Let’s face it, the bad stuff just doesn’t really feel good at all. It is not appealing to think about facing those feelings that seek to cause you discomfort and heartache. Face those thoughts that dredge up old memories. Look at those deep dark places within you that threaten to expose your most vulnerable parts. The bad stuff starts to surface and the instinct that rises to the surface is to run and find a way to make those feelings go away.
There are so many things we do to run away. There is denial, destruction, avoidance, over-indulgence, and even depression. We find whatever ways we can, whether consciously or not, to avoid having to feel all that bad crap and keep ourselves moving forward.
What makes this worse these days, is the focus on thinking positive. We have gotten to this place where everyone seems to have the same answer for anyone’s problems…”Just think positive.” It’s almost a sign of weakness or something if you make an attempt to go into the yucky stuff that may be surfacing. And yes, focus and mindset are a major component in succeeding at any goal and a big part of what I teach all of my clients.
So that begs the question of what you are supposed to do when the inevitable moments of feeling the bad stuff come up. Can you just positively think your way out of having to face them?
Abandoned…. Deserted…. Left behind….
These are the terms I hear so many women use to describe how they feel after a divorce or break-up, even from those who were the ones to leave. There is shock around watching their significant other move on with their life in a quick and seemingly painless manner. There are endless thoughts about whether or not they ever really mattered, if they were ever really loved. There is question after question about how someone they believed in so much could simply abandon everything they had.
Abandoned…. Deserted…. Left behind….
When I hear these terms I feel something inside me stir. I have felt these feelings tear through me like a knife, endlessly ripping away at my heart, and wondering how I would ever mend the wounds that were created. These feelings ate away at me in a manner that I couldn’t seem to escape. I obsessed about it to the point of making myself sick, falling to my knees endless nights asking “Why?” “Why?”
The answers never seemed to come, no matter how many times I asked and no matter how hard I tried.
Until one day they did and I understood why there was so much pain.
An interesting thing happens when you are grieving the loss of love. Facts about your life that were at one point so clear suddenly become distorted. You begin to remember things that weren’t there and forget things that were.
When my marriage ended, I was very clear about the reality of the relationship I was in. I knew in the deepest part of my soul that I was in a highly toxic situation and that removing myself and my son was the absolute best thing for us all. My knowledge of the facts was clear, so clear that I journaled my whole way through the process, providing myself written proofs of the truth of my situation.
And then time went by and somehow reality took on a new form. I would think back and only seem to remember the good times and would make those good times seem even better than they actually were. When I did recall the bad times, I would remember them as not so bad. My thought process would center around those bad times being my fault and me actually making my relationship worse than it really was. I actually began to believe that my Ex would have been a different person if I would have been different.
Eventually, in my mind, I went from leaving a toxic relationship to losing an amazing man. My mind and heart were creating a story of the past that simply was not real and delusional, and I was torturing myself at every turn.
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.
If you are anything like other women, you have at times been reprimanded for putting your wants and needs first, for setting boundaries, and for not going with the flow of what others wanted you to do. You may have been called selfish, spoiled or even a bitch. I can remember a time when I was called an ice queen and how completely embarrassed I was in that moment. It was with an interaction that changed me and made me question the way I behaved and the person I was.
I married young and at the time had terribly low self-esteem. I hadn’t really found myself yet and remember feeling as though I would probably never be able to find anyone better than my Ex. I would see that there were things I desired, callings of my heart and soul that were not being met in my relationship, but I immediately would feel like I was being ungrateful and selfish. I didn’t feel worthy of the type of man I imagined in my mind, and so I became afraid of losing what I had and did whatever it took to keep it.
As time went on, my desires and requests were looked upon as selfish and unrealistic. I felt guilty about wanting more and terrified to make any sort of demand for it. I would have moments of clarity knowing I was worthy of everything I desired but then would quickly talk myself out of it by reminding myself I needed to be grateful for what I did have. After all, who was I to think that I could have everything I wanted? That was just selfish thinking and it quickly brought me back to memories of being called spoiled as a child.
I kept myself small and worked as hard as I could just to be grateful and stop the ridiculous thoughts about wanting and needing more.
