The best advice I ever received was from a woman I loved who I had no future with. She said, simply: "Don't look back. What we had was what we had, and we should both try to move on."
She was SO right. But years of habit mixed with bruised ego told me a different story in my mind. All I had to do to avoid the subsequent years of future pain, regret and self sabotage was listen for a few precious seconds.
And yet...It was all those awful moments I put myself through during the time after our split which allowed me to understand and accept the advice she gave with my full mind and heart.
She had previously experienced this phenomenon herself, having been married followed by a divorce that gave no immediate answers as to what went wrong. I had not. So the entire time I spent focusing on myself and the pain I felt, I did not think at all about how this was her second major long term relationship loss. She probably was experiencing double the heartbreak. She, however, had experience on her side and better understood what was happening. She said there was nothing left to do but move on. She told me nothing can fix what hurts right now but time. We needed to "go away from one another...and never look back."
She begged me not to look back. Just move on. For both of us.
...I couldn't. I needed answers. Answers I never actually got verbally, but can almost be completely sure of in my mind nonetheless. The world can often be very simple if you allow it to be. Typically when people tell you to move on, chances are it's because they already have themselves, and probably with the help of someone else. At which point, can anything they say actually make you feel better???
Too many of us hang around and get hurt just enough to destroy ourselves. When I look back with a clear mind, I can count dozens of times where I should have ended things sooner. Times where I should have realized I had outgrown the relationship years before it ended. Times even still where after it ended I should have walked away myself. What I'm saying is, no one should ever have to TELL you to move on...because you already knew a long time ago.
For some reason we have it in our head as humans that great memories are a valid reason to invest in a doomed future with someone who you inhabit an already shady present with. Not acknowledging that those memories are exactly what they are: Memories. The past. To put it bluntly: "Shit that's already happened". If you build your future based on memories alone, you may find yourself somewhat sad. Forever longing for something more. That's due to our memory's tendency to become foggy, then glorified over time, because we hold on to the best parts! (Ever hear somebody talk about how great music used to be versus now? Yea, because the horrible musicians of the past era get forgotten, and only the BEST of that era get their classics played over and over again on the radio, leading you to look back over your foggy rose-colored nostalgia goggles and proclaim EVERYONE was an absolute genius back then!...They weren't. Your ass is just old and forgot. It's cool, I'll be next.)
When the red flags of a person you date begin popping up continuously, but you allow them to steadily sit and wave in the wind, they become faded and not as easily visible over time. You never responded to them in a timely fashion and now you are too far removed to see the flags for what they are: No-Brainer signals to get the hell OUT.
Every message on those flags have the same template: "Danger: [Insert Concern Here]. Please Remove Before Advancing". Yet we routinely leave the messages unread and the flags unmoved because we don't want the responsibility of carrying the truth of our probable demise upon our shoulders. Deferring inevitable confrontation for fleeting comfort.
We see the red flags immediately. Every time. We just have the wrong response. We completely avoid them. We treat the flags as if they designate a land mine. When in reality the flag is simply telling us to read its message. An urgent message addressed to your psyche's inbox.
Please understand the role that ego plays when you stay in something longer than you should. It's your belief that the situation at hand requires your continued involvement for the best outcome...OR you could just be being a complete asshole again.
SOME of us linger in a situation after it has ended because they're not sure if they made the right decision to exit. They string others along on their indecisive journey and end up causing more emotional harm to all involved than had they gathered their tools and walked away when they said they would (That'd be me btw. I was THAT kind of asshole.)
"I leave people, they don't get to leave me."
That's how I saw it. Even if I left, I would want the person to see how good they had it with ME in their lives, and beg for my return...which NEVER happened except for once in my life (That's a whooole nother blog partner!). That was my default setting: "Asshole - Extra Strength". As if people didn't deserve happiness outside of me. I knew how to break up...but I had no clue how to ever leave things be right after. If I was moving out of the house, I had to burn that bitch DOWN on my way out too so that nobody else could live there in my absence (even if half my shit was still inside!). My ego was too large. I would always hover back around, until I somehow found myself involved with that person long enough to realize I was twice the fool I had originally imagined myself to be. Because ego works both ways. For just like I needed to be the dumper in my various past scenarios, many dumpees need to find their way back into any type of situation where they can dump the original dumper, to feel better about themselves. So they'll gladly let the dumper back in, if only just to methodically turn the tables at a later date. And to this day, I don't even get to be upset about it. Can I claim I didn't see it coming, when it was ME who first pulled the plug on those toxic connections? The truth was there, and I properly acted upon it initially, only to later disrespect its power by returning to a lie. I grabbed the red flags, walked a few blocks, then returned to my starting point to stick them back into the soil. I lost all the ground I originally gained with my initial decisions. So I began cursing the path I was on, which was/is always the wrong move. How can I blame a path that gave me correct directions if I still chose to backtrack the opposite way?
