Thursday, May 31, 2012

The worst part of a lie

The worst part about being lied to is knowing that you can't trust anything that person had to say.

I'm not saying Trooper ever lied to me; he didn't. But sometimes, a breakup  feels like a lie. Or, maybe more accurately, the breakup makes it seem as though parts of the relationship might have been a lie - or, at least, not as sincere as you were once led to believe.

Is it just me? Or does a breakup feel like anytime the person said he was happy, he couldn't have meant it? Because, if he felt that way - then where did those feelings go? Nothing changed - so why did the feelings just vanish?

I struggle a lot with that question. I remember Big taking great exception to the fact that I said he led me on, because he let me believe he had feelings for me, when he really didn't. He said I was making it into an all or nothing scenario - like his feelings had to be of a certain intensity, or they didn't exist at all.

That's not really what I meant. But I guess I do believe that you should never imply (or, you know, flat out say) that you feel a specific way unless you're certain that you do. Because some people (OK, me) might trust your words or actions. They might come to count on it. They might even make decisions based on what they believe you feel.

Then when you decide that no, it wasn't really there after all - it hurts just that much more. Which just may be the worst part of the lie.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's me, not you

"Before you're ready to date, you need to be in a place where, if the person leaves, you won't care."

That was some advice a friend offered not too long ago. At first, it sounds weird. I mean - if you don't care if a person leaves, then what's the point in dating him in the first place?

But I get what my friend was saying: Get to a place where you're okay with yourself, and being alone. Don't depend on anyone else for your happiness, for your security, for your self-esteem. You need to be in a position to keep those things in tact, should you suddenly find yourself without a significant other.

I agree. I gotta say - I thought I was there before I started dating Trooper. Maybe I was; I was certainly in a much better place than I'd ever been. The more I think about it, the more I wonder - can we ever really be in that place?

Rejection, no matter the circumstances, attacks your self-esteem. Personally, my own self-esteem finds no greater challenge than when someone says, "You're just not good enough" - even if that's not really what he's saying. Rejection feels like a hit to every good thing you once thought about yourself.

If the relationship made you feel good; if it was healthy, and you were happy, and you came to believe you could trust that person's feelings - you'll start to doubt yourself when those feelings are gone.

"Is there something wrong with me? Am I just not good enough?"
"Why didn't I see this coming? Why am I so stupid?"
"Do I not deserve to be happy?"
"How will anyone else ever feel that way about me - or make me feel that way about myself?"

I think it's natural to have these feelings (though some of us probably struggle with self-doubt more than others). No matter how much you know the issue is his, not yours; no matter how many people tell you that it's his loss; no matter what compliments your friends shower on you.

You still feel like it's all about you - not him.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One day at a time

"The great thing about the future is it comes one day at a time." Abraham Lincoln

Memorial Day weekend started out incredibly rough. The days leading up to the holiday, it seemed everywhere I went, I was reminded that the rest of the world, it seems, has someone special - and I am alone.

I cried to my cousin, saying how stupid I felt for feeling this way. She assured me that I'm not stupid. She pointed out that I was looking forward to a wonderful summer with Trooper, for which we'd already started making plans. This weekend should have been the start of something fabulous - and instead, I spent it alone, cat-sitting for a friend. 


I keep asking myself - when does this go away? When do things stop reminding me of what was, or what (I think) should have been? I find myself reminded of him in the strangest, at work, I'll come across an old email and think, "On that date, I was still with Trooper." 

Those kind of thoughts are tough to get past. I dread when the fall comes, and each event or special date reminds me of him. Like, on Thanksgiving, everyone else will be thinking about turkey and family and parades....and I'll be thinking, "Last year, I woke up at Trooper's." 

I guess the trick is to not dwell in the past, or worry about the future. I need to concentrate on what is going on today, in this moment. A friend told me when it comes to grief, all you can do is take things one day at a time; and if that gets too overwhelming, you take things a moment at a time. 

Some days, that's the best I can do.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Breakup stage - acceptance

I'd love to get to this stage. I (literally) pray everyday that I'll eventually reach a point where I accept my part in the breakup and start to learn from the relationship.

In this case - I'm not sure I'll ever know what I did (if anything) to cause this breakup. It's not like there was a third party or some huge fight. It just wasn't working out, and had a lot more to do with Trooper than it did with me.

So maybe for me, acceptance is going to be acknowledging that the issue was his, not mine, and finding a way to be okay with that.

There will be lessons, and things he brought to my life. Thanks to Trooper, I started going to church, and found that I really enjoyed, and found comfort in, the message. A couple people have suggested that maybe that was one of the reasons behind the relationship - that I needed someone to bring me closer to God, so Trooper came into my life to serve that purpose.

