One Step Forward, Two Steps Back…

I was doing so well. I was feeling good. I was adjusting to the new version of my life. I was doing so well! But over the last week, I’ve felt myself sliding back.

I think that some of that comes from the fact that word is starting to spread. More and more people are starting to hear that we’re no longer together. And with that comes the questions, the rumors and the uninvited propositions from so-called friends (guys) thinking that I’m “back on the market” and they’re going to shoot their shot. 

I’m also starting to tell more people in casual conversation, like the ladies at work who are “work friends”, but not people who I usually share my deep, dark secrets with. With each new person and saying those words “he left me…”, the pain comes back. The tears do, too. It seems like I’ve cried more in the last three days than the last 3 weeks!

The other part of my backslide comes from a half-hearted attempt to actually get “back out there” and contemplate the idea of possibly meeting someone new. Let me tell you, it’s not great. The market is seriously lacking and seems to be filled with playboys or guys who are clearly only looking for one thing – and I’m not that type of girl. Instead of being something to feel excited about – that potential of meeting a new love – I feel more sadness as a result. It’s just another reminder that the future that I thought I had and the person who I thought was going to be my Forever, no longer is. Maybe there’s a version of my future that is an improvement over the one that I knew, but isn’t it just as likely that my potential future will be worse? 

So again, I’m back to the same struggle that I’ve had since the very beginning – how do I stay hopeful? How do I keep the dark away? When will these feelings move along and be replaced with happiness? I’m trying, really trying, to be positive, upbeat and manifest that happiness, but sometimes life gets the better of me. I just need to keep in mind that all of this has a purpose. It’s leading me somewhere. Somewhere that I’m supposed to be. In the end, I’ll look back and know that all of this pain and change happened for a reason. And who knows, I might even be grateful for it. 

A New Year Without Fireworks…

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve had to worry about feeling lonely on New Year’s Eve. It’s a feeling that has become all too familiar over the last 4 months, but still hurts nonetheless. Although I felt like curling up into a ball and hiding under my covers, I made myself get up, put on that twenties-themed flapper dress that I bought just for the night, put on makeup and even curl my hair, which takes some effort, believe me! I wore my brand new over-the-knee boots for the first time and by the time I was ready to leave and hit a few parties, I felt uplifted and almost excited for the night ahead.

I went from party to party, making three stops in total, spending a bit of time at each with friends and even meeting new people. The first party was going to be the toughest, as I knew it was going to be mostly couples – which I was no longer a part of. Surprisingly, I found myself easily chatting with the only two other single ladies at the party and had a great time! We had fun laughing and exchanging stories about the dating world, even though I don’t have many at this point, but I did have one or two to share – more on that later. 

The second stop was with two close friends, and although I felt very overdressed for the party in my sequin dress, I had a wonderful time reminiscing about past New Years spent with them – even though those New Year’s were with Ryan.

My last stop was to my friend who has been there for me the most through these last tough four months, and I didn’t want to face the new year with anyone else but her. She was supportive, understanding and loving, just as I knew she would be – even when I had a little pity party right after midnight. It was just what I needed for this very difficult day. 

The night ended and I headed home by myself at 1am with no New Year’s Eve kiss to start off 2020. I didn’t even watch any fireworks. A New Year’s Eve without fireworks…I never thought that would happen. I even broke the heel on those brand new over-the-knee boots! 

So I went home with a broken necklace, a broken heel and a broken heart. It certainly seemed to sum up my 2019 and I hope it’s not an indication of what’s to come for me in 2020.

This Was Our Love Story…

There are a lot of reasons why this life change has been so difficult for me. From my enormous fear of being alone, to these new feelings of coping with abandonment, to the fact that he was in my life for 17 years, I have had an extremely tough time dealing with this. But the most prevalent reason is because I loved him so very much. And he loved me, for a while at least. I can vividly remember the feeling of a love so overpowering and overwhelming that I was convinced that no one else on earth had the same connection that we had with one another. I can even remember us talking about it – how lucky we were to have each other, to have such a strong and powerful love, a love that has to be incredibly rare because other people just don’t have “this”. I can vividly remember so many moments when I experienced this feeling throughout our years and years together. 

