Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009, you really kicked my ass.

January 2009 was the start of one of the hardest years of my life so far, and it will soon be over in just a few hours.

I'm celebrating this New Years very differently than I did last year, but luckily I am with people who love and support me.

Here's the thing: every year for the last many, many, years my ex and I have hosted a New Years Day Party. This party always includes lots of comforting food made by me, endless glasses of champagne, and lots of other goodies which serve one perfectly on a hung-over, sleepy New Years Day. This is the first year in many that I will not be throwing this party.

And so I now start a new tradition, I have taken a page from Julia Child and dug into my favorite Christmas present this year, Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volumes I and II and made Reine de Saba with Glacage au Chocolat (Chocolate and Almond Cake with Chocolate-butter Icing). Yes, yummy.

2009 you really kicked my ass, and I deserve this cake and so do the rest of my breakup blogger friends. We made it through 2009 and I know, I just know, that 2010 is going to yield bigger and better things for all of us.

Lots of love to you bloggers out there. And don't you ever forget, we are awesome.

Photo of my cake posing with Julia's description of how to decorate the cake with slivered almonds.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Christmas verdict.

The verdict is in. I did not get an email from my ex on, or around, Christmas. I didn't really think I'd get one, but I had been spending some time wondering about it. (If you recall, "Wise Words (Part 3)."

Would he? Won't he? Will I?

The fact is, our emails never go the way I think either of us want them to go. And so I didn't get too upset. It's understandable. But I wonder what it might have felt like to get an email. It might have looked like this:

"Merry Christmas. I hope you are well."

That seems so cold, so impersonal, but it's most likely what it would have looked like. Not that he was cold or impersonal, but what else can you say in a situation like this? If I had gotten this email, I would have read it over and over again and agonized over what to write back. I imagine I would have written this:

"Thank you. Merry Christmas to you too. I hope you're well also."

And in the end, what would that have gotten me? Nothing. No sense of closure. Just maybe some additional heartache, because I want to hear so much more than a few lines in an email and I want to say so much more back.

Before Christmas, I thought that the absence of an email from him around the holidays would have meant that he wasn't thinking about me, had forgotten me, or just plain didn't care. I've realized now that this can't be true. I didn't email him either and none of those things are true for me. We spent 9 Christmases together and 9 New Year's Eve's. I'm sure I've crossed his mind this holiday season, just as he's crossed mine (more than I'd care to admit). He wasn't a cold or callous guy, I'm sure he feels some sense of loss. And I don't think a Christmas email was going to make me feel any differently about the importance or impact we made on each others lives. Writing now wasn't going to change any of that.

Dear Followers, if you have a recent ex, did you hear from them this holiday season? If yes or no, how did it make you feel? And, most importantly, are you doing ok? I'd love to know, because I know I'm not alone.

Photo by Vera Vodak.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Setting Goals for 2010

Since many of us are looking forward to saying goodbye to 2009 and are focusing on making positive changes in 2010, I'd like to share an extremely helpful post from the lovely makeup guru/enthusiast/instructor Karen from Makeup and Beauty Blog which she calls, "7 Small Things You Can Do to Reach Your Goals."

Here is what Karen says:

"[...] I’ve been thinking a lot today about goal setting and some of the things that people do to motivate/trick/inspire themselves to get stuff done, whether it be for small tasks (tidying up the house), or big projects (figuring out what to do as a career).

Few things are as empowering as a sense of accomplishment, but a lot has to happen between setting and achieving a goal. Sometimes it can be overwhelming.

Like plants, goals thrive when they’re tended to and cared for, so let’s pay some attention to our goals today. Here are seven things that may help."

Read Karen's full post and the 7 things you can do here: 7 Small Things You Can Do to Reach Your Goals.

Next month I will be defining and documenting my goals for 2010. But what about you, Dear Followers? Would you care to share your goals for the upcoming year? Have you thought about how you will accomplish them? Do you see any potential set-backs as you work towards your goals? If so, how do you plan to overcome them? I'd love to know, because I know I'm not alone.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Year of Cringe-worthy Facebook Statuses

Photo by delicate dear

So did you see that thing on Facebook where you can create a collage of all your status updates from the year? This application takes all your statuses, lists them by month, and then let's you choose which ones to put in the collage. I barely ever update my status so there weren't that many to choose from, but when I looked at what I had written this year, I kinda cringed. I don't need to tell you this, but this year has, in many ways, been gut-wrenching, comical, and at times surreal.

Reading all the status updates neatly listed on the page felt like I was looking at a timeline of what I've been through this year and since you now know me, you know I love a good list/timeline/bit of recreational documentation. I didn't make the collage, but I felt the need to share.

February (when I was in the thick of the breakup, trying to keep it together):
  • is finding NPR very soothing today. (I remember being at work, trying to concentrate and failing, and so I turned on NPR and found it to be an excellent way to keep my mind occupied. It helped me focus on my work and not break into sobs in the middle of my office. Thanks, Terry Gross.)

  • feels like she's in a John Hughes "rite de passage" movie.

  • cannot wait to get to sunny San Diego tomorrow. It is much, much needed... (The trip I wrote about in My Magical Best Friend.)

  • is loving San Diego and is threatening to never return to stupid, snowy Chicago.....

  • is back in Chicago..... ew. (Can you tell I didn't want to come home?)
March (settling into my parents house and making some choices as I looked at what was left in my life):
  • is giving the crazies the chances.

  • Dear Facebook, Thank you for making me vomit today. Sincerely, Ms. Bonheur. (The day I saw that photo of him and some random girl and the day of his subsequent de-friending.)
May (not sure what the hell was going on in May):
  • My mom just texted me and referred to some people as “douchebags” but she wrote “db's” instead. I love my mom. (Mom, who were you calling douchebags??)
September (went out to San Diego for my birthday and did not what to come back):
  • is back home... albeit begrudgingly. I wonder if a move to California is in my future.

So, Dear Followers of my humble blog, I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to saying goodbye to 2009. While I loved it because it was the beginning of many immensely positive changes in my life, it was also, as you know, pretty rough. But I guess that's how you change and how you grow. You gotta get through the good, the bad, and the occasional emotional shitstorm to come out the other end a better person, or something like it.

Photo by SigurDD

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wise Words (Part 3)

I say:
can i ask you something?

My BFF says:
of course

I say:
i keep wondering if i should email him for Christmas...or do you think he might email me?
what if he does/what if he doesnt... it's a pickle
bleh.... [insert barfing emoticon here]

My BFF says:
okay, i'm going to play the "Don't waste your time thinking about him" card in Breakup-opoly here

I say:
nice one... :)

My BFF says:
dont waste your time, mister sister

I say:
ok ok
mister sister

My BFF says:
that always makes me laugh

I say:
you're just on a roll over there

My BFF says:
Carrie said that on SATC

I say:
oh yeah!
thats where i heard that

My BFF says:
it made me laugh then and it makes me laugh now :)

So true, friends.

The "Don't Waste Your Time Thinking About Him" card from the fast-paced, harrowing, wacky game of Breakup-oploy: Your friends and family can pull this out whenever you start to obsess, perseverate, or just plain drive them crazy.

Dear Followers, I think we could all use this card when we are trying (albeit sometimes unsuccessfully) to let go, don't you think?

