When Relationships End: Releasing Hurt and Moving Forward

Healing from painful relationship endings - a step by step method of releasing the pain and moving forward. 

By Sarah Petruno, Shamana

Most of us have at least one.

A relationship that ends abruptly, cataclysmically, explosively, or otherwise ends beyond an amicable separation.

I have one, too.

Her name is Alice.

We met in college, when my roommate and I moved into the apartment just above hers and her cat wandered into the stairwell one night. The sounds he made were like no cat I’d ever heard, like a moaning or wailing. We decided that we had an intruder and contemplated calling the police, but first, we opened a crack in the door to peek - and we when did, he came flying in. We brought him back home and after that, we were pretty much inseparable.

Alice and I were inseparable for the better part of 8 years. We were best friends. Friend soulmates, I often called us.

She supported me through the death of my own father, she stood beside me at my wedding and she was one of the first people to hold my daughter when she was born.

What brought us together, was only described as destiny, fate, the master plan of the universe. Even years before I ventured into anything metaphysical, I strongly believed our meeting was aligned by the universe.

Now, I know that it was.

We bonded over shared pain and hurt and our struggles to release and heal ourselves. We both had a less than ideal upbringing with huge similarities between our own fathers and the role models in our lives. Through therapy, through medications and the painful realizations each of us had between all of that - we were there for each other in a way no other friend, or anyone, had been for me in my entire life. I believe the same was likely true for her. For 8 years, we struggled, we shared, we connected.  

And then it ended.

Fast forward through graduation, real jobs, husbands, marriages and relationships - a big change was on the horizon, but neither of us knew it.

No, it wasn’t my daughter. And it wasn’t that I went to grad school. Or got married.

But it was me.

I was breaking.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my shell comprised of pain, hurt, and closed emotions, had started to break. To shatter, really. And by the time it started, I had no idea.

I knew I was changing - I had an infant and I was full time graduate student working towards a PhD degree. For anyone, a stint in graduate school plus a new family will lead to very little extra time for relationships beyond the one with your child.

But I had secret, too. Another change.

Healing from painful relationship endings - a step by step method of releasing the pain and moving forward. 

The Change

Months prior, my sister, Amanda, came forward with a very real secret that she’d been semi-hiding all of her life. Not that she could see ghosts, per se, but that they were driving her insane. She couldn’t sleep, eat, be awake, go to the store, or go to her house without being bombarded, non-stop, by dead people.

As she began to get control of it and figure out what to do with her abilities, I began to explore this too, as any supportive sister might do. In an effort to figure it all out, she started scheduling readings with other intuitives. After hearing about her experiences, I wanted to have a reading, too.

I started visiting tarot readers, psychics, intuitives and energy healers. Without telling anyone. I didn’t know what I was doing, until somewhere along the way, one of them told me I had a gift and I needed to figure it out soon, because change was on the horizon.

So I did. The blogs and resources both Amanda and I have created didn’t exist at the time, but thankfully, I lived in a community filled with intuitive practitioners only steps from my house. I chose the closest and began working with her one-on-one.

She gave me homework assignments and things to work on, and I did them.

I had more readings and was getting more instruction from Spirit through those readings, and I did them, too.

All while I was a full-time graduate student, infant mommy and supposedly a friend, wife, and sister. I was also now leading a double life as a secret energy healer.

I told Alice about what my sister was facing early on. The response was not exactly supportive, and more-so, diagnostic of mental illness - but how could I blame her?  This was her background and she hadn’t lived with my sister her whole life like I had, she didn’t have the same calling to trust and support like I did. But even so, I felt rejected.

I turned inward.

I barely returned calls, some because I was so busy, but most because I didn’t know how to tell her what I was doing. That what my sister was once experiencing, was now me, too.

I didn’t know what I was doing or what was happening or how fast it was going. I couldn’t explain it to myself, let alone anyone else.

At the urging of my husband and sister, I tried again to explain to Alice what was happening. This time, I tried to put into words what I was doing and why.

It’s not that easy to explain that you’re following homework assignments from dead people, angels, and Spirit Guides, and that you’re going to quit your life path (graduate school), because of what they say and what you’ve realized about yourself.

For months, I had been practicing and acting in secret for fear of non-acceptance, from friends and peers alike.

