So, let me start off by saying that never in a million years would I have thought my first written/published article would be about relationships. I will pray that you may never experience a broken heart but, unfortunately, it happens way too often. I would like to share my personal experience and new-found wisdom in hopes that it may help others going through similar situations.
I have been “separated” from my husband for 4 months. I don’t care to share the horrid details, nor will I bad-mouth him, but let’s just say that what happened has made me question how people can trust someone they loved unconditionally.
People would describe me as a very happy person, someone who is “always smiling”. I am also a heart-felt, emotional person that will cry over a sad song, a sad movie, or when someone receives bad news. I also cry tears of joy for people who have conquered their greatest fear, fought hard to overcome an illness, and just about any story with a sweet, happy ending.
However, when my own relationship took a nose-dive, I went into a dark place – a hole so deep, I was afraid I would never get out. I don’t ever want to go back there. I cried non-stop for 2 weeks, didn’t eat, and slacked on my work-outs. Who cared, right? My stress level was so high that I experienced severe cervical/tension headaches, eventually requiring occipital nerve injections for relief. This normally “happy” person also developed a very short fuse when dealing with my kids and family – I’m sure they all thought I was losing it. Why was I doing this to myself and the people who cared about me the most?
Most people find it hard to believe that with all my successes in life, I’ve never had a lot of confidence in myself nor high self-esteem. When you go through a break-up, your self-worth plummets even further. It was hard for me to admit I was depressed. Me? NEVER! I love my life, my friends & family, and my job/co-workers/patients. I love working-out, training for competitions, and dancing. I had what I thought was the perfect life, so why couldn’t I enjoy it anymore? I am VERY fortunate that my state of depression was short-lived, but I learned a lot in that brief time.
Some important things to remember when going through tough times:
Surround Yourself with Good Friends & Family
I am so blessed to have many close family & friends, as well as co-workers, who have listened and comforted me throughout this ordeal. They, above all else, helped pull me out of that dark funk and helped remind me who I was/what great things I had in my life. My kids forgave me for my moments of impatience/anger and gave me never-ending hugs to comfort me when I cried. My dear sister/best friend checked on me every day and would just sit there and listen while I spilled out my heart/feelings during this emotional roller-coaster ride. An acquaintance of 10 years bought me an acupuncture package because he knew how much I love my acupuncture treatments/how much they relax me. I even had friends that I hadn’t spoken to in years that would message me and lend an ear. Yes, so many (too many) have been down this road. Probably the most meaningful words of all came from a dear friend of 20 years – he sent this message to me during one of my darkest moments: “You are a strong woman and you will land on your feet. Not a week goes by that I don’t use you as an example, specifically your heart, character, and drive. If the average person walking down the street had half of your drive and character, the world would be a much better place”. Yes, I am very blessed to have you all in my life! Sometimes it takes going through a tough time to see how much you are loved. Special thanks & big hugs to all who have been there for me, you know who you are.
Take Time to Grieve/Cry
I don’t like to feel weak or admit defeat. Who does? But it really began to piss me off that I would continue to cry so much over him and our memories together. Taking down our pictures, deleting his friends/family from my Facebook page, avoiding places we went together – none of that takes away the memories in your head and heart. For me, the absolute worst was listening to country music (I LOVE country music!) – it never failed to bring out the waterworks. Think Rascal Flatts “Here Comes Goodbye” – yes, it’s a tear-jerker.
Ending a relationship is a difficult and heart-breaking event. However, taking the time to grieve over your loss/breakup actually speeds up your emotional recovery – it helps you regain your self-worth and develop a new concept of a single person. If you don’t let it out, it will continue to eat at you and keep you in that horrible, dark place.
Feed Your Spiritual Side through Prayer and Reflection
“She who trusts in the Lord will never be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23)
While I am not one to preach the Holy Bible, I do make time to talk to God daily and believe in the power of prayer. Even in the midst of difficult challenges, God wants us to enjoy our time on Earth. Scripture helps us live active and balanced lives in Christ, keeping us from falling along the way. God also teaches us to forgive. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Prayer is an incredibly simple, yet powerful gift. Through prayer, God grants us strength, encouragement, and aligns our will with His.
Self-reflection is personal time to focus on your goals, your behavior, and your general state of mind. Am I living up to my personal mission? Am I meeting the expectations I set for myself? Am I performing at my peak capacity? Am I giving my friends & family the best me?
Embracing your spiritual side helps you learn more about yourself and your life. Prayer, meditation, and yoga have been a saving grace for my internal process of letting go of negative beliefs that are not serving my highest good.
Delegate Tasks/Ask for Help
I am very stubborn and proud. I like to consider myself a “tough girl”. I can do it all by myself! Well, at least I thought so anyhow. I let myself become overwhelmed with being a “single mom” of 3 kids, taking care of the house/yard/pool myself vs. asking for help; often staying up till 1 am to try and get as much done as I could, just so I wouldn’t be a burden on anyone else. Thankfully, my oldest daughter came up with a chore list for her and my twins – small things like emptying the dishwasher, packing school lunches, helping with laundry, etc. I finally caved and asked for help with opening my pool (the mechanical end was beyond me) and “allowed” a friend to assist me with yardwork.
Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to wave the white flag and ask for help. There are many people out there who truly want to help you in your time of need!
Keep Yourself Busy & Set New Goals
With work, kids, training, dance, housework – how could I not be busy? However, those quiet times would creep up on me and knock me backwards a few steps. Saturday nights were the toughest for me – this was always our “date night”/a night without kids. The first few Saturdays after my separation were some of the loneliest nights I’ve ever had in my life…no husband, no kids, just me and the cat. Oh sure, I had many offers from friends & family to go out, but I still had to come back to this quiet, empty house. This is when I would feel sorry for myself – Why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong? Why wasn’t I good enough?
But enough was enough…this pity party needed to end! It was time to focus on me and continue the pursuit of my goals. I have always been the type of person to consistently try to better myself mentally and physically. In just the past 6 years, I have obtained my doctorate in Physical Therapy, certification in personal training, and sports conditioning specialist; I’m now currently working on my nutrition certification. I have competed in the Figure division of natural bodybuilding for 4 years (placing in the top 5 in all 9 shows, 1st place in 4 shows) and pursued a new sport/hobby of pole dancing/pole tricks. I have set new goals for myself for the next year including competing in 2 Bodybuilding shows this fall and competing in the Pole Championships next March at the Arnold.
Bottom Line: Never sit idle. Set new goals/find a new hobby – something to occupy your time so you are not sitting around feeling sorry for yourself.
A failed relationship can teach us many valuable life lessons: how to be a better communicator, how to be more expressive and empathetic, the value of give & take, the art of patience & understanding, but also when it’s time to let go. Learning to let go is hard. You learn valuable skills in every failure. Take it all in. Learn from it. And move on.
Sometimes you need to listen to your head vs. your heart. So, for now, I will focus on bettering myself, pursuing my goals, and enjoying time with my kids, friends, & family. I’m sure I will still have moments of weakness/times I may feel like having an emotional breakdown, but I will continue to tell myself that I am a STRONG, INDEPENDENT woman. These tough times will pass. I may not be sure of my future relationship status (will it be a Rascal Flatts “I’m moving on” vs. a Kane Brown “Comeback” ending), however, I do know that I still believe in True Love and the premise of “Happily Ever After”.