Sometimes, it happens. You divorce or breakup and realize there are still feelings there for your ex.
Of course, this is natural. Some of us will always feel a certain love or affection for our former spouse or lover. This week, I answer Sharon’s question about being in that space for 18 years.
The 3 main tips I share with her are:
1. Accept that you may never have the closure you desire. Lean into that feeling and get on with your life, Sassy Pants!
2. Play a game with yourself in which you remove the possibility for a future relationship with your ex. How would you spend your days, weeks, months differently? Now go do that!
3. Realize that you deserve more. Begin to take off your “rose-colored glasses” and see him and the relationship in a different light.
Sometimes, there are points in life where we find out who are real friends are. A divorce or breakup is typically one of those times. Why does this happen and what can we do about it?
Firstly, let’s paint a picture of life pre-divorce or breakup. You have your buds ~ your girls. They may be friends from grade school, high school, college ~ someone from the old ‘hood ~ a work friend you’ve had for years ~ a wife or girlfriend of one of your ex’s friends ~ moms of your kids’ friends ~ a sister, cousin, neighbor, etc. All these various women who came into your life under varied circumstances. The one common thread here is: You think they have your back through thick and thin. You’ve shared LIFE with them, after all. You’ve laughed over margaritas or a school play. You’ve commiserated when you’ve had the flu or bought the wrong lipstick color ~ again. You have that fuzzy feeling that they’ll always be there until ~ you don’t.
Yep, it kinda sucks. Once you break the news that you’re no longer in a relationship, people react differently. Some rally to your side. Some can’t or won’t.
It may start as an odd intuition that says, “Hmmm. I called her three days ago and she hasn’t returned my call. That’s weird.” Maybe it’s, “Is it my imagination or did so-and-so just abruptly dart down a different hallway to avoid me?” At first, you dismiss it. ”Oh, she must be really busy.” Then it happens again…and again.
You get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. Really? She’s going to abandon me NOW of all times?
“Stay is a charming word in a friend’s vocabulary,” says Amos Bronson Alcott. What should you do when a friend doesn’t “stay”?
1. Remember that it’s about THEM ~ not YOU. For whatever reason, for some it is difficult to watch others go through an intense life-changing situation. They may fear it’s somehow contagious and will happen to them to if they get too close to you. Watching people in pain may be too much ~ they can’t deal with it. They’re at a loss for words. They can’t fix it and it makes them uncomfortable. They feel they have to choose sides and guess what? You lost.
2. Choose compassion. It’s easy to go down the path of hurtful grudge holding. After all, you’re going through this hell and they deserted you, right? Holding on to the negative feelings just adds more fuel to the fire. You’re already feeling bad about the breakup. Now you get to feel bad about your friend too. Why not release yourself and them? Gently acknowledge that you may never know what happened and that’s okay.
3. Focus on the awesome people that are still there. Allow yourself to enjoy their companionship and love for you. Be grateful for their presence. Say a silent “Hooray!” ~ she’s fabulous and I KNOW she loves me!
Yes, it’s true that you may emerge from a divorce or breakup with fewer friends. In fact, I’d say it’s inevitable. However, trust that the friends you hang on to are the real deal. They aren’t going anywhere. BFFs Forever, right?
Shine On, Sister!
As you approach your first holiday season solo, does it seem like every jeweler in America is out to get you? You know what I mean. All those commercials where a beautiful but breathless woman warmly embraces her handsome man after finding a 45-carat diamond necklace in the glove box of her brand new giant-bow-adorned car. Ugh! Sometimes, the thought of spending time alone during the holidays made me feel like the world’s biggest Scrooge. But…I had a choice to make: Either I could be a victim of the season or I could kick holiday butt. Instead of being defeated by my new status as a single gal, here’s how the latter option worked out for me:
I had a schedule. This is very important. If you don’t have a schedule, you can get caught up in woe-is-me time. My family celebrates on Christmas Eve. My first Christmas alone, I had the ENTIRE day on Christmas all to myself. Something that I really wasn’t looking forward to. After all, I couldn’t stroll the aisles of the book store for a couple hours just to get my mind off things. I couldn’t order in my favorite Chinese food or even do a Taco Bell run. Unless I wanted to hang at my neighborhood Walgreen’s (which IS open 365 days a year and would be sign of true desperation), I would have to be home…by myself…for hours…and hours…and hours. I made up my mind that I would try to make it as fun as I could and do everything that I loved.
