As a 34 year old woman, I get asked all the time about how many children I have. When I respond with ‘none’, well-meaning yet concerned faces tentatively enquire if I’m ‘trying’. And here’s the truth of it. No, I’m not. When I respond this way there seems to be a tectonic shift underneath whoever asked and all signs of life go still. Birds are silenced, traffic stops and there was one lady I actually thought I might need to resuscitate! Then I speak 3 little words which have, in the past actually caused people to back away from me as if they’d just found out I had Leprosy.
Actually, I’m single.
People don’t back away any more. I’ve found that over time, I’ve been more confident in stating the truth and this in turn, reassures people that I’m not about to cry on their shoulder, ask to be set up with an office colleague, or even worse, infect them with ‘singleitis’.
But for a while, the words stuck in my throat. It was like my brain knew what it wanted my mouth to say but my heart wouldn’t quite let the words form without a cough that sounded something like a cat being strangled…Not a great sign that I was ‘coping’.
Eventually of course, even friends get bored of listening to feline strangulation and so I had to find a way not only to say the bloody words, but to embrace with dignity what those words meant.
It’s been almost a year since my break up. And in that time I have cried, laughed and been angry. I’ve gained weight, lost weight and joined a gym. I’ve stayed sober, been embarrassingly inebriated, and following that episode, sober again! (OK, not quite sober…)
I’ve done all the extremities you can think of and learnt that none of them are sustainable. I spent a short amount of time in denial, then blamed everything and everyone else (a particularly ugly phase) and finally took total ownership of my part and most importantly, who I was going to be in the wake of it all.
I am pleased to say that I adore my ex. We are great friends, share great friends (and a car) and he is still one of the funniest people I know. I have worked my arse off for it to be this way. With the exception of those first few dark weeks, I have handled myself (mostly) with grace and dignity. I refused to bitch, beg or run away. I have refused the pity parties afforded to me by well-meaning friends and family. I haven’t been perfect, but I have been in control.
You see a few years ago, I learnt about this whole new way of being.
Turns out, most ‘successful’ (whatever that means to you) people have known this stuff forever, and maybe you do too. But until a couple of years ago, I was in the dark. So here are (in brief) a couple of the principles which I lived by throughout my break up and beyond, and which have saved me from countless public breakdowns, self-imposed humiliation and losing more than just an argument.
1. Be at CAUSE
Did he dump me? Yes. Does that make it his fault? No. You can choose to be the victim. Actually it’s pretty easy to be a victim. Or, you can choose to put your big girl pants on and take responsibility. That’s also where choices lie.
2. What you focus on is what you get
I could’ve easily focused on all the sacrifice, all the negatives blah blah blah. Focusing on what I gained throughout our relationship made me feel richer.
3. Write your narrative.
I decided early on, on the story I wanted to be telling in a years’ time. And I wanted it to be full of love, not hate. So then I applied the BE, DO, HAVE model… Who do I need to BE to DO what I need to DO to HAVE what I want to HAVE. And that stopped me being the girl who hit her ex with a hairbrush on many occasion!
If you’re struggling post break up, or need a helping hand in moving on, get in touch here.
You’re not alone!