What I’ve Learned from My Breakup: 12 Signs That the Relationship Won’t Work

I have a new theme song, and it’s called “Your Lips Are Movin” by Meghan Trainor.

Actually I have a lot of theme songs, but this is my current #1. It’s amazing what strength that heartbreak can bring out of a person. I am finally waking up and finding strength in my womanhood.

Right now I’m in the anger phase of my grief over the end of this relationship that I focused on for a year and a half. During that time I had a belief—a hope—that we’d spend the rest of our lives together. The good times were wonderful, and I hoped our love would grow deeper. But it did not. As much as I want to focus on positivity and be an inspiration to others, right now I need to work through my anger so that I can let it go.

Anger is a healthy emotion. It’s not one I’m used to expressing; I don’t like it. At the same time it can be empowering. At some point I had to wake up to the fact that this relationship was not working, and could not work no matter how hard I tried. Had I not said or done the wrong thing at the wrong time, I’d have done something else wrong at some other wrong time. Maybe at some point he’ll realize it’s not a good guy versus bad guy situation, that we’re both human, and maybe not. But right now he blames the end of this relationship on me. What can I do with that?

I’ll tell you what I won’t do with it. I refuse to lay down and die for it. I will not be someone else’s doormat. I will not accept full responsibility for the end of this relationship. It takes two. I know that I loved well and I loved deeply, and I expressed that as best as I could, which was pretty darn good 99% of the time, and if that’s not good enough for him, he’s free to move on. I am setting him free. Better yet, he has set me free.

If you’re currently in a relationship and you’re questioning whether or not it will work out, consider the following red flags. I learned these the hard way, through experience, which seems to be the only way I can learn. But now I know if I get into another relationship in which any of the following happens, I don’t have to spend a year and a half or however long hoping things will change. They won’t.

  1. After a few weeks of dating they suggest you move in together. Let’s be real. This person is not mentally stable, and neither are you. There’s a reason why they say “crazy in love” and “love is blind.” Sure, you may both be caught up in the excitement of the new stages of your infatuation, and you each may feel like you want to be together forever, but this is not the time to make decisions about your future together. It’s not fair for them to drag you into their fantasy world. Just have fun together and don’t buy into (or make) long-term promises!
  2. After a few months—and after initially suggesting you move in together—they change their mind and say you should not move in together. This is even worse than #1! And it’s highly likely that the entirety of your relationship will consist of them switching back and forth between wanting to live with (or marry) you and not living with you.
  3. When times get tough, they tell you, repeatedly, that they don’t see how the relationship will work. It’s true. The relationship will not work! Do not try to convince them that it’s worth fighting for, and do not fight for it! It’s not worth fighting for if you’re the only one fighting. Run fast!
  4. They claim to enjoy doing something and insist on doing it every time, but later come back and say they resent you for it. For example, they say they love to cook for you, and then later say they’re tired of cooking all the time. If they refuse your offer to cook, and you don’t ask them to cook for you, and they continue to do it and resent you for it, that is a red flag. There’s no way you can make this person happy. Only they can make them happy, and your actions do not control that for the better or worse. This is true for everyone, no matter who your partner is. We can only control our own actions.
  5. They ignore you. This includes blocking your number from their phone, turning off texting capability, not answering your calls, and saying they “need a break.” Your voice deserves to be heard, and do not accept any less. I’m not talking about bombarding them or blowing up their phone, but reasonable efforts to reach out and have a discussion with someone. You deserve to be with someone who can have a grown-up conversation with you.
  6. They blame you for problems in the relationship. No matter what you did, you did not singlehandedly cause all the problems in this relationship! This may seem like a no-brainer, and you may feel you already know this. But some people have an insidious way of manipulating others into feeling they are to blame. If you have the slightest doubt in your mind about something you may have done wrong, and they capitalize on it without admitting any of their wrongdoing, they’re manipulating you. That doesn’t mean never back down. But use your best judgment to determine if the “punishment” fits the “crime.” I use those words in quotes, because when things go wrong you may feel you’re being punished or that you’ve committed a crime, and if that’s the case, know that this relationship is not healthy for you.
  7. At some point you learn that this other person does not love himself. He cannot love anyone else if he cannot love himself. You can wait around hoping he’ll learn to love himself, but know that you’ll also be waiting for him to learn to love you too. And that could be a loooooong time. Like forever.
  8. At some point you figure out you need to learn to love yourself. You thought you loved yourself, but he doesn’t respect you, he refuses to communicate with you, he consistently breaks up with you, and you continue to accept it. At some point you’ve got to realize you’re not being treated well, and you deserve better. Love yourself. Stand up for yourself. Move on. Do what you need to do to make the best of your time here on this planet Earth. You do not have to live a life of pain and heartache.
  9. He never comes to your house. Is he not interested in your life? Does he not want to see how you live? The answer is no. This is a selfish person who does not deserve your love.
  10. Your partner has no friends, and is estranged from his family-of-origin. This person doesn’t like most people, including your friends. Obviously they cannot be in any kind of relationship, including platonic ones. What makes you think you’re any different? You may be in the beginning, but know that eventually you too will be on their blacklist.
  11. They have no interest in spending time with other people together as a couple. Not everyone has to be glued to each other’s sides and have all the same friends—in fact, independence is important–but it’s also important to be able to go out together sometimes and have mutual friends.
  12. Every holiday and special occasion becomes a crisis. You find yourself no longer looking forward to any holiday because you feel deep down that some disaster is pending. Why do you think you feel that way? What happened in the past? Maybe (as in my case) your partner cannot handle the stress, or maybe the two of you together cannot handle it. Whatever the case, you deserve to live a life of serenity and peace.