I've given that some thought. I think it's possible. Truthfully, it still makes me a little angry. I mean - it seems to me the lesson could have been taught in a slightly less painful way. Sheesh.

Another friend reminded me that it's not all about me; I left "footprints in his life" too. Maybe that was the purpose - for me to bring something to his life.

I'm not sure - and like I said, part of the healing for me has been to give some of this over to God, and part of that is accepting that I might never know. Maybe I'm not even meant to know.

I'm meant to accept, and learn, and heal, and move on. And that's the plan.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Breakup stage - depression

This is the stage that seems to last the longest (for me, anyway). It's also a stage I've revisited several times. I expect that will continue to be the case, for a while.

It's normal to be sad. I struggled with that idea, thinking I should have been more prepared, or more accepting, or just...better at the breakup. I thought I was way too sad. It got to the point where I actually scared myself. I wasn't eating, or sleeping. I missed work. It took every ounce of energy just to move from my bed to the sofa.

That went on for a little less than a week, before I just decided it was going to be done.

I forced myself up, and out of the house - even if I didn't want to go anywhere. I dragged myself into the closet and looked for clothes and shoes and accessories, because I knew it would start to make me feel more like me.

I know I keep repeating myself - but my friends were heaven-sent during this time. Angels, I swear, every one of them. They texted me several times a day to make sure I was okay, stopped by my house, took me to lunch. X even dragged me to a movie, knowing I just needed to get up and out of the house. They gave me some much needed advice, and even let me come crash at their house when I didn't want to be alone.

They literally saved my life. 

Depression is a normal stage of grief, but for some people (like me), it's also something to deal with on a daily basis. Even my counselor admitted that my reaction was a little extreme - though he gives me credit for doing what I needed to get myself back on track.

If you suffer a loss, expect to be sad. Tell yourself it's okay to hurt, or to cry, or to just want to be alone. Let yourself off the hook if you don't handle everything in stride.

But keep an eye on your mood. Like the other stages, depression should be temporary. Somewhere, deep inside, you should realize that this too shall pass. You should see a light at the end of the tunnel. If you don't - you need help.

Don't ever be afraid to ask.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breakup stage - bargaining

This is the absolute worst. Apparently, it's also the stage I'm best at. Shocking.

Apparently, this is the stage where you tell yourself that you'll just stay friends, or you'll try to restore the relationship with some difference.
"I promise not to....anymore."
"I'll never say....again."
I did it. I asked if we could try and work things out. Honestly - I did it with Big, too. I also did it with X, though to be fair, we were married. Trying to fix a marriage is a little different. You actually make vows and promises that you'll try to fix that relationship before letting it end.

I'm going to be completely honest (and here's where the whole "I'm no expert" thing comes in to play....). I don't believe this is always a bad thing.

I don't believe you should compromise who you are or what you believe to make a relationship work. (I've done that, too; trust me, it doesn't work.)

But I do think that love is important - and hard to find. Call me sappy or hopeless or weak if you want, but I believe in love, and I think it deserves a chance. It is so hard to find someone with whom you connect, and who makes you laugh and smile, and who really helps you be a better person. If you're lucky enough to find that, I think walking away without a fight is just...well....stupid.

So, if issues or concerns are raised, and it's something you can address, I think you should try. I don't think there's any harm in that.

Where I guess you need to be careful is holding on to those feelings too long. If you offer that you want to work on things, even say where you'd be willing to compromise - you've done your part. You can't keep pushing someone. He (or she) either wants to fix things, or he doesn't.

And the truth is, if he doesn't, he's not the right person for you. Because no matter how much you love someone, you need to love yourself more. You need to realize that you're worth fighting for - and the right person for you will feel the same.

Livestrong also cautions against trying to maintain a friendship. The romantic feelings won't just go away because the romance ends. Keeping up a friendship will just cause you to hold onto feelings that you really need to let go.

I'm a huge believer that exes can be friends. That's pretty obvious, considering my ex-husband is one of the friends who has dragged me through this process. But like any other friendship, one with an ex takes time to develop. You can't just wake up one morning in love with someone, and be "just friends" by dinner.

If you think you can, you're kidding yourself.

If he's really a friend - and if the two of you are meant to have that bond - it'll happen over time. When you're both ready.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Breakup stage - anger

Oh, yeah - lotta anger goin' on.

Like I said, at various times during this process, I've felt angry at Trooper, at God, and at myself. I actually felt angry at myself for more than one thing.

