WHEN RELATIONSHIPS END

Sometimes relationships end in a wreck
Sometimes relationships end in a wreck
Sometimes they just become barren
Sometimes they just become barren
Sometimes you realize you waited too long to give the relationship what you wanted to give
Sometimes you realize you waited too long to give the relationship what you wanted to give
When a relationship ends, it could shake your faith even in Santa Claus
When a relationship ends, it could shake your faith even in Santa Claus
However a relationship ends, it is always difficult to say Good By
However a relationship ends, it is always difficult to say Good By
Ending a relationship is typically stormy
Ending a relationship is typically stormy
In the midst of the darkness, you get a hint that there is a road ahead
In the midst of the darkness, you get a hint that there is a road ahead
When a relationship ends, there are all kinds of pathways opening up for us.  We just have to look for them.
When a relationship ends, there are all kinds of pathways opening up for us. We just have to look for them.
Surround ourself with beauty
Surround ourself with beauty
Look for signs that we are headed in the right direction
Look for signs that we are headed in the right direction
And believe that there will be a new day.
And believe that there will be a new day.

The Road Ahead

From one man to another. (Of course, if you are a woman, you can read this!) In recent years, I have written a lot about relationships and, in particular, staying the course with a relationship. My recent book, From The Frying Pan To The Jacuzzi is a testimony to the desire to stay the course that I see and hear expressed by many of my clients and that I experience within myself as well. But the reality is there are "Perfect Storms" and relationships break apart, or worse rip apart, drown, die, or sometimes there is no perfect storm, the relationship just fades or simply ends. And don’t ask how that happens? The reasons are infinite, unfathomable, heart breaking, ridiculous, and beyond judgment.

Sometimes the end of a relationship just kind of shows up. The road ends, so to speak. A good friend of mine described it this way.

 

For several months or maybe even longer, it seemed like there was this large box with a lid on it, following me around everywhere I went. Sometimes, it wouldn’t follow me, but just sit right smack in front of me. I did everything I could to avoid even seeing the box let alone dealing with it. But, finally, one day, I said to the box. "Okay, okay." I first lifted the lid just enough to peak inside and then just went for it and took the lid off all together. And it was just an empty box. It held nothing. Whatever it had held before was gone, vanished, disappeared. There was no longer a relationship between us. And it made me wonder if there ever was one. I knew obviously there had to have been something between us, but maybe it was not a relationship. I don’t know why I put off looking inside for so long. Well, no, of course I do. The ache in my heart and chest were so intense. Having to face packing up and heading out was excruciating. The sadness, the loneliness, the embarrassment, the sense of failure, the sense of inadequacy. My relatively small paunch grew into an enormous stomach four times the size it was in reality whenever I looked in the mirror, and I would say to myself, "Hell, I’d leave me." I walked around in shock for several days wondering how I would keep my secret, secret. But I found I was not able to keep the secret. Every time I saw or talked to someone I knew, I burst into tears and I mean burst, monsoon type!

 

When a relationship ends, some clients tell me that they want to kill themselves. So I imagine this guy jumping off a bridge. About half way down he realizes that a woman is passing him by. She’s going to hit the water first! "Damned," he says to himself. "She’s still in my life!" Or half way down he realizes that he can actually control the flight, and he wishes he had taken up hang gliding or sky diving. "Damn, maybe I can hit the water in just the right way and survive this idiotic move."

I have to admit that I have considered checking out early on any number of occasions throughout my life, but it has never become an option for me. I have too much that I WANT to do while I’m here, and I want every second available to me. Not interested in turning in any unused minutes. I don’t think there’s a refund, you know, perhaps even a penalty for cashing in early. I don’t know. And I do not judge those who opt out. And I don’t think they are in hell or necessarily mentally ill. The ones I know personally are honorable people, and I miss them dearly. I work every day in the office where Dr. Fred blew his brains out. GD, you, Fred! But I think he has been responsible for keeping many of my clients alive and well. Now speaking of relationships, my relationship with Dr. Fred is a whole hub in itself.

