Your marriage has ended and now it is time for you to begin learning to live a new life, a life that seems foreign, and a life that you probably felt you have been plucked into without any warning. . Whether you have ended your marriage by choice or not, having to recalibrate and learn new ways of being will be a reality for all. There will be holidays, tasks and responsibilities, places, and people that will all seem new and unreal. You will be challenged and triggered along the way as you attempt to steady yourself along unsteady ground. You will feel scared and unsure as you begin to root yourself into this new way of being. You may cry out against the unfairness of it all as you struggle to learn new skills and create new memories.
I remember being in this place like it was yesterday. I remember feeling slighted by the deck of cards life seemed to have handed me. Learning to live my life completely on my own without someone there to run things by or pick up the slack was terrifying to me. I felt lost, I felt scared, and I felt pissed. Mixed in with that was my struggle to experience life on my own, a life that kept going on, day by day, even though it sure felt to me like life should just stop right in its tracks. Every holiday that came, every person I faced, and every place that I went served as a reminder to all that I had lost and the uncertainty of what lies ahead.
About 4 days after my Ex and I separated, I celebrated my 34th birthday. That painful night would mark the first of too many firsts that I would have to experience. Little did I know that hole in my chest, that feeling like something was missing, that sense of being off balance would pop up over and over throughout the next year.
Going through all of this was painful and scary, but along the way I learned and I grew. With each day that passed, I discovered tools, techniques, and wisdom that helped to empower me and make me stronger. I found a steadiness and truth that resided in my heart, and I know now, I would not have found this had I not gone through that challenging year of firsts.
And so today, I want to share what I learned so I can help you as you make your way through your year of firsts.
The period after a break-up can be the most challenging for most, it is unchartered waters. No matter who you are and how much you have prepared yourself in life, your heartbreak can be devastating and an experience that feels very heavy and confusing. As I work with women finding their way during this time, there are definite patterns of behavior that are common.
One of these patterns is the 3 most common mistakes women make after a break up:
Mistake #1 – Focusing your energy in all the wrong places.
After a break-up, it can be so easy to focus on all the things that were done “TO” you and convince yourself what a complete jerk your Ex was and is. You can find yourself obsessing about what happened and trying to figure out why it happened. You may start thinking about who or what your Ex is doing right now and feel like shit because he isn’t doing it with you.
Or on the flip side, it can be easy to say “screw it” and just totally distract yourself from feeling anything at all. You might start dating men like they are going extinct, or even jump right back into another relationship, or start drinking and partying to have “much deserved” fun.
Here’s the thing…choosing to deal with a break up in either of these ways is a huge mistake. You cannot actually heal and move on from obsessing about someone else nor can you do so by distracting yourself from the pain. The only way to the other side is to go through it and a break up is actually a freaking awesome opportunity to focus on YOU. To give yourself some extra TLC, learn a ton about who you are and what you truly desire. Take an honest look at what you need to work on, and “level up” in your life so that you can continue to grow and expand into the woman you have the potential to be.
The more time you take to focus on you after your break up, the better prepared you will be for the type of love you truly desire in your heart. The quicker you will truly be living your life of joy!
Do you struggle with knowing how to decipher your head from your heart?
Do you find yourself unsure about the relationships you are in, or the ones you are considering, and have no clue what to do?
Do you ignore those little instinctual feelings, the voice that gives you a warning, talking yourself out of following your own inner guidance?
There once was a time when I would have answered “Yes” to every one of these questions. I struggled in my relationships, unsure of why I didn’t feel like I could fully be myself and questioning what was wrong with me. I didn’t know how to trust my instincts and would question myself at every turn.
As you can imagine, this got me into a ton of situations that did not serve me and kept me invested in toxic relationships for far too long. I was basically sacrificing my own peace and happiness because I hadn’t learned how good relationships were supposed to feel. Convinced that it must be something I was doing wrong, I would expend so much energy and effort trying to adjust and make allowances for the things that didn’t feel good or right in my heart.
And I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt right now, that plan did not work at all. I stayed in a toxic marriage way too long and even convinced myself to attempt a reconciliation. I dated men who didn’t align with me and the journey I was on. I even created and invested in superficial relationships that didn’t serve me or the other person. I was spinning my wheels trying to figure out how I was supposed to decipher between the feelings in my heart and the thoughts in my head whenever something felt off while my mind convinced me that I must be crazy.
As I talk with clients, I see so many women struggling through the same thing when either dating a new partner or considering a reconciliation with a past partner. They find themselves confused and unclear, not sure of what they are really supposed to do.
I tell my clients that the answer to every question they can ever have is:
Learn to listen and have the courage to follow your intuition, even if it doesn’t make sense where it is leading you.