First of all, why didn't I know better? Weren't there signs I should have picked up on? Red flags I should have noticed? What was wrong with me?

Not only that, but I know that this isn't a punishment. I know better than to think this is what I deserve, and that no good could come out of this. I know better than to ever feel regret. What was wrong with me? Why did I feel that way?

Apparently, this is all very normal, and common. It's frustrating, especially when there are no real answers. I could pester Trooper over and over about why, but the truth is, he never set out to hurt me, or himself, so he probably doesn't really have an answer. I can't ask God why he brought someone into my life, only to take him away. Eventually, I might come to some sort of my own understanding, but there won't ever be a firm answer.

And that makes me angry.

I think the only thing that will make this go away is time - and acceptance. I spoke with a counselor (SN: I think everyone should have a counselor) who suggested that I might need to create my own closure. I may never get a firm answer - but I have enough information to piece one together for myself. True or not, it will help me to close the door on the relationship, and put my anger behind me.

Ironically, I've also found a lot of comfort in praying and God. That's ironic because until I met Trooper, God really wasn't a part of my life. So Trooper coming into my life brought something that would become my greatest source of comfort after he left.

Life is strange, I guess.

Taking the sadness, and anger, and handing it over to God and saying, "I know You have a plan; I'll just trust that, because I can't fix this on my own," is quite a relief.

I take some comfort in knowing that anger is normal, and temporary. I definitely would not want to live in anger forever.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Breakup stage - denial

"Denial - not just a river in Egypt." Attributed to Mark Twain

Even if you don't know the stages of grief, I think everyone is familiar with denial. You shut down; go numb; basically, you just stop. There's no way this is happening; obviously, there's some sort of mistake.

Denial is a defense mechanism, meant to help us survive the loss. It shouldn't be confused with not caring. It's just our mind's way of protecting us from the intense pain we are feeling.

At first I thought I must have skipped the denial stage in this breakup. I mean - I never found myself just flat-out ignoring that it had happened. But I learned that denial isn't always an overt...well, denial....of the facts. It's also about shock and numbness - basically, your mind doesn't let you process the severity of your pain. It can be helpful to people who have to deal with a task (for example, making funeral arrangements for a loved one). When your mind is ready, denial lifts, and you're hit with the full force of the pain.

I didn't skip it. I went into denial mode as soon as Trooper said what he had to say. I used it to muster the strength to drive to a friends house a couple hours a way, and help her with a move. Once I layed down to sleep, the whole thing hit me - and that was the end of my denial.

But in those moments immediately following, my brain shut down and I was able to focus long enough to get to a friend who could help me - even if it was by needing my help.

Denial is healthy; as long as it doesn't last. It serves a purpose, and helps us do what we need to do to survive. But like with anything - and especially these stages - it should give way to the next.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Five stages of breakup grief

"You're grieving; it's a process," my friend said to me last week.

Out of curiosity, I googled the five stages of grieving for relationships. I found several articles, all agreeing that after a breakup, you go through the following in one order or another:


My friend says he thinks acceptance is the hardest, because it means finally admitting that the relationship is over. During the other stages, you're dealing with your own feelings - or not dealing, as the case may be.

I've flirted with acceptance on this breakup. I'm not totally there yet, but I am closer. Along the way I've gotten to know the other stages quite well. It occurred to me that knowing what to expect was helpful. Being able to identify the feelings and assign them a label helped me manage my way through.

It was also a helpful reminder that each stage is temporary, and that if you just hold on, acceptance is on its way.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A little work

I've been through many, many breakups in my life. I'm almost always on the receiving end.

I was having problems with one guy, and he suggested we work on things by setting a date night. The following weekend, he planned a date, we had a wonderful night - and then he broke up with me in the car on the way home.

Another guy never said anything, spent the whole day with me, let me take him to a concert and dinner - and then dumped me when I dropped him off at his house.

The bottom line is - boys have cooties.

Kidding (Well, sort of - but not really).

The real lesson is that, you never know when things might take a turn. Relationships are tough, and nothing is a guarantee. Whether you've been together for 10 years or 10 dates, there is a certain amount of work that goes into a successful relationship. Even if it's just checking in, and making sure everything is OK.

I'll never call myself an expert at any of this relationship stuff. But, I try very hard to pay attention to the lessons that each relationship brings.

Unless you happen to be clairvoyant, you can't predict what someone else is feeling or thinking. You can't control it, either. But you can work at not putting your head in the sand, or taking your eye off the ball.

Don't assume you know what he's thinking; and don't ever think he can read your mind. Talk; ask questions; listen to the other person.

