photo by Lucas Pezeta
photo by Lucas Pezeta
I was at a bar with my friend Emily* the other night and we were talking about my recent breakup. For the most part I’ve been handling it pretty well, aside from some residual anger and PMS tears, and I think it really took her by surprise.
“One of two things are going to happen. I’m either going to get back together with Ben* and things are going to be different or I’m going to find someone else who is better suited for me,” I told her.
“How are you able to be so at peace with everything?” She wondered. She was mostly asking that question to help her learn how to move forward after her own heartaches.
“Honestly, Abraham Hicks has changed everything for me,” I replied.
I promptly set her up with my favorite Abraham Hicks channel on YouTube so that she could begin listening to some of her lectures. If you don’t know who Abraham Hicks is, she teaches about the law of attraction through, in a VERY simplified explanation, the same ideas as The Secret and the Buddhist religion.
Emily was confused after the first lecture she heard, but I encouraged her to keep listening. This essay is not an advertisement for her teachings and I have nothing to gain from telling other people to seek her out. I just know how miraculous the changes in my emotions and behavior have been since I started listening and making an effort to shift my perspective.
And I started to realize something. Most of the pain and disappointment in my life comes from a place of feeling out of control. Abraham, Buddhists, and probably the authors of “The Secret” (I’ve never read it), know that trying to control everything is the complete antithesis to leading a peaceful and happy life. I’m a control freak by nature and while it can make me a good leader and allow me get a lot of shit done, it also causes me so much anger, sadness, and anxiety if things don’t go how I imagined them to go.
So while I was in peak heartache mode of my relationship as it was crumbling, I was able to realize where all of the despair was coming from. I was feeling a lack of control so strong and I knew the only thing that could make me feel better was to just let go and give up. I’m using the phrase “give up” purposefully because I could’ve stayed in the relationship and let go of control. But I was too far gone. I was spinning so far out of control because of my desperate need to control.
I had to start from scratch and get rid of what was causing me to be so “out of alignment” (that is a phrase that Abraham uses frequently.) And once I let go of that need to control how the relationship was going, I felt such an intense feeling of RELIEF. I felt so much better than I had at any point in the 6 months prior.
And now I know that in the aftermath of what happened, the way to feel really bad about it is to freak out about what’s going to happen in my love life now or despair about the loss. SO many people can’t stand the uncertainty and they jump into something else, or they jump back with the ex, or they sign up for every dating app to make sure they’re desirable again, or they focus on what went wrong and how they should have done things differently. I’ve been there so many times and it’s completely useless.
I have no idea what the future will bring with Ben or with anyone. It’s not my job to know or to force it. It’s only my job to control what I can and should control, which is how I’m feeling. I choose to feel good so I’m only going to focus on what feels good. And that means letting go of the need to fill this gap. Being single again is not at all what I saw for myself and my future with Ben, but I’m making the best of it. All I can do is clean up my vibration. Good things come to those who are vibrating good things.
And after feeling so at peace about that, I started thinking about all the other areas of my life that have caused me to stress out. My career being the main one. A type A person like me can’t STAND not being able to control my own destiny through sheer hard work and determination. I’ve followed the steps and taken all kinds of action and I still am not where I want to be. But I know how much my need for control has been blocking the law of attraction from working its magic. The harder I worked at the success the more frustrated I became and the less I believed it would happen.
Anyone who is in the business of the arts knows that no matter how hard you work, sometimes you never catch that break. Some of the most talented people aren’t working today. But those same talented people might have a disbelief that they deserve success and it blocks them from attracting what they are seeking. Some people are afraid of feeling out of control once they achieve the success. There are many reasons it might not be happening for those people, but it’s absolutely necessary to know you are going to get what you are wanting and not try to control how it gets there and when.
So as that becomes the main focus in my life I’ve started feeling better and better and more encouraged than ever. I don’t need to know how or with whom I’m going to build a life with and I don’t need to know when or in what way I’m going to become successful. It’s all going to happen one way or another.
Let go and let it flow.
