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What Do I Do When My Relationship Ended Abruptly?

Emma was told by her boyfriend that his father fell very sick. He was the eldest son among his siblings and thus had to go back to his childhood home to take care of his family. Emma had been with him for about one year at the time, and they were living together. She understood that he wouldn’t be able to spend much time with her given the circumstance. However, when her boyfriend’s father unfortunately passed away three months later, it was shocking for her to hear that her boyfriend wanted to end the relationship with Emma. His reason was that it was too much for him to take care of Emma in addition to his mother and younger siblings. He told Emma that he had decided to move out and live with his mother to support his family. Emma was completely devastated by his sudden decision to leave her. Emma wrote:

“There are no words to describe how I feel now. My heart is heavy and fragile at the same time. I neither hate him nor feel angry. I am just confused and uncertain about my future. I wonder whether he will come back to me when he realizes that he made a mistake. I am praying that you will be able to guide me through this most terrifying time of my life.”

I feel Emma’s pain. The situation she is in right now is one of the most difficult life experiences people can have. It is natural to feel sad, confused and vulnerable at the same time. First of all, although it will be extremely tempting, the absolute worst thing Emma can do now is to contact him and try to convince him to come back. It rarely works, and her phone call will probably make him run further away from Emma. Instead, I would advise Emma to give some time and space for her and her boyfriend to figure things out. When a traumatic life event occurs, it is often too much for us to comprehend it all at once. It needs time and space to really understand what just happened and how we feel about it.

In the meantime, Emma should reach out to her friends and family members for emotional support. If she cannot find any reliable friend, she can seek help from a therapist. There is no need to suppress any feelings rising up in her mind or to subject them to moralistic judgement. She is allowed to hate him or feel anger if that is how she feels. If she is too numb to feel anything, that is okay, too. She can be honest to herself and let it all come out of her mind hopefully in a caring and safe environment.

Another important thing she can do now is to take good care of her body. When people are going through a difficult experience like Emma, they often stop eating while staring at the ceiling or waiting for his text message. Get your body oxygenated by taking a few deep breaths and walking outside under the sun in beautiful nature. Go to a yoga class or try aromatherapy by applying your favorite essential oils like lavender or peppermint. Allow yourself to receive a full body massage if you would like. Eat healthy meals as much as you can and go to bed around the same time you went to bed before. If it is too difficult to pay attention to your mind, start with your body.

In addition, I would recommend Emma to express her thoughts and emotions creatively through music, dance, art, or writing. She can sing, dance, paint or write about what she is going through. Many people in this situation begin to learn something new and interesting to give themselves some reprieve from the emotional hardship they are going through. They spend less time ruminating about the breakup by keeping themselves busy. She can also pick up one or two good books that can take her mind off of him and help her guide through this tough period. Meditation on self-compassion with apps or youtube videos can be of great help, too.

Lastly, I would like to ask Emma or anyone who is in that situation, what you have learned from the relationship. If you have learned something, even a bad experience can have value. What did you learn about yourself? Although this experience has been very painful beyond measure, this can be a great turning point in your life for the better. For instance, instead of relying on someone, you can decide to be stronger and take more control of your life. You can dare to pursue a new dream which has been suppressed because you were in a relationship with that person. And more than anything else, please give yourself time to heal and be gentle and kind to yourself.

Emma is going through a hard time right now. I am sure many of us had a similar experience in our lives. I would like to create a community that is built around love and care. Would you please leave a supportive comment for her? Your message will mean so much to Emma and myself. Thank you in advance!

Palms Together,

Haemin Sunim

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