12 THINGS

Although no one has asked me to do so, I kind of feel as though I need to offer up some advice of how to deal with the breakdown of a long term relationship.

For those that follow my writing, you will know that coming up to 2 years ago now, I ended my almost 20 year relationship.

I was married for 13 of those years.

To walk away from that, was scary and heartbreaking.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

So today, I want to talk about the things that you will experience as a result of leaving a long term relationship, and the things that have helped keep me afloat:

1. DON’T KEEP IT A SECRET – The night before my ex-husband moved out, I was full of fear, and consumed with a sadness like no other. I literally thought I would die. The next day, when he drove away from the house, I sat down and published an article to announce the separation. People were going to talk regardless, and I thought I would give myself the chance to get it out into the open, let people either rejoice, or empathise with me, and then move on with whatever else they liked to gossip about. People were going to talk. It’s what we do. Just rip it off like a bandaid, and get it out there however you choose to do it.

2. KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE – You have three types of people in your life when you end a relationship. Those that find pleasure in your pain and will be there to console you, as it acts as a means to console themselves for their own unhappy lives that they do not have the courage to walk away from. Those that will avoid you like the plague, for so many reasons that I do not have the energy to go into. And your true friends. Out of these three, obviously, only the latter are the ones that you want around. Recognise who they are, and embrace them tightly.

3. ALLOW YOURSELF TIME TO GRIEVE – It was really hard in the beginning, and I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I felt sorry for myself waking up alone each day. For going to bed alone each day. For eating most meals alone. I spent many days and nights feeling incredibly lonely and isolated. I drank a lot. I smoked a lot. I wrote a lot. I spoke to my friends a lot. I cried a lot. I wore pyjamas a lot. And you know what? It’s totally ok. And it will pass.

4. PROTECT YOURSELF – As I had no children with my ex-husband, there was no reason for anyone to stay in contact with me where it wasn’t necessary. At the same time, I also chose to block a whole bunch of people from my social media networks. The reasons behind why I did this were very simple. I had “mutual friends” that had clearly chosen a side. And I didn’t feel as though it was necessary to have these people stalking my social media purely to make speculations about what was now my life. I had my ex-husband phone me one day to say that a “mutual” friend had speculated that I was a lesbian because I only ever had pictures on social media with other women. If I was a lesbian, I would announce it proudly. However, it was a little more boring than that. I was just spending time with my girlfriends, and allowing myself to heal. If people are there to just consume their own boring lives with yours, make the decision to shut that shit down.

5. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE – This can be anything that makes you uncomfortable. For me it was a few things. First up, I am a little shy. Second, I am stupidly unsure of myself. One thing I did was try to make new friends. The next thing I did was go on a couple of overseas trips on my own (to meet a friend), and several interstate trips. It was the most liberating thing I have ever done. I met so many interesting people along the way, and I showed myself that it was only my self-doubt that was limiting me in every way possible. It taught me what it means to look fear in the face, and say “I want this more than I’m afraid of you”.

6. CREATE NEW MEMORIES – This is a big one. In order to move forward in life, we need to create new memories. This can come from anything by the way. It can come from meeting a new person at the gym. Getting to know your local barista. Spending time with your siblings. With your friends. Seeing a different part of the world. Going on a road trip. Whatever it takes to create new memories, do it. You will be pleasantly surprised how much this helps.

7. TALK IT OUT – Confide in a friend. A family member. A counsellor. Journal. Get it all out. Talk and write until you can’t talk or write anymore. And then talk and write some more. Purge yourself of all of the shit that weighs your heart down. After all – a problem shared, is a problem halved.

8. BE KIND TO YOURSELF – Know that you will go back to re-visit your past often. This is not a set-back. It is part of being a human being. Experience it, and then let it go. It is over. Move forward. And don’t beat yourself up over it.

9. SPOIL YOURSELF – I personally dedicated at least one day every two weeks to getting a massage. It made me feel good. And I’m all about doing whatever it takes to get you to where you need to go. And a massage is all it took for me. Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel good.

10. DO WHAT YOU WANT – Do you want to sleep in until lunchtime on the weekend? Do you want to do a cooking course? Do you want to learn a new language? Do you want to travel the world? Do it. Do what YOU want.