Photo by therichbrooks

Monday, December 14, 2009

Breakup Post Traumatic Stress: Yeah, I've got it.

The first snow of the season appeared about 2 weeks ago and when I saw it swirl around the street and cover the ground, it reminded me of one of those souvenir snow globes, but like a souvenir from some horrendous vacation you don't want to remember; and yet, someone dug into the old suitcase you buried in the depths of your closet, reached in, grabbed the snow globe, shook it wildly, and said, "Hey! Remember that shitty vacation?!"

When I saw the snow, I was jolted right back into the snowy months of January and February when the breakup actually happened. Seeing the snow, and feeling the cold, inundated me with flashbacks of that time and the emotions that came with them. It all involuntarily sparked in my brain. Seriously, it felt like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

With the snow on the ground and the weather feeling exactly like it did when I was in the thick of it, I’m having a hard time focusing on the good things I’m doing in my life now and I’m spending more time physically feeling like I’m right back at Day One. I've actually believed, at times, that I have made no progress in all these 10 months. All the insights and the experiences I've had tend to fly right out of my head and I have to really struggle to hold onto them. And that's really a kick in the ass because I had begun to feel so much better about the breakup and I was happy, and seemingly letting go, for a while. So this PTSD is really wearing me down.

When I tried to pin-point what exactly was getting to me, it occurred to me that I won’t be shopping for a Christmas present for him this year. That kinda hit me. I mean of course I’m not, but when I actually think about that, I realize that I have no idea what he would even want because I don’t know him at all anymore. And so I wonder if the person I used to know, and love, is still around or if he’s been totally replaced with the guy I've pictured in my head since the breakup began. I don’t like that guy so much, but I do still care for the other guy, the one I knew for years. You see, it's a contradiction.

So all this makes me want to contact him. It’s been almost a year now and maybe it’s time? I’m not totally sold on the idea that he and I will never be friendly. I always believed that someday we could discuss the train wreck that became our relationship, share insights together, grow as people and all that bullshit. I’m serious, I believe that sometimes. But then I remember that he didn't really ever share those parts of himself with me, so what makes me think he would now? Again, another contradiction.

And that’s the big question. Who is he now? Has he changed? I guess I do really want to know. I've changed so much it's pretty amazing and I wonder if the same thing happened to him. But would knowing help or hurt me? Is his freindship something that would be good for me or not? Or is this breakup PTSD just a phase, just a rough patch, and one which I should just try to move past?

So Dear Followers, how much time has to pass before 2 people can talk again after their breakup? Or, is there never a good time for that? Have you contacted your ex? How did it go? Did you regret it or did it help you? I’d love to know because, well, you know….

Monday, December 7, 2009

Diversions: A breakup's best friend

The holidays keep moving along, coming whether I'm ready or not, and I've been thinking about things like dealing with nostalgia ("Breakups vs. The Holidays") and triumphantly putting up my first Christmas tree on my own ("I'm a Christmas-aholic"). But it's still a tough time no matter what. I still have twinges of panic when I'm faced with the holidays and when that happens, I dig into my bag of diversions, take one out, and become my usual compulsive self over it. One of these diversions is one I've mentioned before.

If you know me now, you know I love beauty products and makeup. Actually, no – I don’t just love them; I’m mildly obsessed with them. I think I've become what you might call a “makeup enthusiast,” if you will. After the breakup, I had to put my energy somewhere productive and this was where it went. I guess as far as diversions go, this is a pretty harmless one.

The other day, I met a girl who too is obsessed. As we were discussing our deep love of products, she sheepishly admitted to watching YouTube videos of makeup artists, and makeup enthusiasts, doing makeup tutorials. I then blurted out that I do this too. When you meet someone who indulges in a makeup obsession so deep that they spend whole chunks of their time watching strangers on the internet apply eyeliner, it’s like admitting to having some kind of secret, forbidden obsession. You belong to some underground club; somewhere where the makeup tutorials are hidden behind a red velvet curtain. She went on to tell me that when she watches these tutorials, she does so in private, with her headphones on, so no one can discover what she’s doing. She hides it. I’m telling you, that’s deep.

I think when you go through a breakup (or anything else particularly difficult) you have to channel your energy and mind into something to keep yourself together. It's easy to get sucked into thinking only about what you're going through, becoming fixated, and maybe eventually becoming stuck. To combat this, people turn to hobbies or tasks to divert their energy and give their minds a much needed break. Some people volunteer, devoting their time to bettering their communities in some way, or maybe they take up productive, self-improving hobbies like cycling. One of the many things that I, on the other hand, turned to is something that is, let's face it, pretty self-indulgent.

But here's the thing about me, I have spent a lot of time dealing with other people's mishegas (translation, other people's crazy). I've been in some form of a long-term relationship since I was 19 and once this breakup began, I, for first time, had to consider what I wanted, liked, and cared about without the usual outside relationship influences steering me off in other directions. At first this was intimidating and then as I slowly started to do whatever I damn-well pleased, it became kind of exciting.

Doing something solely for myself, something that only concerned me, become a very welcomed diversion. Makeup evolved into something fun, fluffy and self-centered; and well, that was exactly what I needed. Therefore, researching and trying new products is like a part-time job. Seriously, I think about this shit, a lot, and I figured that all this thought and research should go somewhere besides my makeup bag and so I'm sharing it with you. Here are two makeup tutorial websites I like. I'm lifting the red curtain here and I feel a bit exposed. So feel free to enjoy them, and for that matter, feel free to enjoy whatever diversions you created for yourself to help you through your particularly difficult time, without shame.

So Dear Followers of my humble blog, what did you do to help you through your breakup, or tough time in your life? Volunteer? Travel? Blog? Or something else not-so-wholesome? I'd love to know, because I know I'm not alone.

P.S. Just tried out Dior's DiorShow mascara (thanks for letting me borrow it, Mom!) and it's wonderful; no clumps, has a reputation for lasting a whole six months without ever getting dried out, and it's perfumed so it makes your face smell nice. Now I ask you this, how can you not feel good when your eyelashes are perfumed?

Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm a Christmas-aholic

My name is Le Bonheur, and I'm a Christmas-aholic.

Hi, Le Bonheur.

I love Christmas trees, little white lights, tinsel, hot cocoa, baking cookies, the Muppet's Christmas Carol, peppermint, snow (before it gets all grey and unpleasant), and I really love it when they wrap giant tinsel candy canes around the lamp posts of parking lots. For me, decorating a tree doesn't just take an afternoon, it takes weeks, it’s an organic process and one which I enjoy tremendously.

I love it, but Christmas last year was, as I’ve said before, “slightly tinged with crap.” My breakup began just days after New Years and when I think about that time, I remember sitting on my living room floor and packing my Christmas paraphernalia by myself in a rather unpleasant state (that is to put it mildly) and I was convinced that when a ‘future me’ opened those boxes in a future life I couldn’t possibly even fathom at that time, that ‘future me’ would be reminded of the breakup and my love of Christmas would be ruined due to the fact that I underwent a veritable, emotional shit-storm during the most happy, warm, and glittery time of the year. What a terrifying thought.

Now it’s almost 11 months later... into the future.