Now’s the time to enjoy your freedom. There’s no reason why you can’t do whatever the hell you want. All those things you’ve wanted to do but didn’t have time, or was too focused on your (hopefully former) partner, you can focus on those things now. Hike the Appalachian trail, go camping, take a trip, take an art class, join a writers’ group… anything!

If it weren’t for this heartbreaking situation, I wouldn’t be so focused on my personal goals. This is what it took to get me to spend my free time working on self-care, education, and career. Before this, I spent my free time planning when I’d see him next, what we’d do, when and how we’d move in together, how to improve the relationship. I’m learning so much about myself during this time, and for that I’m grateful.

planted-not-buried

12 Ways to Get Over Him

For those who are going through break-ups right now, Valentine’s Day can be a sad reminder of the love we’ve lost. But instead of focusing on what we don’t have, use this time to grow stronger and move on with your life. Love yourself and work on how to get over him–or her, or whatever your gender identities are… I don’t mean to exclude anyone but am focusing on Woman Power here for my sisters out there who’ve felt put down by the men in their lives. Not that I don’t think others have felt the same way, but this is for those women who’ve felt afraid to speak their minds, express their feelings, be themselves. It’s for those who’ve felt like they needed the relationship because it was their world, and now that world has crumbled. Now it’s time to start over and focus on you. You don’t need this relationship. You’re waking up to the fact that it’s the last thing you need.

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I came up with a list of things that have helped me during this break-up period with my ex in the hopes that it would be helpful to someone else. Feel free to add your own comments for what has been helpful to you. I’d love to hear what has helped you.

