I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through such a difficult time. I hate to see you suffering, knowing from my own experience the grief of a break up similar to yours.
It’s easy to mistake compassion with martyrdom, especially if our self esteems are low. After nursing and counselling for many years, I’ve found that caring people often do have self esteem issues, and we choose situations or careers that require caring because we actually need the care ourselves. We are not conscious of this motivation of course; we just want to help others, but in the process we find that we need the help ourselves. Unfortunately the situations we choose are often not reciprocal and so the cycle continues until we decide to recognise our own needs and move out of the destructive pattern. In my experience it’s necessary to actively seek caring from healthy sources and to start applying as much self nurturing as you can. Do the things that usually make you happy and find new ways of experiencing pleasure, healing and soothing. Keep busy and go out to meet new people. This won’t take away the pain and loss but will make it a tiny bit more bearable and distract you from being tempted to go back to the old relationship that isn’t serving you.
AVB, you’ve explained things brilliantly. Thank you for sharing your eperiences here too.
I think that sometimes as Christians, especially in the past, we’ve heard the first part of the commandment “Love others” and over-emphasised an outward focus while denying the self. The problem with this interpretation is that our needs don’t go away; they just expand and are expressed unconsciously in a dependent way. In fact we need to apply the second part of the commandment, “as you love yourself”, in order to properly love others. It is not selfish but vital for survival and growth. Fulfilling our own needs allows us to be more whole, freeing us of co- dependency with others. As we take on responsibility for this, our needs become less, no longer getting in the way of our relationships, while creating a space for new, healthier connections. We are then in a better position for more mutual relationships, attracting others who will love and respect us, just as we love and respect ourselves.
Here’s something I’ve found useful for myself: Try treating yourself as a special guest in your own home/life, creating meaningful rituals. (i.e. cook a special meal for yourself and use your best plates and table settings. Imagine that it’s Jesus coming for dinner). It will be hard to apply at first but after a while of consistently doing these types of things, a message starts to sink in about being worthy. Your body, by going through the motions, communicates to your deeper self, that you are in fact a very special person.
I hope this helps. There are no magic answers. Pain is still pain but know that we are here for you.