But eventually I couldn’t pretend any longer and that part of me that knew I was worthy got louder and clearer. So I began taking risks to put myself first and made my own wants and needs a priority. It was really hard at first and I doubted myself at every turn. I felt guilty, ashamed, and even pissed a couple of people off. I stuck with it though and eventually learned the difference between being self-centered vs. making myself a priority. I learned that being selfish was actually okay.
What does being selfish mean anyway?
Being selfish really means tending toward self. It means honoring your own path in such a way that it is sacred. From this space, you set boundaries, practice self-care, place your joy and happiness at the top of your list, do not self-sacrifice, and to own your self-worth. When you are selfish, tending toward self, you fill up with so much abundance that you are able to be of service to others in a much greater way. You cannot be of service to others when you come from lack and you are beyond powerful when you come from abundance. Over time I became more and more comfortable with prioritizing me and watched as I became more joyful and full of love than ever before.
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.
Lately, I have been noticing something that so many women seem to struggle with on a daily basis. I know I have in the past, and honestly, at times I still do. I have had to learn techniques and become very aware around it so that I do not allow this habit to run my life.
Do you have a guess as to what it may be?
Women are way too hard on themselves!
Being hard on yourself shows up in a variety of different ways and half of the time, you probably don’t even realize you are doing it. You may wonder why you are feeling badly, having a hard time loving yourself, and struggling to reach your goals. You may think it has something to do with the outside circumstances of your life. Maybe your dead-end job or the partner that isn’t giving you what you need, but it really never has anything to do with the outside world.
Let’s talk fear….
Marianne Williamson says “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frighten us.”
This is one of the most powerful sentences ever uttered and it applies to each of us throughout our lives. How many times have you turned your back to something you wanted so badly, could feel it deep within you that you were meant to do it, but in the end you just walked away? You probably convinced yourself that you were crazy to even want it in the first place, or maybe you even convinced yourself you never really wanted it at all. If you were aware enough to see what you were doing, maybe you were afraid of failing, afraid to not be able to succeed at whatever it is you desired of.
Most of us can relate to being afraid to fail. I know I spent many years of my life turning my back to my dreams, ending my pursuit right before the finish line. While I was doing this, I always found a way to convince myself I was doing the right thing. That I’m following my heart and the direction of my instincts. Later, I came to a place where I was ready to admit I’m afraid, except I mistakenly thought I was afraid of failing. Afraid of what failing would mean.
And then I realized it wasn’t failure I was afraid of. See… you can only fail if you quit and well, I had done that over and over in my life. So, I certainly wasn’t afraid of failing. What I was really afraid of was succeeding. I was afraid of what would happen if I actually did achieve my goals and rise to the top.
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!!
Do the details really matter?
I remember what it felt like to get caught up in the details after my marriage ended. I would zone in on every single thing that my Ex would do, break it apart, analyze it, and come to a conclusion of why whatever just happened was the reason that I was in so much pain. I would think to myself, of course, I am struggling to move on so much, look at the details of my story.
Why did I believe that my story was so much worse than your story, or even my Ex’s story? Why did it matter so much to me that I own and commit to that story and share it with anyone who would listen?
When we get so far inside of ourselves, it becomes really difficult to see things from any other view besides the pained and rejected lenses we are viewing the world through. We commit so fully to the details of our story that suddenly it is all we can see. Think about it, if your narrative is that you have been abandoned and thrown aside and that your Ex is heartless and uncaring, you are only going to see actions that prove your story right. Your mind will not allow you to see otherwise, even if it is staring you right in the face.
Then, your next step will be to share the details of your story with the world so that you can receive confirmation and validation that you are in fact right. This is because there is a part of you that is urging you to see that the details of your story don’t matter quite as much as you think they do. A part of you is pulling you toward opening up to love and being willing to see everything, including your Ex and the situation, through the lenses of love and kindness. This part of you knows that this is the only way in which you will ever be able to grow. The only way for you to one day truly claim your joy. Yet, you are committed to your story and the details provide you with just enough fuel to keep your fire burning.