  1. Remove all traces of him from your life. Delete all photos, texts, emails, voice mails, playlists–anything that reminds you of him. Unless it’s something he gave you that you really love, that does not necessarily remind you of him, but you need it, like say, a winter coat, then get rid of it! The sooner you forget him, the sooner you move on with your life. Remember: he’s no good for you!
  2. Listen to music that inspires and empowers you. Make your own “break-up songs playlist.” Instead of that depressing electronic music you loved to listen to together, or that somber alt folk station on Spotify, listen to your favorite female artist sing about moving on. Anything that gets you dancing and singing along. Isn’t having fun with it so much better than crying all the time? Not that anyone should bottle their feelings. Cry it out when you need to—just don’t live there!
  3. When you catch yourself feeling lonely or sad, remember all the things about him that bothered you, and how you don’t have to deal with his bullshit anymore. You are free!
  4. Find positive affirmations online, and if you’re on Pinterest, make an “inspiring quotes” board. Repeat these affirmations to yourself aloud in the morning while you’re getting ready for the day. Look in the mirror while saying them. Throughout the day, repeat them in your head. Whisper them to yourself when no one’s around. Say them aloud in the car. When a negative thought creeps in, follow it with three positive thoughts. Even if you don’t believe it, say it anyway.
  5. Focus more on work, school, your goals. If you don’t have goals or know what they are, now’s the time to figure that out. What do you like? What makes you happy?
  6. Focus on doing what you want to do. Make time for fun in your life. Go out with friends. Spend time doing what you enjoy. This time is yours. This life is yours. Make the best of it!
  7. Write out all your pain, hurt, anger. Write him a letter telling him how you feel, but don’t send it. He doesn’t need to know, because you two are finished! It doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that you’re moving on with your life. You are learning and growing from this experience. Whatever lessons he needs to learn from it, he’ll learn. It’s not up to you to decide that because it’s not worth your time. Your job is to focus on yourself.
  8. Go to the gym, or do some kind of exercise that’s fun for you. Go to Zumba, yoga, or whatever you like.
  9. Make a gratitude list. Pay attention to everything that makes you smile, laugh, or feel happy in some way, no matter how small. If something negative creeps in, notice it and then focus on something positive.
  10. Read more articles or blog posts about how to get over him. Think of what advice you’d give a friend going through the same experience, or what you’d tell a younger version of yourself. Then follow your own advice. Remind yourself: he’s no good for you!
  11. Pray to your higher power to give you the strength and courage to get through this day. Then act as if you’ve already been given that strength. Ask yourself what someone you admire would do, and then do that. There’s no reason you cannot be the person you’ve always wanted to be. There’s a reason why you’ve always wanted to be that person: because that person is already within you. You’ve just got to bring her out!
  12. Repeat after me: My life is getting better every day. I look forward to what each new hour brings. Something wonderful could be around the corner. You never know what will happen next. I deserve all the wonderful things that life has in store for me. Wonderful blessings have happened for me before, and they will happen again. I’m going through a hard time right now, but I will persevere. I will come out stronger as a result. I am a loving person, and I am loveable.

You only have one life to live, that you know of. Live it to the best of your ability. Life is not an obstacle to overcome, or a burden to drag yourself through. It’s a gift and a blessing. It’s an opportunity to grow and love. You are worthy and loveable. Something amazing could be right around the corner—you just never know what wonderful things life has in store for you.

Think back to a time you went through a difficult period. Then remember how that time passed, and you found happiness again. That can happen again, and this time it will be even better than you ever dreamed possible. Or, if you feel like that’s never happened for you, know that now is the time. Because this time you’re emerging a brand new person. A stronger, more self-confident person. Not that you haven’t always emerged a better person, but this time is different. This time is different because with each new heartache comes more growth.

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Be good to yourself this Valentine’s Day and learn to love yourself. Treat yourself to a nice hot bath, or buy yourself some chocolates. Watch your favorite show. Make plans with a friend. You are worth it. And one day you’ll find the right one who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated. You’re a kind and loving person with a lot to offer, and anyone who can’t see that is not worth your time.

I stumbled across this TED Talk that I want to share with you:

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my single friends out there. Love yourself, and stay true to yourself.

Love,
TCH

 

A Message for the Heartbroken

Listen to me. Listen to the words I’m saying, and let them become your own. Let this become your inner voice.

Today is the day you can commit yourself to a new way of thinking. If you’re prone to negative thinking, the worst that can happen is you go back to your old way of thinking. It’s likely to happen if you’ve lived your entire life with negative thoughts of not being good enough, but all you have to do is acknowledge the thought, and then think of three positive thoughts. Even if you don’t believe them today, just do it. And if it doesn’t seem to be working, do it again. Do it again and again, day after day until you get the truth into your head. The truth is you’re a beautiful person, worthy of love.

