Avoidance After a Breakup
Since launching SYBD in 2000, I’ve made up my own 12-stages of recovery. Instead of waiting to be published, I thought I’d continue to share some of the sample chapters (at least in part) here on the SYBD blog. Here’s a sample of the Avoidance chapter – and just a few of the ways we commonly avoid dealing with a breakup when trying to get over it.
Denial is Normal
Coming to terms with the fact that it’s over can be a challenge to say the least. Some people, in coping with the shock, shift into auto pilot and live in denial for a while. This is most often the case when the break-up came seemingly “out of the blue”. There is a high likelihood of avoiding every aspect of the heartbreak.
Some people will take denial to such extremes that they refuse to tell anyone that the relationship is even over – choosing instead to proceed along like it is business is normal.
As humans, we develop clever coping skills aided with our denial. Many people go to drastic measures to avoid family, friends, songs, movies, clubs or other such places once visited as part of a couple.
Sometimes people avoid even being in their own home because it’s filled with too many painful memories.
How Do We Ex-Scape It?
We do whatever we can to ex-scape the pain. Some dumpees are inclined to over-indulge in eating, drinking, drugs or working. These are pretty common ways to fill the void.
Other people may also find themselves acting like they are “over it” to people around them…when in fact they’re just avoiding everything by trying to sweep it off to one side, or under the proverbial carpet.
Admittedly, there is a benefit in “acting as if” they’re over it, particularly publicly, as long as some steps are being take to actually get over it privately. A permanent state of faking it is simply not healthy!
“We’re Still Together!”
Some people I know have kept up the pretence of still being in the relationship – to family and friends for months (even years) after it was over. One man I know lied to his own family for ten years about his relationship being over.
While denial can be good, healthy and even necessary for a while – cases like that are the extreme.
People who are good at avoidance are exceptionally good at rationalising their behaviour to themselves (and others) – and generally concocting all sorts of reasons why it’s better that his or her sick father (mother, grandmother) still believes the relationship is intact.
At then end of the day though, it’s simply denial in its deepest form.
Helping Come to Terms With A Breakup
Again some amount of living in denial is common, and maybe even necessary, until such time as we can come to terms with our breakup.
Forcing yourself to do things too soon could well be counter productive, but really, in most cases, telling family, friends and colleagues can be a healthy thing.
As an added bonus, they will most likely be more understanding of your mood swings, and it can circumvent those awkward “how’s so and so” questions.
Ways We Practice Avoidance:
Work Too Much
While some element of throwing yourself into your work (or for that matter into exercising), can be a good thing, it’s also about achieving balance.
Working hard and getting a promotion is good, working hard to “forget” everything isn’t.
You might work yourself into an early grave. You could find that you’re several months, even years, down the road and something will trigger all that pain you avoided. You may feel back to square one then!
We can only avoid feelings for so long before they will rise up and bite us in the ass – usually catching us unaware. Take it from one who knows!
Getting “wasted” is another hugely common admission of SYBD members. Some will use legal substances like alcohol, while others turn to other stimulants like Coke, Weed or something else to find relief.
As tempting as it is, I’m with Nancy Regan here, “Just Say ‘No’”. Using any kind of substance is just masking the pain, and not at all helping you to treat the symptoms. Once you come down off your buzz, the problems and pain will still be there – and possibly even amplified. Whilst intoxicated, many members over the years have made some errors in judgment (some of them grave) while under the influence. Yes, over the years there have been many (often humorous to the reader) accounts of drunk-dialing, texting and begging their ex. Some more serious rampages have led to smashing private property.
A note of caution: Drunken 3am “Why why why” phone calls only annoy exes and make the caller look bad. In some cases, it simply ends up confirming the dumpers to decision to dump them. Please don’t drunk-dial! Avoiding the wine or beer (or whatever your substance of choice may be) will likely cut down on the probability of doing, or saying, something you could later regret.
Besides a lot of people forget that alcohol is a depressant – and adding that to a mix of already feeling low – does not a happy person make.
I Am Not Saying Never Drink
OK, provided you’re not an alcoholic, having a glass of wine with dinner to relax generally is perceived as OK (and some might even say healthy). Same goes for a beer.
That is, by and large, a little different to consuming a bottle or two of wine (or whatever your drink of choice is) and getting plastered every night of the week — solely to escape the pain.
The key, again, is to find the balance.
As they say “everything in moderation”.
More on Avoidance
In future blogs here on So You’ve Been Dumped – we’ll talk about other ways people AVOID their healing process – such as avoiding their own home to doing a geographical to some new place.
Some amount of avoidance can be ok, as you’re processing the pain but living in a permanent state of denial is never a wise solution. Feel. Deal. Heal.