LIVING THROUGH SEPARATION
EDET B. EFFIOM
Humans are by nature not a solitary but a social creature. Our social nature makes us happier when we are in others' company, and less so when confined in solitude. However, there are certain occasions, or situations when we intentionally prefer to isolate ourselves from others. While some isolation can awaken our creativity, others can do just the opposite; depending on one's ability to manage the situation.
Throughout history, many great achievers from various fields tapped their hidden potentials while in solitude. I am yet to see or learn about a great man or woman who has not realised the importance of solitude to the achievement of success. Even Jesus Christ, with his divine nature, realised this fact, which was the reason he often withdrew from everybody including his disciples before facing difficult situations such as Satan's temptations in the wilderness, and his arrest and his subsequent crucifixion.
All self-imposed solitudes do not arouse creativeness, because it is not all self-isolated people that recognise the importance, and can exploit the enormous potential of this element, to their benefit; even some of those who understand its importance, might not have the burning desire, and the discipline it requires to exploit it to their advantage.
Thus, quite often, isolation is very destructive instead of the contrary, especially when negative emotions such as: fear, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, revenge, greed, superstition, anger, bitterness and self-blame or regret, frustration, and suspicion surround it.
Before going further, it is worth stating what 'Separation' here means. The subject of this article refers to parting between two lovers, either by divorce, in friendship or courting. It also concerns separation by the death of a loved, or a closed one.
We're living in an era where separation is seen as the normal way of life. Many people even believe that when there is a storm in a relationship, it is better to leave instead of finding ways to remedy the situation. Hence, either we have in one time or the other experience this problem, or encounter those that are going through it, of have gone through. Nobody is immune form separation from a loved one. What is the connection between isolation and the subject of this article, "Living Through Separation", you may wonder. The two relate because isolation is one of the most common defence devices that people that are going through separation often resort to. They usually isolate themselves from their relatives, neighbours, friends, and associates. Their solitary attitude could be attributed principally to fear. They are often afraid of what people will say or think about their negative emotions, because they assume that people will never understand their feelings from their perspective. Also they are often afr aid that people will blame them for the collapse of their relationship. If you are passing through this unfortunate period, and your intention is to live through it successfully within the shortest time possible, isolation is the least attitude that you need. Alternatively, all that you need most is the profound comprehension of the facts governing your present experience, and the best ammunitions to employ to combat the negative emotions successfully.
A. BASIC FACTS GOVERNING THE PERIOD OF SEPARATION
First, separation is a life-changing phenomenon. Once it occurs, your life will change completely. It will change either positively or negatively, depending on how you handle the situation. Regardless of all the good intentions and efforts of your closed ones, if you consciously or unconsciously refuse to sum-up yourself to create happiness for yourself as soon as possible, all their efforts to help you would be fruitless.
Creatively managed separation is a life transforming experience, for it will awaken your latent potential. Separation will definitely bring about life's enriching, learning experience, and personal growth. It is important to underline here that, no matter how it happens, you will never be the same, as it will make you stronger psychologically, and sometimes, spiritually too, and it will make you wiser.
Third, separation as both learning and a self-awakening process could enable you to understand yourself better; although sometimes the process could be very painful. No matter how painful it might be, it always has a silver lining, for it will enable you to realise both your strengths and weaknesses, provided, at a given time, you analyse the situation profoundly. Doing so enables you to uncover your mistakes, and also to realise that some of your predicaments may have been self-inflicted. Thus, it will be possible for you to make the necessary corrections or adjustments in your subsequent relationship, or relationships.
Fourth, having negative emotions during the process of separation is quite normal, desirable, and even a healthy experience. Negative emotions such as anger and bitterness, frustration, self-blame or the feeling of guilt and fear are parts of grief's healing process. However, they only become very destructive if you allow them to dominate your thoughts, and harbouring them for a very long time. In order words, the more you master them, and get rid of them as quickly as possible, the easier and sooner you would pass through the agony successful.
Furthermore, even if you were the cause of the collapse of your relationship, living forever with that guilt can be very detrimental to both your health and to your chances of overcoming the situation successfully. One of the easiest and direct remedies to the feeling of guilt, which could be the best thing you can do for yourself, is to look for a person that you can trust, who is very understanding, affectionate, and should have great patience, a good listener, and should be capable of encouraging you to talk freely. Consequently, you will be relieved of the heaviness in your mind; thereby getting over the negative emotions easily and quicker. Later, the person should remind you of all your strengths, and the reasons why you should not allow your guilty feeling to enslave you.
Besides, allowing guilt to engulf you is an indication of your inability to recognise the fact that no matter how intelligent and wise one may seem, he or she is not immune from making mistakes. Life of absolute perfection is not human, but supernatural, and nobody is a superhuman. All that counts most is your ability to accept your mistakes, correct them when necessary, and learn from them, and move on with your life.