I remember one client telling me that when he finally came up for air from his denial that the relationship was over, he realized there was a road in front of him, and it was time to head out. He told me he wasn’t sure if he had any control over the journey in front of him, but being the control freak that he was, he was going to be sure to bring certain things on the journey and be sure to leave other things behind. I remember him jokingly saying, "Just in case I do have some control, I want to exercise my choices and options." What an interesting concept: exercising my choices and my options. So maybe it is just like your muscles growing from exercising them. Your choices and options also expand as you exercise them.

So before you jump, think about exercising your choices and options and checking out early is never on the list. It’s one that your wounded ego adds! Yea, I know, a little Wayne Dyeresque! But I like it!

Jim, an alcoholic friend with about twenty years sobriety told me that when his relationship ended, he lived on the verge of tears twenty fours a day, and as he allowed the waves of sadness to permeate his body instead of tensing up against them, the tears literally washed away and soothed the pain and the self doubt, the sense of being stupid, of being had, of being used, the urge to blame and even the desire to get even somehow. He also said that letting out all the tears seemed to help him let go of the urge to hang on to a relationship that might ultimately electrocute him if he didn’t let go. He told me that he had been a dry drunk for a great deal of the relationship, and he imagined that being a dry drunk hurt the relationship more than when he was actually drinking. "It took me a long time before I was able to plug my heart and my emotions back in and be there as a compassionate human being to the people I so dearly love, but unfortunately for the women I loved and still love, it was too late."

Another client told me that as he started out on his new journey, he promised himself that he would consciously empty his back pack of bitterness and cynicism every day, and for a period of time, he had to empty out that sucker almost daily. "I do not want to spend the next ten years coming to therapy and regurgitating my bitter bitterness, nor do I want to come in here ranting about the woman I dearly love, still, and cramming her along with all other women into a trash barrel or into that other blue container for recyclables as a way to rid myself of my lingering attachment for her and my desire to find another woman to love."

It is interesting how some folks find it almost impossible to live with or by themselves and need to be in a relationship with someone else. I wonder if we became totally at home with ourselves, to where we could sing that song with gusto, "I love myself the way I am...." that we would attract a totally different kind of person into our lives.

When I asked the client to describe to me, if he could, what being bitter or cynical looks like, he told me it would sound like this.

"Oh you poor woman! You want to be liberated and equal, but don’t have a clue as to what that means in the context of a relationship with a man. You want to tease and use a man until you are bored with him. Then kick him to the curb and wait for some other sucker to come along to be in love with. Some other sucker with his head up his you know what. Some other sucker who will actually believe that you are in love with him, and that he is better than your ex, only to find out later that he too is an ex, in line, waiting for his number to be called."

Yes bitter and cynical, and loaded with bear, but it also made me laugh.

I told my client he could come in every week and rant. That this was a safe place to dump his backpack, and I would only ask that he scoop it up at the end of the session and drop the stuff in the dumpster in the parking lot. So he started bringing a bag to each session and would symbolically scoop up his bitterness and cynicism at the end of each session and then tossed it into the dumptser in the parking lot. He said that there were actually times he was tempted to hold onto the bag and he found that quite interesting. "A little scary," he said. He said this little ritual made it possible for him to feel good, really really good, about all the wonderful events in his day-to-day life, and it even made it possible for him to be a friend of sorts to his ex.

The option to dumping your back pack daily is to outright grow a garden of bitterness and cynicism. This garden will not combat global warming nor will there be any flowers or delicious fruit in it. Only bitterness and cynicism. And it takes a lot of effort to keep those things healthy. I mean every day you must produce more toxic waste within your heart and brain and mind and soul and you have to put a high chain link fence around the garden to keep people out, and pretty soon you have to add guards and attack dogs, and at the end, you still have only bitterness and cynicism.

Ironically, if you build such a garden of bitterness and cynicism, just as in the film, Field Of Dreams, "they" will come. Lots of other cynical and bitter folks will come. And you will have all the bitterness and cynicism anyone could dream for.