I’ve read that the human brain is prone to negative, fight-or-flight thinking that no longer serves us now that we’re not in survival mode, yet our minds continue on this negative path that we’re in trouble. I’ve also read that because of neuroplasticity, a process of re-wiring our brains into a different way of thinking, we can become more positive. I don’t know all the science behind it, but it’s worth the experiment. The reward is a new you.

Think about it.

A new you. A new me!

How amazing would it be to become the person you always wanted to be? How wonderful for your life to become better than you ever dreamed possible? What if you knew you were beautiful, inside and out? What if you knew your strength? What if you knew that you have enough in your life, and that you are enough, right now, as you are?

Let’s say you have extreme thoughts of how horrible this chapter of your life is, and you just want to end it. You feel like you’ve always been depressed, or that you eventually end up in this dark place again, and that when circumstances get tough, you can’t handle it. You beat yourself up for it, and you are sick of it, and you want to disappear forever. What if, instead of all that negative self-talk, you knew that you’d be okay? That you’d be better than okay, that you’d come out of this a more resilient person, and you’d be happier than ever before.

courage

Why not give it a try? Why not replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. Maybe in the beginning you mindlessly repeat positive affirmations you don’t believe. But make an effort to elaborate. If your positive affirmation is that you’re beautiful, own it. Repeat after me: I am a beautiful person, and I have a lot to offer the world. Anyone who I get into a relationship with will be lucky to have me in their life. Anyone who mistreats me or abandons me is losing out on a wonderful opportunity, and that’s their loss. I am moving on, and I will find someone wonderful and worthy of my love to love and be loved by.

The beautiful thing that can come of this is that you’ll know that you loved. You loved deeply and you loved well. Your heart was true. You did the best you could at the time, which was pretty darn good. Some things weren’t good enough for him, for whatever reason, and maybe you didn’t get a chance to show that you were willing to change. The thing is, he’s a selfish and sick man who prefers to be single over having a companion who was willing to work on the relationship. That’s his prerogative. Maybe the two of you just weren’t meant to be together long-term. Some people prefer to be single, and if they want to live a lonely life, let them. You don’t have to do that. My belief is that people are social animals, and I believe we’re meant to have companions. Now you know if you go on a date with a man who has never been able to commit to anyone, it’s a warning sign, and you don’t have to go through the heartache of falling in love with him and spending a year and a half or however long hoping he’ll change. He won’t change! Do not fall for his bullshit. If he tells you he’s never felt this way before, and he believes you’re meant to be together, and you’re his soulmate, yet he still cannot plan a date for when you’ll move in together or get married, he’s a liar. Run fast.

In my case, this man has his own issues, and there’s no room in the relationship for me to have mine. But guess what? We all have our own issues, and if one person cannot handle that, then they need to move on. If you just went through a traumatic experience, and he expects you to be there for him, throwing it in your face that he drove 5,000 miles to be with you when your mom died, HE’S NOT WORTH IT. Anyone would travel whatever distance to be with their partner during the death of a loved one. They should never make you feel guilty for being there for you, nor should they put a timeline on your grief. They should not, three months later, expect you to go meet their ailing parent on the first holiday after the death of your loved one, and then get angry with you and refuse to talk to you when you get your feelings hurt. And if anyone ever says to you, “Everything is not about you,” after you’ve spent your entire relationship trying your best to appease them, what they really mean is, “Everything is about me.”

If you find yourself in a situation in which you’re doing everything you can to try to appease someone, it’s not working! Relationships take work, but they should not take that much work. Even if the other person has a mental illness, you cannot use that as an excuse to be mistreated. There’s someone out there for everyone, and you’ve got to decide what you can put up with. You do not have to settle for less than the absolute best for you. You are worthy. You’re smart and capable. You have so much going for you. Even if you’re not exactly where you want to be in your life right now, you’re right where you need to be, and you’re growing all the time.

amen

Think of this painful time as a learning experience. It’s like when you’re sick with the flu, and all you want to do is feel normal again, and that first day that you feel well, you feel so grateful. You feel so much better than you did had you never been sick. That will happen for you. It may not feel like it now, but it will happen. Trust in the process. Use this time wisely, to focus on the things you have always wanted to focus on, yet couldn’t because you spent most of your time on the relationship. Have you neglected your goals? Do you have career goals to work towards? Are you spending enough time having fun? Do it now! Now is the time.