Again, it is baseless and unhelpful to be suspicious of everybody around you when grieving separation. It is baseless because among those around you, there are certainly those who really love and care for you. So it is advisable to find them out, lean on them, and trust them to help you retrieve both happiness and an inspiration, to victoriously overcome your difficult situation.
Human nature impels us to directly or indirectly seek comfort and support from others when we are confronting huddles of life. Under normal circumstances, people like to help those who are open to them, and would be receptive to their kindness. Suspicion does not only repel people, it also wounds their feelings towards us, thereby making it difficult, and if not impossible for them to help us when we need their help.
B. HANDLING ANGER AND BITTERNESS
Anger and bitterness as effects of separation is an indication of your protest against your sad and lamentable experience. It is a normal, and a necessary ingredient to the healing of your grief.
The first method of handling your anger is to talk about it as many times as possible. This requires identifying a relative, neighbour, friend, or associate whom you love and admire, who can understand and respect your feeling, and encourage you to offload your bitterness by having the patience to listen to you.
The second strategy is the easiest, and one of the most effective, yet usually ignored. It entails putting all the reasons for your anger and bitterness into black and white. Whenever any negative feelings spring up, all you need to do is to pick up a pen and a paper, and write a letter as if you are writing-pouring your heart out to your ex-partner. Feel free to state all the reasons for your anger, and how it has affected you. Doing this as many times as possible, and tearing or burning them afterwards, is you so wish, will relief you tremendously.
How do you feel whenever you are offended and you burst out before your offender, pouring out all your anger to that person? I guess that after your outburst, you are usually relieved and more relaxed. That is exactly how you will feel after writing your letter of annoyance, for you will have the sentiment of having talked directly to your ex-partner.
Another method is the one that most Therapists often use. It is known as, "Beating the pillow". It is quite simple. It consists of locking yourself in your bedroom, talking to your pillow-pouring out all your anger and bitterness on it, and beating it as if your pillow is your ex-partner. Feel free to shade tears if it comes, and continue this process as long as necessary. After the episode, you will certainly feel much better.
However, the ultimate solution to anger, and bitterness, regardless of its cause is prayer-praying to the Almighty God, asking him to take away all your anger and bitterness, and then give you peace of mind. Perhaps you have never prayed, probably because you are not a Believer. But that does not matter at all, because your Creator loves and cares very much for you, irrespective of whom you are, and he is everywhere, always listening to you. If you do not know how to pray, simply praying using the following statement, believing with all your heart that God will definitely grant your request will surely make a difference. "Please God my Heavenly father, Creator of Heaven and Earth and all therein, I ask you to forgive all my sins. From today, I accept your son Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, and I invite him into my life. I pray that you fill me with you Holy Spirit. I humbly ask you to take away all my anger and bitterness, and replace it with joy and happiness that comes from you. I pray that you give me the strength, wisdom, and all that I need, so that I can pass through this situation successful, for your name to be glorified. In Jesus mighty name I pray. Amen!" The easiest prayer is talking to God as if he is your earthly father, and he is just beside you. Feel very free to pour out all your agony to him. He is actually beside you, and listening to you, and will definitely respond to your lamentation.
C. HANDLING GUILT AND SELF-BLAME
When relationships end, people often blame themselves for the failure. While some guilt may be genuine; others are baseless. Your guilt is genuine if you had knowingly or unknowingly contributed to your separation. If the contrary is the case, then yours is unrealistic. A lot has been written already about this subject; here our attention would be focused on other ways of overcoming this poisonous feeling.
Quite often, when we hurt somebody, even if the victim of our action has forgiven us, we sometimes find it difficulty to forgive ourselves. This can sometimes apply when we hurt ourselves. Naturally, all the inflicted wounds cannot heal while we are still torturing ourselves with guilt and self-blame. Most unfortunately, an inability to forgive-either others or ourselves can be very detrimental to the realisation of our dreams and aspirations, because lack of forgiveness brings about hatred, and the latter gives rise to negative thoughts, which is one of the negative emotions, which obstructs imagination. Thus, aspirations and creativity will fly away beyond grasp.
Forgiveness involves both attitude and action. If you find it difficult to forgive yourself, just recall that you are just human, and are subject to making mistakes. Each time you commit an error, if you are to live with that guilt, it means, you only will live to think about guilt and self-blame.
The easiest strategy to apply to forgive yourself for your mistakes and shortcomings is to talk to yourself. When somebody offends you and you wish to reconcile, what do you normally do? I guess you usually create room for a dialogue with that person. Do the same with yourself; state clearly the reasons why you have to forgive yourself. You can even speak audibly. On doing this regularly, you will be very astonished to realise how relieved you will feel.
The second principle for handling guilt is to listen and heed to the advice of your loved ones whose opinions you cherish. Usually, their advice and actions would be based on their sincere love for you. In order words, their attitudes would be for your well-being.
