Psychotherapist Susan Anderson had been helping her clients overcome heartbreak and loss for over twenty years when her longtime partner told her he didn’t love her anymore and left their relationship out of the blue. As she struggled to cope with her own pain from that abandonment, she recognized the extent to which realistic, well-researched, and clinically tested steps are required in order to heal from such a deep emotional injury. That is what her The Abandonment Recovery Workbook: Guidance through the Five Stages of Healing from Abandonment, Heartbreak, and Loss (New World Library, August 17, 2016) is designed to provide. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book that focuses on the question, “Will I ever love again?”
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People in the throes of a breakup universally express the fear that they will never love again. I was afraid of this myself for a few months after losing my life partner. In the midst of the despair and hopelessness of Shattering, we believe that losing our loved one means losing the possibility for love and connection forever. It is this fear, above all, that makes ending a relationship so anguishing. Therapists know only too well how hard it is to convince people that their lives are not over. My message in this chapter is that there are steps we can take to ensure a brighter future.
If I’d had a crystal ball during my own abandonment that promised I’d find love again, I could have endured the awful isolation more easily at the time. If I could have foretold the future and known that I was not in permanent hell, but in a transitional period heading toward even greater happiness, this knowledge would have quelled much of the fear and desolation of the Shattering stage.
Almost anything is bearable if we know it is temporary.
Now that my ordeal is behind me, how I wish I had a crystal ball for the many thousands of people who contact me during their own time of Shattering to let them see that if they are willing to perform the work of recovery, they will be able to find the love they always sought. That is the hopeful message this chapter brings.
Not everyone needs to find a relationship to be happy, but all of us need to know we could succeed at one if we wanted it.
Some people feel chronically shattered because they desperately want someone to care about but, after years of effort, can’t find a relationship. Their future looms ahead of them, a frightening spectacle of loneliness. They have a sense of endless doom and a heightened vulnerability running just below the surface of their everyday lives.
“My biological clock is running out,” says Beverly. “It’s too late for true happiness now. It feels as if my whole mission in life has been aborted.”
Some people going through a breakup feel especially desperate because it’s happened before.
They’re caught up in patterns in which they keep getting abandoned over and over again. Once again, they’ve failed to get a relationship to last. They describe the anxiety, wakeful nights, and loss of confidence in themselves.
“Am I condemned to loneliness for the rest of my life?”
“Will I ever love again?”
It may seem too early to address these questions even before you’ve come to terms with a recent breakup. But most people need immediate answers to these burning questions, especially during the early throes of heartbreak when hopelessness runs at an all-time high.
The answer is that, of course, you will find connection and love again, even if it means having to discover more about yourself. Even if it means that in the midst of your desolation you have to face your feelings, face yourself, face your reality, and change.
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Susan Anderson is the author of The Abandonment Recovery Workbook, as well as Taming Your Outer Child and The Journey from Abandonment to Healing. The founder of the Outer Child and Abandonment Recovery movements, she has devoted the past 30 years of clinical experience and research to helping people resolve abandonment and overcome self-sabotage. Visit her online at http://www.abandonment.net.
Excerpted from the book The Abandonment Recovery Workbook: Guidance through the 5 Stages of Healing from Abandonment, Heartbreak, and Loss. Copyright ©2003, 2016 by Susan Anderson. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.