Monday, 3 February 2014

The saboteur

I first heard this word on a children's TV show where one of the contestants had to ruin the chances of winning for the others and the other players had to guess who the saboteur was. But this post is about the kind of person who is intent on destroying their own and others' hopes of a good relationship in a subtle, often subconscious way.

I was a Saboteur.

I had never been in a relationship before Adam, and yet books and movies had given me enough preconceptions of what a relationship should be like and what I wanted mine to be like. 

As with most girls, I wanted a fairytale Prince Charming who would sweep me off my feet and who I would fall completely in love with.

I was also a strict believer in "Treat them mean, to keep them keen" - a rather archaic belief which doesn't actually work in real life. I was often horrible to Adam. I would ignore him around my friends, I would pretend I hadn't seen him so that HE would have to come and find me afterwards.

But soon after the relationship ended and the haze faded, I stopped blaming myself, because I was just learning. It was a mistake, and one which I knew I would never make again.

Everyone deserves to be treasured. We all arrived on this earth as free human beings, to love and be loved. I did not know that I had to share my love to be loved in return.

People often quote that they didn't realise they were falling in love, until they were already in too deep. I was too. I was resisting any attempt fate made to make me fall in love. I was mean, but I just wanted to be loved back.

I also learnt another important lesson:

No-one knows what you want until you tell them.

People may be able to guess how you are feeling, but it is only a guess until you tell them one way or another.

Communication is one of the biggest barriers and bridges to successful relationships. It is about being open and vulnerable enough to let someone in, but being aware of your boundaries and red flags.

In my past relationships, romantic and otherwise, I have often relied on people being able to tell how I am feeling and then taking appropriate action. But everyone needs a helping hand to get inside your head.

Communication is a choice. We choose to give people the opportunity to understand our feelings and emotions and to convey how we should be treated.

As I have stated in earlier posts, we often accept the love we think we deserve and this is our chance to preserve the best love we want by communicating. 

Let them know that you will accept nothing less than being the only one. You will accept nothing less than being treasured and cherished. You will accept nothing less than love, trust and respect.

Don't play the saboteur in your relationship by refusing to communicate.

One Last Chance

Sometimes, I think the only way I can help someone is by telling them how the rest of my story played out.

I initiated NC in december last year. We both broke it multiple times until June this year, when I lost my job and I left the company. I was out of his life completely unless he wanted to seek me.

I also knew by that time that he had many many women on the go on the sidelines and he always would, so I decided to spend my summer alone with him. I was pretty busy with family over the summer so I didn’t get a chance to meet him even if I wanted to.

Then September came and I was all on my own. I started missing him desperately. I got exceedingly sick and unwell because I wanted him so badly. So I decided that I needed to know what page he was on “one last time” (see where I’m going with this?).

I knew I was wrong and I was scared about what would happen, but I emailed him anyway.

Guess what? Nothing had changed. He welcomed me back as his whore. He wanted nothing more and could give me nothing more. He wanted an all or nothing situation.

I had always thought that if he really wanted to be with me, he would find a way. And I am sure he would. If he was ready to put the effort in, he would do it. I’m sure he would. But he isn’t. I have lost everything I had for this one guy and I don’t even have anything to show for it except a badly bruised life.

Since that incident I have re-initiated NC and this time I’m keeping it strict. No more chances.

Honey, you have a limited time on this earth. We all do. Isn’t it better to hold onto the hope that there will be something better in the future rather than staying stuck in the past?

As I write this, I am struggling too. I wonder if I’ll contact him in another year under the pretext of “one last time”. But instead of the “one last time” I should be thinking, “no more chances”. We need to push through the pain because there is NO coming back from “one last chances”.

If he really wanted to be there, he would be. If he isn’t, then you’re free to be whoever you want to be.

Imagine the situation where you desperately wanted to be with someone: you would keep going back no matter what, right? If he REALLY wanted you, honey, he would be right there on your doorstep on his knees. Have you checked the front door yet?