Right after Halloween I started eyeing the stores for signs of Christmas and when the Christmas candy appeared, I scanned myself for any signs of (a) being super pissed that Christmas was coming or (b) getting giddily excited that it was coming. Well, I got a little giddy and I have to admit that I was anxious too. So I thought I could maybe combat this anxious feeling by doing something I had always wanted to do. I’ve really wanted to be one of those people that puts their tree up like a day after Thanksgiving. My dreams are big, friends.

I traditionally never got around to putting up a tree until like 1 week before Christmas because I would often be waiting for my ex to find some time to accompany me to the tree lot, which he did all but once in our 4 yrs living together (we were together for 9). So I often would wait and wait until finally getting fed up and going to the tree lot alone and schlepping the tree into our apartment by myself. This was disappointing to say the least. I totally get that not everyone shares my love of this stuff but I would think, and I hope for in the future, that my partner would suck it up and do this with me for one reason and one reason only, because it would make me happy. But he never got that.

Just 2 days after Thanksgiving, I went to the tree lot with my mom to browse the selection and when I did, I noticed something kinda funny. I kept getting this grin on my face thinking that for the first time in years I was looking for my tree with a very different sense around me. I wasn't going to be buying it by myself and hauling it into an apartment I shared with someone else who really didn’t care, since I'm sure he would have preferred that we had no tree. I wasn’t going to decorate it alone while hoping that this someone else would join me, which he never did. No, I was doing it for myself and that made it so much better. Why? Well there would be no disappointments, and that’s sort of a big deal. I was doing it for me, and this made me smile. Big.

So the following day, we went back and picked out a perfectly-shaped, tall, narrow tree about 6 feet tall (the biggest one I’ve ever bought) and brought it home together. We decorated it with a few of my old ornaments and a collection of new ones (thank you, Ikea, for putting out such a rocking selection this year) and it’s really beautiful.

Now, I am one of “those people” and while that feels pretty great, I still have some residual worry about all this holiday business, so I’m currently thinking about the next thing I can do to keep me focusing on why I love this time of year.

So Dear Followers, if you are perhaps about to embark on the holidays as a newly single person, or as someone who maybe has had a rough year, what are some of the positive things going on right now that you can focus on? I’d love to know.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Breakups vs. The Holidays

The holidays are approaching and this leaves with some mixed feelings. You see, my breakup began shortly after New Years and although we were still together during the actual holidays, they were still tinged with crap.

Because of this, I’ve been thinking about what to expect this year when Christmas gets closer and I wondered just how much the memories of the breakup might affect the holidays for me. I mean, I was warned that my first holidays without my ex would be wracked with nostalgic emotional bullshit, but at first I found this hard to believe.

My ex hated the holidays, much less his birthday, and I on the other hand loved them. I've always spent the entire month of December happily decorating our home, usually by myself for the last few years with very little help. (Besides, of course, the year my bestie and I lived together and our home was a happy collaboration of Christmas-meets-Hanukkah holiday funness.) So I figured that when the holidays came around this year, I would almost look forward to freely reveling in full Christmas ridiculousness with no one around to scoff at me as I happily spent weeks decorating a tree far too big for my apartment. It never seemed like it would be particularly rough for me.

But then something happened, I got my first glimpse of the holiday bullshit I was warned about, but it was sneaky; no one warned me about the birthdays. His birthday snuck up on me and involuntarily sucked me into remembering all the birthdays we had together; full force nostalgia grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

So why did this happen? I guess it’s obvious. It's that damned nostalgia.

Nostalgia describes a longing for the past, often in an idealized form. The holidays (and birthdays too) are a perfect setup for this. It’s on those days of the year that you do especially sweet things for each other and it's easy to remember the happier times and see your relationship in its most ideal, happy glowy, form.

But there is also a flip-side to the holidays. They’re stressful too and I think they can be excellent tests of a couple's partnership; how you handle the stress is good fodder for why or why not you work as a team. And in my case, I have to remind myself of all the various not-so-nice things from those holidays too and the ways in which we were truly not ideal, or a team for that matter.

So now the Christmas decorations are up all over town and it does leave me with a little anxiety. After all, it’s my first Christmas without him. But I went ahead and bought myself an awesome tree and fully enjoyed decorating it with hearts and bubble lights and tinsel; and when I felt a little nostalgic while doing so, I managed to stop and look around my home and suddenly feel so proud and relieved about how much has changed in just short of a year. And while I'd like to say that any nostalgic memories that feel like creeping in can go right ahead and suck it, I'll really say that I'm well aware that this time might be difficult, but I also know that where I am now vs. where I was a year ago is a happy improvement. And that's what’s really worth celebrating.

So Dear Followers of my humble blog, how are you feeling about the holidays coming up? Optimistic? Anxious? I'd love to know because I know I'm not alone. And by the way, the blogger over at the The Rules of Breakup has her own holiday story to tell too.

Photo by by GcD^3 pictures

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hitting a wall (9 months later)

There’s this thing that happens in endurance sports, like running a marathon, when someone's been exerting themselves for a long time, their energy reserves start to deplete and all of a sudden they feel like they can’t go any further, too tired to move, they stop dead in their tracks; it’s called “hitting a wall.”

Well I’ve been running for 9 months now, I'm exhausted, and just ran face first into a wall – never saw it coming.

Making it through a breakup and coming out on the other side a better person takes work. A lot of work. You have to put yourself through quite a bit of self-reflection and analysis. Maybe not everyone does this, but I needed to. I've had to think about what I need to be happy and not just why my relationship didn't work, but what parts both he and I played in not making it work. It takes two to do the crazy tango, you know?

And this takes effort. And recently, I just got so tired of it.

Somewhere around the 9 month mark I started to break down and for a few days I seemed to be right back at Day 1. I really felt like I hit a wall; I stopped dead in my tracks and all thoughts of happily moving on and going forward with my life came to a halt. All I wanted to do was stop, drive to his house, pound on the door and say, “Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you?!” and then hear him say, “I’m sorry, I’ll change, I’ll make this work.” This whole wacky breakup thing seemed like one big, fleeting mistake.

Um, yeah. Insane, right?

But a phone call with my mom got me thinking. We talked for a while and she made me laugh, and then she said something really poignant, she said, "The thing that gets me is that he still has the power to upset you."

So I thought about that. How does he still have the power to upset me? That doesn't seem right at all. And then I remembered that (a) it's over and (b) he can't upset me anymore because he, in fact, is not around to do so. The only reason I was upset was because I allowed my thoughts of him to upset me. That's kind of ridiculous when you think about it. I don't need that shit. No thanks.

So maybe that's just how you deal with "hitting the wall." You sit down and rest for a minute and think about what is actually getting you down and if you need to, give yourself a break to feel sad for a minute. But don't feel sad for too long, pick yourself back up, remind yourself (however you can) why your relationship didn't work and keep moving on.

Because "hitting a wall" is just a temporary setback. It happens when you work really hard and, for whatever reason, you're just exhausted and maybe vulnerable to unpleasant thoughts. And on those days, I'm doing things that make me happy and keep me moving. I'm remembering all the reasons we are not together and talking about it. Because ultimately, it will pass; and when it does, I'll get up and I'll keeping moving forward with my life just as I've successfully done for a whole 9 months now.

So Dear Readers of my humble blog, have you hit the wall? If so, how did you get through it? I'd love to know because I know I'm not alone.

Photo by *Evelina*

Friday, October 30, 2009

Remembering it now.

