I recently heard that “January is the month of break-ups.” Snopes even wrote an article confirming the veracity of this saying. The holidays have so many stressors: financial, emotional, and even physical as we push ourselves to squeeze out all the goodness we can from, and for, our friends and family. It’s almost surprising that more relationships don’t crash and burn during or just after a season that can feel like incessant giving with not enough recharging, on top of the normal stressors of bumping up against family hearts in concentrated doses.
No one wants to be perceived as a Scrooge by ending a relationship at Christmastime, so most wait for the new year to break free from perceived shackles. Nonetheless I did hear three Scrooge stories during this holiday season: long term marriages coming to an abrupt end with one partner blindsiding the other with the news of their decision to set themselves free of the relationship. I feel for these women. Loss is hard whenever it comes but the holidays and new year time can be particularly brutal as pictures of what should be crash up against the reality of what is.
If you have recently lost someone through divorce or break-up, or if you feel wounded from an old relationship that was triggered by the holidays, here are some ideas that might put a sweet salve on your heart to give you a respite from the pain:
- Write a Letter: If you are having intense emotions – anger, sadness, intense longing – you can write a letter that you know will never leave your hands, where you say everything there is to say that you wish they could hear. Let it all out. Once it’s complete, close your eyes. Imagine giving it to them. Then, imagine them saying (no matter how hard it might be): “Thank you. I hear you. I love you.” Then imagine yourself saying back: “Thank you for listening. I love you.”
- Repeat this Mantra: We all have a source of pure love inside us. I call it the Mighty Flame. We don’t need anyone or anything to awaken that pure love. It is inside us at all times, and we can touch it whenever we wish to focus our attention on it. Take a moment to bring your attention to that ever-burgeoning, always present unconditional love inside you. Close your eyes. Put one or both hands on your heart. Repeat silently to yourself, “I am loved. I am loved. I am loved.” Repeat it until you feel at least a spark of awareness of the truth of that statement. Drink it in. Breathe it in. Let it permeate every cell. In the middle of intense heartache, we sometimes need to make the effort to bring our attention to the absolute truth that we are loved, no matter what is going on outside us.
- Create a Feelings Altar: We have a tendency to create invisible “Feelings Altars.” You can’t see them but you know they are there when you are unable, or don’t want to, move past a feeling. Sometimes we honor our feelings as if they were priceless jewels. Indeed, they are precious because they can give us clues on our journey to healing. But if we revere them too long after a break-up, for instance, we can thwart our healing. Feelings aren’t meant to be kept in a box, maintaining their original size and shape, they are meant to be breathed into, so they can transform, and dissipate like clouds. But for this exercise, I want you to go for it in your creation of a real “Feelings Altar” and keep it up for one week. It can be super simple. For instance, a corner of a table that will remain undisturbed with a small candle and a bowl placed on it. For seven days allow yourself to write down feelings as they come and place them in the bowl. At the end of the week, take a good look at all the feelings you deemed to put on the altar. Is there a preponderance of one feeling? Commit to taking one action that will breathe some air into that feeling, allow it to move and come off the altar.
- Dedicate an Act of Love: Even if you are in the middle of the fiercest divorce, or the deepest grief from the loss of a love, sometimes if we dedicate an act of love to the person we no longer have in our lives, we can shift something in our heart. You could find a Go Fund Me page that inspires you and donate even a small amount or take a treat to a neighbor or someone you know could use some extra support now. Dedicating an act of love to the memory of that relationship can create a healing pathway for your heart.
I wish all of us a new year full of healing. Beginning with these steps, may a gentle breeze push open the door of your heart and allow you to see how very loved you are no matter what.
Bridget Fonger is a longtime health, lifestyle, and relationship writer, having authored a regular column for Huffington Post and blogs at superherooflove.blogspot.com. Fonger currently serves as a contributor for Thrive Global and Quora, and hosts a podcast entitled Superhero of Love Podcast.
She is author of Superhero of Love: Heal Your Broken Heart & Then Go Save the World (January 1, 2019).