And for whatever reason, whether it was because of my own struggle with understanding and explaining what was happening to me, or another barrier, or just fate - my fear was coming true. Alice’s response when I tried again to explain was a mix of confusion, doubt, and questioning. I wasn’t immediately embraced and accepted, as I had hoped.

I turned inward even more.

Until, a few months later - it happened.

The Blow-up

It all started when Alice said something about a new mom that I perceived as critical. Alice was appalled that this mom, a distant acquaintance, had shared with her, “too much” of the birth story - too much detail had been given and it crossed a line, she thought it was unacceptable.

Not much earlier, I had been humiliated by Alice when I was accidentally exposed by my daughter in public during a breastfeeding session. Still sensitive from that incident, and with an infant, still so connected to my own re-telling of my birth story, I spoke up for this new mom I didn’t even know. I was tired of being shamed and talked poorly about as a mother, and I didn’t want to see it happening to someone else. I stood up for a stranger.

Alice lost it. She replied to me with anger, rage and pain. Lots of pain. She was hurt. She was angry that I had fallen off the map, and most pointedly, she accused me of changing so much and becoming so self-absorbed that I only cared about myself and my daughter.

And she was right. I had changed, but most of it happened in a way she didn’t know about and didn’t understand, and neither did I.

I recoiled, I winced, I hid. She continued to attack. Eventually, I just cut her off. I blocked all means for her to contact me and I never again went to mutual gatherings.

I couldn’t take the constant attack and the demands to explain myself. I didn’t know how and I didn’t want to be yelled at anymore. Perhaps, because with such a vulnerable part of myself, the healing work, coming to the surface - I felt exposed. And raw.

My shell had cracked, which is what now allowed me to use and work with my gift. But without a shell, I also felt the full brunt of any pain coming my way.

It was too much, and it was too early in my journey to even find the words to explain. I’d tried, and didn’t have much more to offer, so I didn’t.

From that moment on, we never saw each other again.

Healing from painful relationship endings - a step by step method of releasing the pain and moving forward. 

The Healing

If a relationship has ever ended in this way or a similar way for you - for whatever reason, then you already know the questions you asked yourself. I asked these too.

Time and time again, I thought of Alice and wondered an endless amount of what ifs, what did I do wrongs, and could I have done anything differentlys.

As a now professional shamana and spiritually connected person, I knew, intellectually that our karma had ended. That the time our souls had together in this life and all lessons we were meant to teach each other were completed.

I knew, that she was my in my soul group and for a time, my soulmate. Sometimes soulmates are only mated to us for a certain length of time to help us learn certain soul lessons.

I knew all of that - but still I wondered. I still carried the pain, I still thought of her with sadness.

I also knew that I was going to have to heal this pain in myself. I knew that I was going to have to release it in order to fully heal the relationship and our soul karma. And you can do this too, but first, it helps to understand pain energy and the healing process for loss and relationships.

The Release of Pain from Past Relationships

The emotions of hurt, pain, and sadness carry with them a low energy. This slow moving energy is often referred to as negative, because it does appear dark within the minds eye and these emotions have bad connotations. It isn’t negative energy at all, actually, it’s just the opposite kind of energy that we want to have connected to us - the light, happy, healed kind.

With unhealed pain energy, and other unhealed and unresolved low energy emotions hanging around for too long, it’s possible for us to become sick, to feel dragged down and to be held back. This energy baggage, when attached to you, is also the source of all those nagging, what if questions.

Before you scold yourself for allowing low energy pain to hang around for too long, stop.

The processing of this pain is a very important part of healing on a soul level. The deeper the degree of pain, often, the longer time you need to process before you are able to fully release it.

The length of time this takes is different for everyone and every situation. Some individuals are ready to release in just a month or two, but most others, with deep soul relationships - this time frame before you are ready to release can be YEARS.

If this relationship has long been on the back burner and you haven’t paid much thought to it, but recently, you’ve noticed it’s been coming up in your thoughts and your dreams, this may be a sign that it’s time to finally release the pain and allow yourself to heal.

How can you release hurt from a relationship?

Healing from painful relationship endings - a step by step method of releasing the pain and moving forward. 

Most of the time, it’s a simple two step process. Simple, as in not complicated, rather than easy. Here, I will share with you the method most commonly recommended by Spirit to clients in healing sessions - designed to elucidate true, deep healing, in the highest and greatest good.