Do not try to forgive anyone who’s hurt you before you’re ready. Premature forgiveness does not make you a more spiritual person. True forgiveness can and will come in time. You’re still a spiritual being having a human experience. You can still grow spiritually and find forgiveness, in time. Right now, get angry if you need to! Let it out! In a healthy way. No need to express it to him. He’s not worth it! He’ll learn the lessons he needs to learn in time, and trying to teach him that is not worth your time. You’re not his higher power, and he’s not yours. And that’s okay. It’s better than okay! You have your own shit to deal with. Write it out in your journal, dance it out in Zumba, kick it out in kickboxing. If you just spent your workday trying to repress the feelings by not thinking of him, then later you read somewhere not to repress your feelings, do not beat yourself up! If you spent your morning crying and then later read somewhere not to wallow in self-pity, don’t punish yourself with negative self-talk about how you’re not doing this right! You are doing it right! Do whatever you need to process your feelings and get through them. Congratulate yourself for walking through a hard time, because you are amazing–and there’s nothing wrong with knowing that you’re amazing.

Know that this time will pass, and be grateful for it. Remember it and be grateful, because one day your life will be so much more amazing, and you’ll be able to look back and see that you got through a hard time with courage and strength, and you’re learning from it. In fact, you need this experience to grow. This is what it took to gain the strength and courage to be who you really are: a wonderful person who is no one’s doormat.

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Become your biggest cheerleader. When you think back to a painful time in your life, wouldn’t you love to be able to go back and tell that younger you that she’d be okay? That everything would work out, and her life would get better? You can do that now. Imagine your future self cheering you on. Imagine that person hugging you. There’s no way around this painful time; the only way is through. And you will come out a better person. Trust me.

Stay strong. You are worth it.

TCH

Moving On

When you’re feeling devastated because the one you loved broke your heart, allow yourself to feel sad. Have a good cry. Sob, wail, do everything you need to do to get it all out. Cry to your friends who support you—and remember that if someone doesn’t support you, they’re not your friend! Go to those who support you. Don’t go to, let’s say, family members who also loved that cold-hearted bastard, because he put on such a good show around them. Don’t go to the hardware store looking for milk. You go to your best girlfriend who will tell you, “Girl, he’s no good for you!” That’s what friends are for. And when one of your girlfriends has the same problem in the future, you can be that friend for her.

Get angry. Eff that dude! This is HIS loss! You are better than that. Remember all the times you put up with his bullshit, all the times he hurt you, the times he ripped your heart out. You deserve better! There’s someone out there who will love and respect you, who will appreciate you for who you are, who encourages you to speak your mind and express your feelings. If someone silences you, they do not deserve to be in your life. If someone ignores you, refuses to listen to you, blocks you from their phone, consistently needs to “take a break” from the relationship, then you may as well be invisible to them. You may as well not be in their life. And YOU will be better off without THEM. Here’s what I have to say to those who ignore their significant others:

ignoring

The other day I wrote a blog post that I didn’t post, all about how sorry I was for words I’d said to him, hurtful words that caused pain. Why did I say those words? What was wrong with me? Why would I sabotage my relationship, if that’s what I was subconsciously doing? I kept beating myself up, over and over, analyzing it and re-analyzing it. I felt like a horrible person, and I wanted so badly for him to forgive me. I felt like I would not be okay if he could not forgive me, which he can’t. Over the weekend he told me he cannot forgive me. I knew then that I had to learn to forgive myself. I prayed to God to forgive me, and for me to forgive myself. Then I wondered what I’d do if the roles were reversed. Would I forgive him?

Of course I would.