My friend had to knock some sense into me the other day about my relationship. I was feeling sad and depressed and very much like a victim in my current circumstances. I had assumed that feeling was coming from the fact that I was scared of losing my boyfriend, since I had just confided in her that I didn’t think the relationship was working anymore. And she told me that she didn’t think I was sad about that, she felt I was sad because I wasn’t being true to what I want. That for a little over two years I had been lying to myself.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You have been in this same cycle pretty much since the two of you have been together. He isn’t providing you what you want and you have continued to accept that.”
As the saying goes, what we put up with we end up with. Subconsciously I’ve known for a long time that that is what the problem in our relationship has been, but I was avoiding much conflict about it because I didn’t want to let him go.
Any time I feel sad or want to complain about my circumstances, this particular friend serves me up a healthy dose of tough love.
“If you keep accepting things for the way that they are then you are in a much worse position than moving forward. Do you feel good right now?”
“No,” I admitted.
“Exactly. You’re accepting nothing but crumbs from him and then trying to emotionally manipulate your way into getting what you do want. You’re never going to get it that way.”
I had to meditate on that for some time. My boyfriend accuses me frequently of being emotionally manipulative, something I believe has been practiced into a habit since early childhood. (I blame it on being the middle child.) It’s interesting to me that I use that technique and my friend suggested it had to do with my constant need to control.
You see, it takes a lot of courage to stand up for what you want and not accept anything less. It takes courage because the alternative is potentially losing someone you care about. But if they aren’t willing to meet your needs then they aren’t the right person for you anyway. In an effort to not lose him I keep the tightest hold that I can onto him while acting desperate and borderline hysterical in the process.
It has taken a long time for me to understand the difference between the things that I need and the things that I want. It turns out, you can really tell what you need by how you feel about not getting that thing for days/weeks/months later. For example, my boyfriend was out of town on my birthday. Not for work, and not because of some preplanned trip. He was out of town because his dad had a free plane ticket for him to come home and he couldn’t turn it down. Not even the celebration of the birth of the person he loves the most could keep him from going on that trip. And so, he went and didn’t invite me, and so I was left spending my birthday giving my friends excuses for as to why he wasn’t present.
I was upset and angry when he told me and we had a massive fight about it. And I was upset many weeks and months later. But then I started in with all the excuses in the world for as to why it makes sense that he wasn’t there for me. He has to see his son, he comes from a family that doesn’t celebrate birthdays or holidays, blah blah blah. I was the lowest priority on the totem pole and I (begrudgingly) ACCEPTED that position. I cried and I told him how hurt I was and how unacceptable that behavior had been and then allowed everything to go back to normal. He gets a hall pass for missing his girlfriend’s birthday? Wow, what a doormat I am.
And the thing that feels the worst to me is that I’m a very strong and confident person in my real life who never accepts less than what she wants. It’s become increasingly confusing as to why I would allow that to be okay in my intimate relationship. The more it happens, the more I come to expect it, the more he thinks it’s okay. I’m on this vicious hamster wheel of disappointment and yet I’m so AFRAID to get off.
Well, FUCK THAT. I’m done. I’m done being this sad girl who is able to do nothing more than express when I’ve been slighted. I’m an empowered woman who will no longer accept a bunch of bullshit excuses for treating me like an afterthought. The women who get what they want are the ones who say, nothing less than that will do. If you’re not willing to step up, then BOY BYE. I’m channeling my inner Beyonce so don’t give me a baseball bat or I will smash up some windows.
There is this fear inside of me that wells up that says, I’ll never love someone as much, I’ll never connect with anyone as much, I’ll never be as attracted to someone as much and YET…I’ve felt that way about at least 3 other men in my past so I guess I’ve been wrong every time. Fear is what will keep you complacent and stop you from growing and moving forward. I have to get clear about what I want and what I can’t accept and only vibe from that place. I will never be happy otherwise.
If I need my boyfriend to be present for my fucking birthday then that is what I’m gonna get. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant the request can seem. If it’s important to you then make sure that you get it. The result of not getting those things is built up resentment, anger, frustration, and eventual breakup anyway. Leave with dignity so you don’t have to leave when you’ve become a shell of a person and are so beaten down that it might take months, or even years, to recover.