A path represents a thought process that someone before you has chosen, paving the way for others to follow at their own will. The guide signs you see along a path are from people who came after the original person, explaining to you the forseeaable outcome awaiting you in the direction you choose. So if you find yourself somewhere you don't want to be at your current location, it is because you either didn't pay attention to, or flat-out ignored what was right in front of you. But I assure you, the truth was there at every turn. Don't be upset at the path, be upset at yourself! It's you. It will always be you in the end. So start paying more attention to the steps you choose to take BEFORE taking them, and readjust your journey accordingly.
I now walk a path which I find familiar, yet still encounter obstacles at each turn. The difference now? I read the signs I am presented with, and am no longer afraid to adjust in the moment. I don't wait around to find out if my choices always have the best overall outcome. I do know that I make my choices with a sincere hope for the best result for everyone, and I keep moving. I've learned how to clear my path, and walk away from anything that means me harm. Easy to say for most; Hard to do for everyone. This post is me posting signs in those trouble spots for you to read in case your journey leads you here too some day.
So if you ever find yourself needing to walk away from a situation causing you emotional harm, here are some pointers you should forever keep in mind and apply:
1) Be Clear
2) Be Completely Honest
3) Be Consistent
4) Don't Repeat Yourself
This is technically the end of the post. But if you would like some clarification on these pointers, or just enjoy reading small books, strap in, maybe fix yourself a cup of tea, and allow me to explain in full:
1) BE CLEAR
This one is for you personally.
I'll make it simple:
Your mind is right, your heart is wrong. This is 100% true. End of story.
...Relax. I know what you're thinking already. This statement is utterly false, right? Now look at what I said again, please:
Your mind is right.
Your heart is wrong.
I didnt say anything about winning and losing.
If the US decides to bomb Haiti tomorrow, for no reason...we can all agree it definitely wouldn't be RIGHT. But just because the US would be completely wrong to do it, doesn't mean they wouldn't succeed now does it???
Yea. Have a debate if you want to, but in the end? Haiti Go Bye-Bye!
...My point is the heart doesn't give a damn about right vs. wrong. That has nothing to do with how your heart operates. As they say, "The heart wants what the heart wants".
Your heart overpowers your mind often. It is stronger than your mind and obsessed with getting its way. It's like The Incredible Hulk to The Avengers; If he were fighting against them instead of alongside them, they would not be able to accomplish anything! When my heart and mind are not in alignment, my heart almost always gets its way. Think back in your own life on a time when your heart and mind were conflicted...now think of another example...now another...keep going...I'll wait...See?! I bet SO many times your heart was victorious (then depleted inevitably from your terrible decision to follow it blindly, but that will be a different blog for a different day!) It's what the heart does. And it is RECKLESS in accomplishing its goal. It will tear you apart in the process, leaving your mind in shambles if that's what it takes. As a result, the only way to make positive permanent change in your life is to convince your heart what it wants the most is the same goal as your mind: To protect you.
When your mind is no longer distracted by defending itself against your heart, it can begin to function in the manner for which it was designed: eliminating physical and emotional toxicity. Like your immune system, the mind will spot out possible infectious stimuli and remove them before they can replicate and become more serious problems. You must have your heart and mind on the same page as soon as possible in order to gain clarity on what must be cleared out of your current life to restore balance.
Be Clear with yourself. Identify what you need to let go of first, then take action. Have the confidence to know your decision is right. Align it with the will of your heart to follow through with your decision to acheive permanent change.
2) BE HONEST
This one is for them.
The negative force that needs to be out of your life.
Now that your heart and mind are in agreement, you must share your message with the party in question. Maybe you cut ties without explanation and the party you cut ties with never bothered to follow up with you as to why. If that's the case, you know for a fact you made the absolute right decision because that party eliminated themselves from your life given the first opportunity! But let's say your relationship with the party in question is much deeper than simply skipping out on answering the phone for a weekend or two. What if they don't read your non-verbal cues without asking for clarification of some kind as to where you stand. What then???
Simple. Be straight up. Tell the truth. If you don't feel it's simple that's because you're not used to being honest...which is most people lol Nothing irks me more than hearing someone say they "don't know what they want" to someone else. That's the biggest lie in existence. Get REAL. People know EXACTLY what they want. They just don't know how to attain it without unwanted sacrifice, being disliked or being judged somehow. So they pretend to be confused.
For instance: If a man says to a woman "I just don't know what I want right now", he is really saying he doesn't want her. Not in the way she is requesting his presence in her life anyway. He wants to see if better options than her are available to him. He's just not sold on her. PERIOD. In his mind he thinks he's doing her a favor by not just saying it this way. Or maybe he thinks she may harm him in some manner either emotionally, financially or physically. In any case, there's really no need for her to ask her friends what he's "really trying to say". Often times she knows the truth but she's in denial herself.
Another example: If a woman says she's confused between two men in her life (like in most RomComs I've seen) it's because she wants them BOTH. She really wishes there was a way that the two of them would be cool about it too! But it's also a little fun having the two of them compete over her as well sooo...
