Across the world, men and women have spent hours this week writing in to THM about the heartbreak of loss, love and life changed. To each of you, I’ve promised a specific response that takes time and thought; many of your letters are quite long with to many details about your life to publish here. So as a community, lets talk about the white elephant in the room. With the US divorce rate of over 50% mirrored in countries around the world, we’re living in a new society – more people are single than are married in the US.
Giving up doesn’t always mean you are weak;
sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go.
The concept of love gone wrong somehow affects us all. Regardless of your gender, race, social economic, country…none of it changes the impact of a broken heart. As one reader indicated, loss isn’t the great predictor of all broken hearts. There are many broken-hearted people still residing in the married camp as well, relationships that are maintained for a myriad of reasons who still lack that vital element of love that we as humans often long for. If you’re on THM, chances are you’re seeking affirmation for a relationship decision, support after a relationship change or wellness in the arena of self awareness and self esteem.
In my travels of talking with the emotionally hurt, abused or abandoned, I always stress one focal point: you have to be okay with you. It’s called self awareness or actualization in the world of therapy, that basic affirmation and understanding that you are a unique, worthwhile human being regardless of life circumstances. But on days when the rain of life is falling, how do you feel that inner affirmation that you need to push though the touch and on to the light of a new day? These are my thoughts:
Be positive. I’ve felt really ridiculous in my lifetime, but I’ve actually repeated my mantra “every day in every way I am getting stronger and stronger” even when I am sobbing.
I believe in the power of self talk, both for good and bad. In the rough times of my life, my mantra was like a prayer for me. It helped me get off the floor and back onto the couch, then on my feet and back into the world. My heart was broken for a lot of reasons, some real and some that I created of my own idiocy. No matter what that feeling stemmed from, the affirmation that I would enjoy the day I was in and live it to the fullest really helped. No one can stop you from thinking positive thoughts toward yourself. Yes, I know the bad stuff is easier to believe. At some point, you’re going to have to make a choice – do you want to be happy? If so, you’re going to change that script of what you say about you.
First step: listen to what you’re thinking and saying. You do not have to think whatever thought falls in your head. Chose how you talk to yourself as though it were precious diamonds, or something exotic and wonderful ~ it’s your life’s core, so it’s actually better than both. Deep breath. Affirm. Deep Breath. Affirm. Repeat as needed.
Next to the challenges of your internal script, I also recommend a change to/continuation of a healthy life style. What does that consist of?
Be active. Check first with your MD if you feel you have a health condition that otherwise prevents, but it’s time to get up and get going.
Drink clean water. Preferably, it’s not mixed with scotch, okay? Alcohol is a depressant, even if it gets you though the tough moments. Instead, going to the healthy side of life will really help you resolve personal issues, not create more of them. Most fitness people say divide your body weight by two, then swap out “pounds” for the number of ounces to drink. For instance, at 150 lbs, I need to drink 75 ounces of clean water or it’s equivalent per day.
Eat healthy. One reader called it the Adultery Diet, that awful gnawing feeling of loss that renders you unable to eat, move, breathe. You have to make the choice to ingest 1200 calories or more a day, or you’re going to drop weight. Some may be good, but to much is – well, to much. It’s hard to concentrate on your job, life and family when you’re starving. Think in terms of small sacks throughout the day to relieve nausea, and talk with your doc about the healthy foods that are right for you.
Sleep. Normal, restive sleep. I know that once I “crashed” I slept for about three days, and woke to find a sense of peace that I was able to pick up and move on. Some experience that, some do not. Sleeping to much is depression run amok – to little leaves to stressed and tired.
If you’re having problems with any of these things, the key may be in your ability to focus on physical fitness. Exercise changes stress levels, focuses energy, creates wellness, promotes restive sleep. You do not have to join a gym nor commit to hours of tread milling. Take a walk, rent a DVD or video workout program – find a museum to wander with someone you care deeply for, or even a friend. The point is to turn off all those electrical devices that make up your iLife and get out there among the living. TV is a poor substitute for real conversation.
I don’t know why they call it heartbreak.
It feels like every other part of my body is broken too.
One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, once wrote “when those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful.”
Be authentic. It takes a while to know who we are when we are impacted by life change. We often fight to hold on to the world we know, even when it’s bad for us or doesn’t fit our deeply seated needs. Who are you now? What is it that you want heard? What is there to say? What is there inside of you that needs affirmation?
