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!
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!
Q: Hi, Laura. I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 3 years suddenly and unexpectedly. Well, I guess it should have been expected. We were fighting alot and he was very mean and disrespectful and verbally abusive. I left one day without a word and only my purse and never went back. I was very distraught and left all my belongings. Now that it’s been a few months, I want to get my stuff from him. I have not called or spoke to him at all since leaving so I’m not sure how he will feel about giving up my stuff. I know that if I talk to him he will try to con me back into being with him. If I send somebody, he will probably get mad and act stupid! I don’t know what to do. I’m at a loss. My stuff is important to me. I just don’t know. I need some advice.
A: Angie, I want to start this out by saying how courageous I think you are. Without knowing the details, I can imagine that the relationship you were in was very difficult for you. Do you know how many women just allow relationships like that to continue on and on and on? But not YOU! You are incredibly strong.
With regard to your belongings, the way I see it, you have three choices. These choices really only apply if he still has your things. It seems possible that if it’s been several months that he no longer has them anyway.
Choice #1: Contact him.
* Do you really want to talk to him again? Really? Bringing any of his energy back into your life would not serve you and would not serve the person you’ve become.
* Are you prepared to handle his charming ways? As you say in the paragraph above, he may try to “con you back” into being with him. Especially if you’re still feeling emotional about the breakup, I’d steer clear of him just to avoid this. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment and make yourself believe that he’s changed. However, within a month or two or even sooner, you’re right back to where you started.
Choice #2: Have someone else contact him on your behalf.
* If he’s an unpleasant person (and it sounds like he can be), do you want to put someone else in that position? It’s probably safe to assume that the task of retrieving your things would be a miserable way to spend an afternoon for anybody.
Choice #3: Strut your stuff because you rock!
Angie, focus on the flame inside of you. I know it had to be burning so brightly on the day you made the decision to end this relationship and leave with only your purse. What does that moment in your life say to the world? “I am Angie and in case you didn’t know, I AM IMPORTANT! I am worth more than this. I know that. I own it. Watch me leave!” Your flame is getting brighter and brighter each day. You made a decision that respects yourself so much and you stuck with it. Do you want to dim that flame by inviting him, in any form, back into your life?
If there’s anyone that understands leaving with nothing, I do. I left my first husband with only a suitcase full of clothes. I came back home with no education (I had dropped out of college so I could follow him around the country as he was in the Navy), no job, no money. However, there was a spark inside me. I knew that I would be okay. I didn’t know exactly how it would all work out, but I had earned some self-respect that I hadn’t had before. Looking back now, I have to say that I’m very proud of myself for doing that. I learned just how strong I am.
You’re on a path now of self-respect that is worth way more than any “stuff.” I think you know that too. That’s why you haven’t contacted him. You know, deep down, that you are waaaaay too fabulous for him!
Shine On, Angie!
Since your breakup, are you calling everyone you know and recounting the story over and over and over about how he did that or he said this or can you believe what he’s up to now? Let me ask you another question then: What about YOU?
You see, I fell into that trap too. HE was awful. HE was an idiot. HE…HE…HE. Like a broken record, I went on and on and on and on about HIM. Do you see a pattern here? Right. I was all about him.
I could have went on like that for a long, long time. I could have given him and his actions all that energy and attention. But I realized something. If I was giving HIM all my attention, who was paying attention to me? Guess what? Nobody. He wasn’t out there talking about me non-stop and letting what I did bug the crap out of him. No, ma’am. He was busy getting on with his life. A life he appeared to enjoy without me. Double bummer.
Once I realized what I was doing, things began to change. I felt more responsible for me and my life. I didn’t want him to have the ability to control me or my thoughts even though we were over. I was giving him way too much real estate in my head — and it was all free! I couldn’t believe that I was so willing to spend my energy on him instead of thinking of me first. Yikes! I didn’t want to do that. HE wasn’t thinking of me and complaining to all his friends about ME.
Consider the following quote: “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel.” ~ Catherine Ponder
Decide if you want to continue the emotional link to him OR if you’d like to take control.
I must warn you that sometimes letting go of resentment means making things easier on him. What do I mean? If you’re going through a divorce, be the bigger person. Let the little things go. It’s called being good to yourself ~ being gentle with you. That’s what feels good. It might mean giving in sometimes when you don’t have to. You could shred all the clothes he left at your house ~ but will you really feel better afterwards? You could sell his limited-edition Star Wars DVD box set on Ebay, but why not go shopping and buy yourself a new outfit that you look dynamite in? That sounds like way more fun to me!
Resentment takes a lot of energy. Why not take it back? Be selfish with your energy. Once I started being good to me and putting myself first, it felt great to let him be him and just go with the flow. Of course, I still fantasized about him getting a raging STD from his skanky girlfriend. I just decided that he wasn’t worth my time or energy anymore. I was worth it, Baby ~ and so are you!
Imagine This: You’re in dreamland. Zzzzzzzzzz. Blissful. Unaware. Major REM activity going on.
Suddenly, the alarm goes off. You tap the snooze button. You’re a bit groggy.
THEN IT HITS YOU LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN — OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MY HEART IS BROKEN!
I used to loathe going to sleep during a breakup because it meant I had to wake up and there’d be that little moment in between sleep and reality where I had forgotten all my pain. Where there was no pain. And then reality would slap me in the face. Damn, I hated it.
Unfortunately, there is no way to get around this moment unless, of course, you want to set the Guinness world record for Most Hours a Human Being Has Stayed Awake. While this title is impressive, it’s not worth the bags you’ll have under your eyes. You will wake up. You will have to face your day. It’s at this moment you have a choice.
I recommend you either:
A) Smile. This sounds hard when you’re sad. If you force yourself to smile (yes, physically smile) first thing in the morning, you will feel a teenie tiny bit better. Try it. It’s almost impossible to smile and feel bad at the same time.
B) Pretend your pillow is his face and give it a good swat. Yes, this suggestion contains violent tendencies but if you get it out of your system first thing, I bet you can go back to Step A and really mean it. Sometimes, once isn’t enough. Don’t feel bad if you need to repeat this step a few times. Go ahead. No one’s watching.
C) Close your eyes and assign him an animal spirit guide. Some of the first things that come to mind are the ever-popular pig or dog or ass. You could be really creative and make him a stink bug, goat or one of those monkeys with big red butts. Think of the animal. Picture his face. Merge the two. Ta-Da! How unattractive is that? Ewwwww!
D) Close your eyes and contemplate and plan your day and see yourself going through your day as the strong fabulous woman you are. Imagine you ~ walking tall and proud. You strut right by the vending machine at work without giving that Snickers bar a second thought. You laugh more. You OWN your day. You make it what YOU want it to be.
It goes without saying that it’s really important to take care of YOU during this time. Typically, the way you start your day influences the hours that follow. Why not start it out from a happy place? It’s your choice. Since we all know you’re amazing, it’s a pretty good bet that sensational days are ahead!
You may not believe me when I say this but this feeling does get better with time. Pretty soon, it will be 30 seconds before reality hits you. Then a minute. Then 5 minutes. Then longer. Until then, I hope these suggestions help, You Fabulous Doll!
Are you scared to be alone? First of all, let me say that it’s so natural for you to have these feelings. I remember that just the thought of having a Friday night with no plans terrified me – not to mention actually enduring it. What happens is this: Your mind stops being busy with activity – activity – activity! You then have some space to remember and feel that your heart is broken. It’s uncomfortable. It hurts. Therefore, in order to escape the pain, you do another activity – activity – activity! You keep yourself so preoccupied because you’re afraid of your feelings. Well, I’ve got news for you. You won’t be able to run away and eventually, they’ll find you.
It could be six months from now when you’re at the grocery store and you can’t find your favorite brand of lima beans and ~ whoosh! ~ there they are and you’re sobbing in front of the stock boy. Or it could be three months from now when you’re on a date with someone else and realize that your ex would never pick his teeth with a straw like this guy sitting across from you ~ whoosh! ~ you find yourself tearing up and passing it off on the onions in your dish. You see a pattern here? They will find a way to get you ~ if you don’t get them first!
So here are some tricks for spending time alone:
1. Find a movie that you have on DVD and love. My personal favorite is Grumpier Old Men. It’s hysterical. I can’t watch it and be sad. Find a movie like that for yourself. Even if you’re not going to be in the same room as the TV, just have it on in the background. You’ll find yourself listening to it and chuckling.
2. Get a great book or magazine ~ something uplifting and fun. Read it while your movie is in the background.
3. Order in some great food or make yourself a dish you love. Enjoy it. Really. I should probably point out that a quart of marshmallow fudge ice cream does not constitute a meal.
4. Write a little journal entry about all the things in your life you’re grateful for. I know this sounds cheesy but it’s great to focus on all you have going for you ~ even with a broken heart.
5. Breathe. If you sense that you’re starting to feel sad, take a deep breath. Give yourself a time limit. Say, “Okay. I’m going to let myself feel sad for 10 minutes. After that, I’m going to finish this magazine.” It’s really important here to stick to the time limit. You don’t want the entire night turning into a downward spiral. You are strong. You can get through 10 minutes of sadness but then change your focus right away.
If the thought of being ALONE really freaks you out, you could:
1. Go to a bookstore and buy the aforementioned good book or magazine. Sometimes, just getting out among people makes you feel better. The employees at the bookstore in my neighborhood were my Friday night buddies for quite a while. I did feel better, though, getting out for a bit.
2. Go to a coffee shop to read the aforementioned good book or magazine. Again, getting out in any form can lift your spirits.
I know that it may sound unbelievable to you now but I believe that someday you will be comfortable alone. You will be peaceful and calm and happy by yourself. I got to the point where I really craved alone time. It felt weird at first because I had gone out of my way to avoid it. However, I soon became my own best friend. I got myself through the tough times. I trusted myself to do it again.
I hope this helps! Shine on!
If you like this, you’ll love Laura’s FREE 5 Steps to Getting Your Groovy Back audio minicourse. In it, you’ll learn how to boost your mood throughout the day, how to deal with difficult emotions and remain sassy, why resentment depletes your strength and lots more. Fill out the form to the right and get it now!
All of us have decisions to make each day…usually in the hundreds and thousands depending on what’s going on in our lives. Will we have a double cheeseburger at lunch or soup and salad? Will we watch Desperate Housewives or CSI? Will we curse at the old lady that cut us off in traffic or smile and say, “Who Cares?”
Have you ever decided WHO you’re going to be on any given day? Have you ever decided HOW you would like the events in your life to play out that day?
If you try it, I think you’ll be amazed with the results.
Here’s how it works:
1. You wake up (duh, right?). While lying in bed (it’s important that you don’t get up yet ~ stay relaxed and in bed), picture the day that you have ahead of you. Perhaps you have a meeting scheduled or lunch plans or a workout class.
2. Whatever it is, think about each event and feeeeeel how you’d like the outcome to be. Imagine walking out of that meeting knowing that you contributed in a big way. Go ahead. Give yourself an imaginary pat on the back. Or think about enjoying your lunch with laughter and good food. Imagine your commute going smoothly. If you’ve got something difficult on your plate, feeeeel the best possible outcome. I mean feel it in your gut.
3. Smile and go about your day.
Guess what you just did? You made a decision about who you are going to be today. You decided what you’d like to get out of the day and you just sent some positive energy up ahead of you to pave the way.
Watch this magic work day after day after day for you, Dear. You deserve a beautiful life!
Q: Hi, Laura. Sometimes, it hurts so much I find myself almost incapable of doing even the smallest daily task. I feel somewhat imprisoned by the pain. Any ideas on how to escape? I could really use them now!
A: Amy, Amy, Amy. Boy, do I ever understand where you’re coming from. Those first few days, weeks (and even months, sometimes) can be brutal. Your emotions are raw. You feel stretched way too thin. You wonder if you’ll ever feel like you again.
The answer is a resounding – YES! You will feel like you again. It’s hard to realize that now. I’ve found that putting a few things into play can really help. I call them my “rituals.”
Tip #1 – Adopt an a.m. ritual.
This can be as easy as waking up, showering, making yourself glamorous for your day, taking a moment or two to reflect on what you’re grateful for (sounds woo-woo but works) and thinking about how you want your day to go. Do the same thing every day. Force yourself, if necessary. Find the little things that make you feel good first thing and do them. Maybe you want to take a walk. Maybe you get up a few minutes before your kids and have a cup of tea and some “you” time. Whatever it is, be good to yourself.
Tip #2 – Adopt a p.m. ritual.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. All these routines? I can barely keep my head on straight without thinking about a routine. I promise you that these really do work to bring your spirits up. The nighttime routine can be a bit more pampering than the morning ritual. Typically, I started with tidying up my house a bit. For some reason, entering a clean kitchen in the morning really started me off on a better track. If the family room was picked up too — wow! It felt good. Sometimes, I would take a bath or read or veg out in front of the computer. I would dutifully take my makeup off and brush my teeth (even on the nights when I just wanted to fade into bed with Dorito dust on my upper lip). Something about making an effort for YOU feels really good.
Tip #3 – Just breathe.
When we’re running around all day trying to avoid our feelings, sometimes it can make us actually feel worse. There would be times when I was really trying to hold back my tears. When you find an uncomfortable emotion welling up, just begin breathing long, slow breaths. Don’t try to run from it. Just let it come. I remember actually saying out loud at times, “Well, I guess I’m going to cry now.” Then the tears would flow. I’d usually end up laughing about it – as if I were scheduling in time for crying. It generally takes more energy to avoid your feelings than it does to just feel them.
Imagine having certain things you do each day for YOU and YOU alone. It feels good, doesn’t it? You are worth it, Amy. Try these tips out and see how they feel. I guarantee that you’ll notice a spot of happy shining through as you decide what to do for yourself. Good luck on your journey.