Breakups are really hard. When we are the dumper; we feel intense guilt. When we are the dumpee; we feel intense rage.
Years ago, I heard a speaker talk to newly separated people. He started off by telling a story of someone who had been dumped.
She found the dumper’s car; poured a bag of sugar in the gas tank; slashed his tires; and then hid behind a tree to see the look on his face when he found it.
The speaker would tell this story to gauge his audience. Those who were smiling were usually the dumpees; those who were horrified were usually the dumpers.
Last week, I got a call from a friend who is leaving her husband after over 20 years of marriage. She had been living in the popular land of denial about his treatment of her. She used to tell me stories of how sarcastic her husband was and how she found it funny instead of hurtful. (I scratched my head, but hey, who was I to judged?)
She finally found the courage to tell him it’s over. Now she feels guilty. Mostly because he is being sweet right now, due to the fact that he is feeling guilty for how much he gave her so many reasons to leave him.
Now here’s the kicker; she’s thinking they can keep living in the same house since they work together in their home business and it would simplify things. I tried to hold my tongue but : Nooooooo!!!
It’s understandable that she is having difficulty figuring out the path forward. For years, she spent a lot of time and energy pretending that the marriage was good. This is an example of inauthentic living. She doesn’t even know who she really is right now since she was always making compromises to accommodate his difficult personality.
I encouraged her (strongly) to consider renting a room somewhere until she figures everything out and to ensure that she has a safe haven away from the drama so she can just relax.
Is there an easy recipe towards separation or divorce? No way! But time apart is needed to establish a new way of being in each other’s space.
So if you know someone who is friends with their ex – I’ll bet you dollars to donuts they took time apart. And if you are considering or dealing with a separation; the first thing you need to do is to make a safe bubble around yourself and take the time to grieve and to know yourself again.
As a former Family Life Educator and Crisis Interventionist, I started out my coaching years focusing on Family Life.