Step 1. Acknowledge Lessons, Value and Growth

No relationship exists anywhere without some kind of value and benefit to your own growth and journey as an individual and as a soul. Not one. We are all teachers and students of each other and when someone comes into your life, for any length of time, there is a point to it and for it. There is at least one lesson for each person - for they have come together to learn. There is at least one way in which your soul has grown through this meeting of souls.

Your job is to identify those lessons, those areas of value, and those pieces of growth that you have gained.

Many years ago, a therapist once told me, “No person is all bad. Everyone is balance, and everyone has some good to balance the bad.”

I have never found that statement to fail, even if the good you see, is only in the lessons they have given you and the ways in which you have grown from knowing them.

When you take the time to acknowledge and identify the lessons and areas of growth which this other person helped you learn and achieve, this is when your soul truly heals and grows. When you stop resisting their impact on your life, and start openly accepted the ways in which they have allowed and helped you to move forward, is when you actually do move forward, because of your experience with them.

So, get out your pen and a pad and start thinking. It might be hard at first, if the relationship ended a long time ago, but it will come. In bits and pieces, you will think of ways in which you were able to grow and things that you learned as a result of the relationship.

This is essential.

Small ways or big picture ways, ask yourself questions like,

When we met, what did we bond over?

What did we like to do together to have fun and why?

What brought us together and kept us together?

How did it end and what was the trigger?

What key life lessons have I been able to learn from all of it?

What things do I know now about relationships and life that I didn’t know before?

How will I do things differently in the future, now that I know these things?

And keep going. Write things down as you think of them, in tidbits or in long sentences. You can take your time - over an evening or a few days. You don’t have to think of everything, either, but once you feel as though your list of lessons and areas of growth are complete, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 2. Release

Writing your list helps bring the pain out of your body and away from you, and on a physical piece of paper where you can see it as GROWTH and LEARNING, rather than pain. The energy is out now, and you’re transforming much of it into higher, positive energy feelings and thoughts.

Now it’s time to release it away from you.

Release your hangings on to the relationship, the residual pain energy attached to you from that time, and all the hurt you’ve felt as a result of the relationship ending.

Some people like to call this step forgiveness, but I do not.

Forgiveness implies that someone was wrong and someone was right. That someone was the victim and another person was the perpetrator. In this case, that is not exactly accurate. Souls grew and lessons were learned on both sides of the coin. There was not right or wrong, there was only learning and growing exactly as we were put here on this earth to do.

You weren’t wronged, through this relationship, you were righted. Look how much growing, learning, and triumph as a soul you were able to achieve as a result of this person coming into your life.

Once you realize that, it’s time to let go and release.

And by that, I mean, to release that energy of hurt and pain from yourself, and your space, and return it to that which heals and resolves all - Universal, Source Energy.

You heal through identifying and acknowledging the growth and now it’s time to release the hurt and pain attached to that relationship from your space. Otherwise, it could easily come right back. The method of release is not important, just that you it is done with the intention of release.

Release Techniques ~

Symbolically, you can release in any number of ways, but it is most often done through:

Some kind of separation (from you) of the letter or list you wrote out


A return to Source energy in some way

My preferred method is to burn the list/letter in a fire. This both removes and separates the energy of the list from yourself and also returns the energy to Source in the smoke. Others prefer releasing into the ocean, a lake, or a waterway. Still others prefer release through burying in the Earth.

Whatever method you choose, when you release your letter - mean it.

Release it with the thought that you are now clearing the air, resolving the karma, and releasing yourself and the other party from any hurt or pain still lingering.

And that’s it.

You’re done. The karma is now resolved, and you never had to have a confrontation you didn’t want to have. Sometimes, a final meeting is a necessary part in releasing and resolving, but not always.

You and your relationship partner have a soul connection, and you were put in each other’s path to learn lessons, grow, and progress on your soul's journey. First and foremost, your relationship is a soul one, and resolving a soul connection starts at the level of your own soul’s healing. In acknowledging and releasing that, you take the first step in progressing on your journey together, as a result of the lessons and growth arising from that relationship.

You are freed and healed from the hangings on of that pain that once bound you to another and you are propelled to new and beautiful lessons.


With love on your continuing journey,


*Name changed to protect privacy.  

LAST UPDATED: January 12, 2015

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