How do you know whether to give up or keep going in relationships?
I think about this at least once a month. “I want to give up. It’s too hard. I’m disappointed all the time. I’m unhappy. I’ll never get the future I desire with him.” Those thoughts run on a loop in my head anytime I don’t get what I want or have my expectations dashed by him. Sometimes I feel like a petulant child or that I’m pinning too much of my happiness on him and other times I feel like he goes out of his way to disappoint me and show me that I’m not his main priority.
But then I think about having to start over with someone new and it sounds awful. I say to myself, “just hold out longer. Keep your mouth shut. Be agreeable. If you’re patient and cool you may get what you desire.” And then that dialogue runs on a loop until I convince myself that it’s really not that bad. But I think the problem lies in trying to decipher if I’m being too pushy and controlling or if what he is and who he is isn’t enough for me.
He complains that I get my heart set on timelines and goals and if he doesn’t meet those in the time frame that I have decided on in my head then I get upset and pick a fight or try to end it. And I’ve definitely done that. I’ve definitely been close to ending it 4 or 5 times and ended it for real for 6 days once. I don’t want to be the girl who cried wolf but I also don’t want to be the girl who held out for as long as she could stand for a guy who was never going to give her what she desired in the first place.
And he almost has a point, I guess. If he tells me things will happen but they just haven’t yet, shouldn’t I just be patient and relax and know that he just takes more time than me with all of these milestones? But what it he’s just telling me these things will happen to shut me up and keep the peace? He might keep delaying progress until his face turns blue and then I’ll be in a worse position than I was before with even more time wasted and resentment built up.
Relationships are hard and they take work and we have done so much work and have made progress but I just don’t know if it’s enough. I don’t want to feel like I’m begging him to move forward with me all the time and I don’t want to feel as if I’m waiting for the moment when I’ll finally be happy.
Sometimes it just feels like it will never be enough. Never enough time, energy, attention, or care put into cultivating our partnership. I feel like I’m giving everything I have on my end and not getting enough in return. No one wants to be with a needy person and if that’s the vibration I’m putting out, then he will feel that and want to pull away. So at times I don’t even blame him for the way he behaves, but if I’m not getting enough of what I want then obviously it’s going to manifest itself somehow.
Isn’t the point of being in a relationship to share all of the important moments with the person you love the most? Do I just have to come to terms with the fact that I will be going alone to most events and experiencing a lot of life without him or with friends instead? Is that so bad? Or do I want my boyfriend to always be there with me all the time for everything?
Maybe adult relationships are about separate people with separate lives doing their own thing and coming together only to enhance each others’ lives. That sounds really nice and independent and shit, but what about those moments when I feel more alone than I did when I was actually alone? Because you only miss someone who isn’t there. You don’t miss someone you don’t have. When I miss him it feels worse than being single.
I should be grateful and appreciate what he DOES do, right? I need to focus on the ways he tries to make me happy and respect the progress that he HAS made, no? But then why am I always in tears about things that he has failed to do and opportunities he’s missed to bring me even the slightest bit of joy? But if I give up, will I be MORE sad than I am now?
I definitely don’t expect too much. I expect way less than I would’ve in the past because he’s forced me to lower those standards. So the result always feels like I need to express to him that I’m not fulfilled and walk away to find my desires elsewhere.
And then the cycle starts over with someone else at some undetermined point in the future when I’ve kissed enough frogs to find someone suitable. And then what if I don’t like that person as much? What if I realize I’ve made a huge mistake and he won’t take me back? Assuming that this person is good enough and respects me, what if I discover the same problems and then I’m back in the same position after even more years of waiting, wishing, pushing, and hoping.
“Just keep going. Stick with the one you love so much. Give him a break. Relax. Focus on yourself/your career/your friendships for happiness.” This is the cycle of thoughts I usually settle on. But I honestly don’t know how many times I can keep doing it.
