Additional Information for Chapter 4, page 47
Abandonment is not discussed directly in The Compatibility Code, but the consequences of abandonment (devastation) is discussed thoroughly in the book on pages 51 – 53.
Abandonment is a uniquely excruciating human experience. This does not apply to romantic relationships only. When the disciples abandoned Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the effect on Jesus was practically overwhelming. Throughout history when one is abandoned by family, friends, colleagues, countrymen, the effect on the person is typically devastating. When one is abandoned in a romantic relationship, the effect is much the same: A sense of loss, shock, devastation, loneliness, loss of esteem, disruption of social relationships and an array of other crippling emotions are common.
You can quickly see that we in no way minimize the trauma of abandonment. It is indeed awful.
However, there comes a point when the victim must say, “Will I continue in despair, or will I move beyond this?”
At this point the book becomes useful. What we describe on pages 51-53 provides the foundational sequences necessary for full recovery. Even though this information is in The Compatibility Code, we reproduce it here in case you don’t have access to the book. Under other prescripts we discuss in Chapter 5 (on the Web site here) we provide additional detail.
Here then are the steps associated with recovery as suggested by The Compatibility Code:
- Closure: First and foremost, come to an irrevocable decision that the relationship is over and you will not return to it. While you remain in ambiguity about whether you should or shouldn’t, you will remain in turmoil. Only the closed and locked door allows the process of healing to begin. “But can’t we be just friends?” I hear someone cry. The answer is a definitive no! Maybe a couple years later after full recovery, but don’t even think about it now. Break off all contact.
- Externalize: Externalize the negative reactions, talk through your feelings, write them in diaries, accept that you are hurting, but don’t cling to it. The methods of externalization are numerous: speak with a number of friends (but don’t over-burden any one of them), go to groups that allow recovery such a Divorce Anonymous, or go see some type of qualified counselor or therapist. Whatever the cost, this phase must be done for emotionally healthy recovery to occur.
- Appropriate process: Once you have satisfactorily worked through the negativity, don’t allow your mind to obsess on it. The five-step process I noted above for anger works just as well for handling devastation. Here it is again so you can specifically consider your feelings of devastation—if you have them. They are: 1) admit the pain, anger, etc.; 2) vent or externalize it; 3) determine a course of response; 4) do it by carrying out your plan; and 5) forget it. One needs to have completed the first four steps prior to forgetting. Once the steps are completed then a natural death of the damaging feelings can occur by shifting thoughts when “the topic” comes up.
- Activities: Engage in activities that you enjoy even though there is a sense of desperation that you are only doing this to forget something painful. Accept that! Don’t demand that the activities, early in the process, bring much pleasure. Usually they won’t because you are still hurting too much. Do them anyway and the pain will eventually subside.
- Maintain routine: Don’t stop living to sit and stew. I know one individual who would continue to prepare a real meal despite the fact that it was only for herself. If you are working, continue; if going to school, don’t drop out; if you have a regular exercise program, keep it up. Once again, don’t expect much joy out of these activities, just do them until, in the fullness of time, the joy begins to return. If your devastation is too great to maintain routine, consider the next item.
- Find a safe place: Sometimes it is good to get away from your current environment to a safe place, one that doesn’t re-stimulate the memory of the devastation. For some, that may be moving back in with your parents for a while. Your safe place is entirely up to you, but physically removing yourself from the dangerous environment can help the healing process begin.
- Avoid the torture chamber: Avoid situations or settings that allow the pain to settle in. For example, don’t go to bed early. Wait until you are so tired you will fall asleep easily. Avoid times or locations when the feelings of pain may be the greatest, such as Friday nights by yourself, or weekends bumping around the empty rooms in your home. Instead, get out and join an exercise, hobby, or community-service group, invite friends over, develop an after work get-together or movie night, anything that will get you away from places that invite painful reflection.
- Rich network: Maintain a rich network of friends. In a 1996 study that my husband conducted on factors that contribute to or detract from divorce recovery, he found that a rich network of friends and family was the greatest single predictor of emotional restoration. It will work just as well when recovering from any sort of relationship break.
- Nurturing physical closeness: Involve yourself in settings that allow for non-sexual physical contact. In the same study, the second greatest predictor of recovery was physical contact outside of a sexual setting. Enjoy affection from family and friends; get an affectionate, non-judgmental pet (avoid frogs, salamanders, and tarantulas); get a massage, a facial, a manicure, a haircut, but, at this phase, don’t cross the line into sexuality.
- Avoid sexual contact: Avoid sexual or romantic entanglements during this phase. As mentioned above, while physical closeness was the second greatest predictor of recovery from divorce, sexual involvement was the second greatest detriment.