Yes, it is painstaking to build a different kind of garden when a relationship ends, one with flowers, juicy peach trees, an interesting weed or two, at least one redwood tree twenty five hundred years old, perhaps a brook, a babbling brook at that, a couple of clowns, balloons in the shape of hearts, birds flying, soaring, swooping, and singing. And some of the balloons will have the words "Good By" on them. Almost too painful to build such a garden, at least at the beginning, but as the garden grows, so do your choices and options. And by all means, surround yourself with folks who will be eager to work with you in THIS garden.

You know, at rock bottom I truly believe that men and women or women and men are good people, really good people. I mean the women we love are not suicide bombers! As men, we are smart enough to know that the women we marry also feel used and at some point just figured we were bored with them because of all the time and energy we put into our work or hobbies.

Again, at rock bottom, I believe we are all good people, really good people, and we really do have the best interest at heart for the people we think we love, and however mysterious it may be to our partners, we do what we do for good reasons. That’s not to deny or dismiss that our "good reasons" may trigger enough hurt and pain for the entire planet.

The words of the song say it well. "I love myself the way I am....I love you the way you are....I love the world the way it is....and all the things I judge are done by people just like me....."

Maybe that’s a song to sing with each other every morning to sustain the relationship if you're still in one, as well as a song to sing to let go when it is over.

Sometimes when a relationship ends, I hear one or both partners saying something like, "I just don’t want to feel guilty about anything."

I always counter with What’s the big deal about feeling guilty? I mean, we all make mistakes. Feel some healthy guilt, for crying out loud. Give yourself an opportunity to see where you did go wrong so you won’t repeat it in the next relationship. Guilt doesn’t have to be toxic or a a death sentence.

As a man, I can feel guilty that I was not able to walk tall at those moments she needed me to. I can feel guilty that I did not want to risk swooping in and taking her into my arms and reassuring her that everything was going to be okay. I can feel guilty that I got caught up in trying to please her instead of saying No to financial decisions that have ended up wrecking our relationship. I can feel guilty for long hours on the job in the name of providing. I can even feel guilty that I’m a chicken and still a little boy who struggles to grow up, and maybe I’m like every other man on the face of the earth, obsessed with my inadequacies and hell-bent on self protection, instead of spreading my wings and flying and living free, free of the preoccupation of what is going on inside the other person’s head and allowing myself to behave in the best ways I know how even if misinterpreted.

Feeling guilty about any of this does not mean that the guilt has to take over and control your life and haunt your future. Feel the guilt, acknowledge it, and it will go on its own, believe me, but you have to really acknowledge it first.

I AM WRITING THIS HUB FROM A MALE PERSPECTIVE.

No duh! I KNOW THERE IS ONE OF YOU GREAT WOMEN HUBBERS OUT THERE WHO COULD WRITE THE SAME HUB FROM A WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE.

So I have come to the end of what I have to say about relationships ending, at least for today. It is sad when a relationship ends, much like death, and there is a road ahead of us, in part a road of grief, but it is a road to life. For all of you who are experiencing the end of a relationship, grab your back pack and head on down that road and BREATHE.

And if you have a spiritual practice, it is a good time to check in with your Senior Partner, and if not, it might be a time to think about beginning one. It doesn't have to be a time of complete disillusionment or a reason to toss your faith out the window. It's just painful!

Another client told me that he was very grateful for all that he learned from his ex and was grateful for the time he was able to live with her and love her. Now that is a really tall order for some! But isn’t that interesting?

So BREATHE and BE GRATEFUL.

 

I Love Myself....You....the World

Comments 33 comments

Olivehead/seed 6 years ago

Really don't know what to say. It's hugely complicated but at the same time simple.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Believe it or not, I actually added a couple of sentences toward the end of the blog since you read it!! And thanks for reading and commenting so soon after posting.


