Blog: Pain

Family & Friends: When they don't say the right thing during your breakup

By Leah Sheppard

Family & Friends: When they don't say the right thing during your breakup

Our family and friends are the best, right? They are there to support us and have our backs whenever we need it, and when we go through a breakup they are particularly important. Sometimes however, they just don’t say the right thing you need to hear and all it does is make the situation feel much worse.

Often when we eventually tell our family and friends that we’ve broken up with our partner, the reaction is one of heartbreak on your behalf: ‘I’m so sorry to hear that! How could they do this to you?! Here, let me give you a hug’.

But while they think they are doing the right thing, sometimes the comments can head into the protective and defensive territory: ‘I never liked them; I told you they would do this to you didn’t I? Oooohhh I’d love to give them a piece of my mind!’.

When you look at the way a person feels after a breakup it’s a very confusing time, full of very intense emotions. Yes there is sadness, anger, ‘how could they?’ and so on, but you also have the same feelings of protection, loyalty and love on board – even if it’s not reciprocated by your ex. That stuff doesn’t just go away when your ex does, and it makes for a very chaotic environment when all you want is peace.

All you hear around you is how everyone wants to hurt your ex for dumping you, when in your mind everyone is trying to attack the one you love. They may all be going on about how much they never liked that person anyway, and all you’re thinking is ‘everyone was lying to me the whole time, and now I have no one’. You may not even want anyone to hug or touch you at all, because that intimate space was what you only reserved for your partner. They all become smothering.

The thing about true family and friends is that they love you, unconditionally; and while they may not say or do the right thing, they only have your best interests at heart. Behaviors such as the ones described above are only protective measures to make sure you don’t get hurt again, and are truly done as a sign of respect and love for you – even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Now, this isn’t to say that what they are doing is right; probably the contrary, but it is the only way they know best to make you feel better. No one knows the feelings you have going on in your head, only you. So make them known, but always with respect and love. If something is bothering you, figure out exactly what that is and tell them. If what they are saying/doing is not what you want them to, tell them this:

‘I really love that you are trying to help me, and I know this may not make sense to you - but I don’t need you to say/do that.

There are a lot of emotions going on in my head that I need to sort out, and all I need is someone to talk it out with, and be there when I need it.

I’ll get back to normal eventually; I’m just a little fragile right now.

They will understand. The more you open up about what you actually need, the more they will be able to help. You don’t need warriors right now, just someone to talk out your feelings with. 

The case may be that you can’t actually talk about all the details you’d like to with family and friends, and that’s ok too. There are a range of counseling services that you can look up to help out with that. Just know that in the meantime your peeps are trying to help the best they can, so ease up on them. Remember, they can’t read your mind; only the look on your face, so let them know what’s going on in there.

when family and friends don't say the right thing

Read more


Contemplating suicide after your heart has been broken

By Leah Sheppard

Contemplating suicide after your heart has been broken
Going through a tough time after your breakup? Feeling like there's no hope for feeling happiness again? You're not alone; AND there is help :) Get some friendly advice for your heartache recovery now...

Read more


Abuse: The Trojan Horse of Relationships

By Leah Sheppard

Abuse: The Trojan Horse of Relationships

Sometimes in life we can be hurt by the ones we love. Whether it is emotional, Psychological, spiritual or physical, the impact that it has on us can be deep and painful, especially when it is enacted by someone we thought we could trust.

Often abuse is gradual, and unrecognisable at first. It may start with the odd comment here and there, about how you dress, how you speak or think, even about your lifestyle choices or family. You let it go thinking that this must be a normal part of any relationship and all they are doing is trying to help you… Eventually however, in an effort to keep the peace - or worse, to keep the relationship, we become trained in the way that THEY think, how THEY see the world, and in the process we lose confidence in our own ability to think, and act. We become subservient to their worldview and only find validation in ourselves through their eyes…Whether this is physical or psychological makes no difference: They no longer have to train you to be how they want you to be because you are already doing it for them.

