Alone and away from family
I am a young professional who has just ended a long-term relationship (not by choice). The problem is that besides this guy I don't feel like I have much else going for me. I moved to Houston a year ago and have very few friends. I also have no family around here. I am outgoing in general, but don't feel comfortable with strangers. I always tend to have one or two good friends at a time. The person I was dating was my friend, my family and my safety. Now I feel lonely and lost, but I cannot go back with my ex, since he has moved on. I feel like I don't connect with anyone and like I'm incompetent at work. I feel as if the world is against me and I have no tools to defend myself.
Should I stay in Houston or move back where my mother lives? What are some things I can do to deal with this loneliness? How can I get strong so that I don't need other people as much?
This sounds like a powerful opportunity to "find yourself." So many women in our culture are raised with the message that a woman is no one without a man taking care of her. Even if that was not the explicit message you were told growing up, we usually grow up with this belief because everyone around us falls into this pattern and those are the models we learn from. Anytime we go through a breakup (whether you're a man or a woman) it is painful and it's a blow to one's self-esteem. This is especially true when you didn't want to end the relationship. It takes time to recover and feel good about your self again. So first, recognize that you are human and what you're feeling is normal. The discomfort with other people, the feelings of worthlessness and low confidence at work - it's all very common to feel these things when we lose a relationship. Being left often brings up painful feeling of abandonment that may trigger old feeling you had during your childhood. It also sounds particularly painful for you because you moved to a new place with him and you got many of your social/emotional needs met by him (or it seemed that you did).
Many women (and men too), simply jump from one relationship to another because they can't bear the fear of being alone and vulnerable in the world. If you do that, you will lose the wonderful opportunity to discover you own strength, your own soul. At the deepest level of truth, you are completely whole, safe, and capable of not only taking care of yourself, but being truly happy in the world - on your own. Getting to that place is a process that takes time, patience, and compassion for your self. It also takes courage to face your own fear, loneliness and pain. Any loss of a relationship must be grieved before you can move on. It's really no different than a death. You must allow yourself to feel all of your feelings - and to not judge yourself for what you feel. There are no "right or wrong" feelings. Sorrow, fear, resentment, anger - whatever is there for you - perhaps under the surface of your day to day awareness - must be seen and experienced before you can truly move on.
The feeling of wanting to go back and live near your mother is quite natural. It's not for me to tell you what you where you should live. Just be conscious of you're motivation for your decisions. Are you avoiding fully feeling your pain? Are you telling yourself that you can't make it on your own? It can be extremely lonely being in an unfamiliar city without roots. Especially at a time like this, you need to have some kind of support. Learning to be alone does not mean that you should isolate yourself from others. That can be a recipe for depression. You have to find a balance. Sit with the discomfort and emptiness that comes when you are home with nothing to do.
Meditation is probably one of the most effective ways to deal with these feelings and see beyond them. There are many different types of meditation that you can practice that will help you to become aware of your feelings and thoughts, and with practice you will get to deeper and deeper levels within yourself. All meditation involves some focus on the breath. As your practice deepens, you will go below the level of emotions and you will feel an ever-expanding sense of peace, joy and power within your Self. These feelings will then start to carry over into your daily activities and relationships.
It is also a good idea to find an activity that you enjoy (or used to enjoy) and seek it out as a way to connect with people. A class, or a support group can be extremely valuable at a time like this. You should be able to find some free monthly or weekly publications that list various types of support groups. A women's group could be especially helpful. Another thing that many people find very useful is journaling. Keeping a journal of your thoughts, feelings and dreams during this time can help you to gain a lot of clarity and insight about yourself. Finally, you may want to consider some psychotherapy to help you with this transition. Just be sure to choose a therapist that you really feel good about, so that you can build a trusting therapeutic relationship.
I wish you all the best on your journey,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
This question was answered by Ben Schwarcz, MA, MFT, he is a California licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Main County. Ben is also a meditation teacher and a certified online counselor at www.myTHERAPYnet.com. He received his master's degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from JFK University. Transpersonal psychotherapy honors all dimensions of life, with the spiritual Self as the foundation. His specialties are relationships, stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, conscious parenting, adolescents and spiritual issues. His work blends cognitive-behavioral techniques with depth therapy for transformation of mind, body, and spirit. For more information visit Ben's site (www.BenSchwarcz.com) or his compact information page on QueenDom.Com.For more information visit: http://www.AlternativeDepressionTherapy.com