Feeling rejected after a relationship breakup can catalyze pain by adding an element of self-loathing (and self-pity) to the healing process. It is important to both realize and act without become too self-conscious, before thoughts spiral out of control and chain our self-image.
Separating love and rejection
Those of you who have read other articles by me will know that I am fond of using analogies to illustrate my points. In my personal dealings with rejection, it was an analogy that helped me see the pain of rejection for what it really was.
Consider the following scenario: Imagine that your ex had left you because they’d had a deeply moving religious experience and wished to live in isolation on a mountain (and that obviously this wasn’t a lie).
How does it make you feel? Would it ease your sense of rejection? The point here is that rejection is a natural but selfish emotion, and should not be confused with love. Love in it’s purest form is totally selfless. If your ex moved to greener pastures you would be happy for them, even if it meant being deprived of them, because that is what they wanted. The fact that the motive for the breakup is causing you so much pain is indicative of the traumatic effect of rejection (a resurgence of our innate childhood fear of abandonment). The actual prospect of separation is not as bad as you think, because if it had been you’re reaction to the analogy would have been ambivalent. Ask yourself honestly if you’d prefer that to be the reason they left you. In most cases, the answer will be a telling, “yes”.
They weren’t the one that got away
Once the observation regarding how bi-polar love and rejection are has been made clear, it is a matter of time before before we realize how much of our love we devoted to a personal illusion — and given time — the statue will fall. When we finally see our exes as human beings, and not Gods, we will inevitably become less critical of ourselves. It is our first and most important step towards rebuilding our self-esteem, a critical component in ridding ourselves of rejection pain.
Accept the fact that you are traumatized
You made mistakes, and a measure of guilt may be entirely justified. Bear in mind, however, that these relationship mistakes may be exacerbated by trauma. Knowing this may not help with the pain, but know that much like any other instance of post-traumatic stress, trauma can disrupt the way our brain functions at a chemical level. You may wish, feel and flirt with ideas and thoughts that are inconsistent with who you truly are. Keep this in mind, or it may deepen your sense of self-disgust.
The first symptom of grief, as detailed in the Kübler-Ross model, is that of denial. Accept the fact that it is raining (refer to my article on addictive relationships for more information) on the inside and do your best to weather the storm.
Perfection does not exist
Nobody likes to feel like they can be so easily discarded. Chances are you were not, a wise and respectful dumper will not lead you on — and this may cause them immense pain because they will forever be plagued by the responsibility of ending the relationship and a myriad of what-ifs (when this is all over you will be thankful for being the dumpee).
We suffer this perceived lack of perfection intimately, romantically and ultimately erroneously. The reason why, in the main, breakups become chronologically less painful (though the love is no less intense) is because we become more accustomed to the idea that perfection does not exist. We forever romanticize about first-loves because we recall that for the first time we were able to brush perfection in an idealistic way. Shaking off the illusory chains of perfection is incredibly relieving.
Strive instead to love an imperfect person, “perfectly”. But remember also that because of these imperfections, a perfect match is impossible to achieve. Most relationships involve terrible matches, but are driven by a self-destructive well of love. The odds of finding a truly compatible partner over a long period of time (we change) are very difficult.
Rebuild your self-esteem
We can ruminate and attempt to make sense of our pain, which is just as well, but if it isn’t accompanied by tangible action it will be difficult indeed to find happiness once more. Ideally, as with any stressful situation, new hobbies, people and a new routine will drastically reduce the trauma in the mid-term. By mixing it up you will be forcing your brain to re-adjust to a new safe-zone.
Flirting and dating can be risky as you’re standards may fall due to lack of self-esteem and worth. Most turn prematurely to a new romantic escapade, commonly known as rebound relationships, these are relationships where the broken systematically leech affection in order to fill the gaping hole that their ex used to fill. It is both unfair to the rebound, and devastating for the dumper once they realize they used someone (if they have a conscience — and due to the fact you are reading this I’m sure you do).
Take all the time you need until you are sure you have found a balance, or that at the very least you can offer the next person something other than your baggage.
Get some help
Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for a helping hand. Talking yourself out will help drain excess stress and the constant repetition of objectivity from others will hammer the obvious home after awhile.
Rejection can be a horrible, horrible affliction. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if things start to seem beyond your control. This doesn’t mean being thrown in a ward, or stretched out for shock therapy, it usually means getting a little something that will help you as your mind rides the roller-coaster. Simply knowing that you have some on-demand help such as anti-depressants may be enough for you to weather the stress.
If all else fails — know that whether you want it to or not, time will heal you. Take comfort in the knowledge that as you read this, time is passively eroding and numbing your pain.