Zebedee353 profile image

Zebedee353 6 years ago from Greenbelt, MD

Great read. You showed a lot of talent in your hub. I'm glad I took the time to read it.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thank you, Zeb. I love to write and I really enjoy it when other people enjoy the read! Thanks

Vern


terri huerta 6 years ago

It made me sad.....beautiful,very poetic


Micah!! 6 years ago

My girlfriend of almost 9 months and I are coming close to a possible end... I'm glad i've read this and have these tools to put to use!

p.s. i'm so excited you're coming camping! i can't want to see you and show you my piano stuff after camping!


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Micah. Thanks for stopping by. I am honored by your comment. Really. I'm glad the tools will be helpful because sometimes our young adult relationship experiences can discolor our future adult relationships.

And I am excited as well. I hope to arrive on Thursday sometime. Not sure when I will go home, maybe Monday morning. See you soon

Vern


justom profile image

justom 6 years ago from 41042

Great hub, as usual. My relationships with women were always shaky because of my inability to think with the proper head. I regret that now, while I've had more than my share of fun, in my older years I miss having a good relationship. Peace!! Tom


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thanks for the comment, Tom. Never too late? Well,I don't have any data on that!! But it seems right. The ending is very painful and when it happens to me, I work hard at staying as clear as I can about what is painful, take responsibility for my contribution, letting myself grieve and boo hoo all over the place, sharing and getting support from friends and other loved ones. Not to get too crazy here, but our brains are absolutely marvelous and so there is a lot of the relationship which is literally laid down in neuropathways, and those don't just dissolve. So an ending is a really big deal, but it doesn't have to be more than what it is. If that makes any sense. By the way, what the heck is wrong with us Dudes? How about nothing?!!

Thanks again

Vern


Lora 6 years ago

Great post, Vern! I love you insight and humor. Permission to feel guilt, but not wallow in it - GRANTED! I've always struggled with the dichotomy between the love you share in a relationship and the negative feelings you sometimes feel when the relationship ends. (e.g. how can people who were once so close be so full of anger/hate/negativity towards each other). I think it has to do with maturity and the ability to let go. Hope all is well in sunny CA! Miss you!


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Lora

Nice to have you stop by here in this part of cyberspace. You're inviting me to write another hub here in this comment. Obviously when we are close to someone and then they are no longer there, it is painful, very painful,and one of the ways to defend against the enormity of the pain, is to be angry and hateful and negative. Yes, letting go. All of this, I think, is so preciously wrapped up in all of our life's experiences around attachment experiences, and most particularly when we were infants between zero and nine months. There are all kinds of things happening in our brain during those months related to relationships and relationship patterns are literally layed down in our brain in the form of neuropathways. When we are little, there is nil we can do about our relationships, but as we grow to be one of the big people, we say to ourselves, "I'm going to make sure that I am loved...." And then after we make that vow to ourselves and it still doesn't work out, we go bursurk!!

Anywho, thank you so much for reading and commenting.

Vern


jennifer 6 years ago

Vern,

Thanks for writing this blog. I am appreciate your words and may have to use them on my future.

Jenn


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Jenn, thanks for stopping by and I am glad the blog is useful or helpful. AND I hope you can work through what sounds like a potential ending for you. I am so very sorry, but if it gets to that point, surround yourself with all your non cynical and loving friends.

Vern


esllr profile image

esllr 6 years ago

I loved the raw honesty and imput in your hub.It's a shame so many people are so uncomfortable sharing their feelings with their spouse and hurt so bad when they are eventually left alone. The irony. The partner probably felt alone during the relation. So sad.

Hmmmm I don't know anyone with a (personal) spiritual foundation that ended their life.

