

When did I become so out of touch with how I feel?

How can I fulfill my own desires and potential?

Is there anything in my life I have been putting on hold?

What is best for me now?

Some of the answers to these questions were extremely painful to acknowledge. In the eleven years we were together I had been so focused on whether or not he was happy that I had forgotten to focus on making myself happy, to a degree.

A wise lady said to me, “Don’t worry about whether or not he’s fulfilling his potential. The question you need to ask yourself is, are you? That’s the only potential you can do anything about.”

However, I will always be grateful to my ex-husband for this soul contract. Divorce was my doorway to enter into a sacred partnership with myself.

It forced me into the unpleasant realization that I was very out of touch with my own needs.

I felt unsatisfied in my career, unsure as to whether I wanted to have a child, and unclear about my direction. I was regularly frustrated by how indecisive he seemed and yet he was a wonderful reflection. 

I was far too focused on him and it was a perfect distraction. His actions forced me to examine my own levels of denial about my part in our relationship.

There I was, judging him for being dishonest, and yet I had not been honest with myself about being unhappy for a long time. How was that fair to him or me? We all know the answer.

I share these insights in the hope that you do not wait until a health crisis occurs or a relationship ends before you create a more loving relationship with yourself.

It is impossible to experience true intimacy with another if we are ignoring the needs of our own heart. How can we truly be with someone if we are avoiding ourselves?

So often in our intimate relationships, we are focused on what the other will provide in terms of emotional support. It is easy to point the finger, blame them for being disappointing and letting us down. Yet, are we willing to commit to ourselves?

Life is short and fragile, and we never know whether today is our last day. Bringing ourselves deeply back into our hearts allows us to choose our next steps from a place of self-love.

Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and ask yourself this important question: “What do I most need from me right now?”

It can take time to recover from the end of a long-term relationship and readjust to these life changes. I spent a long time processing painful emotions that arose and sadness I felt while adjusting.

There was deep self-reflection, even resulting in spending time at a retreat in Brazil. I stripped my life back to the bare essentials, withdrew from much socializing for a long time, and began to reacquaint myself with myself. I began to reinvest in the relationship with my own heart rather than seeking love from someone else’s.

The more we nourish ourselves, the more able we are to share this love with others from a place of surplus and not deficit. This brings such freedom and joy, both to ourselves and others. Is it time for you to commit to self-love?

About Michelle Marie McGrath

Michelle Marie McGrath is a Self-love Mentor. She coaches women who are committed to having a loving relationship with themselves. She has a particular interest in encouraging women who are childless to embrace their unlimited creative potential. Michelle creates Sacred Self’s self-love range of alchemical oils. You’ll find her meditating in the bath or on Bondi Beach. Visit her here.

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