What did I say that was so wrong, so horrible? I expressed a negative emotion, something that hurt his feelings. Nothing I’ve said afterwards has mattered. Lengthy, numerous explanations about my own issues, admitting my mistake, admitting my jealousy, none of that matters. The relationship cannot recover from it.

But I would forgive someone else for that. I would be hurt, and feel accused, but I’d forgive them. Maybe I’d still feel hurt, but I would understand they had issues. His reaction was to take me home from our trip, gather my belongings from his place, and refuse to talk to me anymore.

When I think of how I hurt him, I feel terrible. He told me I shattered his heart. I don’t know how to undo it. There is no way for me to undo it.

Then a friend asked me, “Do you feel like what you did was wrong?” What was it that I really did? I expressed an emotion. Did I kill someone? Did I abuse someone? Did I cheat on him? Did I accuse him of being a criminal? No. I expressed a negative emotion. Yes, it was hurtful. No, it was not intentionally, consciously hurtful. The last thing I want to do is hurt him. But I did.

So I can wallow in self-pity and beat myself up for days, months, or however long, OR I can acknowledge that I did something hurtful, and move on. I can learn to forgive myself, learn from the experience, and remember that everything happens for a reason.

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If you’re in a similar situation, ask yourself this: Do you want to stay in a relationship in which you’re not allowed to express your emotions? Do you want to be in a relationship in which you’re afraid to say how you feel? Do you want to be with someone who ignores you from time to time? Do you want to feel worried about their mood, wondering if today will be a happy day, a sad day, or an angry day? Do you want to feel like your mood is dependent upon their mood? Ask yourself how you want to live your life. What do you want your relationship to look like? Are there things you’ve ignored because you thought the good outweighed the bad? Are there red flags?

There’s no good guy or bad guy. There are humans being human. We are flawed and we hurt each other, even when we don’t mean to or want to. A relationship cannot continue without forgiveness.

Relish your time being single. If you’ve broken up completely, or temporarily separated, focus on your time alone. Fill your time with things you love to do, activities that are healthy for you. Take a Zumba class, go to yoga, join a hiking club. Learn to rock-climb. Do those things you’ve always wanted to do, but never had time. Take time for them now. Focus on doing today what can help you tomorrow. Focus on school, work, your career. And remember, if you love someone, let them go. If they come back, you can decide then if this is really what you want. If they don’t, it wasn’t meant to be.

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Learn to love yourself. Treat yourself the way you’d treat a significant other who you want to keep. Make time for yourself, and do the things you enjoy. Encourage yourself to grow. Use positive self-talk. Make time for friends and fun. Be there for other people, and get out of your head. It’s not always a safe neighborhood there. Listen to your heart instead. One day your life will get so much better than it is right now. You will find that your life has become so much better than you ever dreamed possible. You’ll look back and see this painful time as a blessing. It may not feel like it now, but one day you’ll become grateful for this hardship.

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Stay strong! You will love again.

Peace and namaste,

TCH

Post-Traumatic Growth

My Foundations of Health and Wellness class focuses on self-care, specifically how to incorporate more fun and laughter in life. The idea is to learn balance, so that, as future nutritionists and health coaches, we can guide others in doing the same for themselves. The assignment was to spend time every day for a week playing a game or engaging in some kind of playful activity, and it was actually quite difficult to do. I must confess I didn’t do it every day. And I realized that I don’t have enough fun in my life.

Our professor who I call Joy gave us this video to watch, the long and short versions are below. This is Jane McGonigal from her TED Talk called “The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life:”

Here’s the long version—it’s about 20 minutes long, so if you don’t have time, skip to the short version where she talks about post-traumatic growth:

I like what she says about post-traumatic growth. It reminds me of one of the daily meditations in The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie, in which she writes that if we are currently going through a difficult period in our life, know that something wonderful is just around the corner. This is an affirmation I repeat to myself throughout the day when I’m feeling down. McGonigal talks about feeling three positive emotions for every one negative emotion every hour. When those worries about future failure creep in, replace them with positive affirmations that something wonderful is blooming from this pain. I can acknowledge that right now is painful, but I can be grateful even for the pain, because from pain blossoms growth. Think of this time as the tight bud of a rose, just about to blossom open. Keep watering the seeds of positivity.

