(Article originally published on MeetMindful.com by Chelli Pumphrey)
Paul Simon may have given us 50 ways to leave a lover, but there’s a single, more conscious approach. If it’s time to leave your lover, start here.
Sometimes leaving a lover is a slow, shaky untangling of two lives, like a sticky cobweb wrapped around your fingers. You can’t shake it off.
Sometimes leaving your lover is a quick, deep cut, and you’re left reeling from the sudden pain and shock.
It rarely ends painlessly, and can often be a messy unraveling that tests your heart and faith. However, with a little bit of TLC (tender loving compassion) it is possible to leave your lover, and actually keep your heart and your dignity intact.
First and foremost, leave when it’s time to leave.
There is nothing worse than ignoring the signs for too long, and later regretting that you didn’t leave sooner. Pay attention to the signals. Are you constantly fighting? Has there been dishonesty, cheating, or abuse? Do you feel more pain than joy when you’re together? Just not feeling the love? Relationships involve work, but they shouldn’t be constant, impossible work.
Listen to your intuition.
Usually we know long before we want to know that someone isn’t right for us. What usually keeps us stuck is fear and the feeling of scarcity that tells you that there may not be anything better on the other side. Do not confuse intuition with wishful thinking.Intuition tells you something is wrong even if it all appears to be right on the surface. Trust yourself.
Take a leap of faith.
Sometimes leaving even the most miserable relationship can feel terrifying. Your mind can create a lot of stories about what it might look like on the other side… loneliness, the fear of starting over, or never finding someone else to love. Sometimes you just have totake a deep breath and let go. Build faith and trust that there are endless possibilities for love.
Reframe the relationship.
If you’re feeling angry, hurt, or betrayed, it’s easy to get hung up on feeling like a victim. This only serves to intensify your pain and keep you in a disempowered state. Instead of feeling angry at your partner, or victimized by their actions, can you look for the silver lining in your relationship? There is a gift in every situation, even the worst ones, if you look for it. Seeing the world through a lens of gratitude and optimism has profound healing powers.
Allow yourself to feel all of the emotions that arise, even when they feel unbearable. Cry. Get angry. Feel the loneliness. Be present with your pain so that it can release. Ignoring emotion gives fuel to your pain, and creates deeper wounds over time. Grieving can feel like a roller coaster of emotion. Go for the ride and trust that in time, your feelings will become less intense.
Have a goodbye ritual.
Give yourself the clear message that you’re saying goodbye. We have funerals to mark a death, why not have a funeral to mark the end of a relationship? If you have a picture of the two of you, bury it in your yard and plant a flower over it to mark new growth. Burn the picture in a flame. Print out emails or texts from your lover and throw them in the trash. Even better…have the ritual with your soon-to-be-ex-lover, if possible. Can you mark the end together with mutual respect for the loss of your love?
If you’re having difficulty leaving, but you know it’s the best decision, ask yourself if you’ve cut all of the cords between you. A relationship can bind together two people in many ways—as friends, lovers, roommates, financial support, through marriage, children, possessions, and in spiritual ways.
Imagine all of these connections as separate cords that are part of a thick rope of connection between you. Most of the cords are eventually cut when you end a relationship. Some are cut quickly and easily, if they are more tangible. Some may take time, even years (especially if you’ve been married). If it is a cord that can’t be cut easily (if you have children or are going through a divorce), you can focus on strengthening your boundaries. Loose ends and uncut cords will keep you both coming back to something you may not want or need to be a part of any longer.
When you leave your lover, you must love yourself back to life. It takes time to heal after a relationship ends. Nourish yourself. Spend time with friends. Spend time alone. Fill up with that which heals you. Most of all, remember that there is an abundance of love in the world just waiting for you, and closing the doors to a relationship that no longer serves two people will create space for new love to arrive.