We’re officially in the holiday season, and the holidays make me think about love. Love sometimes feels like a mythical concept that is deeply embedded in our culture but appears to be constantly evading us. So, what is love? Side bar:  I miss being able to flip through a paper dictionary, but let me not digress. I looked at multiple definitions, and this is the one I like the most, especially for this blog.

Love (as defined by dictionary.com): noun
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

3. sexual passion or desire.

For the purpose of this blog which is centered around romantic love, let’s combine a few of these to get to this description: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person that includes a feeling of warm personal attachment. Now that the framework and perspective has been laid, we can get to business.

There are few conundrums surrounding love. First, how do you get or find love. Once you find it, how do you keep it. If you lose it, how do you recover from a broken heart. These challenges cause some to shy away or reject the concept of love. For those that are willing to open their heart to give and receive love, there is a huge risk that is taken every time that one bares their soul. With true love, there is a profound vulnerability when someone has access to the soul. With that type of access, one can bring great joy and comfort or bring great pain and sorrow. No one likes pain and sorrow, so people often choose to guard their heart and have walls up for protection.

Naturally, the goal is to find love and for that love to be that type of epic love that lasts a lifetime. Unfortunately, most have experienced some type of heartbreak, unless you’re a part of that minuscule population that fell in love and sustained a relationship with your first love. The process of healing after heartbreak can be a long road filled with hurt, but that road can also be filled with lessons and self realization. This blog isn’t meant to focus on the ins and outs of being in love in a relationship, but it will focus on what happens when a relationship ends. I realize that there can be physical pain to go with the emotional and mental anguish of when a relationship ends by break up or even the unthinkable death of a partner. I know a lot of people have experienced that sensation that someone has stuck their hand in their chest, grabbed their heart and sucked all of the air out of their lungs. Many have had those days where it takes every bit of energy to not break out in tears and to maintain the facade that everything is ok. There’s also that issue of having work and/or personal responsibilities that don’t allow one to simply check out. So where does one go from there because that emotional space sucks?

635920347244847175-836596240_letting-goThis is where the magic happens…healing. Healing is a process and not something that comes overnight or can be rushed. I wish it was as simple as snapping one’s fingers or burning a little sage to make the pain go away, but healing is an active process that is filled with hard work. The first step is believing that life can get better…that this pain is not a permanent part of life going forward. Along with this, the most efficient way to process pain and emotions is to actually face them and experience them. Now, I realize no one is ready to be flooded with these emotions at their full level of intensity 24 hours a day, but to accept them and eventually let go of them, there is no way around feeling these emotions. As you process these feelings, you can analyze the situation and look at the positive and negatives of the relationship. What were the fun times? What did you learn? What were the healthy choices you made? What were the not so good choices that you made? What would you do differently? How will these lessons from this relationship make you better?

As you utilize self awareness and start processing these lessons, you make it to the key of how to move through heartbreak. That key is forgiveness. Yes, I said it. You have to forgive yourself for decisions that led to you getting hurt. In some cases, you have to forgive yourself for being in the relationship in the first place or staying in the relationship when you knew it was doomed or unhappy. The other gift to yourself is to forgive the other person because forgiveness is done for the health of your own heart and spirit. It is a gift and doesn’t have to be an act of co-signing someone else’s behavior. Forgiveness is a powerful tool that frees you from being tied to negative energy and emotions like a cement block.

Let’s quickly explore the process so far. You’ve allowed yourself to experience the pain of losing love. You’ve reflected on the lessons from this love. You’ve forgiven yourself and the person we were in love with. The last step is letting go. You can’t drag this pain and these relationship scars around like Linus’s blanket. You have to let go of it to be free.

Forgiveness + Releasing (a.k.a. Letting Go) = Freedom

This freedom allows one to not drag the baggage of past relationships around, so that these past hurts don’t block future relationship blessings or poison perspectives on future love. That’s the end of the magic formula. That’s Dr. Ericka’s brief guide to moving past love. These steps work for a variety of types of love and pain beyond romantic love. I hope this blog can bring some comfort, support, or validation to someone. Thanks for taking time out to listen to me and share part of my world.

Much nub,

Dr. Ericka