So will it always be something? Will I never be satisfied? Once I get the things I’m asking for now is there going to be some earth shattering glow of happiness that will suddenly wash over me? Why can’t he just fucking do everything I want so we don’t even have this issue to begin with?!
For now I guess all I can do is take a breath, have a glass of wine, and wait for the PMS to pass.
My acting teacher always says that there are only three constants in life: death, sickness, and change. Death and sickness are obviously terrible and change can seem like it too. But most of the time, if you are patient and open to it, it can bring about new opportunities and better situations.
When I find myself in times of sadness or anger about my current romantic status I always have to check myself. First of all for being a whiny bitch and not being grateful for what I do have and not taking responsibility for why I’m still single, but also because I know that change is only a matter of time. I could be in a partnership by Christmas if I’m lucky. I could be married in 2 years. And so could you.
Almost all of my friends are currently going through a painful breakup. Almost ALL of them. At the same time. It’s so coincidental and forces me to have to play therapist all day long. Which got me thinking, it’s so strange how jealous I was of all of these couples just last year and how much their life is changed now. They are all single again. They are all single again just like me except THEY are single and heartbroken whereas I am single and happy.
So my single friends are going to have to go through many months of self-care and therapy and anger and sadness and sleepless nights whereas I am generally happy everyday and having genuine fun with my friends and enjoying alone time. Both single, but in very different stages of single.
There is NOTHING in this world worse than being in the depressing, lonely, nightmare-you-can’t-wake-up-from fog of heartbreak. Everyday you wake up with a weight on your chest and a feeling of emptiness and slog through the hours of your day wishing you could fast-forward time and erase your memory. That is the shittiest feeling and the reason a lot of people are so frightened of falling in love again. But I digress…
How much better is life when you are just single as opposed to single and sad? SO MUCH BETTER. Enjoy that state of being! If you fit into the category of single and sad then just know that change is inevitable and time heals everything. It sucks and you might be there for quite some time. But you’ll either die or you will live through it and be a whole person again in due time.
I do have some advice though for what to do during that time. And none of it includes rebounding or sleeping around because you know what that will make you do? FEEL EVEN SHITTIER.
People say that the only way to get over someone is to get under someone else, but all that does is transfer the pain. A broken person has nothing to give. Everything that new person does sucks because they aren’t doing it like your ex did it. All of the things that the new person does that is like your ex that annoyed you will make you angry way more than it should. Your ex-partner’s dick was perfect, this new guy’s is weird. He kisses weird. His hair is a different texture. He smells different.
Even if you have NO DESIRE to ever get back with your ex, these are probably thoughts you will still have. When you have grown so accustomed to one person for so long, newness is too different too soon. If you like the new guy it will make you miss the ex. If you hate the new guy it will make you miss the ex. See the problem? Give yourself TIIIIIIMMMEEE. That shitty feeling will go away faster without adding a new schmuck into the mix.
My friend Tara (name changed) has been broken up for all of a month with a guy of 1 and a half years and yet she is already on Tinder and Match.com and setting up 2-3 dates a week. Most of them she ends up canceling, she’s told me, but she decided to go ahead and take the plunge last night. She asked me before the date if she should tell this new guy that he is her first since the ex.
“Um, HELL NO.” I replied. “If you can help it, don’t say ANYTHING about the ex.”
Clue #1 that it’s too soon: that you would even think about bringing up the ex on a first date. WHYYYYYYYY?
Then she preceded to tell me that she hopes she doesn’t cry afterwards.
Clue #2 that it’s too soon: If you think you might cry after your date.
When I was rebounding from The Producer (my only long term relationship) every single time I brought up his name to the new guy I was seeing I started crying. It was completely involuntary. Twice I remember saying to the new guy, “I promise I’m over him. It just upsets me.” I have no idea why he didn’t run for the hills after that.
After the date Tara told me that they had sex 4 times (face palm) and that he rubbed her back until she fell asleep. (P.s. this was a guy from Tinder. So essentiality it was a blind date.)
Clue #3 that it’s too soon: If you are falling into intimate relationship tendencies with someone you barely know.
