Is it normal to want to go back?
When we make the decision to leave that hurtful relationship, it can become extremely frustrating when as the weeks go by we find ourselves questioning our decision. We may wonder if we should have left that relationship and should I go back, perhaps again, and retry.
The thoughts of reconciliation are completely normal as you are dealing with grief after the separation or divorce. Thoughts of a reconciliation may keep going through your head.
When we end a relationship, we have such mixed feelings. Initially, it is shock then anger, and while this is somewhat different from normal grief process, the effects remain just in a different order.
Normally we experience shock, disbelief, bargain, anger, acceptance but with a relationship dissolution we experience sometimes shock, even relief, then we go through anger before starting to negotiate with ourself and the decision we made. It’s lots different than dealing with grief after a death. Death is final. You will never be able to see or speak to that person again; you can never again look that person in the eyes.
Finding termination of that relationship within yourself can be challenging. You both experienced so much together, have many good memories, and the dreams you once had are now replaced with reality they will never be met, not with this person at least.
We often see our ex each week or fortnight when we do the drop-off or pickup of the children. We see them at sporting event, celebrations, school activities. They seem to everywhere. This can make finding closure difficult and makes the whole dealing with grief process more confusing.
The loss of a relationship goes through 5 stages
1 Denial and Isolation
It is the third process we sometimes struggle with in considering a reconciliation with your ex. We can sometimes daydream of how life would be if we were able to resolve the issues. This usually means one or both people need to change. This doesn’t mean change is impossible; it means both people need to put in the time and work to ensure it happens. They need to attend individual and couple counselling sessions for a while to imbed these changes they feel they want and need.
This is often where the wheels may fall off. One partner is willing and able to put in the effort, the other less so if they believe it is all the others persons fault and the other person needs to change. This can’t work.
Attending a good relationship counselling session should teach and educate both people on acceptable levels of communication and language sets to ensure they are understood, heard and respected. If both are willing to learn these changes then yes it is possible to progress toward reconciliation. Then however you have the problem of damage already done the relationship and if this is too deep to get past, is trust an issue now, will they ever repeat their behaviours? And on it continues.
Many of us tend to remember our past relationship with the happy times in our mind. We connect to these memories as they made us feel good, loved and wanted. Those bad times are there certainly however when recovering from a breakup and wondering if reconciliation is an option, we gravitate to those happy memories we want to repeat. According to Richard Walker, PhD, “People have an inherent bias to view their experiences in a positive light.”
We tend to remember happier emotions longer than negative. Negative emotions tend to fade faster, according to Walker.
It is our friends and family that can continue to remind us of the hurt, despair and distress this person placed us under for months or even years. The drudgery of living unhappy for so long.
In my therapy room I help people make that decision and have them do two things:
1. Sit quietly, close your eyes, take a few slow deep breaths allowing your breath to relax as you exhale. The I want you to imagine you are looking at your family unit, with you and your ex in it. You are watching for above, looking down. See what you, your ex and children are doing, saying. How you feel about that scene. Then I ask you to allow yourself to step into this picture to imagine you are there, with them around you. Feel what you feel, hear what you hear, see what you see, smell what you smell. Take all in. Look into your partner’s eyes, feel their touch on your skin, even a kiss on your lips. Recognise the comfort or discomfort, the emotions experienced, if you feel safe, anxious, fearful or happy. Open your eyes and take another deep breath and wait for what enters your mind.
2. In this exercise, I ask you to sit in a chair you would not normally sit in, again close your eyes and take a few breaths now imagine yourself back in your relationship. Be in touch with how you feel, what emotions it brings forth, happy, fear, sad, frustration, distress, love…. Then open your eyes, look around the room and sit in a different chair not typically used. Close your eyes again and imagine yourself out of the relationship, independent, free, just you. Notice how this feels for you. Fear is not an unusual feeling if you have been together or reliant on them. It is the inner feeling we want to tap into, the emotional feeling within.
By going through each of these, you can start to gain some clarity if these reconciliation thoughts are just terror of the unknown, scared of being independent or fearful to start new life ahead of you.
I always say if you are stuck on the fence, attempt to reconcile, do the work and counselling required and if after a time it doesn’t work, then you will know for sure. I don’t mean move back in together. I mean stay residing apart if that is what you are doing; talk, go out on date nights, mingle with friends like before and let them all know it is just a trail. Get to know this person again. Sex at this time together may really complicate your emotional state so keeping this out of the relationship may be advantageous. You can ascertain, as they will, any behavioural adjustments made, emotional progression learnt and how the communication and language styles have hopefully improved.
We must be sure we can communicate without judgement, feel heard and understood and always be respected. If this is what your relationship is redeveloping into, fabulous. If not, then you at least know you have tried everything to keep your family together, but it just can’t work.
You can then take those positive steps into your new life ahead, with fewer regrets, knowing you did all you could.
If you decide to move on and need assistance in breaking that old bond, please go to VirtualHypnothyerapy.com and select Relationship Recovery session to help make this transition easier.