Be grateful. One reader listed a long problem process, but didn’t seem to focus on the fact that she is still here living, breathing, talking. We’re incredibly blessed in our lives in many ways…we’re all here on our computers, tablets, iPods and phones, are we not? Can you tell me right now what you’re incredibly grateful for? Health, life, friends, parents, siblings, job, prospect of a job, THM – whatever comes to you. Be incredibly grateful, practice it as a life mantra. I am incredibly grateful for my five daughters, for our grandson, for our sons in law. I am so grateful for our amazing home, for my husband man-cave and our romantic and family moments, for the possibility to write to you. Most of all I am grateful to an ever present and ever loving divine God who brought Brian into my life and gave him the wisdom, character and love to be married to me.
Talk about it…but not only it. Talk therapy has been mistakenly billed by some commercial life coaches as “taking to long” and “progress at a snails pace.” The truth of it: your goal in talk therapy is to feel substantially better one step at a time. I recommend therapy even for those people facing stress and challenges of daily life from time to time – it’s just a moment with an authentic ear to really explore the deeper meanings of feelings, thoughts, actions and decisions. It’s a chance to reframe your life into what you are hoping for, to end self sabotaging behaviors. If you’re heartbroken today, consider finding a therapist who suits your narrative style and your life. It’s good to have a trusted, unbiased source of affirmation and thought processing.
Be engaged. More than a year ago now I had found myself at a serious crossroads as a person, a woman, a soul. While I can’t say that I made the best decisions that led up to that moment, my sister D did help me with one really important one – she walked me out of my house and into life being lived. Brian coaxed my depressed form into date nights and dancing. I got engaged with my world around me and found that while I felt as though I had disappeared, I found redemption right where I had fallen.
When love goes south, it might take a piece of you with it, might challenge your memories and your mental state. One reader feels as though parts of her have been ripped away, while another is curling into a ball on the floor. These are all responses to pain, grief responses of overwhelming emotions. It’s like a earthquake has ripped though your world and turned the laws of gravity inside out, upside down and back again. Everything appears to be normal, but the reality is that you’re shaken to your core.
My grandma used to say, Hold on, girl. This too shall pass.
There is life after the earthquake. I don’t long for that person who I once believed I loved – I was so wrong, dead wrong. Confused, vulnerable, overwhelmed, yes. Stupid, definitely. One friend told me “wow, you’re worth so much more than this….” He was right. I feel rather ridiculous for betraying my own standards and values. If you’re heartbroken today, I want you to think back to real life with the person that has damaged you – was it really the Nirvana of happiness your loneliness is portraying? Were you really “best friends?” Did they really invest in you? If so, you’re in the midst of a really hard break up right now. If not…and more of us are not than we would care to admit…we’re idealizing the person and the relationship posthumously.
Focus on the today, the future. We can and will live on after heartbreak, we can and will invest in true love if we chose to. Be picky. Don’t just fall for “hey you’re right there,” but seek out the authenticity of relationship with the person who really resonates with you.
Listen to music that reframes your transition. I find songs that mean a lot to me also help me tell my story. It’s my story, I’ve lived it and it’s lessons help make me who I am.
Part of that is listening to music that builds you up. As a person that has left behind the need and regret of an unhealthy relationship in favor of the amazing love and life I share with hubster Brian, I can attest that having the right idea of self care can change everything. When you finally do let go ~ it can happen ~ you’ll know what I do. I couldn’t care less if my former flame drove down the street. All that angst based uncertainty about who and what I am vanished the moment I woke up from the nightmare of giving my love to a person that simply didn’t deserve it. I feel … pity for him. Not enough to want him anywhere near my life, but in a “whew, dogged that bullet” sort of way. He literally is just somebody that I used to know, someone I’ve nothing in common with and want nothing from. Music helped me articulate my feelings as I journaled, wrote the remaining sections of the new novel and in general, processed what took place in a few short months of my life.
Listen to Goyte lyrics in this song, but also notice the video….five people, one instrument. I couldn’t have written these lyrics any better, and it made me think of one reader who echoed my own sentiments…. “he(she’s) just somebody that I used to know.” The band “Walk Off The Earth” produced this remarkable music video that entrances me both lyrically and with their amazing talent. One guitar. Not one person playing the same sounds. Isn’t it neat how one thing can mean something different all at the same time, and they’re all right? Metaphor for: there is no “right” answer or “should.” There is just your story as you live it, and the love that you invest in the universe.