I wrote a post a while back, which has since been deleted per her request, about a really good friend of mine who was super fresh out of a separation from her husband and how she was handling it (hint: not well). In it, I detailed what happened on the dates with new guys she was seeing. Basically what she was trying to do was skip all the fun of dating and getting to know someone and go straight to cuddle sessions and trips out of town. She was looking for a replacement for her ex-husband.
Clue #4 that it’s too soon: If you are trying to fill a void instead of enjoying the journey.
Change will happen whether you like it or not. My friends were all happy and in good relationships at this time last year. Nobody wants a relationship to end, but it happens. Nobody wants to be single, but that changes. You can be envious of everyone in the world for everything they have but that you could be you someday. Or those people could lose it all tomorrow.
The trick to happiness in life is to enjoy where you are any given moment even if it sucks. There are lessons to be learned and opportunities for growth. Look for the good things you have and don’t try to force anything.
One good thing about being a highly sensitive person is that you have a lot of empathy for other people. You can relate to almost anyone because you can easily put yourself in their shoes and see the situation from their perspective. It’s a must have for actors and something that I wish more politicians and YouTube commenters possessed.
A lot of my friends are going through a really hard time right now. Two of my closest friends are dealing with heart-wrenching break-ups and another friend is at a memorial service for his father today. I feel their pain in the depths of my body and wish that I could make it go away for them. I know what that’s like and the only thing I can do is be a good listener and give the best advice that I can muster.
If you are in emotional pain right now the best thing that you can do is take care of yourself. Get out into the world and do things that make you happy. If you sit alone and you’re anything like me, you will get overwhelmed by the thoughts consuming your brain, so make sure you stay occupied. There is nothing worse than feeling the weight of sadness all day.
In times of anguish make sure you do any/all of these things:
1. Surround yourself with good, close friends.
2. Lay out in the sunshine (especially if you live in SoCal like me. Do this everyday.)
3. Drink adult beverages (moderately of course. You can’t numb the pain forever but you can quiet your brain for the night.)
4. Play with dogs. Especially puppies.
5. Get a mani/pedi. (Guys, you can get pedicures too! And you should.)
6. Get a massage.
7. Read outside in the park. Anything light and/or entertaining.
8. Purchase the most amazing latte and savor each sip.
9. Buy yourself flowers.
10. Hang out with a baby. (One that doesn’t have colic)
11. BBQ with some bro friends.
12. Do yoga, hike, dance, or whatever other physical activity you like.
13. Play music (if you can).
14. Get all done up and post the most amazing selfie on Instagram. (Make sure you are facing an open window to insure the best lighting results.)
15. Write. Blog. Diary. Just write.
16. Smile. (This instantly brightens the mood. When I’m sad and I want to cry, smiling always takes the urge away.)
17. Find a project to do on Pinterest for your apartment/house.
18. RETAIL. THERAPY.
19. Actual therapy.
20. Eat Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream. (If you are lactose intolerant like me, they have some bitchin coconut milk alternatives at health food stores.)
I was reading an article the other day and it said that whenever you are feeling sad or lonely just remember that there are at least 5 people that love you that you know about and probably another 2 or 3 that love you and you just don’t know it. But also remember that the only love you ever really need is self-love. It’s so important. And the only way to love yourself is to treat yourself kindly and with respect.
Focus on gratitude.
You will be okay.
If you’re still not convinced, here is a picture of a bunny in a backpack.
I always used to wonder why I would be the only one in my family or friend group covering my eyes in a movie theatre during a super violent war type film or sobbing at the tear jerker ending in something as silly as a romantic comedy film. It was so embarrassing for me one time when I went to see “The Help” with my best friend a couple years ago and I was crying so hard that I was shaking my entire row of seats in a packed house theatre. I almost had to leave and compose myself in the bathroom, but I didn’t want to miss any of the movie. My friend looked over at me several times and laughed a little at my mascara smudged face and offered tissues from her purse. Her eyes were a bit misty, but she was nowhere near the level of my agony.