Abuse infiltrates our lives like a Trojan horse - if it didn’t, we’d be able to deal with it straight away, right? We’ve all seen the ads about abused women in bad relationships and wonder why they didn’t just leave. But here’s the thing: No one enters this life hoping that they will be abused and hurt by the one they love. They all started out just like you, feeling so happy and relieved to have found someone to love and share their lives with, and to keep them safe. One off-hand comment led to another, which over time led to a raised voice, which led to a stronger and more deliberate way to make them understand that they weren’t up to scratch. Many women are abused in relationships, not just in a way that produces bruises and scars; often it will take a breakup to actually realise that you had been abused at all.

If you have been abused in your relationship, or at any point in your life it is important to realise that this is a reflection of the abuser, not yourself. There is nothing you did to warrant anyone treating you with pain, or anything other than respect and love. You are beautiful, genuine, loving, intelligent and powerful beyond belief. Your life choices and background and way of viewing the world have enabled you to become the amazing person you are today.

Trust yourself, trust your mind; Know that you are exactly what you must be at this point in time, and have all the strength and knowledge you need right now. You will grow, you will learn, you will develop; but in your own way, at your own pace and in the way you best see fit. Your scars, physical or otherwise, will heal with time; and you will be able to identify that Trojan horse whenever you come upon it in life. Always maintain your value, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you need to speak to someone about abuse, or your experience, call The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 RESPECT, or 1800 737 732. It’s a free telephone and online confidential service for any Australian experiencing or who has experienced domestic or family violence and/or sexual assault. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

abusive relationship gaslighting emotional physical sexual verbal

Read more


Experiencing 'Firsts' without your Ex

By Leah Sheppard

Experiencing 'Firsts' without your Ex

Probably one of the worst moments in your breakup recovery is the first time you do something that you used to do with your ex. It hurts so much because it is a stark reminder of the fact that when you had done that thing, been to that place, experienced that special moment, you had no idea it would be for the last time.

First time going to the movies without them, first time going to dinner…Probably the worst of all is going to bed for the first time without having them to wake up next to. I still remember how my entire body felt like it had been sucker-punched when I woke up the morning after my breakup and realized it wasn’t a dream at all. He really had left me, and I never got the chance to savor the last time he was lying next to me.

I just wanted to fall asleep and never wake up again.

Sure each time gets that little bit easier with everything you get used to doing on your own again, but in the beginning each one just feels like a punch in the guts. I remember after my first breakup, my parents took me out for brunch. They knew I loved brunch, and it would be a sure-fire way to make me feel better. To their horror, I ended up balling my eyes out for 2 hours because I had realized the last time I had ‘brunch’ was when I was happily coupled-up with my ex. It was such a small thing to cry over, but the thought of it made me completely lose any sense of trust in people, and my own ability to judge a situation. While I had thought our relationship was fine, and I had someone to share my smashed-avo Sundays with; he must have been thinking of how much he didn’t like me right?; like how he was going to get rid of me?!…But I never saw that on his face; I never saw it coming at all. What does that mean for any other happy times I have – are they all just a lie too??? This cycle of constant questioning and overthinking can happen with anything, and it makes you feel terrible, and completely unhinged.

When we go out with someone for a long time we establish a pattern with them; a synchronicity where we know our position relative to each other, and an identity that is richly intertwined with that person. A breakup, especially one you weren’t expecting disrupts that pattern and sets us into a free-fall. There is no reference point to gauge what is happening or any form of solace to cling to; only the knowledge that the person we had finally found to enjoy those things with, no longer wants to enjoy them with you.

These times are particularly challenging, and can get so difficult that we can sometimes avoid those things altogether, just so we don’t have to feel the pain again. We can stop going to certain places, not watch certain movies, or be involved in certain activities all because it reminds us of our ex.

But that just leads to a life that is forever constrained by something that has happened in the past. Our memories of what was and what should have been are the things that keep poking at the wound, not the actual things themselves. The things we actually enjoy doing or seeing or experiencing should not be off-limits because of what you had hoped for when you were doing it last.

The times we spend with our loved ones are certainly a privilege, and are not always guaranteed. However we must look on those experiences with gratitude and place them lovingly in the past where they belong, and move forward.

