21 December 2008

The Bigger Question

The question is always Why?

did it end?

couldn't we make it work?

Or, if you are dealing with someone else's breakup, Why do you keep putting yourself in a position where you know you'll leave hurt?!

Case in point: A few weeks ago, my friend, "Amy", emailed me concerned she was being too hard on her friend, "Sally", who was sending Amy play-by-play messages of Sally's dramatic drag-out of a goodbye. Sally messaged Amy that she just left the guy's house in tears and knew she was an idiot for going over there but couldn't help herself because she thinks she's in love. Amy was worried that she might have been too harsh when she corrected Sally, telling her that that she was not an idiot but clearly an emotional masochist and needed to stay away from him. Amy emailed me, wanting to know what I thought of Sally's situation.

I simply wrote: She might be in love, but he's certainly not.

Was that harsh?

The bigger question is: Does it matter if one person is in love if the other doesn't reciprocate those feelings?

Really. What could be more painful? So, should one indulge or encourage those unrequited emotions? My vote would be no. I think it would it be wiser and ultimately kinder to discourage those feelings until they fade away.

I know that must sound terribly cold. After all, she's in love. But, she is in love alone. And all the love she might feel isn't making him love her back. It's only causing her pain. We've all been there, and we all know better.

Look, you can't will someone to love you. Trust me. If that were the case I would be fighting off Clooney and Pitt. And no matter how good it was or what wonderful chemistry you might have had, when you keep crying, it might be a clue that it's time to GOH. There isn't a behavior or trick or a certain amount of effort you have to employ to make a man love you. Yet, some of us still try thinking that one more conversation will change things. One more kiss. One more time in the sack. Usually, that leads to more tears rather than true love.

What do you do if you are dragged into a friend's breakup drama? Well, sometimes, in order to be a good friend, you need to just listen. Be the shoulder and the ears. However, if she keeps walking down Hearbreak Alley, you might need to be a little harsh and let her know that she's the one causing her own pain. And she can be strong enough to stop it. Then, if she's still speaking to you, take her out for a great big martini, give her your shoulder and just listen again. This time, she might start to sound like her old self.

12 November 2008

Where Have I Heard That Before?

How often, in the middle of spilling your guts to a friend, do you hear yourself repeating the same lines about this relationship -- or end of such -- that you did about the one before...and before that and before that and before that and...well, you get it. How many times do we fall into patterns that we swore we would not repeat?

I'm one who believes in karma. You know the term. We toss it around a lot, usually as a threat that it's going to catch up with someone at some point (and it will). But really, karma is about cause and effect, what you put out is what you get back. Karma isn't always a hard ass. Sometimes, karma will give us a second -- or third or forth or fifty-fifth -- chance. When we find ourselves in a deja vu type situation, karma is giving us another opportunity to learn. But, each time we "revisit" the lesson, it gets a bit more painful if we aren't swift to learn it. That's why I try to pay attention and check myself when I feel karma at the chalkboard of life. I've gotten the karmic knuckle-rapping before. It isn't pleasant, let me tell you.

The great thing about going down the same road, though, is that you understand where it leads. If you know you are heading down a dark alley, you can always make a turn and go off in a different direction. And karma will likely give you a gold star for that.

So, the next time you find you're repeating yourself, stop. Check your inner GPS and see if you are heading in the direction you really want to go and not doing yet another lap around your past.

24 August 2008

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

This may sound silly, but I would rather be dumped than do the breaking up. I know, it's ludicrous. But, I am terrible at doing the dumping. The guy either cries or thinks we stand another chance. Never a clean break. Always a little mess. I'm getting better at it, though. Now, they just think I'm cold just because I put the kibosh on the whole "let's still be friends" thing. Whatever.

I understand the difficulty of doing it, finding the right time and circumstance to say, "This isn't working." But, at some point you have to woman up and do it. You can't drag it out, keep telling your friends, "I think this is the week I'll end it." At a certain point, you have to pull the plug, not only for your sake, but his as well. It's the kind thing, the right thing to do. What if you were in a relationship with someone you adored and he knew there wasn't a real future for the two of you, but he kept it going because you are such a nice gal, a good person, and, while there's nothing wrong with you, he just doesn't see the two of you making it in the long run...how would you feel if he dragged it out a month or three or twelve or thirty? You deserve to find the right person for you, and so does he. So, eat your spinach, take a multi-vitamin, have an extra shot of espresso in your latte -- whatever it takes to get your courage up to say, "Babe, we need to talk."

10 August 2008

When to Give and When to GOH

I don't like to make excuses for people. Especially someone I'm dating. We all have to take responsibility for our own lives, and sometimes that means accepting the person or situation for what it is. That's easy to do when things are going your way. Not so much when they aren't.

Women are lucky because we can use both sides of our brains pretty much at the same time. We can figure something out in an instant. Generally, we know what we want, how we want it, how easy it is to have that happen. Then, we introduce a man into the situation, and all our plans hit the skids.

It's not the man's fault. They are an unknown, unpredictable entity. Yet, we want to be able to predict them. Script them. Schedule them. It just doesn't work that way. We ought to know that by now. But our damn brains, working at their rapid pace, always seem to know how things should go. And get really irritated when what they've mapped out is ignored.

It's important to set boundaries, have parameters, know what you are willing to take and what you are not. It keeps you safe, keeps your self-respect intact. It can also keep you alone if those boundaries and parameters turn into hoops and hurdles you expect others to jump through or climb over. There is a give and take to be had. And the trick of it is knowing when to give and knowing when to GOH.