There is a quote that I absolutely love and I believe is so important that it hangs over my desk for me to see daily. This quote states “The quality of your rituals determines your success.” Rituals are a huge indicator of your mindset, the life you create each day, and therefore your overall success.
So, what are rituals?
Rituals are non-negotiable habits that you intentionally create in service of your higher purpose. Basically, they are a routine of behaviors connecting you to the best parts of yourself that you perform every single day. And, they are powerful.
When you make a decision to change or what I like to call “level up,” this means to improve, grow, or set forth to live to your potential. There will be challenges. Not only will you have to overcome things, but you will actually notice that your situation or life circumstances may even get worse before they get better. I’m not totally sure why this happens, maybe it is the universe testing you, but I do know it has a purpose.
I like to think of it a training. Let’s say for example you were to decide today to become a professional dancer. You wouldn’t just snap your fingers and be there. You would have to practice, face challenges, and things would certainly get worse before they got better. I imagine you would experience pain, frustration, resistance, and a whole slew of obstacles you would need to overcome. I am also guessing you would entertain the thought of giving up on a daily basis. All of this would be necessary though for you to learn the skills needed for you to be a professional dancer.
And I imagine this all sounds familiar, as this is the same when you decide to create a new lifestyle or “level up.” You are facing challenges and overcoming obstacles necessary for you to learn the skills needed for you to live at your potential. Before things start to make sense and have a flow to them, they will get worse, and the thing that will keep you going and get you to where you want to be are your daily rituals.
How to get through it
Many people believe that once you are healed you don’t have to go through the pain and struggle anymore. Like somehow you learn how to never again let anything bother you, and you can walk around happy and positive all the time. That somehow, everything simply rolls off your shoulders and you can greet every single negative occurrence in your life with a big smile on your face. If you get upset or are in a funk, then that must mean there is something wrong with you, and you have somehow fallen a thousand steps back in your healing process.
Well, it simply just isn’t true.
No matter how far along you get in your healing process and no matter how joyful and free your life becomes, you will still go through difficulties and challenges. You will get angry, upset, frustrated, and even get down on yourself. You will have moments where you want to scream and even end up in the occasional funk.
Throughout the rest of your life, you will continue to peel back layers of yourself and grow as a human into the person you are created to be. This process will straight up suck sometimes, no matter how evolved your spirit is and how on point your mindset gets. So, when you find yourself in a funk or having a bad day, it does not mean that you are going backwards or that you are “never” going to heal, it just means you are human!!
“But I love him….”
How many times have you heard yourself think this statement? How many times have you spoken it out loud? You picture in your head all the things that were not okay in your relationship and remember in your heart how emotionally unsafe and unseen you truly felt. You know in your gut that you are better off continuing to move forward and never look back.
Yet, you can’t seem to stop obsessing on that one sticking point, you love him.
It’s the thought that keeps you up at night. The feeling that grips at your heart threatening to tear you apart. The obsession that keeps you confused and unable to truly let go and begin a life that is truly your own. Your love for him seems to overshadow every single truth and knowing you are aware of. That voice in your head keeps telling you that love is supposed to conquer all. That you simply should not let it go because to love someone this strongly is rare and doesn’t just go away.
Does this sound familiar to you at all?
For those of you that were engaged in a relationship with any sort of emotional, physical or mental abuse or even a relationship in which you simply didn’t feel emotionally safe or respected, what you are feeling is not actually love. What you are feeling is a detox from the addiction that was helping to fill the empty space within your heart.
If you are still pining over a past relationship filled with pain, then I am asking you to look within yourself and wonder why you are longing for a return to that pain and calling it love.
When I went through my divorce I was completely and utterly devastated. At first, that looked like shock and me going completely numb. I remember talking to my best friend night after night, repeating the facts to her and figuring out everything that needed to be done. One night during one of our marathon conversations, she asked me if I was ever going to cry. I repeatedly told her I was fine, better than fine, and that she did not need to worry about me. Obviously, I was making the best choice for myself and my son, and the fact that I was not a crying mess must be proof that my heart had been over it for some time. There was no pain, there was only me doing everything I knew I needed to do to transition into whatever this new life would be.
And then reality hit, and when I say hit, I mean reality barreled me over like a steam roller and left me peeling myself up off the floor piece by piece. What I remember most was that the pain was like nothing I had ever felt before. It seared through every inch of my being with such intensity I thought it was sure to tear me apart. I cried, I screamed, I hit and threw things yet nothing seemed to make the pain go away. The pain was there to stay and it seemed there was nothing I could do about it.