11. GIFT YOURSELF THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE – I don’t know why I put this down as the second last thing on my list. If it were a ranking system in which I wrote this article, this would be the number one thing on my list. Give yourself the gift of knowing who you are on your own. This is the most important thing. You need to know what it’s like to be alone. Yes, at times, it can feel lonely. But that’s no excuse to settle for something less than what you deserve, purely on account of not wanting to be alone. Learn to love who you are on your own. For me, I gave myself the gift of being alone for exactly one year. And at the end of that year, I had finally learned to love myself. It is not devoid of days of totally hating myself, but as a whole, I really do love myself. And I continue to (mostly) love myself.

12. TRUST – You won’t always feel this way. It seriously gets better. Trust that everything is going to work out for the best. Even if it takes a little bit of time to get there.

So I’ve decided to title this article “12 things”.

As there are 12 different things that I feel as though have been important to me in my journey of healing myself.

My Mum always said to me during my rebellious teenage years that “life doesn’t come with a book of instructions” – and it seriously doesn’t.

You don’t get taught anything in school that teaches you how to deal with what life sometimes throws at you.

So this article, is for those that need guidance on what it looks like to end a long relationship.

Or my experience of it at least.

On the flip-side, know that by walking away, you are making space for something so much more beautiful than you could have ever imagined to take it’s place.

Today, as I often do, I leave you with a quote; from the author of “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert.

“Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing”.

STOP COMPARING YOURSELF

It’s one of my best friends’ birthday tomorrow.

I wrote a quote in her birthday card from Shannon L. Alder:

“A best friend is the only one that walks into your life when the world has walked out”.

And it’s so true.

That’s how you really know who your best friends are.

When everyone else has walked out of your life.

For me personally (and perhaps for a lot of other people too), you get to know a lot about yourself when you choose to remove yourself from the life you had once lived.

I am a typical hormonal woman, and I had a bit of a moment today.

And when I say a “moment”, I mean that I had a minute (a few long hours actually) of comparing myself to others.

Not only was I foolishly comparing myself to others, I fell into the trap of thinking that what appears right for another person is right for me. And that I am somehow missing out.

We are so programmed by the people that we surround ourselves with – either by choice, or circumstance – that we cannot help but measure ourselves up to them.

Do I have a good partner?

Do I have children?

Do I have a big enough house?

Do I have a nice enough car?

Do I have a successful career?

Do I have an enviable life?

Am I beautiful?

Am I smart?

Do I dress cool enough?

Am I interesting?

I snapped myself out of this nonsense thought process I was going through, and gave myself the slap across the face that I needed to pull myself out of this momentary rut that I’d fallen into.

I got a text message from my bestie, with a photo of her package from me that had arrived in the mail, in time for her birthday tomorrow.

“Do I have to wait until tomorrow?” came her next message.

“This is the first time all day that I have smiled” I replied to her.

And it really was.

It was then that I had an epiphany.

That the stupid, and pointless comparison to others that I was making, was totally useless in terms of what determined MY happiness.

Those silly things that I thought envied in others, had nothing to do with what brought a smile to my face.

What made me happy was knowing that one of the most important people in my life had gotten butterflies from a gift in the mail.

And so I asked myself – why was I comparing my life to that of others?

Don’t I know, after all these years where my heart lies?

But, at times, I feel my heart lies…

I sometimes think it does that.

We feel our hearts are pulled into a dark place. Into a place of that nonsense of “comparison”.

Which is actually just our ego.

And not our hearts at all.

Because I truly believe that our hearts know all, and do not betray us.

Silly romantic, dreamer I am…

With all of the spiritual work that I have done on myself (and hey, I’m announcing right now that I’m not finished doing that work, and will likely never be done), I was only able to recognise this for what it was when I felt the light of what true happiness really felt like.

And it came in that simple form of what it took to make me smile.

Because that’s what happiness is to me.

What does it take to make that so?

A smile on my face.

And on that of others.

Lightness of being.

Love.

Being loving, and being loved.

Friendship.

Getting a text from a friend.

Calling a friend.

Being called by a friend.

Talking.

Listening.

Laughing.

And being laughed at.

Being in awe of someone.

And someone being in awe of me.

Cooking.

Someone enjoying my cooking.

Creating.

Appreciating beauty.

Being appreciated.

Feeling beautiful – which has nothing to do with looking beautiful.