Scrambels posing with my Field Notes.

"I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now." -- Field Notes

One of the things I learned at the start of this breakup was that my love of list-making and data-keeping was going to somehow help me sort all this shit out. And guess what? It did.

There is something so comforting about a well organized list. It's clear, its solid, its tangible. Your tasks, goals, or groceries are all lined up in such an authoritative way. You can't mess with a good list. It speaks the truth.

Remember when I went to San Diego to see my best friend a few days after the breakup? (See: My Magical Best Friend). For the first time ever I sat face-to-face with her and told her what had really been going on in my relationship. I hadn't been open about it for a long time. When I was talking to her, I started to notice how wonderful it felt to say it all out loud, to be honest about it, and I knew I had to start writing it down because I didn't want to forget. You see, I used to do this thing where I would disregard our problems because we couldn't face them and basically "forget" them. Healthy, huh? So when I was sitting in the airport, waiting to go back home after the visit, I pulled out the hot pink notebook I bought right before my trip and I started to write a list of all the things I told her.


-- selfishness

That was the first thing I wrote and then I kept going and the list got longer, more detailed and descriptive. Next, I started a timeline. I wrote down every year we were together and alongside each year I listed the big things that happened to us, both good and bad. And when I was done, I had this picture of our life together. What I discovered was that a lot of the years, I mean whole years, were rough. I always knew we had gone through a lot together, but to see it all on paper, in list form, gave me a really clear sense of how I honestly spent nearly a decade of my life. I could see that I belived I was in it for the long haul. You don't go through the ups and downs we did and not think you're in it for the long haul. We were committed, this is certain. But why? And if we were so committed, how did we fail?

To help me answer that question, I kept writing the lists, hoping they would lead me to some miraculous enlightened conclusion. Then the lists turned into essays and the essays turned into this blog. And all this list-making, data-keeping, blogging, and analysis has shown me something.

No matter what, we were all wrong for each other.

And now I carry that hot pink, little notebook in my purse and whenever I feel warm feelings for him, I re-read it. It reminds me of all the things I used to forget. It shows me how wrong we are for each other and that really helps me. It's helping me to move on and someday (hopefully someday soon) its going to help me to let go.

So Dear Followers of my humble blog, I encourage you to start making lists of your own, if you haven't already. I recommend buying Field Notes because they're great. (See: Grass Stain Green). If I had a fresh Field Notes notebook in my purse that day in the airport, I would have happily used it, but I didn't. So when you do start your data-keeping and list-making, order yourself a 3-pack of Field Notes. As the company states, "I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now." Now how fitting is that?


Field Notes
INSPIRED BY the vanishing subgenre of agricultural memo books, ornate pocket ledgers and the simple, unassuming beauty of a well-crafted grocery list, the Draplin Design Company, Portland, Oregon in conjunction with Coudal Partners of Chicago, Illinois bring you “FIELD NOTES” in hopes of offering, “An honest memo book, worth fillin’ up with GOOD INFORMATION.”

Photo by jonrbeck

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Breakup to Makeup

In the initial weeks and months of this break-up I had no choice but to focus solely on myself, and when I did, I started to notice something pretty unsettling for the first the time. I was unraveling.

Unraveling is kind of a nice way to put it. Let's face it, I was a mess.

I was haggard and exhausted and sad -- and I sure looked it, my friends. My hair looked awful. I think I gained 15 pounds from the stress of the last year leading up to the break-up. And my skin was a mess.

So one day after I moved into my parents house, I was talking to my mom about the breakup (shocker!) and I looked up at her and realized that her makeup looked really great and through my sobs I asked her what she used. Turns out she uses Bare Minerals makeup. She told me it was like a series of mineral powders you apply with brushes. I was intrigued, so we immediately went up to her bathroom and she applied the makeup on me. When she was done, I looked in the mirror and I didn't see a pale, emotionally drained mess looking back at me. No, I looked glowy and warm and healthy. And this really made me feel better. After that, I had full access to my mom's arsenal of beauty products. She may not like to shop for clothes, but the woman loves her products. This kick-started my current obsession with hair and makeup. I love it.

When you feel like shit and you've been pissed off or hurt, you can always curl your hair, put on your makeup, and feel good about yourself, and at least to the rest of the world, you don't look like someone who feels like shit.

Here are a few of my favorite hair, makeup and beauty product sites. I encourage you to find some awesome new products, go to Sephora, buy them, and enjoy yourself.

Makeup and Beauty Blog (my favorite beauty blog)

So Dear Followers of my humble blog, what new things did you learn to do to make yourself feel better after your break up?

P.S. For more posts on my current beauty obsessions, read these:

Ladies, One Word of Advice: Lipstick

My Obsession.... My Hair

Oh, and Cover Girl Lash Blast is some good stuff. Go get it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Apparently, I'm air dried.

My BFF says:
do you see yourself like dating this new guy fer realz?

I say:
i dont know
im so not ready

My BFF says:

I say:
im really still pretty fragile here
i need it to be casual

My BFF says:
you're air dried

I say:

My BFF says:
you know in ceramics when your pot is air dried
it seems hard but its not fired yet

I say:
oh, right

My BFF says:
it's greenware

I say:
so i'm like a fragile, air dried pot
i like that

My BFF says:
one day you'll be ready to be fired

To learn more of my BFF's infinite wisedom, read this: My Magical Best Friend

Photo by snapify

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The future me meets the future you.

At times I try to picture myself in a new relationship. And I have to say, it’s downright terrifying.

Not because I’m scared of what kind of freak show I might find, not because I’m scared of NOT meeting said freak show. No, I’m scared of the little things, like watching TV with someone, going out to dinner, going out for a double date with another couple. This strikes fear in me like you wouldn’t believe.

I guess it’s so scary because I know I don’t want to re-do what I already did with my ex. I don’t want to do anything the same way, approach anything in the same manner. But how can this be accomplished?

Dates are dates, I guess. Dinner, drinks, movie. I don’t expect to reinvent anything here. But I guess I’m very afraid that a new relationship will be just like my old one.

Let me paint a picture for you, yet again, it’s not pretty:

I don’t want to sit in a restaurant and have a conversation that in any way resembles what dinner with my ex used to be like. I don’t want to re-live any of the long one-sided conversations about him, him, him. No, no, no. And for that matter, I don’t want to re-live any of the parties where I was constantly ignored while he schmoozed, shit like that. And on that note, I don’t want any of the domestic stuff either; like cooking for someone, cleaning up after someone, doing someone’s laundry, folding their clothes, putting them away, etc. Yeah, I’m out of the housekeeper business, folks. I’m also out of the “I’ll listen to you talk about yourself for hours on end” business too.

I was so stuck in a rut doing the same things over and over again -- becoming more and more lost. That’s why dating, or being in a relationship for that matter, is so scary.

So, how do I date again and not re-live all these things?

Well, I’ve thought about this a lot and in fact, I’ve had some practice. I guess you could say that I’m dating now. How weird is that? It’s like I’ve activated some switch on my body from “In a Committed Relationship” to some bright, blinking red button that reads, “Dating! Dating! WTF?!”

It’s weird and scary and I don’t totally feel ready for it. But it’s happening, and I’m glad, because I have to figure out how to move on somehow and see what being single is all about. I haven’t been single since I was 19 so this is kind of a big deal.

