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How do you handle endings? Tuesday January 21, 2014

I don't know about you, but I've never been brilliant at dealing with endings. When I was 18, my parents' divorce meant we had to move from my childhood home, but instead of getting involved and helping pack, I went on holiday. A few years later, when I wanted to finish with a boyfriend, I wrote him a letter rather than have to witness his upset face-to-face. And when I left university, I opted out of the graduation ceremony. We all have our patterns, and evidently avoidance is mine.

I suspect I'm not alone in this. We might be more open than our ancestors, but most of us still aren't comfortable talking about death, for instance. And how often do you see rock stars continuing playing even though their glory days over and long term they might be better off quitting?

The trouble with not acknowledging endings is it can leave us with emotions – grief, anger, sorrow, guilt – that haven't been expressed. Through therapy, I've come to see that it has been one of the sources of my own anxiety. For others it may lead to depression.

These days I'm trying to handle endings differently and over the next two days I'll be blogging again to share how. But today I'd like to invite you to consider how you handle endings. Do you ignore them – like an ostrich? Or flee, perhaps because you're afraid? Or perhaps you get aggressive and blame others. Whatever your predisposition, I'd love to hear, so please do comment on this blog and let me – and other Moodscopers – know.

Meanwhile there will be more on this subject tomorrow. See, I warned you I'm bad at endings – I can't even finish here!

A Moodscope user.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Gitanjali Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 6:58am

I avoid saying goodbye to house guests or people who are going away on a trip! Does that count too ?!!

curious212000 Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 7:12am

I understand this statement.

Akanksha sonker Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 8:00am

Me too . I try to avoid people from my past

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 8:11am

This article resonates strongly with me. I am s*** at endings. Whether it be relationships, jobs, letting go and moving on has been a common problem for me throughout my life. I have suffered with depression for many years and tried medication ( with partial success), CBT, mindfullness but have not have been able to move on quickly or easily after disappointments. I have suspected there is a strong link between my difficulty in letting go and my depression but have not been able to stop one feeding the other. Ruminantion is something which is about looking back and not dealing with the issues in an open and positive way. I relate to this article very strongly.

Bunnykins Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 8:53am

This blog has made me aware of how much I try to avoid endings; the end of my first marriage haunted my dreams for years, I can see now that I should have acted differently. Thanks for the post.

Nathanael Backhouse Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 9:04am

Because of numerous moves and school changes as a kid, I became very used to moving on and letting go. It fits well with my lifestyle and my job, but conversely, i find it more difficult now to put down roots. I also tend to avoid people from my past, with no good reason to do so.

So; I think my point is that being comfortable and good with endings is not always positive... I think facing your fears is the key message!

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 9:07am

Did you find anything that helped you to let go, and did the haunting end? I have exactly the same problem, and trying to be rational about it hasn't so far eased the trouble. Five years down the road I still feel wretched almost every day. Its not just the marriage but the family breakdown (I have three children)

Mark Scott Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 9:21am

Endings are never easy, after all starting new things or facing up to stuff isn't either. Personally not dealing effectively with a situation from 20 years ago until now has caused me to loose something very precious. So now I try to end things with empathy for the other person and to let them work out how to deal with it rather than prejudge and mishandle. There are inevitably severals stages to go through, relationships like people are complicated and rarely perfect, but obtaining the closure for all parties they are looking for is a thing you share and can then move on. For me, to finish, first you have to start prevaricating and confusing un related issues rarely helps simplifying, empathy and objectivity help me on the journey

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 10:26am

I dont know if im on the right topic here, but i geel I can relate in some sense. I avoid feeling the harder emotions like a plague. I end relationships, when I get a sense they are losing feelings for me. I quit when im afraid to fail. I quit my job if it becomes too hard emotionally. And avoid conflict, so often things dont get resolved, I leave people wondering what the hell just happened. And i sit here ridden with guilt, no self confidence. No self restraint, feeling incapable, embarassed and depressed.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 10:27am

Good subject for a blog: I hate endings, even those I've chosen myself. I put it down to always moving as a child, leaving our homes, schools, friends, sometimes the rest of my family and even countries, and having to start all over again, and sometimes for not very long. I react by getting depressed and I am learning to deal with endings, to acknowledge how I feel and why. I know it has also made me resilient in certain ways and able to move and start again.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 10:28am

Thank you for the blog and to all the others who replied with their stories and views.
I am currently struggling with ending a 3year relationship which was convenient but unfulfilling. I've tried several times before but weakened and gone back to the same old feelings because I was too scared to make that final break. This time, I'm stronger. I'll look forward to the next posts so I can keep my resolve going!

