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


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