My first endeavors in current singledom have taught me a few things. I’ve remembered that I’m actually really interesting when I’m with someone who wants to know everything about me and who wants to hear me talk about me for a change. What a novelty. And it turns out, I’m really quite fun to be with. I’m smart. I’m funny. I’m charming. I forgot about that!

At times I feel pretty confident that I’m not going to re-live the past. But what about the great parts of the past; the inside jokes, the sweet moments, the friendship and the love that I had with my ex? Will I re-live all that again? No, of course not. What we had was special and unique. But I’m starting to feel as if I may once again have something special and entirely unique with someone else. But only when I’m truly ready. And that’s not so terrifying anymore.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Allowing an end

Photo by Adam Graham

Just when I think I've made up my mind about this whole thing, something takes over and everything changes. My feelings flip through anger, freedom, calm, nostalgia, happiness, hate and love. It’s like emotional A.D.D. It's really quite frustrating. Can't I just land on one feeling and stick with it? At least for a day? OK fine, at least for a few hours?

I was explaining this to someone one day and they said to me, "Grieving a loss is like peeling an onion."

Now at first this sounds like the sentimental bullshit people toss around like, "Time heals all wounds" and "The heart was made to be broken." But when my mind drifted to images of peeling away shiny white onion skins and tossing away layer after layer -- it started to resonate with me and I wondered, is that what grief is? Peeling away layers?

Well the next day, something really strange happened in Pilate's class. As we methodically moved and breathed and balanced, my teacher kept repeating that we were allowing a space within ourselves to be at peace and to allow calm and quiet.

I thought about that word.... allow.

This struck a nerve and I suddenly felt this overwhelming wave of emotion come over me just thinking about that word ... allow -- and I wondered about all the things I've simply allowed to happen to me; all the pain and the hurt and the emotional turmoil that I've tied to this break-up -- and as I was lying on the mat, my face was straining to fight all these thoughts, and I guess the teacher must have sensed it because at that moment she placed her hands on my legs and tugged me forward in the pose almost as if she was grounding me, softly placing me backing into reality and out of my own head. I was so grateful for that moment because I became startlingly aware of the present and all of a sudden my mind drifted back to the onion.

Think about it, when you peel an onion eventually if you peel enough of the layers away, you get to the end and you find yourself holding that last thin layer. And then its over. The onion's gone. Once I saw it this way, my mind settled. I accepted what was happening – the frantic cycling of emotions - and I felt calm. Because I know there's got to be an end to this onion, you know?

So if I need to be happy one day and super pissed off the next. Well, that's OK. This onion's gonna end someday, but only when I've allowed myself to peel away that last layer.

Photo by DavidDMuir

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wise Words (Part 2)

My BFF says:
he doesn't know shit about what you're going through

I say:
i know

My BFF says:
OUTER SPACE that kid

I say:

My BFF says:
you're cool
and fun
and nice
and he's a fuck head

I say:
i love you

My BFF says:
i love you too

I say:
this is going on the blog

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reality: not so overrated after all.

In my post, Stockholm Syndrome, I explained how I ignored the things that didn't work in my relationship for a long time. And once I broke the spell of the “syndrome” I had a job to do; I had to face the reality I spent all my energy pushing away. Let me tell you my friends, that was a hard look.

Let me explain.

When the breakup started, I did the only thing I felt like I had any control over; I proceed to pack and gather my belongings from the home we shared and I did this in such a state of panic that I would often collapse wherever I happen to be standing at that moment, as if someone had punched me in the stomach, my legs too weak to hold me up. I'd fall into a heap on the floor, sobbing, and eventually, after I’d worked myself up into a suitable hysterical frenzy and then tire myself out, I'd get up and continue packing away my life. I was in a constant state of fear. Why? Because I was afraid of the unknown and I had no idea what was going to happen to me or even who I was anymore. And when you’re faced with the unknown, you tend to make shit up. And when you’re that scared, it’s not positive shit either.

During the process of leaving, I imagined the following, albeit highly melodramatic, events would unfold. Be forewarned, it's not pretty.

(a) I would soon go insane and unable to care for myself, be committed to the psych ward of a local hospital for an indeterminate length of time. Picturing it clearly, I imagined my parents coming to visit me, viewing me from behind a protective sheet of shatterproof glass, watching me with sad and pained expressions thinking, “But she’s such a bright girl. Why doesn't she snap herself out of this?” (b) As a result of “a” I would need to be heavily sedated/medicated to combat the impending madness I was sure was going to consume my life. (c) Upon my eventual release from said psych ward, I would move into an apartment by myself and it was sure to be the tinniest, dirtiest, darkest and most depressing hovel known to man.

Can you see why I evaded reality for as long as I did? I mean, fuck, I could put up with ANYTHING so long as I didn’t have to endure what was sure to become of me if I didn’t.

So what actually did happen to me?

Well, I had to examine what I had just been through and I was very, sometimes painfully, angry. For a while, I couldn’t sleep. I thought about all the things that I tolerated for so long and who I really was in the relationship, and I talked about it... a lot. I was honest with the closest people in my life for the first time, telling them what my relationship was and what it wasn't. I was totally honest about all of it and that's how I faced reality; by being honest. And for the first time my eyes focused on what I tolerated and the person I’d been for so long in the relationship and I wondered, "Who the fuck was that?!"

After that, I never again felt the hysteria I felt when I was packing my things. I didn’t need to be medicated or live behind a protective sheet of shatterproof glass. I moved into my own apartment and it’s certainly not a hovel; it just happens to be the brightest and warmest home I could ever imagine having. I’ve made new friends in the past two months that are more caring, kind and supportive than the ones that were in my life for the last nine years. Now that's really saying something.

Sometimes, I think, for the first time in a very long time I can see more clearly who I really am. My future isn't the "great bleak unknown" anymore. My ability to ignore reality feels like some distant memory and my tolerance for bullshit has all but disappeared. I'm standing outside of the relationship, the break-up, and who I used to be. Outside of my old reality, I'm coming into focus again. It's really pretty amazing to witness.

So Dear Followers of my humble blog, if you too have left (or are leaving) a relationship that didn't work out, how do you perceive who you were compared to who you are today? And what about your reality? What was it like to face it? I'd love to know, because I know I'm not alone.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Apologies and Ice Cream

Dear Followers,

Sorry for abruptly taking down my latest post, "Stockholm Syndrome," and then reposting it again many days later. It needed some work and I ended up breaking it up into 2 separate posts. I think it makes more sense now. So please check back and re-read the newly posted one. Let me know what you think. The next part is coming soon.

For your patience, I present you with a little something sweet.

Le Bonheur

image by lolita

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Stockholm Syndrome

When you’re in the shit, you can’t really see straight. I mean, who can blame you? You’re in shit.

Let me explain.

I began revealing more and more about my relationship to my bestie one day, telling her some of the crazy shit I went through in the years with my ex. I told her about the things that now, for the life of me, I can’t believe that I tolerated. I was telling her all this and she kept asking me, “But why?! Didn’t you know that those things were not okay? How did you put up with it? What did you tell yourself?” I kept saying, “I don’t know, I just did… I don’t know why… I loved him, I guess, I just --” She stopped me short, her eyes got wide and wild, and she started to laugh. She yelled out, “YOU WERE IN THE SHIT!”