Thanks Great Hub


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Hello, Eslir

Thanks for stopping by and reading and commenting. Glad you like the raw honesty. Yes, the irony is. We do to each other what we accuse the other of doing to us. It is sad. I know of two people who I would say have a spiritual foundation who are in so much pain that they have a hard time wanting to stay here. They pray every day for God to take them. AND what has kept them here is giving to others. Interesting.So basically you're right!


cheaptrick profile image

cheaptrick 6 years ago from the bridge of sighs

Hello V.Sorry it's been so long between visits but I just spent my children's inheritance fixing the fiberglass blisters on the bottom of my boat...Talk about feeling Guilty![not really] :) It seems to me that excepting the fact that one way or another all relationships end[through break up or death]helps to blunt the pain when it actually happens.A person who is truly their own best friend will miss their partner but in a healthy way.To often people form neurotic locks and think it's love only to feel the pain of there neurosis return when there completer[partner] leaves.My anchor in life has always been the realisation that there are things worth dying for...when we rise above ourselves and understand that...we are truly free and will rebound from the micro bursts that occasionally flatten us.BTW...your a comfortable fellow to read.Thanks

Dean


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thank you, gentle man, for your insightful comments. I work at being my own best friend. I guess it doesn't have to be that much work. I'm a cool guy!! When people say they don't want to feel sorry for themselves, I say, "Hey, no one else is, so you might as well!"

The neurotic locks, nice analogy. I think in terms of "holes" in our self worth that match up quite nicely so when we are close to each other, the closeness covers up the holes, but then when there is conflict or distance, the pain erupts and we blame the other person for hurting us, when, in fact, it is the pain inside that has been there for a long time!

I have had one ending by death and another one by being asked to leave and I refused for awhile and then I finally realized she really meant it, and so I left, and it's been an experience. I continue to take good care of myself, but at times I slip into a twilight zone when I have to "get off the bus" and just vacation for a hour or two or three and just figure not much is going to get accomplished for the rest of the day!! the flattening experience! You can read about the relationship which ended with death on here somewhere. Can't remember the exact blog, but I think it is The First Feather.

By the way, feel guilty, really or not really. Smile as you feel it and speak it out, "I feel guilty, kids....Row, row, come on, row!"

Thanks again for the comments.

Vern


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

Wow...this is an incredibly deep piece. I'm kind of speechless actually!

A few things stood out to me. One, I love how you discuss existential loneliness in the context of broken relationships. I agree that, while walking around in pain and bitterness, you can't expect another person to fill that emptiness...the self-acceptance, the realization of your own perfection(!) must come first. That's been a hard experience personally for me to go through Not in terms of a breakup, but longing for a relationship, longing to find the right girl, while still having this emptiness, these unfounded prejudices and doubts, deep inside. This hub is a powerful reminder for me that I need to be complete (or rather, know I'm already complete) FIRST if I want a fulfilling relationship with another "whole" person. Thanks for reminding me that the "garden of bitterness and cynicism" has to go!

And on the subject of gardens: the way you described that garden of pain is one of the most poignantly poetic things I've read in a long time. We really do create our own reality with the emotions we hold on to. I can see that quite clearly now.

You are a very talented writer and therapist my friend, and I know what you've shared with all of us here will help your own healing and growth process as well. These things kind of tend to work like that!

--Benny


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

I enjoy so very much, A LOT, your comments. I love it when someone, you in this case, gets exactly what I am writing. Perhaps everyone else does too, but your comment makes it so obvious that you get all the intricate patterns and squares in the quilt. I love when passages like the garden come out of my fingers and I know the Big Hubber in the sky is at work!! And I'm not referring to Ron!!

Thanks for reading and supporting me and I enjoy immensely supporting you as well

Vern.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

Hey, it's my pleasure all the way. My mind tend to work in overdrive--not sure if that's good or bad, it does have its drawbacks--but one of the "symptoms" is that I analyze and pick apart things until they really make sense to me. I see wisdom, complexity, and earnestness in your write, so it's a pleasure for me to be a fan and a follower.

I have to tell you man...the clowns, the heart-shaped balloons with the words "Good-Bye"...that stuff GOT me! Divine or otherworldly inspiration no doubt! And the idea that a man (or any person, man or woman) should EMBRACE guilt, the very thing we're inclined to run like hell from...what a profound thought.