While it is hard taking those first steps as a single person once again, remember it gets easier with each time. And while it may take some getting used to, reclaim those places and experiences that you want back in your life so that you can enjoy them once again.

Being single is just a new pattern to get used to, so make it a beautiful one.

moving on after a breakup how to get over a breakup

Read more


Betrayal: How will I ever trust a partner in the future?

By Leah Sheppard

Betrayal: How will I ever trust a partner in the future?

When someone we love lets us down, our hearts sink to the floor. Not only had the things you had hoped and planned for your future together suddenly been taken out from under you, but the person you trusted enough to let into your heart and world was the one that did it.

Breakups can encompass shock, disappointment, anger, sadness and rejection, among many others; and it is a sucker-punch few are ever really prepared for. What’s worse is that once the dust settles, we begin to build a wall around ourselves that is incredibly hard to take back down again. This may have already started before you broke up, with the few times, here and there that they hadn’t thought about you, or your feelings, or the fact that you matter at all.

And once the final ‘betrayal’ of getting dumped happens, many quickly seal up that wall so that no one can ever hurt them like that again. Even if you find someone new there is always that element of doubt in the back of your mind. You want to be able to trust someone again, and share those amazing things in your life with them, but the prospect of getting hurt again is just too hard to bear. So we either shut off completely from others, or create a minefield of tests around us for any future prospect to try and navigate blindly, in order to give us a heads-up before they can hurt us first. Sound familiar?

Look, it is completely natural to feel this way. The risk of pain is something that all living beings must contemplate in order to progress and move forward; especially when you are walking into a situation that seems similar to the one that got you hurt in the first place. However, while creating that wall around yourself may seem like the best form of defence, it really just creates a prison; one where you and all those painful and eroding emotions are stuck forever.

Learning to trust again is one of the hardest feats anyone can achieve. Not only is it the key to any possibility for a loving and meaningful relationship in the future, but it also recognises that you understand that pain is an unavoidable part of living.

At many points in our lives we will be let down by other people. While the reasons may be varied and the fallout hard, ultimately it comes down to one thing: We are all human; we are all learning, and we don’t always get it right.

The fact that one person hurt you does not mean that all people will. Give each person a chance on their own merits, not based on the mistakes of another. Living, and loving is a case of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and putting one foot in front of the other again in your pursuit of happiness. If you fall, you fall; but just like the last time, you’ll get through it, and you are richer and more knowledgeable for the experience. You can’t control the world; all you can control is yourself: So dream, risk, hustle, and repeat as necessary.

cheating betrayal breakups trust

Read more


When your Ex is with someone new

By Leah Sheppard

When your Ex is with someone new

Whether it happens immediately after your breakup, or a year and a half down the line, seeing your ex with someone new while you are still getting over them is one of the biggest tests in your recovery. Ultimately, you always knew it was going to happen; but you are never really able prepare for it…

I remember the day I saw my ex with his new partner. It was just under two months since we had broken up, and they were tagged in a photo together from a work Christmas Party. Who the hell is that? Surely he doesn’t have someone else ALREADY? Why has he got his arms around her? And why does he look so happy, when I’m so miserable?

Inevitably when people split up we are likely to get new partners, even though at the time it feels like you’ll never find anyone again. But the injustice of it all comes from our perception of how the other person should be feeling relative to how we do: It’s not like we would ever admit it to anyone, but they should be sad - for the same amount of time that I’m sad; anything less just shows how little they really felt for us, right?

Over the time we get to know our partners we establish a bond; and that bond doesn’t just go away when our ex does. Irrespective of our knowing that the relationship has changed, and all the sorrow and heartbreak that comes with that; we still have all the feelings of love, loyalty and desire for our partners. When we see them with someone new then, it sets off all those alarm bells in our brains that indicate a threat to our bond. That’s where I should be; that’s my place next to him.

The fact is that this person has, for whatever reason, decided that they are looking for something else; something different to what they believed they can find in a life with you. This does not by any means confirm that a life with you is at all bad. It is simply not what this particular person, at this particular time, that you happen to have met and spent a part of your journey with wants for their life anymore. And that is ok, just as it is ok for you to do the same.

