Did you know that the impact love has on the brain is as powerful as the impact drug addiction has? It’s no wonder old school artists like The Pretenders have made reference to this in their new song called ‘The Buzz’. As have other artists like Kesha in ‘Love Is A Drug’, G Eazy in ‘Your Love Is My Drug’ and according to Rolling Stone, The Weeknd in ‘Cant Feel My Face’. Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher from Rutgers University concludes, “modern addictions like nicotine, drugs, sex and gambling are hijacking an ancient brain pathway that evolved millions of years ago from romantic love.” She continues on to say “Our poets, songs, novels, sitcoms, operas and plays have been discussing it forever and now we can confirm it with what we found in the brain”. Her study on her participants led her to conclude that people in love “Are wiling to do crazy things, stupid things. Just as a person would while fighting a drug addiction, a lovelorn person obsesses, craves and distorts reality.”
So where does that leave people when the love of their life cheats on them? It leaves them feeling the same repercussions that a drug addict would feel if they had just gone cold turkey. This is because more often than not people become co-dependent in relationships, so when they experience a break up they usually feel like they have lost a huge chunk of themselves. It is one thing to consciously choose to break up with someone but to be blind-sided by a break up due to infidelity, that is something else. It can really take a toll on your health because it comes as such a shock to the system. In a lot of situations it can result in trauma due to the lies, manipulation, gas lighting and projection that often follows when a cheater is caught red handed.
So if this has happened to you and you are experiencing a whirlwind of emotions what is the first thing you should do? Firstly allow yourself to be present in the moment so that you can truly feel every emotion. You can do this by taking some time to yourself, somewhere that you will not be interrupted so that you can let it all out. Do not try to numb or suppress the pain because it will only come back even stronger and at very unexpected times.
Next you can start to pin point what emotions you are feeling and why. For example if you are feeling angry ask yourself where this anger comes from? Is it because you have been lied to? Ok great now dig deeper, why does it make you so angry that you have been lied to? Is it because you feel betrayed? If yes then ask yourself what betrayal means to you specifically. This could mean asking what behaviours need to be done in order for you to regard it as a betrayal.
You can then ask yourself why do these behaviours bother you so much? Is it because they clash with your values and beliefs? An example of this may be if you firmly believe in treating others how you wish to be treated, so maybe you are confused about why you got cheated on and lied to when you were very loyal and honest. If this is the case then ask yourself where this belief stems from? Is this one of your needs in a relationship? Were you clear about this need in this relationship? How can you be clearer in the future to avoid your needs not being met?
If it is not due to a clash of values and beliefs then maybe it is something to do with childhood. Maybe the first time you experienced betrayal was in childhood and you never received the closure you needed from that act, so now every time someone betrays you it triggers anger that goes far beyond just this instance. Now that you have started unpacking these feelings you have a deeper understanding behind what you are feeling and can see why everything you listed is 100% valid.
Next, you could start to observe how your life feels different now that the other person is gone. Has it changed for the better? Did you subconsciously feel that something was off all along and now you have a huge weight lifted off your shoulders because you can finally invest some energy into yourself and move on? Or has it changed for the worse? If this is the case then try exploring why. For example maybe you feel that you do not have many friends after such a long co-dependent relationship. Another example could be that you may feel like you do not know who you truly are or what your needs are to feel happy. You can begin exploring all of this in whatever way you feel comfortable. I personally love mind mapping whenever I try get to the root of problems. You can only start taking action towards feeling more independent again once you know what it is that you want and need to feel happy.
Lets say that you feel like you are very lonely and this is the root of your unhappiness. You could start working towards action by figuring out what kind of values you appreciate in friendships. Once you know what values you want, you can start looking for activities that revolve around these values. This will be useful because more often than not the people who participate in these activities will also share the same value. This leaves room for meeting a lot of new, like-minded people. Maybe you really value peace and harmony in friendships. An activity that revolves around peace and harmony might be yoga so you might start attending local yoga groups and find that you meet like-minded people there. Another example could be attending local boxing classes if you really value collaboration and support in friendships. All boxing classes I have ever attended were always very supportive regardless of my level of experience. Additionally, you generally have to collaborate with everyone in the class. This can work in your favour because you get to meet many different people, clear your mind, let out your anger in a healthy way and maintain healthy physical and mental health.
After you have started taking steps towards finding your independence again and achieving happiness you can then begin asking yourself what lessons you learnt from that relationship. For example did you learn how to become more in touch with your needs? Did this then teach you how to express your needs more clearly in relationships? Another example could be that maybe you learnt not to be so naïve? Maybe people were telling you that they had suspicions that you were getting cheated on and you ignored them due to whatever reason. It is important to always reflect on every connection you make. I personally believe that everyone comes into your life for a reason and every connection you make teaches you something new about yourself. No loss is ever really a loss, because in the end you just gain more wisdom. It is up to you to exercise this newly found wisdom in the future. I firmly believe that if you do not learn a lesson from situations in your life, then the same situations just keep repeating themselves in different forms until you learn the lesson that you are meant to be learning.