Eating.

Drinking.

And having peace.

Looking at my list, these “things” have nothing to do with the list that I have created in order to compare myself with someone else.

Because that list has nothing to do with me.

And everything to do with everyone else.

Today, I came back to a quote by the novelist William Gibson, that I stumbled across a little while ago.

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes”.

Do not surround yourself with anything less that what is best for you, and what resonates with what YOU want. Not what anyone else wants. Or what anyone else wants in order to attempt to make THEM smile.

As my current writing crush Allan Watts has said, “when you try to turn around to see your own head, what happens? It runs away. You can’t get at it.”

You cannot accurately see yourself.

Which is why it’s important to surround yourself with the right people.

With those that see you properly

Those that make you smile.

That can accurately reflect to you what you truly hold inside your heart.

Which is why I attach a picture to this article of me kissing my best friend on the lips.

Because it’s a perfect metaphor for what we should only ever settle for.

Someone that loves us as much as we love ourselves.

That is willing to be the person that can reflect back to us the pure love that we all radiate from within.

My message today?

Stop comparing yourself to everyone else, and pay attention to what it is that actually makes you happy.

Thats all that’s important.

And only surround yourself with those that can be a mirror for your smile – or your lips ;)…

 

 

 

 

LET US BEGIN

Today, I want to talk about being present.

I have written before about the “I’ll be happy when…” trap.

It’s something I did for a long time.

Waiting until I reached a certain point in my life.

Then I’d be happy.

Waiting until I went on that long-awaited holiday.

Then I’d be more relaxed.

Waiting until going to that event that I was so looking forward to.

Then I’d feel beautiful once I was all dressed up and looking fancy.

Waiting until I wasn’t feeling anxious anymore.

Then I’d finally be able to breathe, and not fidget so much.

Waiting until I moved to another country.

Then I could start living the life I really wanted.

What a fool I was.

Thinking that any of these things would bring me a sense of peace and satisfaction.

But why?

Why would none of these preconceived notions about what happiness entailed, bring me to that elusive state of pure bliss?

Because none of it is real.

When you live your life that way, you are just chasing your own tail.

You never get there.

You are unable to live in the present moment and be happy, and grateful for what is.

It was a day of doing absolutely nothing but being in the present moment, where I was truly able to comprehend what “being in the now” truly is.

And do you know what I did today?

Normal, everyday stuff. Things that were unremarkable in every way.

I cleaned my house.

I did a load of washing.

I went and did some groceries.

I FaceTimed a friend overseas.

I drank coffee, and ate toast with disgusting quantities of butter and blueberry jam.

I listened to a talk by my current spiritual crush Alan Watts, on living in the moment.

Which inspired this article.

I made a spinach and feta quiche for dinner.

I drank a glass of wine, and listened to Amy Winehouse.

Whilst a strong, thunderstorm-scented breeze wafted through the window of my kitchen.

Intoxicating all of my senses with the smell of wet concrete, and jasmine.

And I felt at peace.

I felt grateful.

I felt happy.

Blissful, actually.

Because I understand what it’s all about now.

It’s about NOW.

There is nothing else.

I searched for the quote that Alan Watts had spoken, about living in the now.

“For unless one is able to live fully in the present, the future is a hoax. There is no point whatever in making plans for a future which you will never be able to enjoy. When your plans mature, you will still be living for some other future beyond. You will never, never be able to sit back with full contentment and say, “Now, I’ve arrived!” Your entire education has deprived you of this capacity because it was preparing you for the future, instead of showing you how to be alive now.”

What is it going to take for you to appreciate the gift that is the present?

When are you going to stop saying “I’ll be happy when…”?

In hindsight, I can now say that the reason I was constantly living in that silly trap, was that I wasn’t happy in the now.

I did everything I could to escape it by making plans for the future. Going and living in that future state, to get through my “present” at that time.

Thinking that that’s what would make me happy. When realising that all I had to do was to make the choice to be happy now.

So I made the choice.

And I continue to consciously make the choice each, and every day to be happy with everything that “is” in my life right now.

It’s not that you can’t make plans for a future that you know will likely bring you joy. But you cannot be fooled into thinking that that’s where your happiness lies.

Because you’ll never get there.

Happiness is right now.

If you break it all down, that’s all we have.