Ultimately, as free-willed individuals we need to be able to source a path for ourselves that will create happy and meaningful lives. If the person you thought loved you does not love you anymore, you must pick yourself up and move on. 

Sometimes our exes find another partner quickly because they are feeling so sad; it is just so unbearable being alone and out of their pattern with you. Nevertheless they have decided that there is something missing in their lives that they need to find somewhere else, so we need to let go. 

Acknowledge that the heartbreak is a sign of your respect for them, and have gratitude for the time you got to spend with each other. But pay respect your own history and future by acknowledging the end of it. They were who you needed in your life then, but make room for what you need now and going forward. You will have someone in your life eventually, but at a time that is right for you.

BREAKUP HELP

Read more


Travel and Escape: When Eat, Pray, Love just isn't in the budget

By Leah Sheppard

Travel and Escape: When Eat, Pray, Love just isn't in the budget

‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is one of my favourite movies, and to be honest was one of the very first things I thought of doing after getting dumped. There are so many of us who would just love to escape to a tropical place after a breakup and get away to somewhere we can ‘sort ourselves out’. Sure a beach and a tan will make us feel better, but there are also some very real problems with this (unless you have a cheeky years’ salary stashed away somewhere #saidnooneever) is that:

  1. Most of us cannot afford to disappear for a years’ worth of healing, and
  2. Your breakup-pain will still be there when you get back.

I’ve known many a heartbroken friend to fork out all their savings and leave on a 3-month ‘find-myself’ trip to India, only to find that the issues they had been trying to escape were still waiting for them back home (albeit under a tan, and a few tropical one-night-stands). And you know what? It really, really hurts when you find that out. It is yet another unfair and shitty thing about breakups, and it can’t be fixed by checking out. You didn’t ask for it, you didn’t plan for it, but now it’s thrust upon you as yet another thing you have to deal with in your life.

We often choose travel as a go-to way of surrounding ourselves in something positive, having been through something so very, very painful. It is natural to assume that all you need is a time away to rest but that’s not really what the problem is. It also creates more financial problems for you when you get back.

I know this from experience, many times over, and the plain truth of it is you have to be present. You have to weather the storm, and you have to deal with it. It is a journey you have to take, and an unfortunate part of the human experience. What you have been through is grief and emotional trauma, and there are very specific ways that will help you deal with that. It hurts like no other pain you’ve felt before but the pain will not last forever; it will however definitely hang around way longer than necessary if you don’t deal with it properly.

There is no amount of tropical beaches or yoga classes that can strip away the pain you feel when you look at a place you and your ex used to go to; or a song that reminds you of them. There is no amount of meditation or cocktails-in- pineapples or Tuscan escapes that will draw out and help you overcome the feeling of abandonment, rejection and broken dreams that reside in you as a result of the one you love not loving you back.

You end up putting yourself in this strange limbo, where you aren’t surrounded by all the memories of that person, but you know they are all back there waiting for you when you get back. It’s not relaxing, and it’s not reality.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against holidays or having a breather; going away for a while to get your head straight is perfectly fine. Just understand that going away without the proper help is not the way to handle your business, and the things you need to deal with are still going to be there. Worse, it puts a completely different spin on those awesome places we would usually go to enjoy ourselves.

As hard as it is, my advice is to stay and sort things out. You have built a life for yourself that is separate to your relationship, and that is not something to jeopardize by checking-out. Always make sure you are safe, and surrounded by those who would support you when you need it. Engage the counseling or coaching services you need to deal with the pain, and get to work. 

Understand that this pain is just another indication of your capacity to love someone, and your true strength will be revealed to you in your ability to keep going. As with anything difficult just break it down into manageable steps, dealing with every second, every minute and every hour as it comes. Eventually you will take off to beautiful and exotic places but at a time, bank-balance and context that actually provides you with a meaningful and worthwhile experience to remember.

breakup recovery holiday retreat bali

Read more