Friday, August 22, 2014

7 Ways to Move On From a Relationship

Here I am.

Divorced for over a year. Two years' moved out. Two years' moved on. Yet still so blue some nights.
-- You're getting married.
-- Yes, next October.
-- Good . . . Good for you.
I still care, I still want him to be happy. But the truth is, I haven't even bought a mop yet.

What does a mop have to do with moving on? Let me explain.

7 Ways to Move On (After 7 Years):

You're not in love anymore. You may or may not still care. But your life is a little deflated and you don't know why. There's an emptiness you're not sure how to fill. (Hint: Sexy, delicious boyfriends are not the answer.) This is not about obliterating the past. Rather, these steps help you look the past in the face and say, "Yes. And."

Step 1.
Get a hobby - Close your eyes. As a child, when were you happiest? Was it helping in the kitchen? Coloring? Basketball in the driveway? Running barefoot on the beach? Climbing trees or playing in mud? Reading? Building blocks? Chances are, there are grown-up equivalents in the same ballpark. I was that girl climbing trees all day long, scrambling up on the roof and sleeping under the stars. Little wonder I've taken climbing in the adult world complete with safety gear and belay-buddies. What turns your inner child on? Go after it.

Step 2.
Clean out the cruft - Prepare for new adventures by opening physical space for them. Clean out the TV stand full of old DVDs you watched together. Donate books and old clothes. Buy new dishes, towels, and linens. Get a new bed. Take your computer to a professional and have it wiped. Or better, buy a new one. Last night, I tried once again to get my ex-husband's name off my desktop's locked user folder. I gave up and started crying because this stuff is hard.

Step 3.
Find new friends - If they're human, your old friends will have picked sides. If you're lucky, you'll have one or a handful still hanging around. These people know the you you used to be. There's a comfort in that. But the fact is, you're not that you anymore. You're becoming a different you and it's time to find new friends who can say, "Maybe you were like that, but that's not the person I know."

Seeing your reflection in the faces of new friends you love, and who love you back, will show you how far you've come. Besides, new friends bring new perspectives, lessons, joys, and challenges. And isn't life what happens when people come together? -- Somewhere in the middle, life happens.

Step 4.
Be selfish - If you're like me, your life's frayed twine gets all frizzed out and tangled up in others. Start being selfish. Let the detangling begin! Start saying No to requests for your resources -- time, money, love -- when you get even a little twinge of discomfort. Spend those resources on you.

Lavish love on yourself for a change, and bask in it. Is it a little overkill to make a fancy dinner, take a shower and primp up, uncork a nice wine, light candles, break out the linen napkins, set the table for yourself and then eat the meal you lovingly prepared? Is it overkill to thank yourself for taking care of YOU? Nope. It's the language of healing. Be lavishly selfish. Remember that there's no shortage of love in this world.

Step 5.
Log your luck - Notice things. All the things! That flower is pretty! That street light is green! Your hair looks awesome today. The sky is stunning. That bartender is a generous pourer. Your body is strong! You have a good job. You have great friends. You can still get off. You can turn heads.

Like keeping a gratitude journal, keeping a mental luck log will help you realize how lucky you are. All things have a flip side. Flick the coin, make it twirl and watch life start to shine when you start recognizing all the ways you are getting lucky ;)

Step 6.
Reach out - You've started staying No. Now start asking for what you want. You'll be surprised how many people want to give you what makes you happy. People like the way life bubbles up in the space between closeness. They'll get closer if you ask. Start small, and be prepared to fill yourself up with lavish love if they say No.

Step 7.
Say Yes - Learn the difference between when you don't want something (Say No) and when you're afraid of something. When opportunities arise, check whether your main inhibitor is fear. If so, start defaulting to Yes. You won't succeed at or like everything you try. But these new experiences start filling in the gaps where old experiences used to keep you safe and warm.

This is reprogramming. Soon, every time you say Yes and survive the experience -- whether you succeed or fail, love it or hate it -- you're teaching yourself that you are capable and strong and worth it.


So where's the mop factor in? Step 2 and 4. I've cleaned out the cruft to some extent, but it's time I start the love lavish in practical ways. I've been "making do" because of the great effort and cost of getting a new computer, buying a mop (when wet-towel-dancing is just fine!), acquiring a router and getting internet -- it all seems overwhelming.

It's time to break it down into small, manageable chunks, be gentle with myself and begin the last stage of moving on.