I suggest you go and open the door. If he isn’t there, it’s because he doesn’t want to be.

I didn’t respond to my ex’s twisted emails about how he couldn’t live without me because I didn’t feel like there was any need to. I had heard it all already.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t reply, because he will keep on trying (if he wants you back). Maybe when you’re over him and he is STILL trying, you might want to see if you could be friends (I advice against, but it apparently works for some). But this is FAR FAR into the future. And I think this guy will be long gone by then.

I was so angry (and still sometimes am) about how I was treated and in disbelief about many things that had happened. But it happened anyway. You should feel these emotions, but know them for what they really are.

There is no such thing as a last chance.

That chance is always there and it always will be. It is up to you to take it. It is not about "our" last chance, but YOUR last chance. Your life is your last chance to live how you want.

Before I had even finished reading his email, I knew that it would give me nothing new. Not a day has gone by when I don't think of him, but it doesn't hurt anymore and I am finally starting to consider the possibility of a relationship in the future.

It may be difficult now, but I now have the belief that it will only get better from here on.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Obsessing about the ex (i.e. damaging your mental health)

Would you like to beat your brain with a iron hammer every other second?

No, you're not reading the local Maniacs-R-Us news, but it is exactly what you are doing when you keep obsessing about your ex.

I am guilty too. I have spent hours fantasising about what he's doing and who he's doing it with. I have stalked his Facebook within an inch of my life and found every possible way of tricking my friends to reveal more about him after specifically demanding that I did not want to hear his name.

It was the edge that meant I was struggling to move on from a year long relationship, a year after we broke up. It meant that I was stuck in a rut between a rock and a hard place and it was all because of me.

I asked myself many questions which all ran along the lines of:

  1. What is he doing now?
  2. Who is he doing it with?
  3. Does he still miss me?
  4. Does he think about me nearly as much as I think about him?
  5. Does he want me back?
  6. Has he changed?
  7. Will he take me back? Will he contact me?

I spent many a fine summers day pondering the meaning of love and what it had meant in our relationship - nothing. I wondered, cried, screamed, drank and became depressed. 

I was eager to know about what he was doing, but every time I found out what it was, it hurt. It hurt to know that he was now searching for his soulmate in another girl. It hurt that he had moved on so quickly. 

But more than anything, it hurt that I had just stalled my recovery by finding out more news about him.

If you have spent many hours and months wondering why you aren't feeling any better, it is because even if you have physically detached yourself from the relationship, you are still emotionally invested, and prisoner to, the ex-dumdum.

The more time you spent unpicking the old scabs of "what went wrongs" the longer they will take to heal.

I noticed that every time I stopped myself focusing on him, the better I felt. I was free to think other influential thoughts which were all about being good to me. I dreamt about the perfect job and all the activities I wanted to try. I focused on what I wanted to do rather than what he was doing.

It is important for us to realise that those who choose to walk away from us are essentially giving up on us. They have made the decision that they are better off without us in their life and it is a decision made with full consciousness, so why must we chase?

If you have found it difficult to maintain No Contact and are obsessing about what your ex-dumdum is doing in every moment they are NOT contacting you, it means you are letting someone else be the hero in your story.

It prolongs the hurt.

You have to mentally remind yourself each time an unwelcome question about he-who-must-not-be-named sneaks into your head. Focus your energy away. Close your eyes and breathe. Then force yourself to think something else.

Eventually, your brain gets the message that it is a forbidden topic, and it remembers to forget. 

It worked for me and I started noticing that I spent less time each day focusing on the past and more on living for the future. I cared less and wasted less time.

However, this is not the perfect formula. It is something that depends on the situation and the physical proximity to the ex-dumdum as well. It works only when you have started No Contact.

I have often asked other friends why they miss their good-for-nothing exes so much and it seems everyone is an expert on everyone else's problems. Everyone can see that the other person should not waste time on a useless boyfriend, but many people don't recognise that the mental torture they are putting themselves through is just a similar place to be.