This very moment.

You cannot get happiness from the past by reliving it.

It’s over.

It’s done.

And you cannot get it from the future when it’s just an illusion.

The future plans that we make, only make us live in hope that things will be a certain way.

We don’t know anything for sure.

Today, I leave you with a quote from Mother Teresa.

And my advice today?

Stop waiting to live your life, and start living it today.

Stop waiting for the day where you think you will be happy, and start making yourself happy right now.

Surround yourself with those that love you.

Fill your time with things you love doing.

Because life is too short to fill it with those that berate you, and for doing shit you hate.

And above all else, appreciate the present.

“Yesterday is gone.

Tomorrow has not yet come.

We have only today.

Let us begin.”

SOLO

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to watch “Eat, Pray, Love” for the billionth time.

I love that movie.

I absolutely ADORE the book.

Like, #ICantEven …

During a particular scene in the movie, the camera flashes upon the word “Solo” in the dictionary, and it’s definition.

“A thing done by one person unaccompanied”.

It’s a foreign thing to a lot of people.

Doing things “solo”.

But why?

Essentially, we do everything alone.

We are always “unaccompanied”.

Yes, we often have company – however we are always on our own.

But there are differences between being alone, and being lonely.

And as I am really good at being alone, today I want to talk about loneliness.

The dictionary definition for loneliness is this:

“The quality of being unfrequented and remote; isolation”.

You do not have to be alone to feel lonely.

You can feel lonely in a crowd.

As cliched as that may sound.

You can feel lonely in a relationship.

The presence of another person does not necessarily equal a lack of loneliness.

And that’s where a lot of us have got it all wrong.

Hinging our feelings upon that of another.

To the point where you need to be in the constant company of someone else to fill that illusionary void.

I know that I have personally felt a powerful sense of loneliness, and isolation when I have been within the company of others. A lot of times, I have felt downright invisible.

So I can say that the presence of another – or others, is not what “makes it all better”.

It’s a trap that a lot of us fall into.

Thinking that the absence of another is what loneliness means.

It couldn’t be further from the truth.

I have frequently felt as though I don’t belong.

That I don’t fit in.

I know I’m a bit of a weirdo.

All of us are really.

I often say the wrong things, and I sometimes make a fool of myself.

I will openly admit to being a total jackass.

To occasionally being a little outspoken.

To being “off with the fairies”.

But you know what?

I don’t care.

I’m really nice. My heart is in the right place. And I really like me.

In fact, I love me.

However, other people often do care that you are not marching to the beat of their own bullshit drum.

But with age, I have come to recognise that the “wrong things” that I say and do, are actually not wrong at all.

They are just different ideas and beliefs to those that were in my company at that time.

And perhaps I have just surrounded myself with the wrong types of people.

Lots of us do that at times…

After watching “Eat, Pray, Love” that day, I went back and flicked through the book.

Searching for more.

And I realised something, after coming across a quote that I will post at the end of this article.

In breaking away from everything that was once familiar and routine to me – in walking on the proverbial “road less travelled”, I discovered that I have found what it was that I was looking for.

I have found my truth.

And it doesn’t rely upon the validation of another.

Well, not entirely.

But for the bits where I do need some sort of “feedback”, I have actively sought out those that I am in alignment with.

That accept me, and love me for the complicated mess that I am.

And in my opinion?

We are all a bit of a complicated mess…

So todays message is this:

It is not a lack of company that reveals who you really are.

Although, from experience, that really does help at times.

Being “solo” truly is a gift.

Because it gives you the distance and clarity to be the observer, and to know what it is that you don’t want.

It is often having lots of different experiences, that engage a wide variety of other personalities, to reflect back to you what you know you do not want to settle for.

I have often been accused of not knowing what I want.

And it has always been painted to me as a negative trait.

Yet today – I am telling you right now that it’s a positive.

It’s not that I do not know what I want.

I know what I DO NOT want.

By knowing what you don’t want, makes it’s so much more excellent when the things that you DO want reveal themselves to you.

Today I leave you with the quote that I mentioned earlier.

And know this – so long as you are being true to yourself, that you have the balls to travel that road “solo”; “unaccompanied” – the truth will not be withheld from you.

“I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” — a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe.” – Elizabeth Gilbert; Eat, Pray, Love