Saturday, November 30, 2013

Good Grief: Pass the Closure

“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an  evil.”

-J. R. R. Tolkien

I'm going to start this out by reminding you all that I am not a therapist, and as always, my blogs are based on my experiences unless otherwise mentioned. There, now that that's out of the way, let's dive right in to this one. I want to talk a little bit about the often discussed "5 Stages of Grief," and how I think they apply to the ending of a relationship. Although, it's me so you know I'm going to mix it up a bit, because let's be honest, I'm far from conventional. Also bare in mind that these stages I'm about to discuss are not necessarily in a particular order and they might vary due to the severity of the damage that has been done. 

The "It's Not Over until I Say it's Over" Stage

This stage can be a doozy if the breakup isn't mutual. You know exactly what I'm talking about, that ever-blinding ray of hope is shining so brightly in your eyes you allow your mind to continue fantasizing about things eventually working out. (It Won't). During this stage is the time where you look at old pictures and focus solely on every good memory and block out all of the negative ones. Your ex suddenly morphs into Mr/Mrs Perfect-in-Every Way. (They Aren't). This is also the stage where your friends and family will try and comfort you, give you advice, and tell you that you are too good for Mr/Mrs P. (They're Right). However, although you will hear them, it's too early for you to listen and believe them. That's ok. The length of time in this phase is likely correlated to the length of the relationship. If you're currently in this phase and reading this post consider this my warning message: Move On Immediately. (See I'm not your friend so I can get away with that shit-You're Welcome). 

The "Pajamas/Ice Cream/Alcohol Phase

Sometimes, all three at once. (You know who you are). You want a pajama day? I'll allow it. When it turns into a pajama week, we have a problem. I don't care how cute your pajamas are, you don't have any business wearing them for more than 24 hours in a row. I know I sound like a heartless bitch, I swear I'm not. (Unless you ask my ex-husband.) I am just simply telling you what I wish I would've known a decade ago. Ice cream is allowed upon necessity as long as you SWEAR to only buy one carton at a time. Frank at the supermarket check out should at least have the privilege of being mildly curious when he asks how you are. If your cart is filled with vodka, Ben & Jerry's, Snickers, Cheetos, all flavors of Milano cookies, and more vodka, you're going to give yourself away. Poor Frank. While I'm at it, about that vodka.... You have a few more phases to go before you're allowed vodka, wine, rum....I think you see where I'm going with this. (Now I'm a heartless bitch). Let me tell you the obvious reasons why. 
1. Drunk Texts
2. Drunk Phone Calls
3. Drunk "Selfies" (those will come back to bite you in the ass worse than a hangover).
4. More Drunk Texting
5. Every emotion known to man is MAGNIFIED by alcohol. (One minute you're a healthy level of sad, the next minute you're Rose in your bathtub sobbing "I'll never let go Jack...I'll never let go!" (Dude. Let Go! That ship sunk.) 
There is also one more prevalent activity that arises during this phase. Facebook Stalking (or Falking according to my best friend Kevin). This activity includes all forms of social media. This is just a part of our masochistic nature. Why we do it I'll never know, but I'll be the first to tell you I couldn't WAIT to see what my replacement looked like. (No Comment.) I want you to think about something for a minute: What good does it do you to see your Ex (Now Mr/Mrs not-so-P) happily surviving without you. (They are, if not immediately it's inevitable). Stop the insanity. Remove/block/unfriend/unfollow them in every way society allows. If you haven't already, stop reading this and do it now while you're all fired up! Delete their number AND yes the ENTIRE textersation still lingering on your mobile device. (I just called you out!) I am begging you with every ounce of my being-STOP THE MADNESS! One last thing about this, don't recruit people to do your stalking for you, that's cheating, and it makes them feel uncomfortable. (Consider this my official apology.) Thankfully this phase is also temporary and the length of time spent here is something you have a great deal of control over. Hurt is unavoidable, suffering isn't. 

The "I'm Fine" Stage

I like to call this one delusional closure or "I think I'm ready to hit up the singles bars" stage. I'm sorry precious, you're not quite there yet. Still too soon for those miniskirts and martinis ladies, or for you guys, any alcohol and Affliction t-shirts. (Those should probably be left in 2012 anyway-again, you're welcome). It's in this stage where suddenly you're beginning to realize how awesome you are but you still don't know what you deserve. It's too fragile of state to risk slip ups. Doing too much too soon can lead to being knocked on your ass. (I have bruises to prove it.) It's here where it's ever so important that you keep yourself surrounded with positive people. Find new hobbies and further develop your old ones. Run. Holy freakin crap if I could tell you to do one thing in this phase it's run! Running teaches us that our body is capable of more than our mind thinks is possible. I don't care if you've never run a day in your life-do it! Make a killer playlist, put in some headphones and pound the pavement. Developing this habit now will help you with the next stage....and you're going to need it. (Obviously if a doctor has advised you not to run then don't be a fool-walking works too, just walk fast.)  I can't tell you how long you will be in this stage, and sometimes I find this one comes around more than once usually in between the other stages. Just hang in there, I swear it gets better. (Would I lie?)