There’s this scene in Rushmore.

Max Fischer: So you were in Vietnam, if I'm not mistaken?
Herman Blume: Yeah
Max Fischer: Were you in the shit?
Herman Blume: Yeah, I was in the shit.
Remembering this scene, we both started laughing uncontrollably. The only way to explain why I convinced myself that everything was okay when it most certainly was not, was that... well… I was in the shit. So now when I say something like, “I can’t believe it, I thought he was my partner.” OR, “Why did I think I could live that way?!” My bestie responds, stone cold, “You were in the shit, my friend.”

And this is the truth. I was immersed in the relationship. I was in it, fully. Fueled by love and hope, I believed things were okay when they weren't and ignored so much of what was wrong.

When I think about it. It makes me think of one thing, Stockholm Syndrome. Remember millionaire heiress Patty Hearst, great-granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst? She was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 70s. Originally intended to be held for ransom, she wound up identifying with her captors, joining their army, and found herself robbing a bank while wielding a semi-automatic firearm.

When a kidnap victim identifies with their captor it's called Stockholm Syndrome. One way to explain the phenomenon is to pin it on cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance explains how and why someone can change their ideas and opinions to support a situation that does not appear to be healthy, positive, or safe. When you’re in a situation that you know, deep down, is bad for you, you sometimes don’t want to admit it. Instead, you attempt do anything just so you can to live with it, you turn a blind eye.

Now, I'm not saying my ex was a member of a radical guerrilla army or anything. And he certainly was not abusive in any way. And I do realize that this theory of cognitive dissonance is a way to explain why women stay in abusive relationships and that’s a very serious issue. I’m only using this theory to try and help me understand how I stayed in a relationship that didn’t work for me for as long as I did.

So why did I stay?

What happens when you invest all your time and love into someone? When you love them and only want to see the best in them -- breaking up doesn’t seem like an option. So you ignore the bad and eventually convince yourself that it’s okay to stay. You tolerate things that you would never have tolerated before. And you stay and get further and further immersed in the shit, so much so that you can’t see what’s going on.

When Patty Hearst was on trail, her defense was Stockholm Syndrome – she was only under the spell of the liberation army for 2 months. So what the fuck happens to you when you're with someone for NINE years?

What happens between falling in love and breaking up? Is it Stockholm Syndrome?

Here's how it happened to me...

When I fell in love, I couldn't believe my luck. I didn't think I would ever find someone who seemed so perfect for me. That was what made it so difficult when things started to take a turn. I couldn’t face it. There was no way this man I loved could be wrong for me. And those feelings of love and luck mixed in with holding on to what a truly sweet, loving, and caring person he was (right until the end) helped me maintain the illusion that everything was alright even through the toughest times.

There were times when I would think to myself: It's okay that he doesn’t appear to give a fuck that after four long years of hard work I finally earned my BFA and working full-time while doing it. It’s okay that he dismisses my emotions with a smile and a --"Shhh… you’re not really angry. You’re fine." It's okay that every conversation about our future was stopped short with a --"Don’t worry, it’ll all work out somehow." --and a pat on the head. Yes, all of this was fine, perfectly normal stuff.

But it wasn’t all fine, perfectly normal stuff. The truth was that we were wrong for each other and it was getting harder and harder to dismiss that. Despite the love that was between us, something wasn’t right. Something snapped in me and a cloudy, fuzzy feeling started to seep in -- it was getting harder to ignore myself and my instinct, the voice inside me that said, “You don’t have to put up with this, you deserve more.” And when that voice got so loud I couldn’t drown it out, I began thinking of the worst possible thing that could happen; the end game, the break up. And I have to say here and now, that the fear that came after I said, out loud, that I thought it was over, and right before actually leaving, was much harder than what followed. Snapping myself out of this Stockholm Syndrome was the hardest thing I ever did, but it was crucial. Because when you get untangled and get out, something happens -- you can see again.

I was in the shit.

And now I’m not.

So Dear Followers of my humble blog, what was your Stockholm Syndrome? What did you think was totally normal when you were with your significant other that after you left you thought to yourself, “How the fuck did I let that happen?” I'd love to know because I know I'm not alone.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Uh oh, here come the meat dreams.

About 8 years ago I made the choice to be vegan, and shortly afterwards my best friend joined me. We were vegan together, and if you know us, you know that we tend to do many things in tandem. Partners in crime, if you will.

Based on the other’s glowing recommendations, we’ve been known to buy everything from the same purse, glasses, cat food, hair products, lipstick, and even underwear. The other’s opinion is something we each prize even more highly than our own. We know it’s a little sick; its okay, we’re self-aware. So it’s no surprise that we would make this huge lifestyle change together; with very little warning, jumping in head first and fully trusting that we would do this thing together -- as partners.

So shortly after we became vegan, I had these intensely vivid dreams where I would walk into a room and find my best friend eating a steak or a chicken, and she would look up at me and say in-between meaty bites, in defiance, “What?! I eat meat now.” And I would be horrified, and I guess now that I think about it, these dreams were about my fear of being betrayed by someone I loved and who was my partner in something huge.

So it comes as no surprise to me that over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve had dreams about my ex mixed in with images of my bestie eating meat. It’s weird and undoubtedly kinda creepy, but not a total surprise.

I realize now that I feel betrayed by him.

I had dreams that he and I lived together again, but still broken up; living is some dirty old apartment. I dreamed we were fighting in the backseat of our friend’s car as they drove. I dreamt I was trying to talk to him but he was dazed, falling down a lot, falling onto me, not really able to speak. Then I dreamt his face kept shifting. In all the dreams, there was one common theme… I was like insanely angry. And then once in a while my bestie would pop into the picture eating a ham or something. One thing is for sure, this means that (a) I feel betrayed by him, and (b) as a result of “a,” I’m angry all over again.

I thought I was done being angry, but I’m not. I’ve been feeling a seething hatred for him very much like how I felt 2 months into this and would wake up in the middle of the night with clenched fists after dreams of smashing him in the head with various household objects. I’m angry again and I want to scream at him, jab forks into his face, etc. You know the drill.

I wrote a post about blame (see: Blame?) two months ago. At that time, I wondered who was really to blame; me or him? I had this feeling that we were both to blame. In the post, I explained that I didn’t push hard enough to get him to understand what I was going through, and alternately, he wasn’t really capable of dealing with my feelings. So in a way, we were both to blame. But I don’t think that’s fair anymore. Because I did push; I did for a long time and then, after being very unsuccessful, I gave up. I tried to get him to see me, to understand me, to see how his carelessness affected me; and he was incapable of certain things, yes, but he refused to get help, go to therapy, and improve himself and how he related to others. And for that, he is to blame.

And that’s what feels like betrayal to me now.

I tend to be understanding to a fault. I try not to judge others. If someone said, “So have you ever tried bashing a baby seals’ head in with a club? It’s really fun.” I would think, “Hmm. That’s odd ....” Seriously, do your thing, even if it’s not necessarily my thing. I’m sure you’ve got your reasons.

This attitude came to bite me in the ass in the end. I watched as my ex was barely civil to my best friend, barely engaged in conversations with my family, barely engaged in conversations with people who weren't stroking his ego, barely participated in holidays because he hated them, barely acknowledged my graduation day… you get the picture. I watched all this and did nothing because I thought that he had his reasons, I didn’t want to judge him. I thought that’s just the way he was. And I thought that I accepted him completely.

