After the end of my relationship, I found myself faced with a difficult task of healing. I didn’t know how to heal properly after an emotionally abusive relationship. There was so much information published about how to determine if you were in one and that validated the situation, but I couldn’t find a whole lot of help or guidance on what to do once you were out. I called about twenty-five therapists, most of which had Ph.D.s, and asked if they had a method for how to properly heal from an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship. I couldn’t get any concrete answers besides talking it out and the passing of time. There may be many out there who would have had a different answer, but those I could get on the phone did not. I continued to search for someone who would offer me more than talking it out. I knew the value of talking it out, but I could do that with my friends and family and had done a lot of that. I also knew that if the saying “Time heals all wounds” were really true there wouldn’t be so many bitter, wounded, sad, or angry people in the world, because after a certain amount of time their wounds would simply heal. I thought there must be something more than praying, self-care, and talk therapy to undo the damage done to my mind, heart, and soul.
I finally found a male therapist who directed me to another therapist promising me that she had a technique to heal properly. He said she will take your story and reframe it and he motioned with his hands like he was holding a frame and he turned the frame 180 degrees. I thought that sounded interesting and was my best bet. I also found a support group in the area at a local church.
Twelve visits later I had cried a lot and shared a lot of my painful story. I asked her what else I could do to heal and she said we are doing it. That it’s time and talking through the emotions. But still, I didn’t feel it was enough. There must be a more proactive approach to healing.
I searched for book after book and finally found one that impressed me with a plan. Mars and Venus Starting Over by John Gray, Ph.D. He warns the reader that after a broken heart the danger is that you won’t heal properly. He states that time alone won’t heal wounds. The author compares the healing of the heart to healing a broken bone and gives three real steps to follow. For the bone you get help, reset the bone, and protect it by giving it time to heal in a cast. For the heart he says similarly get help, grieve the loss, and become whole before getting involved again. He further explains when you’re wounded you require the support of others. You need people to spend time with who know what you’re going through. Gray explains that women benefit from being heard and men benefit from hearing from others who are in pain. I say there are men who would also benefit from being heard and women who would benefit from listening, not necessarily based on gender, but rather personality preferences. Either way, the need for a support group for hearing or expressing pain and grief is vital.
An interesting suggestion Gray makes is remembering the past and evoking the love you shared. He also claims experiencing it again and feeling gratitude will help you heal. “Your heart is filled with the love it needs to heal itself. It’s hard to do this when feeling rejected or betrayed but that’s how you reset the heart,” John Gray says. He goes on to say how your heart cannot open to another if it’s closed to someone from the past. So the key is to open it back up to the one in the past so that you can heal it.
This is the exact opposite of what we're usually told to do. We think we should focus on the negative aspects of the relationship and how we were wronged so that we’re angry or disgusted with them and we can get over them that way. We never try to recall all the best memories. Gray is reminding us that the great times have to be recalled to bring up our feelings of loss so that we can truly grieve the love we’ve lost. The different feelings will come in waves and at different speeds. It’s normal for the feelings to lag behind the mind. We’re tempted to find relief in escaping the feelings of loss though. And by avoiding and resisting the painful feelings we bypass the healing process. We can even avoid certain ones and process others, which is not a complete healing cycle. If we only process certain ones we are not processing all of them and we are in danger of never loving again.
He further explains when we’re in a committed relationship it becomes our primary source of love. That’s why losing this most important source breaks us down leaving us painfully broken. It leaves us helpless and without a primary source of love. We have to realize the love, attachment, and dependence we had for our partners made us stop needing our general need for love and rather a need for love from our particular partners. We are attached to their love. So when we lose that love that we’ve shifted to need from the one person, we feel as though we can’t have love again. We’re attached. So the process we must go through is to release our attachment and open up to receiving love from others again. This is the heart reset! And we let go and we’re not depending on our partner anymore. This is when the emptiness disappears.
Needless to say I was so thankful to find this book! I had to share this with you because you might be in a similar situation and won’t know how to target a real healing process. I highly recommend this book and am thrilled it’s available. I’m surprised that every one of those twenty-five therapists I called didn’t at least say to me that there is an important method to healing the heart and to come to them for the steps. Isn’t this the single most important thing a relationship therapist has to offer? I’ve used this book and the steps in it and it has sped up my healing process tremendously. Mars and Venus Starting Over. The only thing missing would be more specifics on emotional abuse healing, but I felt this was helpful all around. I'll be checking in to read your comment so check back in for my response and do keep in touch.
Lastly, how do you know when you are healed? Gray says, "Once we can remember our lost loved one without pain we know we are healed."