Several days before Christmas, I chose a recipe that I’d been meaning to try and shopped for all the groceries needed to make it. I also bought myself a couple cool gifts that I really wanted and wrapped them. Yes, you read it right. I WRAPPED MY OWN PRESENTS. I am not ashamed to say that even if you think I’m a little crazy because I had the best time opening them up on Christmas morning. No joke. Afterwards, I made myself some Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Easy enough. I lounged about, took a nice long bath and gave myself a manicure. I also watched “A Christmas Story” and “Grumpier Old Men” a couple times a piece. Around 6 p.m., I opened a bottle of wine and sipped it as I made myself a fabulous pasta dinner. It was a bit strange to sit down to a table alone (as my young daughter was with her father) but I did it. Then I relaxed some more and read the book that I gave myself. As I snuggled into bed that night and reflected on the day that I had been dreading, I thought to myself, “Wow. It wasn’t that bad.”
I’m convinced that having a plan and scheduling my day and being prepared really saved me. That’s what I want for you. Your holiday to-do list looks like this, my Dear:
1. Chose your activities for the day. Whether you’ve got a few hours alone or a few days, what would make you feel great? Or at least good? Do that. Figure out your morning, afternoon and evening and stick to it.
2. Prepare yourself. In other words, if you need groceries to make something delicious, go get ‘em! If you need some sensational gifts under your tree, get shopping! Also, be generous with yourself and get things you normally would never consider ~ splurge a little!
3. Relax and enjoy! Even if you have some moments of sadness creep up, allow them to be there. Give yourself a break because it’s totally natural. However, don’t let them be the boss of you. Say to yourself, “Okay. I’ll have this feeling for 5 minutes and then your time is up!” Then have your time and let it go and get back to the business of cherishing you.
My hope for you is that this holiday season is an opportunity to be gentle with yourself and boost your confidence by spending time alone and doing it with style! Do it for you.
Happy Holidays, Gorgeous! Now go kick some holiday butt!
What does self-reliance during a breakup mean?
Why do the words “self” and “reliance” seem difficult to swallow right now?
Probably because the idea of turning inward for solace rather than outward seems nearly unbearable, right? It feels good to talk it over with someone that cares about you; doesn’t it? I hate to admit this but I know that I was a big pain-in-the-you-know-where to some of my friends and family members when I would go through a breakup. I didn’t mean to be. I didn’t “want” to be. It just so happened that I was. Sometimes, do you wish you could rely a little bit more on yourself than others? It can come in handy, say, in the middle of the night when you’re feeling really sad. Or when the radio plays “your song.” Actually, I’m sure that there are many opportunities during the course of any given day where helping yourself through the breakup would feel really good. Also, last time I checked, YOU are available at all times.
So what does that look like? How does it feel? Let’s dive in and find out.
1. Talk yourself through it. If you’re alone, I suggest doing this out loud. If people nearby are going to think you’re a nut case, by all means have the conversation internally or in a journal or piece of paper. You can ask yourself questions like:
- What could I do right this very moment to make myself feel better?
- In the BIG picture, how important is this? Be honest! I know that I “occasionally” made an earth-shattering occurrence out of something really quite frivolous. It’s hard to admit that now…so I’ll move on.
- Does this really deserve my energy right now? Is it something I need to address immediately? If it’s not (which it probably isn’t), then make a choice to turn your all-important attention elsewhere.
2. Slowly start to limit your calls/emails to others. I understand this can be difficult at first. It’s okay to take baby steps. I am in no way implying that you shouldn’t have conversations with supportive people in your life. You absolutely should. However, if you’re contacting a few treasured folks multiple times a day perhaps try to shave off one call during that day. That’s it. Pretty easy, right? As you begin to feel more mighty, you can pare the contact down as you see fit. It boosts your confidence as I explain below.