Well fuck that. It’s inconsiderate and above all, it’s bullshit. Because no matter what your reasons, you suck it up because your girlfriend loves you and would do anything for you. She's your partner and you're hers.

But he wasn’t my partner.

Because no matter what I did or how much I gave, tried to understand him, didn’t judge him -- no matter what, he didn’t work as hard as I did. I worked on us and on myself because I thought that’s what you did in a partnered relationship. And did he? No.

Much like my best friend and I dove into veganism together as partners, navigating through vegan cookbooks from the 70’s and sprouting mung beans under our sink, my ex and I dove into our relationship together -- I thought -- as partners too. But where I was navigating how to have a better relationship with his mom, support him in his career choices, deal with the late hours, organize our home, and fit into his life -- he was doing what? Well, nothing of the sort. He wasn’t involved with my life like I was involved in his. He wasn’t really my partner.

And I’m slowly beginning to realize that this is how he betrayed me.

….oh, and he would never have sprouted mung beans with me under our sink either.

photo by richard.heeks

Friday, August 28, 2009

Le Bonhuer

Okay, so here is an explanation of my alias.

I use an alias because I don't want my ex to read this thing, or at least not yet. Therefore, I don't post my real name or his or anyone elses. As a result of which, I created an alias that is a combination of the following:
  1. le bonhuer means "the happiness" in French -- a concept I am currently invested in fully.
  2. bonhuer sounds an awful lot like my last name.
  3. My last name sounds like an awful lot like "boner."
  4. I find the word "boner" very amusing and use it as an expletive, a descriptive word, etc. very often in my daily life.
If you know me, you get it and you think its funny.

If you don't know me, at least you kinda get it now and maybe find it amusing.

P.S. There is french movie named "Le Bonheur" -- no relation but you can watch the trailer here, its kinda creepy. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

6 Months. Half a Year?

It’s been 6 months now. 6 months, that’s half a year. Half a year is nearly One Whole Year. So it’s kinda like a whole year has passed, right?

But I tend to skip ahead.

I do this often; skipping ahead. When I’m reading a magazine, I never start at the beginning. I flip to the end and scan backwards. At the last page of a chapter, I scan my eyes to last few sentences -- I can’t help it. When I was 29, I often told people I was 30. When it’s just the first few days of Fall, I skip ahead to February in my mind, anticipating snow to roll around in maybe a month, maybe less. I don’t know why I do this, it’s not that I dread the passing of time, maybe it’s the opposite.

So when 6 months started approaching, I began skipping ahead, thinking that a year passed. But it hasn’t been a year; just half of one.

Six months and no communication, well, at least by phone. We’ve emailed only occasionally, no calls, no visits. I think this has been the best thing for me. Not communicating has sometimes been heart-wrenchingly painful, other times it’s like living in peaceful oblivion. But it’s consistently done one thing; given me no choice but to focus only on how I’m feeling.

I will admit that there are moments when I obsess over what he’s thinking and feeling, but eventually I have to stop because I have no evidence of either thing. All I’m doing is making things up in my mind. And who can live that way? And I’ve got to thank my bestie here, without her saying to me, “You can’t live like that!”, I wouldn’t have realized that I better stop making up fantasies about him sitting on top of a pile of cash, wearing dollar sign glasses (a la Riche Riche style) record deal in one hand, skinny bitch in the other, all the while thinking, “Thank god I'm not with her anymore!”

Yeah, you can’t live that way.

So instead, I focus on myself. I moved into an adorable apartment in a cute neighborhood which more and more feels like home. I’ve got some really wonderful new neighbors, made new friends, reconnected with old friends, pushed myself to do things I would never have otherwise done, and generally relearned how to live my life with only one person in mind, me. I’m making plans for my future and I’m finding that what I need out of a friendship, a boyfriend, a job, and a life – is slowly coming into focus.

And now I'm skipping ahead again and anticipating the person I'll be when a year has past. I can picture myself even more settled, more secure. So much so that it makes me want to wait an entire year before seeing him in person. Maybe then, when I’ve become this more settled and secure self, there won’t be any chance that my resolve will break down.

Because I fear that it might.

Because no matter how confident I may feel, how much I may skip ahead, it’s really only been 6 months, not a year, not 2 years, just a matter of months; a drop in the bucket of our 9 years together.

So it's no wonder I anticipate the One Year Mark, no wonder I want to jump ahead. I want to skip to being totally confident, with no doubts, and breeze past all my "bad days," all the bad dreams, and all the times I wonder where he is. Because the feelings are still there -- all the years, all the good, all the bad -- lying under the surface, shakily waiting in the background for something to crack.

But maybe a year from now, when I’ve lived through all this, I won't crack.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What happens when you purge your long-term boyfriend. -- by Mia Timpano.

I posted a link to this article a while back, but I'm not sure if enough people clicked the link and read it. I think it's wonderful and therefore am now forcing you all to read it.

What happens when you purge your long-term boyfriend.
By Mia Timpano. (column: Frankie #16 Apr/May 2007)

T-Bone and I broke up. Now all I have is crap in a box.

Actually, no, scratch that. That’s not all I have. I now have a world of morons dribbling their greeting card wisdom all over me. “Don’t worry! The right guy is out there for you, somewhere!” Somewhere? Wow. What a prediction. No, seriously, barf me another cliché — barf me a river — because that is exactly what I want to hear.

The sweet world of love in which I once laughed and frolicked has been blown up and pissed on all at once, and now I have to listen to shit you’ve read on bumper stickers.

A long-term relationship is not Chernobyl, inasmuch as it goes boom. A long-term relationship is that fake gelatine hand people buy from that store, World of Crap or whatever, inasmuch as you can hurl it against a wall, it sticks for a period, but inevitably gathers crud. And though the hand is clearly rancid, it requires six months (minimum) for you to say, “Uh, why do I own a novelty gelatine hand? Why is this shit in my house?” and finally purge it.

Then, once effectively dislodged from the existing relationship, three distinct phases follow:

1. Crying over assorted bullshit.

2. Seducing a man you wouldn’t otherwise spew on.
Though some people manage to bypass this phase, most don’t. The emotional storm of shit is such that you crave the intimacy you suddenly lack and your perception of others is grossly distorted.

I, myself, bounded keenly into the arms of Benedict O’Fey (not his real name), my university lecturer. Clearly blinded by both my tears over T-Bone and the sun that Benedict had me believe was radiating out of his arse, I found myself unable to recognise certain obvious problems, e.g. the fact that Benedict annoyed me, the fact that he dressed like a Medieval retard, the fact that he was pretentious — even his dreams were pretentious (he claimed that he dreamed in black and white) — and the fact that he worshipped me spasmodically, as opposed to loving me sincerely (there is a difference). That, and the fact that he was borderline gross.

After months of to-ing and fro-ing and finally groping, I experienced a moment of total clarity; while locked in Benedict’s sweaty embrace, I ran my hand under his shirt in an effort to reach and hold the back of his neck, but found myself unable drive my fist through the valley of fat that surrounded it. My hand came to rest on a freak bulge of fat that was nestled between Benedict’s armpit and gut. And as I held it, and he held me, I realised, “Uh, why I am holding this man’s lump of fat?” and finally purged him.