The "What Did Your Pillow Ever Do to You" Stage

This is the welcomed stage where Mr/Mrs P becomes Mr/Mrs POS. (You know that was good!) This is also the stage where songs like "Since you've been gone," "Fighter," and "Survivor," end up on your Spotify playlist. (See also, "You'll Think of Me," "Someone Like You," and my FAVORITE: drumroll please- "You Oughta Know." I'm a chick-what did you expect?!) I will be the first to tell you getting mad is good. (Can you guess what stage I'm in? Ha!) Again-I can't say this enough, you must still avoid the alcohol. Besides, you've come so far, no need to back track now! So let it out! Talk a healthy amount of crap with your friends, punch your pillow, scream at inconsiderate drivers on the freeway, (hehe), take a kickboxing class, and then punch your pillow some more. (Aren't you glad you're a runner now? Run it out.) This is the stage when you are reminded of all the shitty things Mr/Mrs POS did wrong throughout your relationship AND just how poorly you were treated at the end. Do your best to keep your anger contained to a level just below insanity or your likely to unleash a monster on your unprepared family members during Thanksgiving clean up. (Who would do such a thing?! What a psycho.) Remember that while it's completely normal to be angry, your family, friends, and co-workers didn't break up with you, the POS did, so don't take it out on them. So here's my best advice for this stage: Be angry with integrity. If you want to burn pictures/property, I can't support that because it's not my style. Remember you're actions are a reflection of you. You're the good guy in this story remember? Don't do villainous things you may or may not regret later. So to sum it up-Anger is healthy, evilness is not. Know the difference. Just don't stay here too long. Anger is an ugly color on everyone. 

The "Bring out the Booze" Phase

Also known as "acceptance." Cheers. You're over the hump and ready to get back out there! Mr/Mrs POS has morphed into Mr/Mrs Thing of the Past. Honestly, I don't think this stage means you don't occasionally reflect on your past relationship and feel "something." If your relationship had any level of longevity, in some ways that person will always be a part of you. That's just a part of life. Difficult experiences change and grow us into new and better versions of ourselves. Look at you Superstar! You survived! (I knew you would.) Break ups are one of the crappiest things we can go through. Hurt happens. Tears fall. Feathers fly. (Santa bring me a new pillow for Christmas?) When all is said and done, hearts heal, scars and all. This is a progressive stage, you will continue to move on more and more with the passing of time. Trust me, the day isn't far away where you will be able to listen to "your song" when it comes on the radio and you won't tear up, you'll be able to quote lines from your favorite movie and it won't make you cringe, and when someone mentions their name you won't need to replace all the pillows in your home. (I needed to redecorate anyway....riiiiiight.)

Unfortunately we live in a world where people just don't stay together anymore. That is a very sad thing but very much reality. In closing, I just want to reiterate something that has really helped me over and over again. (This is not my first rodeo ya'll.) Right after my divorce I was having a heart to heart with another single mom I really looked up to and her advice to me was burned into my very being. She said four little words to me that changed how I operate in almost every area of my life. She said, "Always act with integrity." Now at the time she was specifically referring to how I should handle a very angry, and bitter ex-husband, but I always strive to be that way in every relationship I have had. Let me tell you, I have had a couple guys do some pretty despicable things to me, they all received their belongings back the same way, washed, folded, and in one piece. For me, that's what feels right. Matter of fact you can ask my friends just how important this is to me and they will likely all think of the same story. I think I'll tell you for fun. One of the more recent relationships I was in involved my ex being here so frequently that he was allotted half of my closet. Long story short, I was under the influence when I found out about an infidelity. My influenced self proceeded to march to the closet and grab all of his clothes and throw them on the balcony. (A few even went right over, but don't worry, my neighbors were nice enough to hang them on my stairs. Humiliated much?) The night turned into a sleep over with several friends really being there for me. However no one was prepared for me to wake up, feeling sick for one thing, and I had a vague recollection of the throwing of the clothes. At 5am I carried all of the clothes back inside, and a day or two later they were all washed and folded. I don't know what a therapist would have to say about this behavior, but for me, it's just what feels right. It's immeasurably important for me to be able to look myself in the mirror and be ok with my actions. Frankly, our actions are the ONLY thing about a break up we can control! 

The reason I am able to tell you what to do and what not to do is because I have done it the hard way so many times. Seriously, my heart is still shaking it's little heart head after the last one. (Forgive me heart, I'm endlessly sorry.) Obviously, you may think I'm full of complete crap and try your luck with some Jack Daniels in the Pajama Stage. More power to you, but I'm not wrong about this. I'm just not. With all my heart I wish I could reach through this screen and hug you and make your hurt go away. I really, truly do. Hurt can be so debilitating, believe me my darlings, I know. I can't fast forward you through this process (although that would be a hell of an invention!)  or I would. It has to run it's course and it will. You absolutely will survive this if you make up your mind to do it! Be your own hero! Place your focus where it belongs, the future, not the past. Stop drowning in despair and surf the waves! I don't want to drag this out much longer because it can be so much to take in all at once, but I want to close with one last thing, but I want you to really be ready for it. Take a deep breath, center, find your zen, whatever....ready? 

You are going to be ok. Again. You are going to be OK! Last time: YOU ARE GOING TO BE OK! Get it? This hurts. This sucks. But, it's not forever, and someday my friends, you absolutely are going to be ok. In fact, you will be more than ok, you will be AMAZING! Now....who wants ice cream?

*Find me on Facebook JFox Tales*

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