Thursday 27 February 2020

Time alone or rebound?...The red flag of grief...

Humans are not solitary creatures and we thrive when we have a network or community around us. This network might be made up of family, friends, acquaintances, partners, lovers or colleagues but none the less it is important not to isolate ourselves at all times.

However, I am a firm believer that we should embrace and encourage alone time. After all we are the the only person that really knows our thoughts and feelings. No matter how close you are to someone no one really knows what others are thinking or feeling. 

I guess it is fair to say we can be our own best friend and own worst enemy.

Since leaving home for the very first time at the tender age of 20, I have lived with a variety of different people. I have lived with parents, friends, prisoners, boyfriends, in a house share with dirty boys, who had no idea what a toilet brush was! and more recently I have had lodgers.

Between those times I have lived alone. I can be quite adaptable when I have to be. 

During the times of living alone, which has amounted to probably about 10 years. I can honestly say that it has been good for my soul. Admittedly it is far nicer living alone when you have other external things going on outside of the home so that when you do have time out you appreciate it. 

The times when I have felt the loneliest is when I haven't had many external factors outside of the home life causing me to feel quite isolated.

There has been times in my life when all I wished for was peace and quiet. For example, In my 20's I had a flat that was near the local pubs and I forever had someone knocking at my flat door, so the times I had alone I truly cherished. 

Nowadays, I really appreciate people visiting as due to my current situation I am finding myself quite isolated.

However, I do believe that time alone gives you time to reflect, grow and understand yourself and process life events.

I am alone most of the time. I live alone, I am single, I sit in an office alone at work (most of the time), I am not particularly close to my siblings, my parents are elderly so don't see them as often, my friends are in relationships or have children so they don't have as much spare time. You can read about that in the post "kids are like farts, I just about tolerate my own" So when all is said and done I spend an awful lot of time in my own company. 

I actually quite like it. I make myself laugh, cry and have the best ideas! and yes, I frequently talk to myself, my fish and my dog when I can!

Recently I have had to put some of my hobbies on hold due to physical problems I am having with my knees which has caused some isolated feelings and a low sense of mood, but I do know that this is a temporary feeling.

I am currently single following spending a significant amount of time with someone I truly cared for. Although it has been difficult and painful having to deal with negative emotions, I feel that my alone time has actually given me time to grieve the time I shared with him and process the loss of the relationship I had with him. So all is not lost and is actually a real healthly place to be. I am learning about myself and thinking about new ideas, concepts and doing things just for me! I have have seen a relationship counsellor who has been working in that sector for over 25 years who is extremely experienced in the relationship breakdown process. 

Alone time and rebound has been a topic frequently discussed and it always comes down to the same formulations of giving yourself time and not rushing into something new and to go through the process of loss and grief head on instead of finding the replacement to sooth our egos and self worth.

So although humans aren't solitary creatures and don't thrive for longer periods when alone. I do believe there is a real need to have alone time when dealing with a loss and relationship breakdown.

When we lose a relationship of any kind whether that be a friendship, romantic lover, husband/wife, colleague, parent what ever or who ever it is. I truly believe we need time alone to grieve. The loss might be through breakup, falling out or death but ultimately they are all loses and need to be grieved for.

We all deal with things very differently but having read a lot about loss, relationship breakdown and grief the cycle is still the same. We fluctuate between emotions of denial, anger, guilt, reconstruction, depression, bargaining and acceptance. In no particular order and can flit between these varying emotions periodically through out the days, weeks, months and sometimes even years.

I think the main thing is to have time to yourself to feel and really experience these emotions. Time for everyone is different but I think jumping into situations to make up for or to alleviate the grief initially is never a good idea. 

We all know if we rush into situations and replace the life we had with another so rapidly is not going to be healthy as we need to go through the process of grief to ultimately come to terms with the loss.

Yes, indeed it will be a varying amount of time from one individual to another but too soon is too soon. 

If you suddenly find yourself "replacing" the hurt you are feeling by masking it with trading it in by forming a connection with someone or something that makes you feel better short term it is unlikely that you will have processed the grief sufficiently to move on. 

The problem is with this replacement, it is just masking and not having that alone time will undoubtedly bite you in the ass later down the line as the new situation  or person might not actually be all it cracked up to be when replacing the old one.

A good example of this is rebound relationships!....

Most of us have experienced a rebound relationship, whether we are the person who attempts to move on trying to hide the symptoms of the pain we are experiencing by replacing them with someone new or the other party where we are taken in by someone looking to replace something that caused them pain.

