Stage One: Denial
No one wants to believe that their relationship has taken such a wrong turn. In the beginning you might question your decision, wondering if things were really bad enough to tear your family apart. Sometimes a brief separation is all you need to get your relationship back on track, but sometimes no matter how many counseling sessions you attend and how hard you try, it's just not going to work out.
You might have days where you think that maybe it wasn't as bad as it truly was, especially if you've grown to depend on each other financially or in an emotional way. If you have children, it's easy to consider staying together while they grow up, but that's not fair to you and chances are, your children will be directly affected from the negative relationship one way or another.
Stage Two: Guilt
I could have tried harder. I shouldn't have said those nasty things. I should have been more loving and understanding. Feeling guilt over the state of your relationship is totally normal, no matter what the reason is. It doesn't matter if you were the one that ended things or if your partner took that step, it's hard not to feel at least somewhat guilty over the fact that things didn't work out. We don't get married thinking that someday we'll get divorced. If that was the thought, not many people would consider marriage.
Feeling guilt over the fact that things didn't work out isn't going to help the situation. It's not going to change the fact that things got as bad as they did, and it's not going to help you further progress in your recovery. If you truly feel that you could still work things out with your partner, then speak with them about it in rational terms and don't expect for things to instantly change; but strongly think about why you're considering the relationship again and weigh out the pros and cons.
Stage Three: Anger
Feeling angry with yourself or your partner is another step toward working through your emotions. It's very common to have bitterness and dislike for the person you were with, yourself, or another party that may have been involved. Dealing with these emotions is the only way of sorting through them. Pushing the anger down is only going to result in an eventual outburst when you feel that you've reached your breaking point.
Sit down with these feelings and figure out why you're angry. Is it because a situation tore you apart? Is it because there was distrust? Is it because you let your partner down somehow? Once you've figured out why you're feeling these things, it will be easier to work through them.
If your partner did something that resulted in the relationship ending, it's very difficult to move past it. Forgiving someone for something they've done doesn't mean that it was okay or that you suddenly think it was acceptable. Forgiving someone truly releases yourself from the bitterness that surrounds your heart. When you forgive, you take the control back. Holding on to anger only allows the other person to remain in control of your feelings, and is damaging to your recovery.
Stage Four: Depression and Loneliness
Your life changes very suddenly when a relationship ends, especially if you saw each other every day or were living together. Though things were difficult, that person was always there and it's easy to get caught up in thinking that you're totally alone now. That loneliness only grows larger when you start feeding it all the lies you tell yourself.
Thinking things like, "I'm always going to be alone" and "No one is ever going to love me" are things that you don't know to be true and only add weight to the burden you're already carrying. Instead, surround yourself with people who care about you and build you up. If needed, give yourself a few days to stay in your pajamas and not leave the house, but then you need to pick yourself back up and do the best you can to move forward.
Seeking the counsel of a professional isn't a bad idea either. They'll be able to help you gain control over these feelings and will help you to rediscover the beauty within yourself. Don't let depression consume you to the point that it's difficult to function on a regular basis. You deserve to be happy and need to give yourself the chance to do so.
Stage Five: The Upward Turn
It might take a little bit of time, but at some point, it will feel as though the clouds have parted and you're able to feel the sun shine down on you again. You might start feeling better about yourself, stronger and more capable as a person. This point might feel like a long time coming, but you should embrace it! These feelings will probably come on slowly. You'll have some really good days mixed in with the bad ones, but pretty soon, the bad days will become fewer and fewer. Find a new purpose for your life. Do something that you love and keep up with it. You can't let this loss destroy you!
Stage Six: Reconstruction
This is the best time of your life to truly figure out who you are and who you want to be. When your relationship ended, it felt like your whole world came crashing down around you and you were lost in the rubble. Well, now is the time to build yourself back up! Do things that you weren't able to do before, try new things, make new friends.
If there's something you don't like about yourself, improve it! Be confident in the person you are. Don't jump right into another relationship just because you're feeling better. Healing takes time and patience. The last thing you need at this point is to experience another loss in your life if the relationship doesn't work out. Take things slowly and one step at a time.
Stage Seven: Acceptance and Hope
Acceptance doesn't mean that you'll never feel a tinge of pain from your experience. It's more like coming to a realization that things didn't work out the way you had wanted them to. There will still be days that feel sad when you think about it, but they'll be few and far between. Your confidence should be back, and you'll be looking forward to the future!
When you experience the loss of the relationship you had with your partner, it can be a devastating blow to your entire world. Taking the time you truly need to recover from it will help not only your self worth, but will make your future relationships stronger and less likely to unjustly suffer the consequences of your previous ones. There's no time limit on how long your grief will last, but giving yourself the time to heal is the most important thing to do! Don't sell yourself short; even if you were the one that ended the relationship, you're entitled to feel the pain that comes along with it.