I don't know much, but I do know relationships take a little work. Seems to me that the right ones are worth the trouble, too.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Friendly advice

I said it before, and I'll say it again: My friends are amazing. I'm so lucky and blessed to have them, and I know that no matter how hard this is, it would be a hundred times more difficult without them.

It's interesting to hear the advice that different friends will offer. They each hear the same information, and they all know me, and want the best for me. So I know their advice is based on the same situation, and has the same intent - to protect me and make me feel better.

But based on their own personality and experiences, the advice can be vastly different.

Some have other problems in their own lives. Whether it's financial difficulties, or a change in jobs, or whatever - relationships just aren't high on their priority list. To them, if my biggest problem is a guy I dated for six months decides he doesn't want to date anymore, I should count myself lucky and move on.

I understand that point of view. I mean - I am lucky to not have other problems. The thing is, no matter who you are or where you are in life, loss is still loss. It still hurts. It's still scary. It still sucks. So while the process for me to "pick myself back up" might be a little different, it's still not any easier.

I was telling a friend the other day that I think relationships are tough for me because I don't get to decide. At the end of the day, it's only 50% my decision how well, or even if, a relationship will work. My career, my finances, my health - those are more in my control. As a result, I stress less over those things. But finding love and being able to have someone special in my life is a priority for me. For better or worse, there it is. So if I find someone, and invest myself, and come to trust in those feelings, and then suddenly it's gone - it hurts. A lot.

Other friends think I should cut myself some slack. "How does the girl with the dating blog not allow herself some time to be sad?" one asked. I guess I was thinking that because I was in a better place going into this relationship, I'd be better equipt to handle whatever happened. But it really is different this time. I feel like I've lost a lot, and grieving for that is very painful.

I also have friends who may be too well adjusted. They've been through something similar, went to counseling, and know all the stages, even as I go through them. They can identify when I'm in denial, or anger, or bargaining (more on that coming up, by the way).

That's actually helpful, even if it is a little frustrating to my emotional side. I want what I want; and while that may be, I'm also smart enough to know that what we want isn't always what's best. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and look at things objectively.

I love and appreciate all my friends. Actually, all of their advice has been helpful. I think the trick is to listen to what people are telling you - especially if you know they love and care for you, and just want you to feel better. Just listen.

Even if you don't think the advice suits you right then, things might change. You just might find that advice you didn't want to hear was exactly what you needed.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Less is more

I kept thinking that because I got through the breakup with Big, I should be better at going through this breakup. "You weren't this upset when you broke up with Big - and you were with him longer," one friend said to me. And she's right - so what gives?

I've been thinking about it, and I think I have an answer (or at least part of the answer).

Though I was with Big longer, the relationship was never that healthy. Deep down, I never really trusted where it was going or how he felt, and so I never let myself completely trust him. I had a feeling several weeks before that something was wrong, so even though I was disappointed when he said so - I wasn't surprised.

This was very different. I had no idea - and because I had no idea, I allowed myself to trust. I gave myself over to the relationship completely. When you have so much more of yourself invested in something, you have a lot more to lose.

Also, this relationship was a lot healthier. We communicated better, we were honest, we trusted.

More than that - I can honestly say this was the first relationship I've had where I didn't feel I had to give up any part of myself. Trooper never held me back; if anything, he lifted me up. He brought so much good to my life.

I think the loss of something so good, combined with the fact that the loss was such a surprise, is making this worse than what I've gone through in the past.

That's the thing about wonderful; you can't really assign a time-table. You never know where, or when, or with whom you'll find that kind of happy. I guess the trick is to keep your mind (and your heart) open.

It's a big risk - but completely worth it.

"I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special." Steel Magnolias

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Missing piece

Any time I lose someone in my life, I'm compelled to try and make some sense of the situation. I truly believe that people come in and out of our lives for a reason, and I find a little bit of comfort trying to figure out what those reasons are.

This has actually helped me in breakups. A little reframing is in order, sometimes, when you're trying to stay positive through something so negative. Rather than look at any sad, I want to look at the happy. The good that people brought by coming into my life, and the lessons I can learn when they leave.

I've been trying to do that with Trooper - but honestly, I'm not sure I'm ready, yet.

When X left me, I eventually came to realize all the ways I wasn't myself, having been married for so long. Not his fault - I let myself get lost. I was so comfortable being one half of a couple, I forgot to form my own identity as a person, and as a woman.

When Big left, in time I realized that I wasn't ready for a relationship when I met him. Yes, I'd learned a lot since losing X, but not enough to really be in a good place. I had no real idea how to be single - go places on my own, enjoy my own company, be comfortable in my own skin. I took time to figure those things out.

