‘The pain hits you in the chest. You can’t breathe. You can’t calm yourself down and the tears flow freely down your face. The uncontrollable shaking as you cannot comprehend how you are meant to go on living now that everything has changed. The panic sets in and the negative thoughts start pushing their way in. You are frightened by the darkness in them and you want to just switch it all off. You want it to end.’
The end of a relationship can cause an enormous amount of grief to the point that even the mentally resilient can find themselves broken in places they didn’t know about. The sadness and loneliness can become all consuming. You can’t think of anything else as memories flood your brain. Different scenarios play out in your head of how things could have gone differently as you deal with the shock of it really being over. You can’t sleep, eat or function properly. It can take you to the edge.
After all, you invested all that time, energy, love and exposed all those vulnerable parts of yourself with another person with the understanding that they will treasure those parts of you forever. That they will be there forever. This ‘perfect’ person that came along and ‘completed’ you, all your worries melted away with their arrival and it was as if they had come to ‘heal’ those difficult – to – understand parts of yourself. The parts of yourself that you didn’t know needed healing. You were able to be completely vulnerable with them.
Within these types of relationships, where promises are made and not fulfilled, there can often lack a sense of peace or security and often any emotional cracks that were there before, were paved over by the bliss of a new relationship. So what happens when things go sour? Old issues resurface and sometimes it can leave a person feeling worse than they were before, they can feel like no progress was ever made and they have been once again thrown into an illness that consumes them, this time with the added pain of a departure.
Even if the break up was a mutual decision, there will be the pain of rejection and false hope. This can damage your self esteem, cause low feelings of self worth and consequently affect other areas of your life. You may start to isolate yourself as you start to believe you are not good enough and so you worsen an already lonely situation. You may be traumatised, if you were so dependent on the other person that you may start to self harm, in an attempt to ‘control’ or ‘redirect’ the pain from emotional to physical. Tragically it can even lead to suicide as a person can feel their life no longer has meaning without the other person in it. The pain of heartbreak can also surface symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) with flashbacks, fixation of experiences – especially if it was a traumatic ordeal.
You feel there is something missing; the pieces of you that they have taken with them, which you had only ever felt with them, the version of ‘you’ that had only ever existed with them. The experiences that you shared together, the future you imagined is just a fallacy.
Perhaps you chose to end the relationship because of how it was affecting your soul, going against your beliefs, and so you might be living with feelings of guilt and shame as you repent and struggle with what you have gone through and how others may react if your situation is known. It can be a battle to control our desires and even when you try to pull away from something you feel is wrong – so many things can pull you back and it takes having a really good support system around you to guide you and direct you. People who can remind you of reality when you are often caught up in the nostalgia of the past. Those who can remind you who you are, and get you back on track with your goals. Those who can give you the extra love you are seeking and those who can just be there to listen.
Relationships often bring meaning to our lives, and once lost, you can end up chasing other desires in an attempt to find new meaning or doing things that aren’t good for you in an attempt to numb the pain. Grief has been described as love with nowhere to go, so one way to heal can be to redirect that love to those already around us, who haven’t left us, who love us.
It’s really important to know ourselves before we begin to connect with anyone else as often we put our their feelings, interests, ambitions, health, happiness etc above our own and that’s when an imbalance can occur. You can lose yourself and when the relationship ceases to exist you struggle to know who you are anymore. So spending time after a breakup, on getting back to the person you were, getting back to the goals you had and making new ones, connecting with friends you had lost touch with, appreciating the time you now have to yourself and being selfish with that time to focus on you and your own happiness is vital. This is all integral to any future relationships you may have, as being happy and having a strong sense of self will help to ensure that you are able to maintain your sense of self and protect your needs in a future relationship.
Attaching our hearts to Allah SWT alone can help us when people disappoint us in the Dunya. If we have faith that whatever happens to us is good for us then we will feel less sadness over a situation that we believe is good for us in the end.
‘But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you: and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you’. (Quran 2.216)
Finally we should look at the blessing of nikkah. Allah SWT has protected us and given both spouses their rights over one another, so that we are not just two people trying to ‘get’ what we want from the relationship and leaving once we no longer find satisfaction in it, instead, marriage in Islam encourages us to ‘give’ our spouses their rights, as well as receive them. We are also not told to look at beauty or a person’s status but rather to choose someone with deen so they may lead us to Jannah and that is the beauty of Islam, that anyone can have deen. So when you’ve suffered an ending like this, look to the possibilities that still lay before you, take the lessons you have learnt and take comfort in the fact that there is a way to protect your heart, by placing it in the hands of a person who hasn’t just promised you now, but instead promises you forever in Jannah where love is everlasting.