All of those relationships have prepared me for where I am now and helped me to be in a beautiful, growth-oriented and loving relationship.

When a relationship ends, we can experience significant loss and grief in the absence of love, connection and companionship. Feeling the pain of being left or leaving something that’s seriously not working, we can get stuck in the sorrow, disappointment, broken promises and abandoned dreams of a “Happily Ever After.” Our sorrow is a reflection of the magnitude of our love and it’s important to feel our humanness and honor the cycles of life.


In my own dance of relationship beginnings and endings, I have known the despair of suffering; the ways I got lost, completely abandoned myself to be loved, found myself, and then did it again. Drowning in hurt, I distracted myself in a myriad of ways, some positive and some not so great. At times, numbing myself to not think or feel, and at other times ruminating or agitating in my sorrow.

I have been full of rage and vengeful as I grappled with my lower self, fighting hard not to do things I would regret or were not in alignment with my higher self or values.

And, I won. I got through it with my dignity. I learned the life lessons I needed to learn by focusing on learning and growing, rather than shaming and blaming myself or my ex-partners. And I find myself in the most loving, healthy relationship ever, enriched by my journey.

Here’s what I learned from my relationship journey, and what I try to practice. And remember, it’s a practice. We all spin out and drop into not so great places. The idea is to catch yourself, be compassionate, and get back on the path of growing and learning.

Grieving First

Feeling deeply, being vulnerable, and acknowledging the hurts and dashed dreams helps the grieving process. Sharing it with close friends and family helps one to be held and supported. Reaching out for connection is helpful to avoid the isolation and depression that can seem overwhelming. No one willing to take a risk on love is without a broken heart.

The only cure for grief is to grieve.

Getting to Gratitude and Appreciation

As part of the alchemical growth process of turning coal into gold, I practice the following:

1. Honoring time shared, the growth I’ve experienced, and what I’ve learned help me feel more grounded in my life and feel the thread of relationships as a psycho-spiritual journey — to feel more whole.

2. Seeing the good as a counterpoint to negative feelings makes me less likely to get lost and mired down, more likely to open up into what’s next, and to take that growth and step courageously into the next phase of the mysterious unfolding of my life and loving.

3. I send blessings of well-being to those I feel pain around. It helps me to shift into a higher vibration. This is a powerful practice and not always easy to do when we are hurt or angry.


Rituals honoring the cycles of beginnings and endings help me to flow through the natural order of things. Returning to places of meaning, and leaving rocks or notes with important words and phrases that capture what I gained and what I want to let go of, helps me to feel grounded in the honoring of my relationship as sacred connections and openings. I write songs acknowledging the gifts and making them my own.

I remember who I was before, have always been, and have never been before.

My Gratitude Offering to My Ex-Partners

I celebrate the gift of New Orleans, the magic, the soulful awakenings of music and rhythm. The sultriness of endless days and nights of ecstatic dancing and joyfulness. I have claimed New Orleans as my own and I share it with my friends and new loved ones.

Thank you for teaching me how to be courageous and take risks. For encouraging me to embrace my inner Harriet the Homeowner, while I designed, expanded, created spaciousness, light, and learned how to nest.

Thank you to those who shared crazy, silly, child-like laughter, wise wisdom teachings and powerful eagle medicine; who danced me to the end of night and inspired me to want to make my heart chakra tingle. Thank you for soulful eyes that danced before me and indulged me in delectable desserts. Thank you for staying, thank you for leaving. Thank you for dancing with me, through me, and into my life.

The Wisdom Medicine

All of those relationships have prepared me for where I am now and helped me to be in a beautiful, growth-oriented and loving relationship. What I’ve learned and what I now practice:

  • Opening and loving full out – it doesn’t serve me or the relationship to hold back
  • To honor and respect my beloved – don’t say or do unkind things
  • An intention to be a good partner, live more consciously and show up: even when it’s hard
  • To laugh – at myself and situations – and let myself be softened
  • Celebrating the generosity of love, spirit and the preciousness of things
  • Setting healthy boundaries and knowing when I’m out of integrity with myself
  • How to let go more gracefully and acknowledge endings
  • To laugh – at myself and situations – and let myself be softened
  • Coming back home to me more gracefully and lovingly, more quickly.

Reflections for your Alchemical Relationship Process

What gifts have you received from past and present relationships?

How do you want to celebrate these gifts and honor the people you shared them with?

What rituals might help you to honor those gifts and let go of the chords that bind you to hurt, anger, disappointment and resentment?

For help with grieving, moving on, celebrating growth and the gifts you’ve received, and opening to what’s next, contact Valerie Sher at The Couples Center.


Valerie earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology at The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now Sofia University) and has extensive training in childhood attachment, trauma, relationships, love, intimacy, sexuality, and communication. Her work brings together Hakomi, Somatic Experiencing, Mindfulness, Psychoanalytic and Jungian depth work, CBT and DBT, process therapy, movement and drama therapy.