When I think about Trooper, all I see is good. I didn't hold myself back with him; if anything, he pushed me to be better. I loved him - and I loved who I was because of him, too. It's hard to say goodbye to something like that. Even harder when you're not ready.

I keep thinking I'm going to wake up one day and see exactly what it is that I'm missing, either what was wrong with the relationship, or that was wrong with me. Something that I can learn; something that I can improve.

But right now - all I miss is him.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The right tools

I should be better at this.

This isn't my first breakup. I've been through several, all of them tough, all of them heartbreaking - and I survived them all. I keep thinking, "This should get easier." But it doesn't.

I'd done all this work after my last heartbreak. I worked on my self-esteem, my confidence, my self-awareness. I was a completely different person going into this relationship than I was a year earlier when the last one ended. I thought I was mentally in that place where I'd be accepting if it didn't work out.

Guess not.

I'm frustrated with myself. First, I feel guilty. Trooper never let on there was an issue, and as a result, I was oblivious and thought everything was OK, when it wasn't. I feel guilty that I was so happy, while he was struggling, and feel as though I forced the relationship on him, to an extent. "You made my life miserable," are words someone (not Trooper) once said to me in a breakup. He didn't mean them, but they've stuck with me anyway.

I'm also angry. A little at Trooper - for not letting on sooner that there was an issue, and letting me continue to become invested. A little at God - for bringing someone so wonderful into my life, just to take him away. At myself - for not knowing better. I should know this isn't a punishment; that things happen for a reason, even if that reason isn't always clear. I should know this awful feeling is temporary, and will get better.

Of course I'm sad. He brought so much good to my life; it's defeating to think that is over.

I'm a little confused - there really wasn't anything wrong between us. It just wasn't working out, and that's hard to accept. I think it might be easier if there was a big fight, or a third party, or an issue you just can't resolve. But this just...wasn't any of that.

I guess the point is - every breakup is different. There's a grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, accpetance) that you sort of follow - but it never gets easier. Like a good friend said to me, "After each, you have better tools - but you still have to figure out how they apply to the next."

She's right (of course). I have all the right tools. The knowledge and strength to know that this too shall pass, and the friends to hold me up until it does.

No matter how angry, sad, or confused I might be - I'm lucky enough to know how lucky that makes me.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Breaking up is hard to do

Since I started dating Trooper, I've been worried about the relationship's affect on this blog. I thought that being in an exclusive relationship would diminish my ability to share my thoughts and feelings on dating. I also thought that being happy, and feeling settled, would disconnect me from that single feeling - where you never know what might happen next.

Well, I'm unhappy to report - that's no longer a worry.

Trooper ended things between us. No big drama, no huge fight. He's still an amazing man, and I still care for him very, very much. I'm having trouble letting go, and even though we never said the "L-Word," I feel very heart-broken, and as though I lost the love of my life.


I'm not sure how much I'll share about the breakup, and I make no promises about the tenor of my posts in the immediate future. I'll still protect his privacy, and you won't hear (or read) a bad a word about him from me.

I'm grateful to have wonderful, amazing friends who drop their own problems and concerns to listen to me babble or cry or ramble on and on about how confused I am.

If you don't have friends like that - get some. For real. You might need them when you least expect.

"No matter who breaks your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you'll never get through it without your friends." Sex and the City

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ashton dating video?

One of the things about online dating sites is you never, ever know whose profile you might run across. Celebrities have to look for love, too, right? And let's face it - 1 in 5 people meet their match online. Why should celebs be any different?

But I suppose if you were a celebrity who decided to use a dating site, you might disguise yourself. Right? To try and attract people based on your personality or style, and not your IMBD page.

But some celebs...just can't hide. Especially if you are an ultra-famous celeb who just went through an equally famous split.

You gotta check this video out, or visit World Wide Lovers to check out the profile. 

A little advice for Ashton - you'll definitely attract all types of women with these profiles. But seriously - skip the shirtless pics. 

*Sponsored by PopChips

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Tooth Fairy - not really the same thing
I get it. When your heart is broken, it's tempting to think about getting back at the person who hurt you. 

But using your job to get revenge? Not cool. You don't eat where know. Mixing business with emotions is never a good idea. 

In the case of a Polish dentist - it might also be illegal. Her ex came to her right after their breakup with a toothache - and she removed all of his teeth

While that seems extreme, this should be a lesson to people everywhere. If you just dumped your dentist in the bedroom, it might be time to find a new dentist chair, too.