Hmm. I may have just explained the plot to Bridget Jones Diary because it was playing on the ship I was on last week, but you get the point! This all sounds fairly harsh I know, but it's basic biology at play here. When you dress down people saying that they are confused about what would make them happy, it's really just dishonesty in disguise. They haven't found a way to get what it is they want in a manner that doesn't make their ego feel overexposed. But in the end? The truth will set you free!
Do not worry about how it comes out when you speak from your heart. The truth has a way of coming out properly when you have no intention of deceiving someone for the sake of your own fragile ego. No hedging your bets. No maybes. No "I was thinking..." Be open and say how you feel. It may be uncomfortable, but it is absolutely necessary for your impending freedom to make your message just as clear to your obstacle as it is in your heart and mind.
Not everyone is comfortable elocuting their feelings to someone else. If that's the case? Those are the EXACT words you should say. You will be surprised what comes out of your mouth next. When I was first starting comedy I watched a comedian who I felt was a master at crowd work, or the art of making off-the-cuff remarks to people in the audience during a show. His name was Jay Wendell Walker . I asked him how he did it so quickly and comfortably. He told me "One thing I've learned in comedy is that you must trust yourself to be funny. Believe that the next thing you say WILL be funny. Trust yourself to deliver." Trust your message, the words are always right, THERE.
If you want something or someone out of your life, you must convey that message openly. Otherwise loopholes will form around your evasive language because you were not upfront about your intentions to eliminate their unhealthy presence. Leave your ego out of the equation; Be Honest.
3) BE CONSISTENT
This part can be the most emotionally taxing juncture of the process.
And yet it's principle is the simplest to adhere to if you allow it to be.
I travel. A lot. My needs change. Often. I am a flirt and a hopeless romantic. Unfortunately. I found myself alone more than I wanted to be sometimes, and I began to date and travel with people I barely knew. Over that time I met someone who it didn't work out with long term but we are and will forever be friends. She's ten years older than I am so needless to say she's a little wiser than me in some aspects of life. Whenever I got into that mode of whispering sweet nothings on the phone when I was away, telling her how much I missed her and wished she was around, she was always very skeptical:
"You sure about all that?" She'd ask.
"Positive!" I'd answer back with a confident grin. 😌
Then she would give me the same response:
"...Say what you mean, mean what you say. ☺"
I loved when she said that. It was a reminder that I was getting caught in my feelings again and writing mouth checks I probably wasn't truly meaning to cash in the future. She knew I liked my space, and that I didn't want a relationship. But sometimes I longed for it, so inevitably my words would change when we spoke depending on what was going on in my career/location/Netflix lineup. It was as if she was grooming me so that I wouldn't accidently mislead a girl who wasn't quiiiiiite as in tune with the whole "not being exclusive to a long distance relationship" thing as I was. Fair of her to remind me, and fair of me to remember. Because of that fairness, there were no lies exchanged, promises broken, or love lost; only respect gained. Why? Because we said what we meant, and we meant what we said.
...Back to you:
So you worked SO hard to have your heart and mind in alignment only to see it falter one day in a spontaneous relapse.
This one's a toughy. Especially after a couple shots of Grand Marnier and Courvasier (a.k.a. Text-An-Ex Tonic)
You broke up with somebody. You told them honestly it was over. And you felt great. Empowered even. But that was Wednesday. It's like....what, almost FRIDAY now?! Yesterday was lonely as HELL!
But you were SO GOOD...and now they called you. Sent a text. Told you they know they were wrong but they miss you, and...they love you.
....I have three ex girlfriends that I have no business speaking to ever again. I have their phone numbers listed, in order:
"Dat Shit", "Her Da Hell", & "Well Enough".
If ANY of those numbers ever pop up on my phone screen one lonely night, I know to leave any one of those ALONE. (Well Enough was my favorite of the three in case you were curious, but the title pretty much speaks for itself)
Love is hard to have and maintain only to somehow lose later in life. Be it abruptly or gradually. Picking up the pieces can seem like more destruction than improvement. But trust me, it's all gradual improvment in the end if you find a way to love yourself at the finish line.
...That sounds complicated. Let me say it the way my mom used to tell me:
There's nothing wrong with still loving someone who broke your heart...just love their ass over THERE. Live your life over HERE.
Letting go doesn't necessarily mean forgetting. It just means not reaching back anytime you remember it. Once the toxin leaves your system, ALLOW IT to stay gone! It's so easy to remember all the good parts of it that make you want it back. But how about all the parts which led to you making a weighted decision to rid it from your life in the first place? It's ok to think of the good. Just remember, You're "GOOD" now. :)
Be Consistent. Don't walk out of something toxic just to walk back in at a later time. Be at peace with the decisions you made when you were your best self in your heart and mind. You were clear, honest, and unwavering in your truth. You have earned the personal freedom you battled for so valiantly. Whatever you decide to do with that freedom is your choice, but I implore you...
Don't Look Back.
4) DON'T REPEAT YOURSELF
Take Care My Friend,