I remember it on the day that he proposed. It was weird and awkward and beautiful and special. It was perfect. It was just us, at my most favorite place, the beach, where we used to sit in lifeguard chairs a decade earlier and talk all night long. On this particular day, he promised to love me forever and to give me all of the things that WE wanted in life. He promised me a beautiful life full of love and happiness. And I just knew that is exactly what we would have together.

I remember that feeling on our wedding day, feeling so nervous about the huge step we were going to take even though we had already been together for 15 years, because it meant that much to me. I remember exchanging our vows and that overwhelming emotion of love that filled every cell in my body. I loved this man so much.

I remember the feeling on the helicopter ride to our honeymoon island. He was so nervous and definitely did not want to fly, but he knew how much I wanted to. I wanted to have my very own “The Bachelor” moment and be whisked away in the helicopter. I remember looking over at him, headsets on, and just feeling so much love for him. He was so uncomfortable with it, but loved me enough to conquer the fear. 

I remember the intense emotions we’d have every time he would leave at the end of the weekend while visiting me at college – a whole two heartbreaking hours away. Where the thought of not seeing each other for five days was excruciating. I would watch with tears falling as he drove away. And each time he’d roll down the window and yell at the top of his lungs as he drove away “I love this woman!”… I was overwhelmed with love. No one else had this. We had these same feelings of sadness when one of us would take just 3 day business trips. We just hated being apart. We belonged together.

I will always remember how devastating it was when he came to New York City to see me during the few months that I lived there, and I had to watch him get into a cab to go back home at the end of our visit. The feeling of both sadness and love was more than anything I had ever felt. Our love was just so strong. Not being together was nearly unbearable.

I remember how proud of him I felt when he would land a better job or step up into the man I knew he could be. I remember the love that I felt when he would put on our very own personal fireworks show just because he knew how much I loved them. When he would run to me at midnight on New Years Eve because we had to be each other’s kiss. I remember when he would look at me across a room and just wink at me. An “I’m thinking of you” gesture. 

It was saying “I blank you” before “I love you” because he knew I needed to take it slowly. It was surprising him on his birthdays with parties and gifts. It was him with my nieces and nephews. It was my first ever trip to NYC and all the trips after to our favorite place. It was our trip to Italy. It was hosting parties and all the concerts. It was all of the yorkie t-shirts I got for him. It was all of our Christmases together and lunch at Larry’s on Christmas Day. It was raising Winston together. It was the ring of my dreams that filled my heart with love every single time that I looked down at it.

Our Love Story was falling in love at 19 and 23, spending every waking moment together, being apart for college, for internships, and coming back together, moving in together, getting a puppy together, all the new jobs, the professional growth, the personal growth. It was the heartbreaking, world-shifting, life-altering time that we broke up and went over a year without seeing each other 7 years into our relationship and it was the strength of our love and forgiveness that brought us back together when that tidal wave swept us up in it. It was growing our love and connection as we grew up into adults. It was growing together and not growing apart. It was leaving relationships behind when it made us into better people. It was living life and planning our life to come. Getting engaged and waiting another 6 years to get married. It was planning our family and playfully arguing over the baby names. It was buying our house and making it into a home. It was all of the special birthdays and all the holidays together. It was special and it was rare. Our love was different.

It was the few big things and it was all the little things that added up to make our love a GREAT love.

And so, it’s because of the reality that I’ve lost this great love, and that I don’t even understand why it’s over, that I’ve had a difficult time in dealing with it all. I never saw this coming. I never thought we’d end up here. I still don’t even know why we’re here. I don’t know how I’ll ever have these feelings again for anyone new. Is there even any room for another when I feel like my heart is so consumed with sadness, loneliness and devastation. How will anyone ever make me feel secure enough to trust in love ever again? How can that happen when this epic love that I had caused me so much heartache in the end?