My favorite quote from Maya Angelou is: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them." My favorite quote from Anais Nin is: "We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are." If you can keep both of those quotes in mind, it can help you decide if you should give or get GOH-ing.

Of course we want things on our time schedule, according to our well-crafted plans. After all, they are so brilliant and simple, and everyone wins. But, we can't expect to have others fall in line just because it makes sense to us, to be that controlling. I mean, do we want to live by someone else's clock or calendar or jump through their hoops? Sometimes we have to look outside ourselves to get a clearer picture.

There are times you need to give a man some slack. Understand there are external things that neither of you can control, be it work, school, or family issues. Sure, our egos would like to be first all the time, no matter what. But aren't there times when important people and things have to take a back seat to something else in your world? Exactly. We see things as we are. And sometimes we are a bit selfish. Hate to say it, but it's true. Slack is different than a "hold" button. You can keep moving forward with your life. He can pick up the slack and find his way back.

Of course, it's a different case if a guy isn't keeping his word, if he's making excuses for bad manners and such. To me, that's a clear sign it's time to GOH. Maya is a wise woman. When he shows you who he is, and that person isn't exactly honorable, it's foolish not to let go. Cut the ties and free yourself. It might hurt, like a bad bikini wax, but it will be over just as quick and heal just as fast if you let it. Because our brains are wonderful at that. They would rather focus on something new not mull over the old.

We want to give. We are a generous species, almost to a fault. Just remember, giving is supposed to feel good. If it leaves you empty, then it must be time to GOH.

27 July 2008

Change Your Mind

There comes a point after an ending when you have to change your mind, or at least your mindset. We forget that our brain and emotions are not spoiled toddlers high on sugar. No. We actually have control over them.

There's a bit of martyrdom that comes after a breakup. Emotionally, you are the equivalent of being shrouded in black. A gloom cloud hovers over you. Stock in Kleenex goes through the roof. For a time, you are supposed to feel pretty cruddy. But, sometimes, the crud sticks. We've all seen those relationship "widows" running around. "How long ago did they breakup?" "A year ago." "Oh. Wow. How sad." Not sad that she's still bummed over the breakup, but sad she's still not over it.

We can decide to feel better. Sometimes you have to decide that every thirty seconds. But, once you start deciding to feel better, it will start to actually happen. You'll need to remind yourself less and less.

I'm not talking about burying your feelings. That's not healthy. If your sad feelings keep bubbling up, it's been a while after the ending, and it's a little more than just your breakup making you feel blue, you might want to talk to someone. And I'm not being snarky about that. Really. If you are in emotional pain and it's not easing up, see a therapist, counsellor or member of the clergy to help you through it. But, if you are in the habit of thinking about your relationship just to see if you are going to feel bad about it, then stop and decide change your mind to feel better.

Think I'm being harsh? Well, what's meaner: You letting yourself feel rotten or me suggesting you get over it? I just think you deserve better. Especially from yourself.

18 July 2008

Step Away From The Crack!

Have you watched A&E's Intervention? I think any woman falling in love or breaking up should. You get to see how crazy, sad and pathetic addicts can be. On occasion, you might catch a glimpse of what a friend (or you) looks like when talking about a relationship. Seriously. Some of the same phrases come of my friends when they are talking about a man. "If I can just talk to him (use) one more time, I'll never need to talk to him (use) again." "You don't know what it's like when it's just the two of us (when I'm high). You just don't know how good it feels." Sound at all familiar?

They say that the brain reacts to love and heroin in similar ways -- not that I could quote the doctor or study I heard that from, but it kind of makes sense, don't you think? The thoughts and feelings can become a bit of an addiction. Like an itch you can't scratch, you need another fix, some sort of contact. It becomes a form of crack. When it gets that bad, you really need to take a step back. Sure, you'll go through withdrawals, but those only last a few hours, maybe a day. Once you get your head clear, you'll feel stronger and can see things with a new perspective. Hopefully, you'll be able to go forward with a bit of balance. But, if you go right back to needing more and more, losing your control, you might want to admit you have a problem. Call a friend (sponsor) and start doing the twelve-step shuffle away from what's driving you crazy...even if it's crazy in a good way.

16 July 2008

It's All In Your Head

Why do we do it to ourselves? Why? WhyWhyWhy?

That is exactly what my friend kept asking last night over the phone. Why hasn't he called? What does that mean? What did she do wrong? When should she call him or email him or send him a text?

I did what any good friend would do and told her to knock it off.

It's early days in her burgeoning relationship. The regular communication was stalled by his trip to see family (and we all know how draining that can be) and a getaway of her own. It's not like they've not communicated at all. There have been phone calls and emails and texts (which I really think we all should avoid outside of an emergency). But it's not happening at the pace it did in the beginning. He's never not called when he said he would, only sometimes when she expected him to. And there you have it: She has been getting upset by her expectations, not his actions. Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you. Unanimous. I knew it.

My friend wanted to know, did she do something wrong? Obviously, if he's not calling when she expects him to, it must be her fault*. (I'll get to that later.)

Since she didn't insult him and there wasn't a tiff, how could she have done something wrong? Relationships aren't like chocolate soufflé. There isn't a perfect recipe or temperature setting to adhere to, and you don't have to tip-toe around them. They aren't ICU patients, either. You don't have to take their temperature or pulse every hour. They do need to breathe, though. They can suffocate easily.

It's difficult when you are stoned on excitement not to dwell on every little thing. Try to find meaning in every action or non-action. But if you end up anxiety-ridden because of it, just remember: *It's all in your head. So, knock it off. The thought process, that is. Not your noggin.