“I Do” But Now “I Don’t”

What happens when those euphoric days of falling in love, declaring your commitment to one another, and sealing that commitment with a pledge of “I do” under all circumstances, till ‘death do us part’ becomes well… I have changed my mind; this isn’t really working anymore, and well… “I can’t”, “I won’t” and really, “I don’t” any longer??

I see many people in my practice that become stuck – stuck in anger, sadness, resentment and doubt when facing ‘life as we knew it’ altering events. But just like everything in life there is an opposite response as well.   There are those that move forward, with courage, determination and a sincere effort to work with their spouse or partner even if they are the ones left behind.

I love this quote by Nelson Mandela, “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.”   Fear is a natural, powerful emotion. It can be debilitating or it can be the impetus to overcome our fear(s).

I know for me, when I have been faced with devastating, life-altering events (and there have been several); I have been plagued with self-doubt and negative emotions that have left me feeling powerless, vulnerable and sometimes completely paralyzed with seemingly no positive alternatives that could impel me to move forward or make a decision.

Looking back at those times, caught up in the depths of my own drowning emotions I recall what I did to become unstuck.   I consciously decided to not react or act on my emotions, but to deliberately move, sometimes painfully slow towards what I knew in my head to be a move or shift in the right direction.

I am not saying it is easy. But after testing this approach over and over, it became clear to me that my choices did not have to be driven by the way I was feeling. It became easier and easier; we often know what we need to do to achieve the best possible outcome, but more likely ‘feel’ that we can’t.

How does one just not merely ‘survive’ a break-up?   First and foremost it’s pushing through the self-doubt, anger and resentment.   Take care of you, and recognize that you are doing the very best you can. Grieve what is lost, seek help when necessary, learn from the past and look forward! Believe that though your life may be different than what you imagined, you will be better than before and that the future is filled with endless possibilities.

Socrates defines change this way “the secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”