3. Realising who you are and that you never actually needed a boyfriend in the first place.
I came to understand that, in many ways, T-Bone was to me now what my doll Tubby was to me as a child. I loved Tubby sincerely, so much so that when I failed to pack Tubby when travelling interstate, my bitching did not end. Ultimately, my parents had the doll couriered. My loss was real, yes, but I do not cling to Tubby now. And so, with a similar passage of time, I will move on from T-Bone.

And, certainly, I like to believe that I have already. But then, when I think of T-Bone, dressed as a pretzel (T-Bone works at a Pretzel World franchise, where he dresses as a giant pretzel, handing samples to lard arses), I feel the goo of my heart, much as I did the day I met him, in the studio audience of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? , much as I did the day he told me, “You’re achingly beautiful,” and kissed me, much as I did every night we sat in bed watching Star Trek TNG . Because I miss him. Because the last time I saw him, “as friends” or whatever, he broke off mid-sentence, looked away and said, “I’m still madly in love with you.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How filling out a Customs Declaration Form can break your heart.

Last summer, about 6 months before we broke up, we took a vacation with a fellow couple to Costa Rica. This trip was about 2 years in the planning. One would never assume that a trip that took almost 2 years to plan would proceed to break your will to live.

Let’s just say, it had its ups and downs. Some of the “ups” were: hanging out with sweet little monkeys, eating a lot of pineapple, drinking a lot of rum, and seeing some of the most beautiful sites. And as for the “downs”, well…. that includes a series of nightmarish events and a lot of breathy whisperings of, “I’m scared…” while walking through the pitch-black Costa Rican rain forest in the pouring rain while listening to monkeys howling in the distance.

But we survived, and eventually boarded a plane for home while sleep deprived, tanned, burned, peeling, haggard, hungry and hung over. Despite all that, the trip had awakened in me an appreciation for him. He was strong, supportive, took control, and took care of me. Amongst the chaos of the trip, I felt reconnected to him. Finally seated on the plane back, we settled into our seats and happily anticipated returning to our apartment. Many of our problems seemed to fade away on this trip and I started to feel like maybe we had a chance after all. I saw the person I loved; I saw him as strong and helpful, care taking and kind.

Then came a small piece of paper hell bent on destroying my little fantasy -- the “U.S. Customs and Border Protection Declaration Form.” As the steward passed out the forms he stopped in front of a happy, young couple seated in front of us. He advised them to fill out one form per family. He smiled at the couple, asking them if they were married, the couple laughed back something along the lines of, “Not yet!” And the steward smiled back at them. Then he turned to us and asked if we needed one or two forms. One each, please.

This sinister little form asked me to fill in my Family Name and the number of family members traveling with me. As I began filling out my form, I started to picture an alternate reality, one where we were nonchalantly filling in just one form for our happy little family of 2. And at that moment, I pictured us as a family and felt a small beam of happiness and hope that someday we would be. And I turned to him, touching his arm with a loving smile and said, “I wish we were a family.” And he glanced over to me, sideways, and said “Um hmm.”

Yeah. He said, “Um hmm.”

I sunk into my chair and we silently filled out our separate forms.

At that time, just 6 months before we broke up, I still had thoughts about getting married. And had he asked me, I guess I would have said yes. But I wonder if we would have ever gotten to the actual marriage part. I can see myself, with a ring on my hand, and how it would have played out. Elated at first, maybe for a few months, but eventually we would settle back into normal, all our problems would flood back in, and the logistics of our future married life would become clearer. I would see that a ring wouldn’t fix what was broken between us.

The more time passes and the more I change, the more I see that no matter how much we may have loved each other, we just weren't right for each other. Apparently, there's a difference. Who knew?

My life is very different now. I felt like I had no control over my life before, I was consumed by the relationship and what we were going to do with our lives, how he felt about us, and what he was thinking. But what about me? My happiness was an afterthought. What I needed from him never entered into my mind -- things such as a true sense of partnership, a deeper friendship, attentiveness, empathy, more encouragement, and an interest in what truly made me happy. What I really needed from my life was cloudy and in the distance. I couldn't figure it out. I knew there was something more that I needed -- a change had to happen, but I just couldn't picture it. To quote my fellow blogger, I perseverated.

And so, there were many little tests like this one on the plane. Many times where I would have my heart broken somehow and then just push it aside, vowing to perseverate -- just do the same thing over and over -- just push my own self further and further away so I wouldn't have to take a good look at what was going on. I just didn't want to face it, we would suck at marriage and if we would suck at marriage then I better leave, but it was too difficult -- until one day, when I guess I was ready, I did.

Thinking about that day on the plane, it makes me wonder how many shaky relationships that tiny form has tested.

So what about you? How was your relationship tested? And where did this test lead you?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sun Spot Cycle

One of the blogs I check-in on almost every day is called "Sun Spot Cycle." The author started this blog when her 11 year relationship ended.

I feel a connection to her. We both started blogs when our long-term relationships ended, I think we are about the same age, we both haven't dated in nearly a decade and have no idea how to do so, and we are both starting our lives over. Her blog focuses on her recovery and I love that. The reason I started my blog was because I wanted to read about someone, like me, recovering from a break-up. So not only did I start one, but I've got one to read too. In fact, she found my blog first somehow and linked to me.

So today I checked in on her blog and found a great post entitled, Summer Thunder. When I read it, I could see myself in my past relationship standing on the edge of a storm too. She had a line, "The signs were there and instead of moving, instead of self-preservation I went for perseveration." This struck me, instead of saving yourself you decide to perseverate, to do the same thing over and over again. I did this too. I did the same things over and over in an effort to stay in my relationship. Once I figured out that I was only harming myself, by repeatedly doing things that only made me feel awful, the spell was broken and I was able to leave.

So read this post, Summer Thunder, and follow her, and celebrate her awesomeness too.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


From the Art and Flair of Mary Blair

This was my first weekend in my new home, all by myself.

Success? Maybe. Insightful? But of course.

I liked it, but every so often my mood would swing from elated joy in my newfound freedom and independence, to a sudden pang of fear that I'm doing everything all by myself, no witnesses. And in those moments I missed him the most.

He was my witness. He knew what I was doing every second of the day. He knew about every appointment, every new piece of clothing, what I ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He knew if I was having a bad day or a good day. He was there for all of it.

Now no one is there to see it. To see me.

So is a significant other a witness to our lives? Without that witness, who are we?

I’m doing all of this for only one person now, me. And I know that’s what I needed the most. To live my life for no one but me, because I believe that for the past year, or 2 years, I lived without myself in mind.

I was consumed with what he was thinking, doing, feeling. I was making choices, sometimes, that only had him in mind, not me. His best interests were somehow far superior to mine. And now I’m living for myself. Making my own choices and doing things that only concern me. And while that sometimes makes me feel incredible, it sometimes makes me sad. I can’t help that.

But I had this feeling one day, as I got out of my car in the parking lot of Target, that feeling you get when your body has been constricted and then all of a sudden you are released, like from a tight hug. You can distinctly feel the sensation of being unconstricted, the memory of the tightness still holds onto your body and you feel nothing holding you, you feel freed. I felt this feeling all of a sudden. Why in the parking lot of Target? I have no idea.


Related Posts with Thumbnails