I am happy to give advice to the outside world at times when I am often hurting. But it is also about sharing the little wisdom I have learnt.

It is time to let go of the things that make you sad and just be happy.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

I'm so proud of you

Sometimes when I am sitting alone late in the night and wondering how I ended up at this point in life, I feel a desperate urge to reach out to someone and just tell them to make it all better. I want to call my dumdum-ex boyfriend and ask him to hold me and save me.

But then I hold myself back. I stop and sit on my hands if I have to, to stop myself from contacting him. 

Self compassion takes years to learn – you have to unlearn the self destruction first. 

And it is important that you make the choice to distance yourself from this man. It is important that you find your peace of mind far away from where you may be constantly running into him.

But more than anything, keep trying. You have to wake up every day with a purpose and with a dream to make that day better than your last.

I had a problem with the “wow did this just happen?” moment when I was facing relationship abuse. I was falling apart and I was in shock at the same time. I used to just stop and go into a daze because I couldn't believe anyone could treat me that badly. 

But this is not all bad news. It means you’re waking up. It means you have finally decided to see that the treatment you got was unacceptable and have started to take action.

It is never too late.

It is also easy to talk. The dumdum-ex was always full of ideas about how he would prove his love to me etc, but unless you see actions, take it with a whole bucket of salt. 

These men are all weak. It takes a strong man to keep promises and to cherish a woman. A weak man gets by without these qualities.

I’m also sure everyone goes through a phase of wanting to be “friends”. A part of me still hopes that one day me and dumdum could be friends, but it is a deluded, misunderstood and a very very small part of me.

I am proud of myself everyday for making the choice and deciding that enough was enough and I needed to get out. I am proud because I finally realised that it is NOT okay to feel hurt and pain and cry myself to sleep every night of my life.

If you are in this situation, use this chance and wake up. Realise that you need to get out. And if you've made the decision and are taking baby-steps away from the disaster zone your life used to be:

Good luck on waking up, be proud of you.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

So-called friends and why you don't need them

One of the things which I have barely seen discussed as much as romantic relationships are friendships.

We spend a lot of our time chasing after the dream of finding our own Price Charming (or for the more mature ladies amongst us, the Perfect Man), and yet we often forget about the other important relationships in our lives, which often tend to last longer than our dating partners.

Over the past few years I have struggled with many different types of friendships and come across people who I called my best friends, but who just wanted to see me cry and drown in my own pity. I have also come across those people who trusted me with everything, until one day they simply got bored and walked away.

This post is about those "so-called" friends who don't really have our best interests at heart, and why we need to move away from such friendships.

Friends are the family we choose.

This is a popular quote that is often thrown around when we get emotional about our friendships and realise that sometimes we can relate more to our friends (and vice versa) than our families.

But if we choose who we give entry to into our lives, isn't it also our responsibility to choose who stays and who leaves?

My best friend a few years ago was someone I didn't even like much. We got along at times, but while I tip-toed around making sure that I didn't upset her - as she had a tendency to go off in a strop and would just stop talking to me - she simply did what she liked.

I was good friends with her for 7 years, during which my self-esteem hit the absolute bottom because she would tell me how I'm not pretty, and how I would never be successful etc. She would exclude me from parties, meet ups and even conversations and I never felt wanted unless I was playing the role of the maidservant.

We looked similar and everyone noticed it. But she would make a joke out of it and insist that it was an insult for someone to say that she looked like me.

It hurt and I just smiled.

Then, a few years ago, I started realising that even though I claimed that she was my best friend, I never actually liked her.

I didn't trust her and I wasn't myself around her.

That was the wake-up call. I didn't break our friendship (or so-called friendship anyway) but I simply started making other friends. As I got to know more people, I realised that there were many others who I had never spoken to but who I could be more genuine with.

There are 7 billion people on this planet. We are never going to be able to meet all of them. But if we stay 'stuck' in one friendship, we may never have the opportunity to actually meet someone who we could be real friends with. Move on and meet new people whenever you have the chance to - the next person you meet could be the one you 'click' with.