I had always been thought of as the “tough” girl who never cried and hardly showed emotion when I was younger. I prided myself on not letting little things get to me and never letting anyone see a vulnerable side to my personality. But a lot of people know, and I discovered, that the toughest ones are the ones who are covering up the most.
I wanted to keep up that tough as nails veneer for as long as possible but as an actor/artist, my deepest thoughts and feelings had to be unlocked in order to truly emulate other people and experience empathy. Through acting classes I was almost forced into getting to that place, lest I’d be known as a “bad actor” which I refused to accept. I let my guard down for the first time in my life and boy did I experience ALL THE THINGS. And once pandora’s box was opened, there was no going back. I can’t help but feel everything so deeply now. My own feelings and the feelings of others.
It’s nice to not be blocked emotionally but it’s also distracting to go through life feeling so affected by your environment. It didn’t feel normal until I discovered that I am a “highly sensitive person”. The personality trait “the highly sensitive person” (HSP) was made popular by Elaine N. Aron Ph.D in the 90’s. The characteristics, such as crying easily, being sensitive to smells, sounds, and light, and being emotionally reactive, describe me to an absolute T. I finally was able to identify why I have so many issues in my relationships with friends and lovers.
Fights with my friends or boyfriends can turn really nasty and hurtful because I only think from an emotional standpoint and not rationally. If they hurt me I want to hurt them even worse to experience what I’m feeling. When I get angry I get explosive and when I am hurt I am devastated. So when a relationship ends for me, I absorb a debilitating blow that affects me so much that sometimes I think I’m going to die of heartbreak.
I have been trying so hard for months to get over my most recent lover, who I felt I needed to cut out of my life because he couldn’t commit to me, to no avail. I have good days, but I also have really bad days where I can barely make it through without crying. And it got me thinking: out of the 3 times that I’ve been in love I have been an absolute mess of the most epic proportions after the breakup. More than most people seem to be. When I talk to other people about their breakups, they usually manage to speak rather objectively about it. I can’t even bear talking about my breakup because if I did, I would burst out into tears and make them uncomfortable and probably ruin their day. Sometimes I can’t even leave the house for fear of being made to talk about it but if I do, I make sure everyone knows to not ask me about it.
“IT.” The trauma that comes after lost love. What you tried to avoid but love made you do.
Everyone is different and every relationship is different, but for most people it probably takes a couple months to get over an ex-lover. For me, it takes sometimes years for me to come to terms. I just can’t stop intensely obsessing for so long. I care and I hurt and I cry more than the average person. It’s really not fair. And it’s no wonder that I’m so afraid of being open and vulnerable. If I do my heart will take a major beating when it inevitably ends. It makes me want to avoid it altogether. I have to be more careful who I open my heart to. I have to make sure they’re worth it and that they deserve me.
When I’ve had my heart broken I go through so many different stages of emotion. But it usually starts with depressive sadness to the point where I become a shell of a person. I have to read self help books to ease me through the process and to know that I’m not alone. Then it develops into anger and cynicism for life. And then it turns back to sadness and extreme attachment withdrawal. Finally it turns back to anger once more and throwing my body at someone else to help numb the pain. It’s awful.
Friends will tell me, “it’s time to move on” or “you need to be more open to other men” and it makes me want to throw a brick at their face. How dare you expect me to move on so fast. I’ll move on in my own time when I can actually wake up without feeling like I want to drink or shoot herion to make it through the day and to quiet the rollercoaster of emotions. I’d give anything to not feel the way I’m feeling but how could opening my heart to someone new HELP? I may never open my heart to anyone else ever again.
It’s quite the hard-knock life for HSP’s like me. If you are not one of these types of people, count yourself lucky. If you are, I’m sorry, I relate to you, and you are not alone. The good news for HSP’s is that because we experience everything to it’s greatest potential, imagine what we’re like when we’re happy! We are SO HAPPY!!! And when we love we love SO MUCH. So a relationship with us will be full of affection and attention. However, we may stab you in the eye in the middle of night if you cross us. But it’s worth it.
I wrote a book!!! Follow my brand new writing account on Instagram @lonelyloverlo for inspiration, excerpts, and release dates!