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 10:55am

An interesting thought today Sarah!.
I experienced the worse ending possible 4 years ago when son died of cancer aged 32. My life has not been the same since. When the anger lessened came fear.
When I am hurting and depressed I hide away not knowing who are my real friends and who to trust. I will be interested to learn more next time.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 11:10am

I have this problem too. My husband 'changed' and ended our marriage 7 years ago. I was devastated. I did all I could to reconnect with him. 9 weeks later he 'changed' back again. He was devastated by his actions. Then he did the same 18 months ago. This time he made me move out. The kids and I had to move away . I lost everything except my kids. I struggle and go over and over things all the time. I am on tablets. I have done CBT. EFT. Therapy. I am better but still feel in shock and grief. The man I knew is gone. His behaviour was and is strange and I dont understand. Thats what plays over and over for me

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 11:38am

GREAT topic for conversation. Sensitive people feel things so deeply and painfully that those feelings are often avoided at all costs. Usually the cost is high. Once the feelings are accepted, felt, experienced fully, they then shift and change. But the fear of their intensity keeps us in chains. My dad died when i was 12 and after many many years i finally faced the rage. I was shocked at how it had impacted my life and prevented me from living fully. Be fearless! Find the trust in the universe to face endings head on. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. I wish everyone well in their search for the way.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 12:36pm

Nothing wrong with avoidance unless you carry the gult card later. I too would have gone on holiday if I could when my parents separated. You didn't cause it so why should you suffer. Writing a letter to tell someone it is all over is just one possible way of dealing with it, and if you chose that at the time but feel it wrong now then feeling guilty is the card you need to lose not the method. You may have done things differently in the past but you can't change it. For some of us meeting things head on and confronting them is not an option. We need to peek round the corner and through the wall to ensure that we are safe first and even then if our emotional or personal safety seems at risk, don't risk it. I too hide away from people at various times, but for those who care about me they just say, come out to play when you feel you can and call me if you need me. May days can be duvet days if I want, but if I feel guilty as a result it defeats the object and I sent a letter to 'guilt' to say I had finished with it!

Julia Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 12:40pm

I can't imagine anything worse quite frankly Anonymous. So very sad for you. 4 years ago is such a short time ago. How can anyone expect you to be normal or happy. You mustn't be too hard on yourself and you must trust each and every emotion you experience. Fear, anger, depression, the whole spectrum are yours to feel and express. Don't hide. I would tell the world if this had happened to me and not stop until my voice was hoarse and then start again. Can you write a daily account of your feelings? Perhaps put it out on the internet? I don't think an ending is possible for your sorrow but each day you can work on understanding what is happening to you and being kind to yourself. Realise it's you who is behaving normally. Please don't suppress your feelings. They are real. I am so so sorry to read this. x

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 12:41pm

I hadn't really thought about endings like this. I avoid them and really dislike conflict and avoid it also. Like funerals, a specific ending, allows a person to go on. I too lost a 19 yr old daughter in a wreck. It has taken many, many years for all of us. I had therapy, grief classes, medication, and built a hospice house. Now we have sold the family farm after Mom died and no one could agree. The sense of loss, the disappointment and disbelief from my kids on top being immobilized with a knee cap fracture, and menopause was overwhelming and confusing. This is when I started Moodscape to try and understand the depression. I had not had that deep depression since her death. As I get stronger, I am practicing dealing with conflicts as they arrive. It is hard. I may have a funeral for each thing I identify as a loss and put it away. Great topic.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 12:49pm

I never thought much about endings… I've always sucked it up and moved on… Every ending that I've been through I've never had any desire to go back, I've always considered it to be the END! I figure that things happen for reason and there's no reason to revisit them…

Victoria Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 12:52pm

I can relate to this. I can't stop feeling guilty remembering all the good times. I force myself to stop thinking about my partner (we're separated) because I feel so guilty if I do. But the separation isn't yet complete so I have to think about them and talk to them, but can't make myself take the next steps. I think it might be time to dust off my CBT homework to help me manage the guilt and the fear of the unknown in the future. I moved a lot when I was younger and was bullied in each new place so leaving something 'good' (if unfulfilling) feels more dangerous than staying put. I hope you can get yourself to a place that is better for you. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 1:32pm

I was married for nearly 20 years and I eventually 'came out', naturally my life changed forever. When I look back I was very fortunate in the support that I had from my wife despite the range of emotions and feelings and the sense of loss. It may sound a strange and cold thing to say however it seemed a natural ending for the person I thought I was. Very hard for my family. Yet when it comes to endings with relationships now, I find it hard to stop letting go, perhaps because of the dread of being lonely. I try hard to look at the positive things from being with that guy and how it has helped me discover more about myself. I'm still on that journey ..