Thanks for your invaluable support and friendship, and I look forward to continuing our good rapport!

--Benny


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

THANKS. I too look forward to our continued good rapport.

Vern


Justsilvie 6 years ago

I am breathing!*smile*


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thank you, Justsilvie, for breathing. The more of us who breathe, I think it may have a critical mass efffect!! Smiling does wonders. THANKS SO MUCH for stopping by and reading and commenting. Looking forward to checking out your blogs as well.

Vern


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Dear Vern

I am reading your blog today as a reminder. thank your senior partner for me for inspiring you. I will need to keep coming back to reread and to stay focused on my new garden. The sadness and confusion are sometimes monumental, at least they seem so. Probably not as monumental but maybe they are. In case any of you get worried when You read this, I do know who I am and who Vern is. I know we are the same!!! But sometimes its cool to step outside and acknowledge what comes through us as good for us as well.

Love you tall guy and I like your new beard

Vern


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Dear Vern!!

Three weeks into meetings, I can't believe how prophetic this hub was!! Take care, my friend. You are doing well.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I believe guilt is not all bad. It is like pain, a warning that something is wrong. Guilt exercises our conscience. I believe there are a lot of good people, but I also believe there are those that behave in a predominantly self-motivated, ego based manner. I've known them. They have "attacks" of guilt that give pause, but continue much of their lives living ingenuiously, trampling on the lives of those in their path. They distance themselves from the pain they inflict, handing off responsibility with "it's not my problem", continuing without a misstep, their agenda first and foremost. The guilt you describe requires a strong conscience, which does enable the qualities necessary for change. I think guilt is not without merit and do not subscribe to the statement I've heard elsewhere that it is a wasted emotion. As always, your writing always stimulates firing neurons...and that is always the beginning. Super read. Thank you


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thanks, Amy, for both reading and commenting. I don't know if it is in this blog, but I tell people, when you feel guilty, stand up in the courtroom in your head and raise your hand high in the air and speak, "Your honor, guilty as charged." THEN get the heck out of the courtroom. Do not hang around for a sentence!

I could probably write a sequel to his hub as to where I am today four months later. I will have to do that.

THANKS AGAIN

Vern


AEvans profile image

AEvans 4 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

When a relationship ends, yes it is like death. Not only was I grieving for mom, my dog and my Uncle but more death came when my marriage ended all in a matter of seconds. Sometimes we can't see the light ahead of us because we are like a dear in a headlight. But when the storm is over the sun shines again. Apparently I was supposed to read this now and instead of then. Great hub! :)


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 4 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Whoa! Much loss. I will never forget your precious sharing of your mother's last weeks and days. I think it was very healing for many readers including myself.

Well, I am glad you found this hub today Selfishly, to bring new life to an "old"" hub and humbly grateful that the words that were typed through me over a year ago are still soothing someone's heart and soul.

It has been an interesting year for me and have learned a great deal about myself amidst the grief and it provided an opening for much old ungrieved grief to surface.

A book I have found quite inspiring and motivating: Life's Lesson, coauthored by David Kessler and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Easy read but a powerful book.

Take care, thanks for reading and commenting. Good to see you hubbing again.

Vern


Mellonyy profile image

Mellonyy 4 years ago

Great hub and I appreciate the information. Voted up and shared!


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA

Thanks for sharing, Mellonyy. This hub is near poetic in it's vividness and effectiveness. I'm sharing it myself. Thank you, Vrbmft!


mmsu profile image

mmsu 4 years ago from Pakistan

Great information.Really liked your hub!


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 4 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Hi Mellonyy, Jellygator, and mmsu

Thank you so much for giving new life to an "old" but still relevant hub. Even very relevant for me as I enter into year three of my relationship ending. I have continued to keep my "garden" growing without the cynicism, I got sober, working a 12 step program, learning a lot about my relationship with God, and my relationships with others, men and women, seem to be growing in a more healthy direction than before. So again, thanks for reading and commenting and sharing.

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