3. Choose an activity that refocuses your attention. At some point, make a list of things you like to do. You could make two lists ~ one for work and one for home. It ought to be something really simple and easy to do but fun just the same ~ something that makes you smile and feels good. Maybe it’s playing a game with your kids or giving yourself a manicure or reading your favorite book. Then when you’re struggling, you whip out your list, wherever you happen to be and choose one of the ideas on your list to do right NOW…and then do it.
So…what are some of the benefits of self-reliance?
First of all, if you rely more on YOU, you get to rely less on others. Sometimes, I felt like I could actually hear my friend’s eyes rolling as we chatted about my saga for the THIRD time that day. It wasn’t her fault at all. I would call her at the drop of a hat…whenever I had an emotion to share…or another reason why he was a cad…or whatever minute detail occurred to me about him as I went through the day. Then I’d hash it out with her…and rehash it…and then rehash the topics of our first two calls that day. Gees, no wonder she was rolling her eyes! Just thinking about it now makes me roll mine. Do you have a friend or sister/mother/aunt like this? They’re your go-to person. If they’re not accessible at the very moment you need them, you fret until they call you back. Or you move on to no. 2 on your list of buddies and so on and so on and so on. If you don’t mind me saying, this is a pretty sucky cycle. Wouldn’t it feel better if YOU felt your emotions and then comforted yourself through them?
Secondly, you may be surprised by a new confidence that starts creeping up inside you. It feels good to triumph through some momentary anguish, come out on top and give yourself a high 5 for doing it alone. Yep. Just you. You can do it. Each time, you’ll feel a little stronger and stronger and stronger. It’s a beautiful thing. No one can take it from you, either. You earned it and you get to keep it, Gorgeous!
Relying on YOU during a breakup is a way to be gentle and loving towards yourself. It means that no matter what happens during your day ~ you KNOW that you can and will maintain your sassiness ~ no question about it!
Okay. Here’s the deal…you miss him. I mean you REALLY miss him. Let me say it one more time – You REALLY SUPER DUPER BEYOND BELIEF MISS HIM! I understand. I’ve been there too. I’ve also made a bloody fool of myself in the midst of a breakup. That’s why I’m writing now. I want to save YOU from making the same mistakes.
So, without further ado, here is a list of things you shouldn’t do during a breakup in no particular order:
1. Drunk dial him at 2 a.m. or sober dial him at 4 p.m. The timing makes no difference. He can see right through this. He knows what you’re doing and you’ll feel like a fool afterwards. Really…you will. It seems like a gem of an idea after a couple margaritas with the girls. You get home. You’re feeling lonely. You imagine him feeling lonely too. He might need to hear your voice to comfort him through this time, right? WRONG!
2. Make up an emergency just to talk to him. So you twisted your ankle playing volleyball. Or maybe you won an award at work. Or maybe your dog vomited. Or maybe you’re just hoping for a “good” reason to contact him. Is this information he really needs or wants to know? Honestly? Huh-uh. No, Ma’am. He’s no longer in your life so he doesn’t get to hear about everything that’s happening to you whether it’s good, bad or otherwise.
3. Beg. Really? You’re fabulous. Why would you beg a moron who doesn’t realize your fabulousity to stay with you? Makes no sense. It’s beneath you. Don’t do it.
4. ”Accidentally” run into him. Yeah, we’ve all done it. You get that surprised look on your face and say, “I didn’t know you were going to be here!” Really? You so did. You knew he was going to be here and you planned it like this. The only thing you didn’t plan was the look on his face that says, “Oh, no. She’s here! Shit!” Not very fun. Not a good time. I know this destroys your vision of him looking at you, suddenly realizing what a dreadful mistake he made and taking you in his arms while simultaneously begging for forgiveness and booking you a trip to Bermuda. I wish I didn’t have to crush your dreams this way but…it’s highly unlikely that your dream will come true. Instead of planning a run in, why not spend the time getting a manicure or walking your cat? Both are better uses of your valuable and beautiful self!