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 1:47pm

Skimming through the various replies to your blogspot Sarah I see my point is trivial, and people have been through pretty rough ordeals. I just want to say that I have faced a (for me) big ending, moving out of my family house where my children grew up, which represented for me the idyllic home and had all my happy family memories. But we had to move on, it was far too big and expensive to run. I've been struggling for the year since we moved to let that place go, and to allow a new beginning to happen. Yes we have a new house but it hasn't felt like home and I realise I'm no good at endings, or beginnings! It has taken time to bring my soul with me and place it in this new setting and also to grasp the excitement and fun at making a new home. Perhaps letting go and starting over are two sides of the same coin? They both take courage and determination, but time does help.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 2:01pm

Just to add to my above message.....I hurt for the loss of my marriage. He who I thought was my best friend and soul mate. My home. My close proximaty to family and friends. My kids school. Their general life and all that went with it. My own support system. To start afresh in a new town with only our personal belongings. Many unavoidable big decision s in one go. Its lonely. I try all sorts and am a positive person in general. My family and friends are amazing even if far away. I hold on to the positives. I watch 'the secret' when I can. I am thankful for my amazing children and all that I have. But I dont have a day go by without it all whirling round in my head. I miss......

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 2:17pm

I have problems with endings even though I'm the one that ended it. I can't seem to let go of the past and live in the present or even look forward to the future.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 3:00pm

Excellent post, I have a predisposition of not wanting to be in crowds where attention is on me . It feels like a demand and pressure. In turn I think I'm queen of avoidance so just not to be under pressure in myself. As I write this I realise it's not quite healthy to avoid even though it's the easiest on the spot answer! I struggle to avoid now that I have children .... I'm still not into attention being on me;(

Sarah Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 3:31pm

Hi anonymous, I'm glad my blog resonated, even though I'm sorry to hear you've struggled with moving on too. I don't have a magic cure I'm afraid, but I do believe seeing the patterns we repeat is often the first step towards behaving differently. I've found just being aware can lessen the anxiety I experience - I kind of have a little chat with myself and go 'hey Sarah, you're feeling wobbly because there's a change happening, and it's echoing with the past', and I find this acknowledgement helps.

Sarah Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 3:42pm

Dear Anonymous, I'm so sorry to hear about your marriage ending and having to start again with only your belongings. That is a massive amount to take in and process - I am not surprised you're head is whirling - mine is whirling a little just reading your story. I don't know about you, but my head goes whirly when I'm overloaded with emotions and too much hits me in one go, and if you're playing over your ex's behaviour as well as trying to start afresh and look after the kids and so on, that is a lot of different emotions vying for your attention. I hope just expressing some of your feelings here and sharing them with us gives some release. And another thing I find helpful and you might too, is remembering my mind is just part of my body - and reconnecting with the rest of my physical self through yoga and deep breathing. Sending love and support.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 3:46pm

Wow, sure wish i could do that...........

Sarah Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 3:47pm

Hi Mike, I love your thought about developing empathy for the other person when handling the ending of a relationship. When we do that, it makes us kind, and if we're kind to others, hopefully it comes back round full circle. Not necessarily at once, but in the long run.

Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 3:51pm

Your issue is not trivial at all!! It is a huge adjustment to leave what has been your soul's earthly home and all the life's memories that go with it. We all deal with different things.

Sarah Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 3:56pm

Dear Anonymous, I just wanted to say I don't think your point is trivial. I am helping my mother move out of the family house and it's this I go on to write about tomorrow and on Thursday - I know from doing it with her it is a massive emotional wrench. Some days she's positive about the change, others she cries tears of grief. It's not just about leaving a home, it's about moving onto a different stage in life, relinquishing some independence and - in my mother's case - saying goodbye to the precious home she shared with her husband who has now passed away. These things are hard, and this website and comment page is a place you can be free to say that.

PWD Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 6:59pm

Excellant post I too hate endings, but also not too keen on starting new things as anxiety kicks in, but I push myself then wonder why I got so bothered about it. Maybe someone could do a posting on beginnings, could be interesting.


Anonymous Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 10:24pm

Great Post. I fear endings way before they are likely thus spoiling any enjoyment of the 'here an now'. Not a great way to be and it does spoil a lot of things.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Tue, Jan 21st 2014 @ 11:36pm

Fantastic Post Sarah. I was already planning on writing about moving forward into the fog. It's great that the two topics complement each other!