All this time I’ve been clinging to an idea of stability that I long for, a future in which my boyfriend and I grow together, learn to communicate better, move in together, and live in harmony. In the meantime I’m getting used to being without him, living life on my own, spending more time with friends, roommates, and co-workers. Spending more time alone, and less time obsessively checking my phone to see if he’s texted or emailed. Bits of phrases my therapist has said echo in my mind: “In three months you’ll have moved on…” “He’s going to miss his opportunity…” “You can meet someone else with his good qualities, but without the negatives.”

Three months? Really? She thinks I’ll be over him that soon? But when I think about it, I realize it has only been two weeks since he decided on this separation that I agreed to, and a month since he broke up with me. And already I’m beginning to let go. Just a tiny bit, and I still have hope of getting back together, but the thoughts are there. The thought that maybe God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself. That maybe this relationship is not good for me. The thought that I could meet someone like him but without his baggage.

My mother died on August 21st. That was less than six months ago. When it first happened, I thought I would never stop feeling so devastated. I cried so hard my entire head hurt for days. I spent days staring into space. I spent nights staring at the sky. And now, less than six months later, I am adjusting to life. I am totally on my own now. I probably do still think about her every day, but not the same way I did in the beginning. It’s weird to think it was less than six months ago, and I’m… well, I’m moving on with my life.

It’s the same with my ex-boyfriend, except that I’m beginning to think of the positives of not being with him. I cannot deny that the pain of rejection is there, and the question of why. Why am I not good enough for him. Why can’t he see how good we are together. Why does he prefer to be single over being in a loving relationship with someone willing to put up with his bullshit. Here I am, saying that I’m willing to learn to accept him for who he is, and do whatever I have to do to make this work, and let me tell you, that’s not easy to do for someone like me, nor is it easy for anyone to do with someone like him. It’s probably not easy for anyone, but with our issues? It’s a lot of work. But here’s the thing. Maybe it doesn’t have to take so much work. Of course, all relationships take work, but I can’t be the only one doing it. I can’t be the only one fighting for the relationship.

I want to correct something I wrote in my last blog post, about him making promises he doesn’t keep. That’s not true. He hasn’t made any promises, but he’d casually mentioned commitment a couple of times, and I clung to those ideas as truth. A few times he’d said, “Please don’t leave me.” My interpretation was, “I won’t leave you.” But that’s not what he said. What he said was, Don’t leave me, but I can do whatever the eff I want. Okay, maybe not that last part, but he may as well have, because he broke up with me several times over the year and a half we were together.

Recently he had a job interview for a position in North Carolina, and he texted me to say he doubts he’ll take it if he gets it. When I asked why, his reply was that it was less pay and he couldn’t realistically live off lower pay with the debt and bills he has. He did not say, Because I want to stay here with you and try to work this out. I had said that to him though. I’d told him I hoped he wouldn’t take the job because I hoped he’d stay in Maryland so we could work out our relationship. His reply? “I know, babe.” I know, babe. He did not say, I feel the same way. When he was originally planning to move to North Carolina, I thought it was because both of our families live there, and we could be closer to them. But when I’d asked him why he’d wanted to move there, he said, Because family comes first and I want to be closer to my kids. He did not say, Because both of our families live there and we can be closer to them. He did not say, Because family comes first, and you’re also part of my family. Sometimes the truth can rip your heart right out of your chest, but you have to face it.

And it’s not that I’m not good enough for him, though that’s what my perception tells me he feels. It’s more about timing and his own issues. It’s unfortunate for him. Both of his kids will be grown and off to college in four years, and then he’ll see them maybe a few times a year, like most other parents. He’s choosing a life of loneliness over someone willing to go to any length to commit to a relationship with him. Any length, including being ignored and shut out repeatedly for varying lengths of time, which is what happened in the year and a half we dated. But guess what? That’s one of those things I can’t do anymore. Being ignored is the most painful thing anyone can do to me. It touches a deep-rooted button that sprouted in childhood, and I refuse to be ignored any longer.