5. Answer when HE calls at 2 a.m. or 4 p.m. for that matter. If you do, you will be providing what I call “breakup assistance” to him. This means that whenever he’s feeling a little lonely or reminiscing or regretting his decision – you’re always there for him to lean on. Effectively, you are helping him get over you. What? You want to HELP him get over you? Get over it. You deserve better. If he doesn’t want all of you, then he doesn’t get little bits and pieces here and there when it pleases him. If you give in, it will start happening less and less because…well, you’ve helped him get over you. Wouldn’t you rather help YOU get over HIM? Now that sounds better.
If you follow this list of don’ts — no matter how tough they seem — I promise that you’ll feel more confident about YOU and the choices YOU make! After all, you are FABULOUS!
Today, I’m answering a question from Lily. Seems she’s got a lot of HIM on her mind!
Thanks for all the awesome info on your site. I love it!
Here’s my issue: Even though, I’ve been divorced for nearly two years, I am plagued by thoughts about my ex like what’s he up to? Is he seeing anyone? Is he happier without me? I know I shouldn’t still be so interested in him but I can’t seem to help myself. Any suggestions?
First of all, thanks so much, Lily, for your kind words. I want to first tell you that your situation is very common after divorce. After all, my guess is that you put your heart and soul into your marriage and now that he’s no longer around, it’s perfectly natural to continue thinking about him. However, as I say in the video, if you’re thinking about him and he’s thinking about him, who’s thinking about you?
As you’ll see in the video, I’ve got three steps for you:
1. Notice. Pay attention to when you have these thougths.
2. Decide. Choose to have a new empowering thought about YOUR life and how great it is.
3. Allow. Reclaim that energy and relish that good feeling. Ahhhhh!
During the video, I give details about a contest for a FREE 30-minute mentoring session with me. It’s quick and easy to enter so click on the video to find out how!
Ahhh, yes, the good ol’ weekend is upon us. Do you remember the days when you couldn’t WAIT for Friday afternoon? The rush of the anticipated weekend plans kept you going all week? Then…you find yourself un-coupled and sometimes, when you’re coping with divorce or a breakup, weekends take on a new meaning. I remember those dark days well. My excitement was replaced by anxiety. Sooooooo…how was I going to fill my time? I mean big, huge CHUNKS of time ~ not just an extra minute or two here and there. The planless weekend seemed like it would swallow me up. Either that, or I’d emerge Monday morning with tear-swollen eyes and remnants of Ben & Jerry’s in the corners of my mouth. The weekends became my enemy.
It really wasn’t so bad if I had my daughter. She kept me pretty busy and we’d go here and there and have fun. But the weekends without her…oh, dear. If you understand where I’m coming from, I’ve got a few tips that will help you get through the dreaded weekend. Soon enough, I was actually enjoying myself just a wee bit. Then more and more and more until finally…I RELISHED every moment alone! That’s right. Just me, myself and I having a great time! Woo Hoo!
Try these out if this weekend feels like this to you:
1. Make a serious plan of action. Not kidding. DECIDE what you’re going to do with your weekend. Take the power back. Make a little list with each half hour of the weekend and figure out how you’re going to spend it. Maybe you’ve got some plans. Maybe you NEED some plans. If you already know what you’re going to do, it takes the edge off. P.S. Make sure you’ve got some fun in there!
2. Do something alone that you’ve always wanted to do. I went to an art gallery opening once. Yeah, I’ll admit…it was a tad awkward but guess what? I had fun anyway. I felt good being out and about and I was proud of myself for doing it alone.
3. Head to the nearest book store or coffee shop. So what if the Friday night crew at my local Borders knew me by first name? I liked being there and immersing myself in a book or two took my mind off other “things.” Sometimes, we don’t need to really engage other people ~ but just being in their presence helps our own energy to soar.
4. If you want to feel bad, then feel bad. However ~ and I’ve said this before ~ this is a “timed” activity. Give it all you got for 10 minutes and then move on to being happier and sassier, Sweet Stuff!