During this time, after a relationship/marriage has ended. Starting a new relationship can feel like suddenly the world is a far better place. The hurt and loss that we have recently been experiencing can somewhat reduce or in fact disappear. We suddenly feel like the new situation is even better than the last. Who wouldn't want to feel this? I mean surely it feels better to be feel happy, content, to feel loved, sexy and appreciated than to feel sad, lonely, upset, anxious and depressed? Right???

For most people in this situation they are just craving the attention, sexual desire, peace and love that they weren't experiencing previously and then out of no where get it from someone or something else. Awesome! It is going to feel so good.

Sure, this is great because it can feel like it helps us in the emotional steps of grief. We have a new outlet to focus our emotions on and everything seems so much easier. 

But are we just putting a temporary fix or band aid on how we really feel? 

Most re-bounders are likely to say No to that question, purely because they are in denial! Because it feels so good, even better than the last. 

Most of the time it is lust disguised as love. It is because we are searching and longing for what was missing in the previous relationship but feel we need the security of a new relationship to replace what we have lost. We feel secure, loved and happy once more. So this way we don't feel alone, insecure, unloved and unwanted. 

But actually experiencing those negative feelings is key into moving on. 

We can fall into love or lust to something new with someone new once we have healed ourselves after a significant amount of alone time. Anything before that is just a quick fix.

People and situations are not replaceable but it seems that rebound relationships give us just that. Are we just sweeping things under the carpet and not actually dealing with those scary emotions?

How can we be with someone else so soon when really it might be more healthy to focus on alone time? 

I am not suggesting that we use this alone time to sit and wallow over the previous relationship, albeit I think this is allowed for a few days/weeks initially, but to focus on yourself. 

Starting new hobbies, making new friends etc. From this we are likely to experience those coping strategies of having to deal with grief but not by putting all of our energy into replacing the situation with someone new. 

This does seem a far healthier and reasonable thing to do. This way we are not isolating ourselves as we potentially are making new friends and starting new hobbies and having community and network based communications. We are growing independently, whilst processing grief positively but not isolating ourselves.

Distraction is great for overcoming certain levels of grief but to what detriment? .... Our own, potentially! For if we never really grab the bull by the horns and indulge in what can seem a scary place of alone time we are likely to suffer longer term.

People are scared of feelings and facing these painful emotions because they can make us feel quite depressed and anxious. 

But life isn't easy and part of life is experiencing the pain for sometime for us to successfully heal and move on to healthy relationships.

If this alone time is utilised well at the beginning of our grief I am sure that we will understand our own needs, thoughts and emotions far better than ignoring the emotion by rushing in to something new, no matter how good that feeling is.

Only by having alone time and experiencing a lot of grief am I able to say that I am able to think and process emotions in this way. Which makes me feel that in an adult relationship I am far more equipped to deal with difficulties if they arise than people who repeat the rebound cycle.

I have had 2 rebound relationships in my entire adult life and I can honestly say that long term they did not help. I liked the idea of that warm cosy feeling that I had lost and the excitement of a new partner but actually once that "honeymoon" phase had ended my emotions that I hadn't dealt with soon came back. 

You cant fix self esteem and confidence by using someone to fill the gap. You can only improve this by being alone and growing to love yourself ...singular.

I have been alone for some time and had many long periods of being alone and I know that I feel ok with myself. Sadly I have been unable to have a partner but I definitely know that jumping from relationship to relationship is a red flag for me and not helpful or healthy in the long run.

Perhaps that is why I am still single because the universe hasn't found anyone for me yet that isn't in rebound status?! 

For those in rebound relationships, well I hope for now it takes the pain away and it is replaced and soothed by those feelings of love and warmth but please be aware that people will struggle to be able to keep this act up for long before their own demons, lack of self esteem and self worth and confidence come creeping back which can cause great destruction in a relationship. 
Be your own anchor in your own storm, Don't rely upon someone else to be that for you. 

Take the time to indulge in self love, self soothing activities, some alone time. Do not rely on someone else to make you happy and to replace something so soon with out grieving for a sufficient amount of time. 

Yes, grief hurts and sucks and I know you want to do anything for the pain to go away and by being with someone else gives you that fix. But breaking that cycle is far more important for your own well being and the other persons well being and it will save it ending in tears further down the line. 

You will become a stronger and happier person.

Then and only then we can can move forward.

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