Ask The Therapist: “It’s been almost 9 months since I got divorced…I still miss him. How can I forget him?”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained therapist. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“It’s been almost 9 months since I got divorced. I’ve been through the grievance and healing phase. It was a roller coaster of emotions – self-blaming, wishing to die, loneliness and finally, a somewhat semblance to a feeling of strength and independence. Normally it’s said that time is a great healer. But I can’t stop thinking about him, most of the time unconsciously. I still miss him and want to talk to him. Although our marriage wasn’t working, I never wanted it to end. I loved him. Now I don’t want to think about him and move on. Please guide and help. How can I forget him?”

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

I can only imagine the kind of emotions that you’ve experienced in the last few months. It definitely sounds like a rollercoaster of emotions. Ending a relationship, especially a marriage, can really have an impact. Of course, no two people grieve in the same way. Let’s talk about the idea of grief in the context of a loss of a relationship – specifically marriage.

The Ending Of A Marriage

While it’s no secret that break-ups are difficult, the ending of a marriage can really take its toll on anyone emotionally. There are several factors that go into this. Firstly, it takes time to finalise the process – the official signing of papers, breaking the news to family and friends, coming to the decision itself – all of these things can really add onto the enormity of that loss. Aside from the logistics, there’s the fact that this is a change in your life, one that entails learning to let go of certain things. This person would have been a significant part of your life, and it can take time to adjust to a new routine, one that may not include them anymore. 

Give Yourself Space and Time

There is no right or wrong way to feel in times of grief, and it is perfectly natural to miss your partner. Whether you feel nostalgic, sad, angry or even confused, allow yourself the space to feel all of those feelings – that’s your process. It may seem counterintuitive to face any kind of pain. Usually humans are geared towards escaping difficult circumstances, or avoiding things that result in pain. Yet, the paradigm of grief entails that it is only when we face that pain and our difficult emotions that we will learn to move forward with them. It can seem like a lot, and at times it does seem like it will last forever, but I assure you, it will get better. Give yourself time, as much time as you need. Could be months, even years – grief has no timeline.   

Talk About What You’re Feeling And Experiencing

In times of grief, you might find it helpful to talk about what you’re feeling. Ideally with someone who you feel safe around, and who is able to hold space for your emotions and vulnerabilities. There is a certain kind of relief that comes with being heard by someone close to us. Holding our pain and our truth within ourselves can often feel a little overwhelming, so letting those feelings out can really help with the process of understanding and experiencing our grief.

If speaking to someone close isn’t an option, you can always find a counsellor who specialises or works with grief. They will be able to hold space for you as you experience your grief in whatever way you need to.

You Can Still Move On Without Completely Letting Go

There is no definitive way for me to say what awaits you on your journey, but I will say that there will come a time where the thoughts of your ex won’t be as painful. Perhaps you may begin to remember him with that feeling of fondness, or just as a distant memory. You may not always be able to let go of your grief, but you can definitely move forward with it. 

Re-Discover Who You Are

When a change like this happens, you will find yourself in a place of change, in a place of uncharted territory and uncertainty. In times like this, it may help to rebuild that relationship with yourself – who are you now? Who would you like to be? What does the future look like for you? What would you like it to be? 

Sometimes the sheer weight of our grief can make it seem like this feeling is going to last forever. That’s not the case. Your message in itself is a testament to the idea that grief is a process. From experiencing self-blame and loneliness to independence and liberation. Missing your ex and experiencing that sadness and that sense of loss is also part of that journey – welcome it, make space for it. Allow that sadness to tell its story and really be heard and acknowledged. There will come a time where it won’t be as overwhelming as it is now. Let it happen the way it’s meant to, it’s okay. You will get through this. 

I wish you all the best on your journey towards healing. Take care of yourself, Anon!

The above article is written by Shahrukh Shahbaz Malik who is trained in humanistic integrative counselling at CPDD in the UK and currently has her own private practice in Karachi. The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They do not necessarily represent the views of Mashion, nor do they represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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