5. If you need overstimulation, go for it. When I was feeling lonely, if I kept my house really quiet…I began noticing just how quiet it was. No child. No husband. No laughter. Ugh!! So silence really bothered me for a while. I’m not a huge fan of TV (unless it’s shameful reality TV like The Bachelor or Keeping Up With the Kardashians) but boy, I had it on all the time ~ just for background noise. I’d read a book and watch TV and do my nails while checking email ~ you get the picture. It’s okay to be in this space for a while.
6. Bonus tip!! Remember the quote: This too shall pass. Let that sink in. It’s hopeful and it’s true. Time passes. Heartbreak eases. You find joy again.
All right, Sassy Pants, now get out there and get your weekend on!
Boy, I was busy. I mean REALLY busy. I had a to-do list a mile long. When I did see a potential speck of free time, I made sure that it was full of activity. I was buzzing from sun up to sun down. Why you ask? Well, because I HAD to avoid something at all costs…my feelings.
Do you remember the story of Alice in Wonderland? There was a character in it called White Rabbit. He spent most of his time running to and fro exclaiming, “I’m late/I’m late/For a very important date./No time to say Hello, Goodbye./I’m late, I’m late, I’m late. ” Well, I had become the White Rabbit of Minnesota.
Why was I so busy being busy? To be honest, I was so terrified that if I slowed down, even for a second, the pain would overwhelm me. You see, I was muddling through my second divorce. What if I let the sadness in and never felt happy again? What if the shame was more than I could bear? What if I discovered I had no inner strength left? What if everybody found out how much I was struggling?
So it became easier, for a while, to keep myself super swamped with things to do. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this at home but here’s my advice: DON’T DO IT! Can you guess what happened? Are you with me? Let me tell you that staying occupied 24/7 takes a lot of energy. When I was alone, it was the hardest. I’d be watching TV while reading a book on the ellipitcal machine. I know that sounds difficult to do simultaneously but I’m here to tell you ~ it can be done. Pretty soon, I was exhausted.
Then it happened. What I had been running from for the past few months enveloped me ~ all the hurt ~ all the shame ~ all the sadness ~ all the fear ~ all the…RELIEF??? Wait! Nobody mentioned anything good coming out of this. But it did. Once I let my feelings in, I realized that even though it was painful there was a measure of relief to it all. On top of that, I found out that I HADN’T lost my inner strength. It was right where I left it and more powerful than before. I felt so much better letting the emotions in, dealing with them and eventually waving goodbye to that path and turning down a different one.
Here are a few tips to help you deal with busy-itis (I’m not a physician and that’s not an actual medical diagnosis but you get my drift):
1. Lean into your feelings. I’m not saying dive in. LEAN IN. Accept that they’re there. Notice them. Let them be. I tell my clients that the problem with pain is that no matter how long you spend trying to avoid it ~ it will always be there waiting ~ so better to deal with it and move on.
2. If you want to cry, go ahead and cry. Sometimes, I could feel it coming. I’d think to myself, “Hmmmm. I think I’m going to cry. Yep. I think so.” So I’d have anything from a little squirt of tears to an all out ugly cry and then by the time it was over, I’d usually be laughing at myself because I really did have a lot to be grateful for ~ if I thought about it. So what was I crying about?
3. If you start to feel bad, put yourself on a timer. Ten minutes is a great place to start. It gets the emotion out but you don’t have enough time to sink into the abyss. That’s the key…no sinking! Once you’ve reached your time limit on having a cry or feeling bad, pick your cute butt up and get on with your life!
Here’s to letting your emotions catch up with you! After all, you’re way too fierce and fabulous to run from ANYTHING!!
As some of you may know, I like to get out in the local community and connect with others. One of the ways that I do this is having an exhibitor’s booth at community events. I did just that on July 26. To set the stage, this is an outdoor event called MarketFest. It runs from 6 to 9 p.m. The night began gloriously. Not a cloud in the beautiful Minnesota sky. It was a bit windy but I was going with the flow. Around eight o’clock, the sky began to darken a bit. Oh, well ~ I thought to myself ~ we’re almost done. It will be okay.
