Transform a Breakup into a Breakthrough
By: Pulkit Sharma

Dr When a relationship breaks down, it is a normal and natural tendency to just let go and move on. Several youngsters admit to terminating romantic relationships swiftly via e-mail and SMS. One wonders are relationships so fragile and shallow that people grow out of love? Not really. Even after break ups people carry loving feelings for their ex.

Shreya and Amit were in a physical relationship with each other for nearly one year. They had decided at the beginning not to get emotionally involved with each otherand to restrict the relationship to just sex. However, over a period of time Shreya felt attached to Amit and came to a realization that she loved him. When she shared it with him he got enraged and reminded her that they had decided not to fall in love. She felt that he also loved her but was denying this and wanted to call their 'relationship' off. Shreya insisted that if he wished they would part ways but before that she needed psychological help to deal with her sense of grief and loss. Amit agreed to this and they contacted me.

It is a usual practice to work one-to-one in issues of grief and loss but Shreyarequested that she would want Amit to be present in the sessions. She was convinced that her healing depended upon whether Amit understood her grief or not. This was an unusual request but because both of them were comfortable with it I thought of giving it a try. After taking the history of their relationship and personal histories we started the psychotherapy. The work centred on making them understand each other.

While having these couple sessions, all of us slowly realized that Amit had a 'commitment phobia' i.e. he had a difficulty in giving commitment whether it was work, friendship or relationship. His life was full of terminated contacts. He had changed several jobs; had no long-term friend and his aspirations and goals were inconsistent. Often he started a venture but left it midway due to unexplained reasons. As we delved into his subconscious mind, Amit shared that he often experiences a feeling of suffocation and being tied down and that most of these attempts were aimed at getting rid of this feeling.

As I worked further with Amit, it became apparent that he had certain traumatic childhood experiences due to which he felt extremely vulnerable. Deep down in his mind, there was a constant fear of losing his sense of self. As a result, he became a control freak and carefully moderated his involvement in anything that he did. Whenever he felt that he was becoming too involved he panicked and withdrew. He was repeating the same conflict in relation to Shreya. As he understood and worked through this conflict he realized that he wanted a deep emotional connection in his life which only Shreya could fulfil.

At this point Shreya shared that,"I knew he lovesmebut that something was driving him away. I had two options- either to let it go, blame him for being cruel and feel the loss or to do something that would transform him. People around me suggested that some guys are really mean but I had this hope that every behaviour has a reason behind it and if that reason is understood even the mean person can transform. I wanted him to seek psychological help but knew that he would be resistant to the idea and therefore I thought of this plan where I became the one in need of help and he accompanied me as a support. Look how everything changed."

It was through Shreya's persistence and Amit's love and openness that they could save their relationship. Shreya was convinced that Amit loved her and therefore she wanted to give the relationship her best shot. Amit on the other hand was concerned about Shreya and wanted to help her through the grief. This made me wonder that how many breakups can turn into breakthroughs if people did not give up on each other so easily.Given an opportunity, time and patience in quite a few cases the bond can be saved. It is always our pain and rage that prevents us from taking the necessary step.

Pulkit Sharma is Clinical Psychologist & Spiritual Therapist in private practice at Pondicherry (Puducherry), near Auroville. Email:- info@thepsychologistindia.com