Anonymous Wed, Jan 22nd 2014 @ 3:24am

I avoid things also, but I do so by making myself so incredibly busy that I am distracted all the time. I sometimes distract myself with television or other mind-numbing things that don't matter, but not most of the time.

Most of the time, I'm actually really productive - creating goals for myself, breaking them down into small steps and then mastering those pieces. I have been more productive in the last 9 months because I have been really depressed when a relationship ended for me. I distracted myself and have done so well in my career due to this, but when I stop and think about it, the goals I can't achieve overwhelm me and make me yearn for what I wish I was successful at most; a relationship.

Anyone have any tips on how to avoid things but not sink into a depression about what you can't accomplish? Or tips on how to not think too much when there is some downtime?

Sarah Wed, Jan 22nd 2014 @ 11:10am

Hi there, I'm sorry to hear you've been depressed since your relationship ended. You sound to have been handling the experience admirably on the whole. But I wanted to suggest to you Anonymous, as you asked about how not to think, that one thing I find is that doing something creative can be really helpful. I am a writer but I also enjoy taking photos, drawing and sewing. I love the fact that not only does doing these things help calm my whirling mind as I haven't so much headspace to worry as I am focusing on something else, but also I end up with something tangible to show for my efforts. Unlike watching TV (which I do too, by the way, I am not one of these people who has no time for telly, I love it) but still, we don't end up with anything to show for our time sat in front of the box, do we? Whereas if you knit or sew or something, you end up with a scarf or cushion or whatever. Very therapeutic in so many ways. If you have the chance to read my Moodscope blogs after this (ie today, Wednesday, and tomorrow, Thursday) I share a story of a creative venture that helped me face an ending in more detail. Whatever, good luck with your journey and sending you love and support.

Anonymous Wed, Jan 22nd 2014 @ 7:09pm

My roommate/close friend avoided telling me directly that she was moving out and the real reason why she was moving out. She said that she "may" get jaw surgery soon so she wanted to move back home with her parents (she is 28). And I officially found out that she was moving out when my landlord told me that she gave them her thirty days notice. It pissed me because I knew she was lying (she was getting back with her loser ex) and because she wasnt straightforward with me. Just like this is an ending for her, it is an ending for me and I have to prepare myself to live with a total stranger. How selfish of her! If you have trouble with ending things, that is okay as long as you are not hurting someone else in the process. If you are hurting someone else then you need to get help because it is not fair to the other person.

Anonymous Wed, Jan 22nd 2014 @ 9:20pm

good blog. i think its related to not liking change. i avoided lots of things in my life because i was scared of leaving my comfort zone. but it comes with its own problems. you can't move forward. recently i've had a chance to leave a relationship but i've stayed in it to try make work, partly because i was avoiding being alone again. i hope everyone get better at not avoiding, i'm trying day by day.
take care

Anonymous Wed, Jan 22nd 2014 @ 9:46pm

A guy I'd been seeing a fair bit of suddenly stopped talking to me. We had chatted every day. He told me that he needed time to think after I said to him that I am pretty selfish ( daft thing to say I know ). I couldnt understand this but I think I must have come on too strong to him. I am really struggling with ruminating about him and wanting to email or ring him. I just can't let it go. This is not the first time either

Anonymous Fri, Jan 24th 2014 @ 9:37am

I abruptly ended an online friendship sometime last year just because of the comment that was sent to me. I found it offensive and really annoying. I also thought up a bunch of mainly negative points and had a rant inside my head.
But reading this post, maybe I jumped to conclusion and should calmly email her and explain why I've been ignoring her and hopefully save a really good friendship.

Anonymous Fri, Jan 24th 2014 @ 11:14am

Hi Sarah and Anon, I am first anon (9.07am comment) :-) those whirling thoughts are familiar. I suffered from that for the first couple of years after my seperation, it was part of a severe depression that resisted all attempts to fight off until I got put onto tricyclical anti-depressants after multiple dead-ends with the more commonly prescribed SSRI's. I had to be really persistant as the docs were not good at mental health treatment! Finally getting the right medication after an horrendous period was like getting my mind back. It had been running out of control! So the right tablets can make a big difference, along with the support of my christian faith, family & friends.

It so good that you have your kids with you, Anon. Part of the fallout from my divorce is that my daughter has exiled me from her life for now...she couldn't cope with me being this very unwell nutcase in place of her fun, happy, strong dad. I haven't had even a text or phone call from her in over three years, even though I live 5 miles away and see her brothers every few days.

I don't know the answer to living with this kind of grief and pain, but yes, Sarah, being aware that our emotions are driven by our minds, and that we can find tools to train our mind like the rest of our physical self is definately a potential help. So too is sharing each other's burdens and realising that people care.

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