Guess what? Right after that, the weather began to change rapidly. My husband had just arrived to visit and he had to park our vehicle six blocks away because the Fest was so busy. The wind began to howl. Everyone scattered. Next, I could hear LARGE droplets of rain start to pelt my tent. I started to chuck all my materials, tablecloths, etc. into my bins. The tent was in danger of being blown away so we had to try to get that down as quickly as possible. Once we had everything ready to go…you guessed it…my husband had to run/walk six blocks to get our truck so we could load everything in it. Luckily, I had brought an umbrella. Also, right before this little adventure began, I had ducked out to grab a burrito at one of my favorite food trucks. I had time to kill, a storm blowing through, my burrito and an umbrella.
My choices were: Try to find cover, surrender my burrito and shrug my shoulders in defeat
pull up a chair, enjoy my burrito and let nature take its course.
I went with the latter option. I sat quietly at my table, soaking wet, my umbrella trying its best to keep me dry, savoring every bite of my yummy food ~ with a big smile on my face. I knew I wasn’t in real danger because it wasn’t an electrical storm. It was only wind and rain and some discomfort. I tried to make the best of it. People around me thought I was nuts ~ I’m sure of that.
Why do I share this with you? Because I know that dealing with a divorce or breakup is a similar situation. You feel a little scared and out of control. Nothing’s in its place anymore. You wonder when it will end. It’s uncomfortable. It can be dark. You can feel alone.
Carlos Castaneda, a well-known spiritual author, said, “We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same.”
So I ask you: Next time you feel scared, uncomfortable or uncertain, what will you choose? Are you going to be lost in the dark abyss or go WITH the flow and come out on the other side feeling stronger and more confident than ever?
Since I know how amazing you are, I know you’ll choose to enjoy the burrito in the rain.
Last week, I talked about settling for a so-so relationship. You know deep down inside that it’s not going to lead anywhere and he’s not Mr. Right but you hang on anyway. Why? Why would you do this when you’re so fabulous and deserve so much more? I asked you to begin thinking about the things in the relationship you didn’t like. Maybe it was some of his qualities or the way you related to one another or perhaps you forgot about or diminished your own needs. If you missed the video, click here to watch it now.
This week, I wanted to talk about a very important list. In life, I believe it’s important to get clear ~ I mean really clear ~ like razor-sharp clarity. This list is much more fun to compile than the one from last week because we’re focusing on what you WANT in a relationship. It’s everything you’d like to see in your ideal man ~ the qualities you’d like him to have ~ the way you’d communicate ~ the things you’d do ~ your sense of you being in the relationship. It’s all of those things wrapped into ONE list.
Here are a few tips on making the most of your wish list:
1. Frame it positively. For example, instead of writing, “He’s not a cheater” write “He is loyal.” Instead of “He’s not a slob” write “He appreciates organization.” You get the idea. Make the statements from a positive angle with a positive thought in mind.
2. Keeping adding to or changing your list as you have new experiences. I remember once during a lunch date with a “Match.com” suitor I thought I noticed that he had tiny hands. I mean REALLY tiny hands. I tried to be sly and use my peripheral vision and soon it became clear that ~ YES ~ he had what I know fondly refer to as Oompa-Loompa hands. They were the smallest hands I’ve ever seen on an adult man. As soon as I got home from our first and last date (I could go on and on about why this was the case but I’ll save that for another time), I wrote down on my wish list “He has man hands.” The importance of such criteria had never struck me before that moment but suddenly, it became very meaningful.
The photograph you see is an actual excerpt from the list I made before I met my husband, Jeff. When I met him, my list was two pages long. It seemed like I had wished for a lot and I had a few doubts about finding a guy that could meet even half of these wishes much less all of them but you know what? Jeff actually did fulfill ALL of my wishes. It’s funny how when you put it out there dreams can come true.
I invite all of you this week, who feel ready to let love in, to start making your wish list. After all, what if it comes true?