So, I was left with a choice. I could allow the pain to wear me down, close my heart, and eventually break me, making it my excuse for falling apart OR I could use the pain to create and transform, making it my reason for overcoming and thriving.
I decided to use my pain as fuel for my success and becoming everything I ever dreamed I could be.
After going through any sort of loss or transition, there is so much time wasted worrying about the choices and decisions being made. Last week I wrote about the bottomless hell of the “What If Game” and how this game is a genius way to keep yourself distracted and stuck. You get caught up in an endless circle of doubt, questioning yourself at every turn and wondering which way is the right way to go. You are told to listen to your heart, follow your gut, and trust your intuition, but how are you supposed to do any of that when you honestly have no idea which voice is coming from where. As soon as you feel like you know something for sure, another voice comes through just as strongly, telling you the exact opposite thing to do. Next thing you know, you are right back in the endless circle of doubt, scared to death of making any decision at all.
Once you are caught in this circle, it becomes impossible to make a decision that you feel clear about. The longer you remain in this state of confusion, the more it overflows to other areas of your life. Before long, you are unsure of multiple decisions that need to be made and are questioning your choices across the board. Whether this process overwhelms and barrels you over, or simply nudges you with twinges of anxiety, you can feel lost and unsure, and end up allowing yourself to make the worst decision of all … No Decision. A space that leaves you disempowered and a victim of circumstance.
There are many layers of transitioning through any sort of loss and much of it involves allowing yourself to dig deeply and take an honest look at yourself, your wounds, and where you need to forgive yourself. I advise anyone struggling through a loss, feeling stuck and unable to move forward, to seek out someone who can guide them through a process of healing. What I want to offer you here though, is something that is simple yet extremely powerful, that can help you through those times of self-doubt and endless questioning.
“Everything that is for me flows to me and everything is all right!!”
I remember after my separation and divorce constantly being in a state of wonder. Where had it all gone wrong and what if I could have done something somewhere along the way to have made things better? Would things have been different or would they have ended exactly as they did anyway? I would literally obsess about it and I can remember long sleepless nights with my head spinning around and around. I couldn’t seem to stop. It was like I was trying to uncover some magical answer that would somehow make it all have meaning and make sense.
Something tells me you know exactly what I am talking about. That constant obsession about the past with all the different scenarios you are playing in your head, on repeat, waiting for the answer that is going to set you free.
My guess is it sounds something like this…..
What if I made the wrong decision?
What if I make the wrong decision?
What if he changes?
What if I change?
What if I never find love again?
What if it is all my fault?
What if I am crazy?
What if I am unlovable?
What if he is the best I can ever get?
What if I don’t deserve to be loved?
The list goes on and on……
The “What If” game is extremely dangerous and will keep you stuck and emotionally hooked to your Ex and the relationship. By constantly obsessing about the past you will remain in pain about your breakup, re-traumatizing yourself over and over. You will continue to criticize and judge yourself, knocking your self-esteem lower and lower. The “what If” game will guarantee that you will not be able to let go, move on, and heal.
So why play this game? I mean, it’s not like it feels good to obsess over and over in your head about all the possibilities. As a matter of fact, it feels awful. Yet, you can’t seem to stop. You are distracted by your thoughts, you can’t sleep, you can’t eat or maybe you can’t stop eating. The “What If” game has taken over your life and is turning you into your worst enemy.
I have a question for those of you who were in relationships where you were not happy, did not feel emotionally supported or safe, were not emotionally connected with your partner, and were basically staying in spite of it being a relationship that was NOT serving you.
Would you have eventually left? Would you have ever chosen yourself, chosen your own happiness, and walked away?
OR would you have continued to stay…unhappy, unfulfilled, and longing for so many things you weren’t actually living? Would you have continued to push your own needs aside in order to hold on to your marriage? Would you have continued to sacrifice yourself and your dreams?
My guess is that the answer for most of you, if you are really being honest, is that you would have stayed. You would have continued to lose yourself, turn a blind eye, forgive over and over again, make excuses, and become less of the person you were created to be. Locked up in your fears and unable to imagine a life without him, you would have ignored that feeling inside of you and pretended not to hear that voice. You know the voice I am talking about, that voice of your higher and wiser self. The voice that is always guiding you toward your greater good, toward love, toward purpose, toward your dreams. If you are being honest though, you would have stayed in a relationship that was slowly killing your soul.
And so, the ultimate devastation happens and the relationship comes to an end. Your ex walks away, maybe does some awful or horrific thing or becomes a completely different human, and you are forced to end the relationship, it is no longer an option. You are alone, you are facing your fears and you are staring in the mirror so unsure of what the future will hold.
What if my response to you is ….. CONGRATULATIONS!?!??!?