Five Steps to Help Post-Relationship Anxiety (Part One)

In the post-relationship phase of romantic attachments, it is highly likely that you might experience separation anxiety or stress due to the absence of your former flame. Even within the most troubled relationships, the soul connection between people longs to reunite with the possibilities of what “used to be.” What might you feel?

a sense of restlessness that exceeds your normative state;
inability to sleep or a drastic change in sleeping patterns;
compulsive thoughts about the person with whom you are splitting;
an overwhelming sense anxiousness at the potential of “forever” feeling that anxious;
physical agitation or need for movement/sleep;
change in attitudes or behaviors that are driven by your need to see/avoid the person.
Separation anxiety is your awareness of the vacancy a person leaves within your life and soul when they are no longer part of your active life. This form of anxiety often begins preceding the event – in the ending days or months of a breakup. Anxiety about ending a relationship can likely be the cause of “lingering” or staying in a situation that is unfulfilled, accounts for doubts for ending a connection that has died of its own natural causes. The first healthy step is to be aware that it is natural to feel anxious about major changes in life, and natural to feel the need to effectively navigate your anxious thoughts and feelings to a place of centering and peace.*

Recognize the attachment. Why do we experience separation anxiety in a relationship that is not healthy for us overall? We form emotional and physical attachments to that which we see daily, even if the daily interaction is strained or filled with chaos. Not all attachments are human to human. I have close attachments to my historical house with its many varied nuances and random issues, and refer to it as though it has human qualities and value in my life. I am attached specific music and movies that hold meaning for me, and feel a sense of kinship and community with the people who represent them. Attachments can be fickle as well: you may find yourself inexplicably attached to a person or thing that is unhealthy for you. How do you recognize the attachment? First, consider what removing that person or thing from your life would feel like today, in a year and in a decade? Do you feel anxious when you consider it? Is your feeling driven by need, fulfillment, routine or constancy?
Name the Feeling. You find yourself newly single and anxious over your loss. What do you actually feel? What is it telling you? Don’t just jump to “I love him/her” or “I’m hurt” and stop there – each feeling has something concrete to say to you. Perhaps the person brought out feelings of passion that you had not known prior to the relationship. You may fear that you will never experience that fulfillment again. Your feelings are telling you first that you need physical intimacy on that level, and second, that you associate it with this person. It is not likely, however, that this is the only person in the the world that can offer such an experience in a relationship. Once you know what the feelings are telling you (you have a need) it does offer you a rough framework for what you’re looking for in a relationship Understanding Banter. The same thing follows for communication, community, common likes and past times, interests and all things physical – what you “miss” about the person that you miss is a road map to what you really want in life.
Disassociate Feelings from the Individual. When I experienced drastic separation anxiety from my former flame, I had to reassess what I wanted in my life and how willing I was to move on. My identification with “happiness” was absolutely tied into my feelings for this individual. Happiness is not dependent on another person. In fact, if you are waiting for another person to “make you happy” you are ultimately going t be disappointed. It is the intensity and ignition of your relationship that engages the couple and creates a climate in which happiness is bred. An intense person mated to a person with no energy may love that individual but will ultimately feel unfulfilled because they cannot share or grow the part of their soul that drives their personality. A truly passionate sensual person cannot successfully mate with a person that has little self-identification with their own sexuality.Here is a simple question that you may not like to answer just now, but is important. Can you live without that person you are anxious over with relatively little effort? Try to disassociate how you feel with the person and instead focus on what your feelings are telling you about your own needs, desires and what is both right and wrong with your relational approaches. Is your anxiety driven by deeper issues with rejection or loss from your family of origin? Do you see a life long pattern of attachment or relationship failures?
Habit or Addiction or Love? In the decade scenario, once the emotions have worn off, do you feel that removing yourself from the attachment would be beneficial or harmful? The person who is afraid or unable to imagine life outside of the chaos that often marks unhealthy relationships may crave the anxiety with which life is sustained; the individual who is subjected to repeated verbal abuse may feel guilty for considering healthy choices or actions that are not normative to their common living state. It may be that one partner, unknowingly, manipulates the other through life issues or “giving” until it is more passive aggressively controlling than apparent. Healthy relationships are marked by equal giving, trust and open dialogue that includes full self disclosure. Longevity, unfortunately, is not an indication of health in a relationship. I recently provided a listening ear for a woman who, married for 25 years and having 8 children, was divorcing her husband and asking one question: “Who am I?” Her dreams and need for fulfillment had been on the back burner for so long that her now strained relationship with the husband of her youth was both filled with resentment and anger. He, likewise, felt a lifetime of unmet need. Together they represent a failure in honest communication for neither one was honest enough to admit a lack of durable love toward their spouse as an individual. Presented with an empty house after the children had grown and left, they found they had little in common and even less to talk about.

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