Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rebuilding your Future After a Breakup or Divorce

Rebuilding your Future After a Breakup or Divorce by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package
example of a lifeline chart

I had a dream the other night where some guy was teaching me about the stock market. (By the way I know nothing about the stock market, so this metaphor may be highly suspect!!)

He showed me a graph that charted a 50 year time period, and on the left side, the line rapidly declined -- imagine a drastic stock market crash. Then in the middle the line started to rise up slowly and make a steep incline off to the right.

He kept saying over and over, "People forget that with every decline comes expansion."

Then he zoomed in on the chart in the middle portion -- the lowest point of the graph. He showed me that even when it seemed like things were just moving sideways and not exhibiting any visible improvements when you looked at each plotted point on the graph, things were slowly moving upwards in small increments that were imperceptible when you viewed the big picture.

I think this is what it's like after a divorce or breakup. Things can feel pretty bad at first -- like your personal stock market crashed. You hit a kind of rock bottom in your life. A hole that you want to dig yourself out of as rapidly as possible, but honestly it's like having heart surgery -- it's a slow healing process that takes patience and emotional endurance.

After a breakup or divorce you might feel like things are not actually getting better -- as if you're moving sideways in a sort of equilibrium; however, small incremental upward movements are being made in your life, but they are so imperceptible that they appear invisible to you.

So when you are in that place of deep despair after a breakup or divorce it's important to remember two things:
  1. When you hit bottom, the only place to go is up. So embrace this place as a sign you are about to grow in ways you've never imagined. Remember with "every decline comes expansion."
  2. When it feels like things aren't getting better and you're sliding sideways, realize that this is an illusion -- a trick of the mind. Things are slowly improving, but you just can't see them because you're not looking close enough. Hang tight!!

Chart Your Lifeline
One of the best exercises in the book Rebuilding When your Relationship Ends, is creating a chart of your lifeline. It allows you to visually look at your past, present, and future. It's one way you start to engage more purposefully in your life after a breakup or divorce and set healthy goals. Use the picture from the book above as an example.

  1. Get a big sheet of paper.
  2. Imagine how long you expect to live.
  3. Draw a horizontal line through the middle representing your basic state of happiness.
  4. Draw a vertical line down the page that symbolizes to the left how much of your life you have already lived and to the right what is to come.
  5. Remember your past, from your early childhood up until today and plot points on the paper that mark important events. Plot them according to the level of happiness you felt.
  6. Get in touch with the present, your divorce or breakup, and plot those events on your chart.
  7. Think about the near future -- the next year -- and imagine what you might be doing in that time. Set some doable goals -- things that might help you heal and bring more happiness.
  8. Imagine yourself farther into the future -- 5, 10 or 20 years. What will your life look like? What do you want to be doing?
  9. Keep this chart and in a year take it back out and see what's happened in your life. What haven't you done yet? What changed? What happened differently than you imagined?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Single Moms Club & Creating Communities After Divorce

Being a single parent is one of most heart-rending expressions of modern society. I'm not a parent, so I can't relate directly to the experiences of raising a child alone or within the context of divorce. However, I think anyone can benefit from watching this movie because as a whole we are a community, and single parents (women and men) are shouldering a huge responsibility.

I love the context of the The Single Moms Club, and how Tyler Perry bonds these single mothers through something that could be at first glance a negative experience. Instead they turn this humorous adversity into a means of support and create a community that nurtures one another.

Perhaps this is one of the most gracious gifts of divorce. Society promotes creating a partnership of two people, but in reality we have always been humans that need the support of a community -- a tribe to help us grow, raise kids, and sustain lives. Divorce and becoming a single parent could propel you to seek out people and communities you never thought to reach out to before and expand your love into the world that is beyond a partnership of two.