When I was going through my break-up, my ex-best friend didn't even bother calling me to ask if I was okay in the 4 months after I told her what had happened. But it didn't matter because I had found my real best friend, who was there for me on the countless days when I just wanted someone to hug me and give me a shoulder to cry on.

The signs that I noticed which proved that my ex-best friend wasn't a true friend were:

  • I was always the one making the initiative to meet up with her/contact her 
  • She never kept her promises to call me
  • She didn't understand that I was going through a tough time and I needed someone there for me
  • Whenever we talked it was always about her - how she was doing, what had happened with her boyfriend/family/friends etc
  • I had to think twice before I said/did something in front of her
  • I felt like I had to neglect my own feelings to make sure hers were fulfilled
What you need from in a friend is the ability to be who you are unashamedly. If you feel yourself pretending just to keep the world turning how they expect it to, get out. The relationship is not helping you in any way.

While friendships are about give and take, you should only take which mirrors what you give. It takes two people, just like in a romantic relationship, to cultivate a friendship and if they are not giving you what you need, you need to break free.

This leads me onto friendships which, while you have changed and developed, haven't grown with you.

Don't hold onto relationships which are past their expiry date simply because the substance tasted amazing in the past. 

This means that you have to realise that you simply outgrow some friendships and it is time to let go of those friends who you may have known for the past decade, but who no longer have a 'fit' into your life. These are friends who you shared your first ice-cream or Barbie doll with, but who have taken a different route to you.

Holding onto friendships in desperation is the same as holding onto a failed relationship - the energy you are using up in just sustaining this is harming you.

You need to accept that people do change and sometimes the changes mean that you cannot be compatible any more. The bff or friends-till-we-die scenario is out of the window.

It is time to realise that YOU need to be your own best friend. That way you are best friends with someone who trust completely, who understands you perfectly and who believes in you. If this doesn't apply to you then you have found your flaw. I have struggled over my life to trust myself and to realise that if I don't believe in myself, no-one else can.

I am now working on trusting myself more. This means being accepting of my mistakes and agreeing with my decisions. I have learnt how to forgive myself for the past and am learning how to be more hopeful of the future.

Being 'busy' in a bid to stop thinking

I've tried this many many times over the past few months of being No Contact with the dumdum-ex boyfriend. Being 'busy' in a bid to stop thinking is when you try to do lots of things and fill up all your spare time to try and tear your thoughts and energies away from the one person who seems to demand permanent residency in your mind.

There are many possible activities that you can try:

  • Sports/gym
  • Art
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Starting another hobby
  • Going back to a hobby you have neglected
  • Socialising
The list is seemingly endless.

But what didn't work for me was doing everything on the list. I was so afraid of having spare time when I'll get bored - and hence start revisiting the ghosts of relationship past, that I signed up for anything and everything.

I would leave at 9am and return at 10 or 11pm so exhausted that I would simply collapse into bed. 

But as 'busy' as I was, I still thought about him almost every moment of every day. I would be in the gym with music blasting through my ears and I would be thinking about when he used to try and persuade me to go to the gym with him and wish that I had gone.

It took time, but eventually, I realised that it wasn't working. I was pushing myself too far and it was taking its toll on my health without being particularly helpful to my recovery. 

Sure, I was meeting more people, but I often didn't have the chance to cultivate those relationships because I had to be somewhere else almost all the time.

Then I tried a different tactic. I focused on the activities that I genuinely enjoyed. I started painting again. It was something I had enjoyed many years ago and I wanted to try it again.

It is easy to become busy enough to forget the pain, but it follows you and haunts you throughout. I realised that even when I had a few minutes free, all the pain would come rushing back and sometimes that sudden "it's-all-coming-back-to-me" moment was so powerful that it would knock me sideways into depression.

What is important is that you find your identity again after a break-up. You must spend time being good to you and helping your self-esteem recover. Spend time doing everything and anything you had to think twice about when you were in a relationship - book a holiday abroad, take our those sexy heels and go on a girls night out!