I’ve heard all of the stories about finding your greatest love after your greatest heartbreak. In my fragile attempt at clinging to hope in all of this, I guess this is my only option. To maintain hope, stay as positive as possible, and to not let this shut down my heart forever. 

How Do You Know When It’s Time?

How do you know when it’s time to start moving on? Is it normal to just want a distraction, any distraction, just to get your mind off of all of the sorrow that seems to consume you? How do you choose what qualities to look for in a new partner? Am I even ready to be looking for a “partner”? No, I think a “placeholder” is a better term. How can I even consider moving on when I’m still struggling so much just to survive the day? How can I give any part of myself to someone new when I feel as though there’s nothing there to give?

Then I think about the effort that would be required in having a conversation with someone new. What do you say? What parts do you talk about and what parts do you leave out? How honest are you supposed to be? I think that if I were truly honest with anyone right now, they wouldn’t be around for very long. And so, I put on this happy face, one that isn’t real, one that maybe feels ok for the conversation or even for the night, but it never lasts. Then that lonely reality comes back stronger than before, or so it seems. 

What do you do when every experience, every story, since you were 19 years old, includes a person who made the choice to remove themselves from your life? Do you stop telling those stories? You’d have nothing left to say. Do you leave him out? Should I include him and speak about him as a distant part of my past? Nothing feels quite right… And maybe that in itself, is a sign that I’m not ready. But how on earth do I get there? When will my heart feel ready to open to even the idea of future love? It seems so impossible. 

I’ve said this from the start – I don’t do well being alone. I’m in this big house all alone. I spend my evenings after work all alone. I decorated my Christmas tree alone. I spent most of Thanksgiving alone. So much time alone. How do I become ok with that? It’s a hurdle that I don’t think I can overcome. I never have been able to. Where am I supposed to find the strength to do that now? 

I know that I need to focus on myself, love myself, accept myself – be genuinely “ok” with myself. Once I do that, everything else is supposed to fall into place. Someone can only love me once I fully love and accept myself. But I feel like I don’t even know myself. Who am I without the person who was my other half for such a long time? Even though we had independent lives from one another, he was always there. A safety net, a partner. I don’t even know who I am now.

I know that this is Step One for me. I just wonder when I’m going to feel ready to take that first step. 

Surviving Thanksgiving…

Well, that was more difficult than I was expecting… I knew that the holidays were going to be difficult. My first in more than 17 years “alone”, so really, my first time ever feeling this way. The loneliness was almost too much. And it’s not that I didn’t have family events that I could have attended. But that meant answering all of “those” questions. And I am just not ready to share this news with extended family who I only see 3 times a year. I can barely speak about it to close friends and family without breaking down. Add in those feelings of judgement that creep in and I don’t want to even open that door. So that means staying home alone.

Watching the Macy’s parade is my own personal Thanksgiving morning tradition. So I made myself get out of bed to watch. I saw most of it through tear-filled eyes. It highlighted so much of NYC, which was such a special place to us both. Those memories of Central Park, NYC streets, and even Macy’s itself, brought up so many gut wrenching memories and I just couldn’t handle it. And once I’m in that place, it’s difficult to pull myself out. Not even the Westminster Dog Show worked, although it helped!

Luckily, I was able to ice my swollen eyes enough to go to my immediate family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Just walking into my parents house without him almost sent me back into tears, but I pulled myself together. The very thorough breakdown of the Frozen 2 movie by my nephew helped to cheer me up. Then the rest of the night was ok. Almost normal. It’s just that he wasn’t there… Something I really need to start getting used to, I guess.

I’ve never really considered how difficult the holidays can be for some people. They’re usually such a source of happiness for me. I absolutely love all things holiday. From all the pretty houses lit up with Christmas lights, to the parties and gatherings with friends and family, Christmas trees and the movies and songs – I love it all! But this year just isn’t the same, and as much as I try, it almost feels as though it makes the dark times darker.

But, I survived Thanksgiving and have 4 more weeks of grieving and growth to prepare myself for Christmas Day. Are you struggling through the holidays, too? How do you overcome those deep, empty feelings? I know I’m not alone in this, which means that you aren’t either. So let’s find hope in that.

