How does one regain confidence and optimism about love after a breakup? After her own relationship ended, author and counselor Rebekah Freedom McClaskey developed and practiced a series of small, step-by-step actions that ultimately helped her heal her heart and live in harmony with her destiny.
In Breakup Rehab: Creating the Love You Want, Rebekah meets readers in their states of grief or resignation and walks them through twelve steps to forgiveness and self-responsibility, self-compassion and self-awareness, power and purpose. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.
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What is forgiveness anyway? I offer you this: forgiveness is not holding yourself or another hostage to the past. It means giving yourself permission to be who you are — a perfectly flawed human who had an imperfect relationship.
It’s over. Everything you were building toward, the time you invested, and the moments you shared stopped. Who is to blame? What is to blame? Is there even anything to blame? I invite you to invest less time in avoiding the pain by playing the blame game and more time forgiving yourself and your ex.
But how do you forgive someone who hurt you so badly? How do you even begin to be kind to yourself after making such a dumb mistake? Hey, at least you tried. You put your heart out there. You got hurt. Now you have some big decisions to make.
Allow yourself the grace to say enough is enough and start to construct new boundaries. Oh, boundaries. I can hear the Dr. Phils of the world using this word as a catchall. We’ve talked about dropping our barriers and not walling off. How can we do that and still have boundaries? What do boundaries have to do with forgiveness?
Well, we teach people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. We learn how to treat ourselves by how people treat us. Letting go and forgiving can break destructive cycles so that we can have healthier relationships. Breaking destructive cycles is the same as setting healthy boundaries. So forgiving yourself and others is a healthy way to set boundaries.
If you’re afraid to hurt your ex, if you’re a people pleaser, then setting boundaries is brave. In other words, if it’s over, let it be over. Bishop T. D. Jakes has a powerful sermon where he says, “There are people who can walk away from you. When people walk away from you, let them walk! . . . Your destiny isn’t tied to this person who left, people leave because they aren’t joined to you. You just have to let them go. . . . You have to know when a person’s part in your life is over so you don’t start trying to raise the dead.” Love won’t leave or forsake you. Trust that losing a relationship doesn’t mean you lose your ability to love or be loved.
Just keep surrendering the pain. Keep letting go. Keep forgiving.
Is this starting to sound like all the other books out there? Ugh, I know, right? But there is no way I could write this without including the timeless lesson of forgiveness. Without it, we don’t get a chance to try something new because we keep trying to repair the old. You can’t skip over learning to forgive.
The noun forgiveness means the act of pardoning someone or something. To pardon a sin is to have mercy on the sinner. A sinner is simply a person who didn’t stick the landing. The verb forgive means to actively behave in a way that demonstrates releasing yourself and others from accusation, blame, condemnation, judgment, and sentencing. Can you imagine the freedom you can have right now if you don’t make yourself or your ex wrong for what went down?
Do it. Imagine your relationship as one of many poignant experiences you’ll have in your lifetime. To forgive is to accept that what has been done to you was also done for you. Your relationship was your experience to have and so is your breakup. In some ways, forgiveness is the acknowledgment that there is something bigger than your agenda unfolding here. Like, “Okay, universe/God/whatever, I don’t understand exactly what is going on here, but I’m going to surrender my agenda and see what happens next.”
Did you have an agenda in the relationship? Don’t lie. Did you? Some of us feel bad about not being perfect (in everything we do) and that’s why we keep trying to improve ourselves. But self-help is kind of redundant if you consider that what is happening is what is supposed to happen. The thing that needs to shift is our perspective.
Forgiveness requires shifting your perspective. The roots of forgiveness begin by naming everything just as it is and accepting the past for what it was. Name it. Feel it. Then take inspired action to change it.
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The author of Breakup Rehab: Creating the Love You Want, Rebekah Freedom McClaskey is a relationship specialist with a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Her private practice focuses on helping clients get what they want out of life and love. She lives in Southern California. Visit her online at www.rebekahfreedom.com.
Excerpted from the book Breakup Rehab. Copyright © 2017 by Rebekah Freedom McClaskey.