Shaking the Foundations: Can I Survive Relationship Breakdown? #2
In my last post, we started to look at ways to both survive and to ultimately “come through” relationship breakdown that preserve personal authenticity, meaning and value.
Last time, we looked at some very immediate steps that a person might take to “keep the ship upright’ in the aftermath of relationship breakdown. This time, we’ll look at some things that are a little more oriented to the longer term.
Don’t Get Lost in Technology
This is a point that’s particular to our time. In the aftermath of a relationship breakdown, it is very easy, in our time, to seek social connection through social media, like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this, if the social media can be a true connection to the type of in-depth encounter with others that people really need. The trouble is, that in our time, it’s very easy for the social media to become a shallow substitute for real interaction. There are very many people who are in a state something like addiction to social media, for whom the “buzz” of social media acts as a substitute for any kind of genuine encounter with the other.
People need others to see and appreciate them in their uniqueness. Oftentimes, social media can give the illusion of this type of contact with others, but with no connection of real substance. Social media can also prevent us from having a genuine deep and lasting relationship with ourselves. By all means use them, but please also recognize the need for genuine and deep encounter with others!
Listen to Your Dreams
The unconscious mind responds to the emotional impact of relationship breakdown. Depth case studiess know that often dreams will reflect the actual grieving process of losing a relationship. Understanding the symbolism and emotional importance of dreams can be a source of real healing in the process of moving through the loss. Dreams may also show us some of the things we need to face and embrace in the course of moving through the loss of relationship. They may well point us toward things we need to realize about our inmost selves as we struggle to deal with loss. They may also help us to realize the ways in which a relationship breakdown connects with experiences from earlier in our lives, which may help us to understand the process that we are going through in new ways.
As neuropsychologist Mark Solms and others have shown, the unconscious mind doesn’t use the kind of rationality that characterises the conscious mind. It’s often capable of showing us the connections between things in our lives in a new way. Sometimes the unconscious can show us the way through situations like loss and relationship breakdown in ways that are quite simply beyond the capacity of the conscious mind. In C.G. Jung’s words:
Turning from the “Magical Other” to Ourselves
One of the essential things that comes forward to us from relationship breakdown is a single, overwhelmingly powerful but very difficult truth. As James Hollis and others describe it, it is the deep seated, fallacious fantasy that:
…out there somewhere is some “Magical Other” who will rescue us.
Relationship breakdown takes us to the point where we realize that we cannot blame others for our lives, and that we can’t avoid facing the loneliness that is an inherent part of those lives. Relationship breakdown can be a key point at which we realize that we have to genuinely explore our own lives, and start to really find out who we are, in our conscious and unconscious entirety.
Do Something to Move Towards the Self
Relationship breakdown may be accompanied by a summons from deep within us to move towards the Self. We may well not recognize it as that. It may be that a “door opens”, and we all of a sudden are captivated by a possibility that we weren’t aware was there, even a brief while ago. We may be inexplicably drawn to something that attracts us for no reason that we’re aware of. Can we have the courage to explore these “strange attractors”, as some /a-midlife-transitions call them? They might just point us in the direction of wholeness and healing.
It may also be important to seek out the right kind of affirming therapy or counselling may be very important in this process.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst