You might be saying to yourself, “What? Beauty in pain? Have you lost your marbles, Laura?”
I don’t blame you for thinking this way. I would have thought like this too ~ until I lived this quote.
You see, I was in an unhappy marriage. If I’m honest, I had been unhappy for years. In fact, for the majority of years.
However, I wouldn’t let that in too much. It hurt. In fact, just the thought of that pain seemed overwhelming.
So I did what any good wife does and just fake-smiled and busied my way through life.
Something happened, though, that made that even more difficult. I found out about a four-years-long affair that my husband had been having.
Ouch is an understatement. Wow. That was REALLY painful. It almost felt like every cell of my body was experiencing emotional pain ~ if that makes sense.
The months following that were some of the darkest of my life. It seemed that the rug had been pulled out from underneath me.
He wanted to “work it out.”
I was frightened of the prospect of being alone ~ my daughter without her family unit intact ~ being labeled twice divorced ~ not having someone to spend national holidays with ~ you get my drift.
So we “worked on it.” I soon found out that working on it meant me understanding his need to go to nightclubs on the weekends and never bringing up my feelings again.
Sounds ideal, right?
So there I was. Back to square one. Trying to manage my feelings ~ alone. Trying to shield my young daughter from the sadness and hurt I was feeling inside.
This little scenario played out for two whole years. Yuck. Seriously…ish! It was the least fun I’ve had in a long time ~ let me tell you.
I actually prayed to God for a sign that I should leave. I didn’t know what it was but knowing myself, I knew that I could tolerate pain for much longer than I should. It wasn’t a badge of honor. Just the way I was.
However, a glorious day arrived!
At 5:15 a.m. on a Saturday morning in June, I could hear the garage door open. I was accustomed to him getting home at 2 or 3 a.m. but 5:15 was way beyond my comfort level. (Really? Looking back, why was 2 or 3 a.m. okay?)
Anyhoo, I tore down the steps and asked for an explanation. No. I DEMANDED an explanation. I also asked where his wedding ring was as I noticed it was not on his finger.
What followed was one lame excuse too many.
After he passed out, I quietly looked at his email. Not violating his privacy in this fashion was one way I was “working on” building trust. However, all bets were off.
As I began reading the email exchanges between him and his latest lady love, I understood the quote from Anais Nin.
Despite the terror, pain and intense sadness I felt in that moment, I woke him up and asked for a divorce right then and there.
And then I realized…I was finally ready to blossom.
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!
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.
Have you ever found yourself languishing at the end of a relationship? You know in your heart that it’s over. There’s no going back to “the way we were.” But now you’re stuck. How do you move forward INTO a divorce or breakup? What does that look like? What needs to happen?
I remember when I worked at a family law firm many years ago. The two busiest times of the year in family law are always September and January. Why? Because so many people are either trying to “just get through the summer” or “just get through the holidays” before ending their relationship. It’s usually these couples that have children too. In their mind, they don’t want to ruin summer vacation or Christmastime with a divorce or breakup. They’ll wait until the “fun” of the holidays is over before dropping the bomb. Does this sound familiar?
I have often been asked if I help people who know their marriage isn’t working and hasn’t been enjoyable for years but they don’t know how to get out of it. My answer is always no because it’s really a personal choice to end a relationship. However, I’m going to share my own story about being in that limbo space because I know how much it sucks.
You see, I wasn’t happy in my second marriage AT ALL. I found out about my ex-husband’s four-year-long affair about the time of our tenth anniversary. I was completely shocked. However, I didn’t want to break up our family so I really really tried to make it work. That task was made even more difficult by his attitude that it was “my problem” to get over it sooner rather than later. I was miserable with a capital M! I didn’t trust him and he did nothing to help me regain that trust. He still went out with his buddies to clubs on Friday nights and stayed out until 3 a.m. He lied to me about things. It was a big challenge to be in a relationship with him. Yet, each day went by. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months ~ you get the picture. I would fantasize about a life without him and feel a mixture of fear and relief. Doubt was also in that picture. I doubted that I could make it all work (finances, family, work, security, etc. etc.) without him. I started to hope for a sign ~ a sign that I should end this relationship. Something concrete. Something definite.
I lived on for months. Waiting…waiting. But then it came ~ in a huge ball of freedom and pain. Two-plus years after finding out about the first affair, I found out about another one. Even though it was extremely painful, I HAD MY SIGN! That was a pivotal moment in my life. I decided that the pain of being in this relationship was greater than my fear of the unknown without it. I have never once looked back and thought, “Gee, did I make the right decision there?” I ABSOLUTELY know I did.
I didn’t realize how unhappy I was in that marriage until a few months into my new life. I began to feel a lightness about me. It felt so good to move toward that. I also recognized a tremendous hidden strength that I never knew I had inside me. I COULD make it through this challenging time and I DID!
So I write this post today to share with you an end ~ that was actually a fresh new beginning. Let’s hear it for starting over with sass!
Let’s face it. Sometimes, when dealing with a breakup, you just have one of those days. Nothing seems to be going right. Everywhere you look, there are reminders of him or something else that makes you feel bad (like empty Haagen Daz containers littering the kitchen table). Once in a while, you might even have several bad days IN A ROW. Ugh!
It’s not necessary to spend another minute down in the dumps. We make choices about our mood every day. So the question is: What are you going to do to bring yourself up ~ to make things a little lighter and brighter? Pick even one of the five ways listed and I guarantee you will return to your cheerful self in no time!
1. Fake it. Sometimes, ACTING like you’re happy actually turns into BEING happy. ”When you smile, even if you’re not genuine, it sends happiness signals to your brain and makes you feel much better,” says Simon Rego of the Montefiore Medical Center. Also, try it while looking in the mirror. It’ll shoot another round of happiness indicators to the brain making you ~ right ~ even happier!
2. Exercise. Of course I’d say exercise. Why? First of all, it helps you to release endorphins which will naturally boost your mood. Secondly, if you choose a bit more aggressive exercise, say kickboxing or a punching bag, you’ll also take out some of your frustration in a safe and positive way. Afterwards, you’ll most likely think a bit clearer and therefore have a better perspective on the awesome life you’re building for yourself!
3. Wear something new and different. Maybe you’ve got an outrageous lipstick color that you never wear ~ wear it today! Or maybe those new shoes are still sitting in your closet begging to be worn. When you feel good on the outside, you’ll feel better on the inside. How about going to a store at lunch and spritzing on a new perfume? Sometimes, just a little bit of self-care can make a huge difference.
4. Veg out. Yep, distract yourself. If we have too much free time on our hands, it can lead down a spiral of doom. Let’s stop the spiral NOW! How about rewatching your favorite movie for the 101st time? Or going out to lunch with friends? Try out a new coffee shop in your neighborhood or grab a book and let your imagination go?
5. Have a venting session! You can either do this alone or with a trusted pal but here’s the kicker: Set the timer for 15 minutes (yes, really) or have your friend do it. ”Before you start, ask your friend to set the timer for 15 minutes,” says Darlene Mininni, author of The Emotional Toolkit. ”That’s a good amount of time to get things off your chest. Any longer and you’ll start focusing on the negative stuff too much.” Then ~ vent away! Rant, rave ~ or whatever you need to do. But remember: Only in moderation. You’ll typically feel a relief after venting. Afterwards, choose to be in a great mood the rest of the day.
Whether you’re dealing with a divorce or a breakup, you will have good days and bad days. Just remember that you can always turn that frown upside-down. It’s a choice. You are powerful and you can change a bad day into a good day! Best wishes for many good days ahead!
So…you’re dealing with a breakup. Yes, it stinks. You’ re not enjoying life right now. I get it. This article covers whining. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines whining as “to complain with or as if with a whine.” When someone is known as a whiner, let’s face it…it’s not a compliment. Some people take offense to the term but whining really is simply complaining. Do you know where complaining gets you? Do you think it makes you feel better? In the long run, does it make your dreams come true? Do people race to be in the presence of a whiner? Admit it. You’ve known someone in your life who complained all the time. I bet you couldn’t get away from them fast enough.
But it’s a cycle that’s easy to get stuck in when you’re newly single. I know someone who was years past her divorce and guess what? She was STILL complaining about things her ex-husband had done while they were married. She continued to struggle with it daily. I understood her, though, because I was a complainer too. I complained about EVERYTHING for a while. It seemed that there was something wrong with every part of my life. With all that whining going on, do you think I had time for talking and thinking about the goodness in my life? Did I shine the spotlight on that? No. It wasn’t until I realized that the more I complained ~ the more things I had to complain about, that I made a change.
I read Wayne Dyer’s book called The Power of Intention. This quote really struck me ~ When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Could I really change things just by changing my thoughts about them? You bet! It’s amazing to me that once I started looking at the “sunny side” of life ~ my life transformed.
The following are a few tips for changing the way you look at things:
1. Focus on what’s good in your life. Even if you’re having the worst day and you are completely broken hearted, there’s still good things going on. Like, you’re alive, for one. You have friends and family who care about you. You have a roof over your head. Sometimes, when it feels like everything is going wrong, just being grateful for the basics is all you can do. That’s fine. Take some time each day to search for the good in your life and give thanks for it.
2. Promise yourself that for one full day ~ you won’t complain. Boy, can this one be tough. If you catch yourself launching into complaints about HIM or the traffic or your boss or your finances ~ whatever it is ~ just stop in mid sentence. Give yourself and everyone around you a break from the negative energy whining produces. I guarantee that you’ll feel proud of yourself and a little lighter because you’re not dragging yourself down with complaints.
3. Laugh more; whine less. It is true that when we’re smiling or laughing it’s really difficult to be unhappy. Therefore, do things that you know will make you feel good. Don’t you know someone that cracks you up every time you’re around them? It’s my brother for me. It’s honestly impossible to be around him and feel bad. He’s always been the family clown. I’ve got a few friends like that too. If you’ve got someone like that in your life, hang out with them more often. Or watch a funny movie or TV show. Bring more reasons to smile and laugh into your life and you’ll feel better sooner than you think.
4. Get over yourself. I know that sounds kind of harsh but I wish someone would have told me this when I was stuck in my whining pattern. I really didn’t have it that bad. After all, if I was honest, I wasn’t really all that happy in my marriage that had just ended. Yes. I was dealing with difficult emotions and I wasn’t sure what the future held. I could own that. But…did I want to focus on what I had lost? Could I begin to focus on the fresh start that the future promised? That sounded a lot better than remaining down in dumpsville forever.
So…I challenge you to begin talking and thinking about all the fabulousity you’ve got going on, Gorgeous! You get to start down a new path to a new you and make your life better than ever!