The Truth Always Comes Out…

Yet another blow to my heart and mind last weekend…
I’ve been trying so hard to have a Gwenyth Paltrow “conscious uncoupling” type of divorce. We have no kids, we still have a lot of love for one another (so I thought) – why can’t we part on civil terms? Why can’t it be left in a way where we could be in the same room together or even at one point be actual friends? After all, I do miss him so very much. I miss the person who was my very best friend for the last 17 years of my life. Half of my life! The hardest part of this for me was the feeling that in a snap, he was removed completely from my everyday life. I missed him. I still miss him, even now. So much so that I left the door open to us being friends. And with each talk or visit over the last 6 weeks, it was always confirmed that our love for one another was still there. It is always just enough for me to believe that there could one day be an “us” again in the future. I didn’t know how I’d get past all of this heartache, but anything is possible, right? I mean, I’ve done it before – nearly 10 years ago. We survived that and came out stronger, or so I thought. Maybe this was going to be the same.

But then I saw it. Social media is the ultimate lie detector test. He told me he was at a work event and really he was with “her”. With her at an event that he would have never been interested in going to. Like ever. What is he doing? Who is this person that I don’t even recognize anymore? How can he be so foolish? How can he lie to me? How could I have ever truly believed the lies when he told me, even up until 2 weeks ago, that she was just a friend? That there was nothing between them? Because even though my gut told me there was more to it, when I asked him, he assured me that there wasn’t. They were just friends. And again, like a fool, I chose to believe him. To believe the lie.

So when the truth is staring at you in the face, in the form of an Instagram story, it hurts beyond belief. And all of my hopes for a conscious uncoupling goes out the window. My heart hardens and is full of anger, hurt and betrayal. My will to keep things civil between us lessens because he doesn’t truly deserve that. People need to see the REAL him – not the show he’s putting on or the lies that he tells.

My only solace for today is in the words from a friend – The truth will always come out. She’s right. It might take time, but the truth will come out. I need to stay strong and retain my composure and not let his betrayal cause me to be a lesser version of myself. I’m better than that. I’ll get through it and hopefully in the end, come out a better and stronger version of myself…

Everything At Once or Nothing At All…

It’s such a strange and new feeling to have my emotions be completely out of my own control. And I’m the type of girl that likes to be in control. I get to decide what people see and know about me. I maintain a steady presence and keep those walls up. Lately though, I feel as though I teeter between having days where I feel nothing to days where I feel everything.

I think that the days where I feel nothing are my preference at the moment. It’s nice to not break down into tears randomly or have my mind venture down dark roads. It’s nice to feel nothing at all rather than be left with the emptiness and loneliness that overwhelms me on those other days – the days where I feel everything.

The rational side of me knows that time will heal all wounds. This won’t last forever and maybe, just maybe, my life will be better because of this difficult time. The emotional side gets the better of me most days, where the pain feels endless and hope is lost. My thoughts are consumed with the life that I’ll miss out on and the one that I’ll never have now.

So what wins in the end – the rational side or the emotional? When will enough time pass to allow some of the pain to ease? When will I get to see a glimpse of hope or a light at the end of the tunnel? How do I not let this get the best of me? When will I ever get back to being “me”?

A Soft Heart…

I’ve always had a soft heart. I try so hard to be tough and put on a front of strength, but when it comes down to it, I’m mush. It’s something that I equally like and dislike about myself. Just as we’re all toughest on ourselves, I hate to feel “weak”. And my apparent weakness in my own mind probably isn’t even seen as a weakness by others.

I’ve had so many instances in my young life where all I wanted to do was stand up for myself, but at those times, I didn’t have the courage or strength. Now as an adult, I try to make up for that in a way, I guess. I don’t want to show or share my struggle or pain. But as much as I try to make my outer shell hard, my softness always shows through. I’m definitely one of those people who cannot camouflage their feelings. You can tell what I’m thinking just by looking at my face. It makes me a terrible liar! But I sort of like that about myself.