Ideally, both things happen. I no longer put up with his distant behavior, and we get back together anyway. Ideally, he respects me for no longer allowing myself to be his doormat.

Here’s a Spotify playlist that I created, which I listen to every day for strength and courage:

“Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
“Fighter” by Christina Aguilera
“Can’t Cry Anymore” by Sheryl Crow
“No” by Meghan Trainor
“My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It) by En Vogue

Not all of the lyrics apply, but they empower me nonetheless. Of course I still love this man, and I don’t think he’s a bad person, nor do I believe he’s trying to hurt me. He’s a beautiful person. But I’m beginning to see that maybe this won’t work. I still hope we can get through this together, but mostly I hope to grow in a positive direction, whatever that means. Maybe it means going our separate ways. And if so, I can move on and have a good life, regardless.

I’ll leave you with my anthem by Gloria Gaynor on repeat (newer video version here):

Letting Go

In The Language of Letting Go, Melody Beattie writes, “If we’re out to show people we’re the best thing that ever happened to them, it may be time to see if they’re the best thing that ever happened to us.” This sentence resonated with me because I have spent my entire relationship focused on how good I am for my boyfriend, and how much I wish he could see that; I was less focused on how good he is for me—and this is new for me, by the way. In my past relationships I was focused 100% on how good for me the guy was. This time around I felt like I’d become less self-centered, more loving and compassionate, but really the pendulum just swung too far in the other direction. I felt that because I hadn’t committed before, that I needed to just find someone, love and accept them for who they are, and just stay committed at any and all costs. I didn’t fully realize that in order to love and accept someone else for who they are, I need to love and accept myself for who I am.

Just to clarify, I don’t mean to suggest that I simply found someone off the street and decided to commit to him. This particular man is someone I love very much. We have fun together just doing nothing. He’s funny and smart, and we have similar interests and similar tastes in movies and music. We both love the outdoors and have an interest in spirituality. We just connect. At the same time, he has mood swings that affect our relationship. Sometimes he becomes depressed and withdraws, or he becomes manic and makes promises he doesn’t keep. He wants to commit, but he can’t because he’s afraid it won’t work out. I had this idea that if we just moved in together so he could see how good life can be, it would work. What I wanted was stability and security, and that can’t happen by moving in together.

In another passage, Beattie writes:

This work readies us for a change of heart, an openness to becoming changed by a Power greater than ourselves—God.

The path to this willingness can be long and hard. Many of us have to struggle with a behavior or feeling before we become ready to let it go. We need to see, over and over again that the coping device that once protected us is no longer useful.

[These] …are old survival behaviors that once helped us cope with people, life, and ourselves. But now they are getting in our way, and it is time to be willing to have them removed.

Trust in this time. Trust that you are being readied to let go of that which is no longer useful.

My “old survival behavior” that once served me was to be quiet, don’t cause any disturbances, and make myself available and helpful when requested (or hinted at) to do so. It came from childhood, of living in a chaotic environment where others were entitled to express their feelings, while I was not allowed, or did not allow myself, to do the same, for whatever reason. It wasn’t my role. That wasn’t my personality. But I can’t live like that anymore. I have a voice, and I need to use it.

My behavior came from a fear of instability, an idea that if I’m just good enough, quiet enough, helpful enough, this will become a stable environment. But the thing is, my behavior doesn’t cause or control the other person’s behavior. No amount of hiding will quiet the disturbance of another.

My preference is that he and I work this out together. That he gets the help he needs, and I get the help I need, and we learn how to communicate in a healthier way. It won’t be easy, but we cope, because any relationship takes work, and we get through it. It gets easier as time passes, as we practice. But I don’t know if that’s the path we’ll take. I am no longer so sure this is right for me. I think I am finally starting to let go. And that scares the hell out of me.

Because the question is, if that’s no longer to be my way of life, then what is?