Find who you are.

Often, as was the case with me, we forget who we are in a bid to keep the other person happy. We subconsciously start to neglect our needs and become happy doing whatever the other person wants to do. Life is about so much more than that!

It is about discovering your inner needs and making sure you achieve your dreams too, rather than helping people build theirs and forgetting about yours.

So, take a breath, and go out and do what you want. Lose the fear of their being something wrong with who you are and start to believe in yourself again. 

Your time is now, honey, believe it.

A hundred years from now

It has been a long time since I posted and what has led me to post today is the poem that touched the very topic I have spent many moons thinking about. 

It goes like this:

It will not make much difference friend, a hundred years from now
If you live in a stately mansion or a floating river scow
If the clothes you wear were tailor made or just pieced together somehow
If you ate big steaks or beans and cake, a hundred years from now
Won't matter what your bank account has or the make of car you drive
For the grave will claim all your riches and fame and the things for which you strive

There's a deadline that we all must meet, no-one will show up late
It won't matter all the places you've been, each one will keep that date
We will only have in eternity what we gave away on earth
When we go to the grave we can only save the things of eternal worth
What matters friend the earthly gain for which some men will bow
For your destiny will be sealed you see a hundred years from now

                              - Warren Parker

For a long time I have thought about what it means to be successful and whether the pain and hurt we suffer in our lives will really matter a few years after our death?

This poem highlights the very important part of why we are all new to the game of life: we are merely learning our way through our years and hoping to achieve something to leave a legacy behind. 

This is the reason why it is important that we continue to strive past our differences and hold on to our hope, because it does not matter who hurt us or who we owe a lot to today, but what matters is that we forget the pain and remember the pleasure.

I am not religious, but my friends who are part of a strong faith, put their hopes in God and wish that they may live life in a way to meet all the requirements of what it means to be a good person.

I have always sought material things. Yes, I do respect love and friendship, but I have felt that being rich and having a well paid job will help me get what I want: happiness.

But that is not true. If you are running after love, or money, give a little thought to whether what you had would matter in a hundred years. I hope I will be missed by my family and friends and that they will remember me and think about me, but a few generations later I would be a nobody.

Do you have a dream? Then go out and make it happen. No one will remember your mistakes in a hundred years, but if you achieve something great, they will certainly remember your name. 

There will always be space for the Einsteins, the Bill Gates, the Steve Jobs, the Barack Obamas of this world, but for you and me - we need to work and achieve the dreams that will make our fleeting time on this Earth worthwhile.

I am by no means saying that you cannot be Einstein. If you have it in you, go and show the world.

But, what is important is gratitude. For you to make a difference, you must make a difference in the lives of the people you meet. Change the world by kindness, by offering a helping hand where one could mean so much.

In this day and age, I often hear people complain about how chivalry is dead or how everyone is only interested in their own personal gain, but scarcely do I hear stories about kindness of a stranger or the love of a friend. 

If you are looking for the formula for happiness, there is no better place to start than to express gratitude for the things you have and to do as much as you can for others.

We all have limited time on Earth, and someone once told me that it is not about how many moments there are in your life, but how much life there is in each of your moments. 

It is about seizing each moment and squeezing every possible happiness from it.

I have been in a position where I was depressed and suicidal and could not imagine continuing. I was scared about what the future held for me and whether anything would ever get any better. 

If you are feeling down, broken and feel like you can't cope, think about the end of your life (I promise I'm not being morbid!) and think about the day your life flashes before your eyes. This is the day you won't think about all the things you did, but all the things you didn't do.

For all those ladies and gentlemen hurting in the world, this is the time to imagine the end where you have made the absolute best of what you have. 

It doesn't matter if you never make enough money to live in a castle or have a maid feed you peeled grapes on your chariot. 

What matters is that you made a difference in someone else's life by simply doing the best you could.

You never know, a hundred years from now, you could be the magic that enriched someone else's life rather than just a message in a bottle.