My soft heart is always quick to forgive, probably more than I should. That’s where the balance of liking and disliking that part of myself comes into play. Even after all that he’s put me through, I still feel an overwhelming capacity and desire to forgive. Should I see this as a weakness? It certainly feels like a weakness right now. Is there a fine line between forgiveness and foolishness? Will being quick to forgive make this pain go away? Will it help me avoid the bitterness that I feel creeping in?

I’ve spoken a few times about trying to remain hopeful in this difficult journey. Part of my drive in continuing this blog is to ultimately create an opportunity to connect with others and find strength and support in one another. I want this experience to create growth in myself, but I don’t want it to change me. I don’t want to let this experience cause me to lose myself and become a bitter person. Although that feels difficult to do most days, I’m going to cling on to those few happy moments that remind me of my true heart and hope that those times will multiply while the bitter days fade. I want my heart to stay soft and trust that my journey will allow for growth in all the right ways.

Thank You For Being A Friend…

Most of the time, it’s tough to see any bright side to all of this. But if there is one, it’s the support that I’ve been shown by those around me who I’ve shared my story with. It’s just about the only thing getting me through it all. From friends who have always been there, to those who are rather new, and of course my sisters and mom, all have opened their arms, homes and hearts to me. When I have a day that I don’t feel like I’ll survive, all it takes is a simple text, call or invitation to happy hour to turn my day around. Just knowing that someone is thinking of you can be all it takes. I’ve been shown that kind of love and support from many women in the short time that I’ve had to adjust to this “new” life of mine. That just goes to show you the power of words, thoughts, and even memes!

When I think about the moments of total loneliness and abandonment that I’ve experienced, the only light I have is in KNOWING that I’m not alone. That’s where my drive comes from to write and publish my story. I want to share to provide some therapy for myself, but also to be a support to someone else out there going through a difficult time of their own. You aren’t alone. There are people who love you and support you. The tough time won’t last forever. Things will get better. There is a light at the end. It’s easy to lose sight of that – I certainly feel like I do most days, but try to remain hopeful. That’s something that a new friend helped me with last night… there is always hope.

So stay strong ladies! It’s ok to have a bad day, but reach out to get help when you need it. There is far less judgement than you think! That’s definitely something that I struggle with – assuming there will be judgement when in reality, there’s only love and support. And if you’re having a great day, reach out to a girlfriend who maybe has been struggling a bit lately. You have no idea how much she might need it.

Thanks to my girlfriends who have been a saving grace for me these last several weeks. I wouldn’t be here without any of you!

❤ Darby, Marisa, Heidi, Haley, Katherine, Jennifer and of course Mom ❤

A Calming Bath…

So yesterday was a little heavy, right? I was terrified to write that part and equally as terrified, if not more so, for people to read it. Let’s lighten it up!

I branched out of my comfort zone a bit yesterday and went to a experience a “sound bath”. I’m open to just about anything to help with mental clarity at this point. I went alone, which that in itself is huge for me. I don’t like to do anything alone… But I did it! I really didn’t even know what a sound bath was, but I had a girlfriend share about her experience with me and how healing it was for her. This session was on the beach, which is my most favorite place, so that alone made the trip worthwhile. Plus, I didn’t have anything to lose, so I made myself go. In the end, I’m so glad that I did!

I walked up the beach to a group of people laying down in a circle around the bowls and gong. They had their pillows, blankets and eye masks. I felt very under-prepared! I found a spot and chatted with a lady next to me, telling her I’ve never been before, who kindly told me what to expect. Essentially, you just lie down for an hour, relax and let the sounds relax your mind to allow for deeper and easier meditation. Given all of the changes going on, I found it very difficult to quiet my mind. I was actually never able to during the entire hour. I would love to give it another try in the future when I’m in a better state of mind. Although I definitely felt more relaxed on the drive back home.

I’ve always been open to exploring new and different ways to achieve relaxation, clarity and better health. I really enjoyed this experience and couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday evening. I think that this could certainly be beneficial for anyone trying to navigate through a challenging time.

What unconventional things do you try to improve your own mental health?