The third technique has been mentioned already but deserves repeating here. It is for you to recognise the existence of human limitations. Whether you accept it or not, irrespective of how intelligent and wise you may be, you are never, and will never be perfect in all your words and actions. Hence, you are bound to be making mistakes. The most important thing is that, each time it occurs, you have to analyse it, correct it if possible, and look forward to the future.
D. FOCUS ON THE BAD MEMORIES
One of the main reasons people are devastated during separation is because they often re-picture all the wonderful moments together, and are afraid that such opportunities will never come their way again. Is this fear usually realistic? Fortunately, the answer is no, for what awaits them in the future might even be better than that of the past.
The second question that is rarely asked is, in our relationships, do we only have fantastic times? Like the first question, the answer is no because sometimes, the black moments might have been very dark-some, very dark indeed. Quite often, the negative moments-though in some relationships appears less frequently than the good ones, but when surfaced, are very distressful.
Consequently, during separation-separations that are beyond retrieval, if people can pause a second, instead of concentrating their energy to remember the good times, they ponder over the bad moments, the situation would be less heartbreaking. I know that many people would disagree with me, for they will think that it would worsen the situation. I do not share their opinion because thinking of the bad moments, and seeing the separation as a liberating opportunity-in some cases they are, will surely give the feeling of relief and optimism. Hence, instead of fear, anger and bitterness, there will be the feeling of liberation and that of hope for the future.
E. IMPORTANCE OF SELF-CARING ACTIVITIES
As previously stated, among other things, self-isolation and neglect generally characterised the period of separation. Very regrettably, this can intensify our negative feelings about the dilemma, prolong the period of suffering, and worsen the effects of the predicament. Conversely, the yoke of the torment of separation can be broken if the opposite attitude is adopted. In the deplorable circumstance that might confront us, which is not always easy, with determination, it is quite possible to overcome the trauma of this phenomenon, if the importance of the self-caring activities is realised. Below are some of the self-caring activities.
1. The company of good, sensitive, and caring friends-with their discussions and advises, you can be comforted and thereby be relieved from the negative emotions.
2. Joining a group that relates to your passion could be relaxing; consequently, relieve you of your distress.
3. Join divorce's group, if there is one in your neighbourhood, because listening to others' experiences could make you to see things differently. You might even realise that your situation is better than most others. This discovery can give you a great relief. Besides, some advises given by the group could be priceless.
4. If you are a Christian, attending church's services regularly and participating in church's activities can be very advantageous, because you are likely to meet somebody who will take interest in you and in your problem, or somebody who have gone through your experience. With his or her advice and concern, you will realise that, there is somebody who cares for you. This has a tremendous positive effect on your emotion. Among other things, church fellowship is to support each member, providing moral, material, and spiritual help whenever necessary.
5. During separation, with anger and bitterness, guilt and self-blame, frustration, fear, and other consequences mentioned previously, a lot of energy is consumed. The replenishing of this lost energy is very necessary. Hence, it is important for you to recognise that eating food of high nutritional values will enable you to achieve this objective, thereby making you to feel better. Conversely, inadequate or improper nourishment can intensify your emotional stress. Quite often, people undergoing separation lost appetite. If this is your case, just force yourself to eat, and eat well.
F. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
Birds sing of the glory, faithfulness, and the greatness of God. Ocean Flowers smile, expressing their joy and excitement for God's majesty and limitless love. All creatures-both great and small, except mankind express God's supremacy and care in one way or the other. Surprisingly, human is the only creature whose focus is directed only to their negative perspective.
Generally, more than ninety per cent of our daily needs are granted. Very astonishingly, we often ignore this, but concentrate our thoughts and emotions on less than ten per cent that we lack. Does this not indicate our ungratefulness to God? I think it does; for, considering all that God has done for us, we suppose to always be happy and grateful for his generosity.
This also applies to your present condition. As much as I acknowledge the importance of a successful relationship to your life, I equally believe that there are other spheres of your life that God has blessed you enormously. These areas among others include: your children, your loved ones, your career, your daily needs, and most importantly, your health.
Do you realise that as you are reading these lines, there are hundreds of thousands of people in your country who are struggling with serious sicknesses, if not death? There is equally innumerable number of people who are anxiously praying for just some of the things that God has blessed you with. Do you think that you are better than them? If your answer is yes, I doubt that very much, except if you can say what you have done to deserve it. All that you have, or are, God graciously give them to you, or make you who you are. As you are encountering this difficult period, or any other, just purse a second and think of everything that God has graciously blessed you with. Do not forget that, as long as there is life, there is always hope. So, before you allow the distress of separation to suppress you, and kill your dreams, just count all your blessings, and your blessing will abound. God bless you!
This article remains the property of its author.
This article is an extract of a chapter from the author's book entitled, "Living Though Separation", which he's yet to find a publisher for its publication.
To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
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