Single Moms Club and Creating Communities by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

10 Tips for Learning How to Laugh Again after a Breakup or Divorce

10 Tips for Learning to Laugh Again after a Breakup or Divorce Beth Hemmila Breakup Care Package

Laughter is good medicine especially after a breakup or divorce. However, you do need to become aware of when you are seeking humor simply to avoid dealing with the painful experience of loss and when you are using laughter to lighten up and heal. I've done both. So if you notice you're running away from the challenging emotional stuff and losing yourself in fun than you might be in denial. Click here to learn more about denial.

Nevertheless, a balance of acknowledging the reality of your loss, experiencing your grief, and learning to laugh at life again seems to be a healthy way to mend.

The most painful part of the end of my relationship was losing my comedy partner. My funny side kick was gone. In fact, humor was one of ways we connected on an intimate level. We had our own private language, running gags that went on for years, and unique ways of playing with each other that no one else could step into. When our relationship was gone, it was like my whole way of relating disappeared.

Perhaps you have experienced the loss of your comedy duo, and I'm not going to say that it stops hurting. However, you will go on to find other ways of relating to people and learning to laugh again may help you get back into the flow of life.

Here are 10 ideas to seek out the laughter in your life:

  1. Learn something new that makes you feel ridiculous and prompts you to laugh at yourself. Laugh with the people who are laughing at you in good fun. For me it's learning how to ski. Every time I fall down I crack up. For some people it might be yoga or going to the batting cage.
  2. Watch humorous sitcoms, movies, and plays. There's a reason Greek comedies and Shakespeare's funny plays are timeless: They heal us on a very deep emotional level.
  3. Check out the local comedy club or get out on stage and join an improv group.
  4. Try laughter yoga. It looks crazy, but I've done it, and it really works as a way to connect people. Laughter yoga is best done in a group. 
  5. Be on the lookout for your mistakes and missteps throughout your day and take a moment to chuckle at yourself. Imagine you are a character in a sitcom. Wouldn't people find your blunders funny?
  6. Read the comics or funny novels.
  7. Clown around the house with your kids and pets.
  8. Buy a joke book and practice telling them at work.
  9. Play board games with friends.
  10. Join interest groups with people who are funny, lighthearted, and laugh a lot. Their joy will help lighten you up.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Life Path of My Ex is None of My Karma Business

The Life Path of my Ex is None of My Karma Business by Beth Hemmila of the Breakup Care Package

After a breakup or divorce there may be a couple of reasons that you might not want to let go of your previous relationship and stay stuck in the past:

  1. Remaining attached to your past love holds you back from your life path because you're afraid of what the future entails.
  2. By staying tied to your former partner you subtly prevent him or her from following their own life path because you're afraid of the loss of love.

I believe we are born into this life with a life path that holds important lessons for each of us, which some people call karma.

We don't know who are ex-partners are suppose to meet to help learn these lessons or what are they are suppose to be doing. We could actually be in the way of our ex-partners becoming more enlightened beings. Our presence could be preventing them from traveling their path. More importantly, we may be in our own way and distracting ourselves from the path set for us.

So in letting go of your past relationship, you may have to acknowledge that what's happening in your ex's life right now might not be any of your karma business. Your ex has work to do that doesn't involve you anymore. Your karma lessons with them might be complete, and it's time for you to move on to learn more and unravel more karmic knots in your own life, as they are doing in theirs.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Learning to Forgive Yourself After a Breakup or Divorce

Jeff Buckley's album Grace is probably the only CD that could carry me through the rest of my life. It's timeless. When Jeff Buckley accidentally died in 1997, it was such a shock. In the aftermath, his mother and record label published tunes for his second album called Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk. It was controversial because many people felt Jeff Buckley wouldn't have shared what was his personal sketchbook with the public.

Nevertheless, I found myself drawn to hear his last thoughts recorded raw and free from perfection. Sometimes the album is hard to listen to because it feels like the beginning of something not quite fully realized, but buried amongst the confusion is this incredibly beautiful and haunting chant called New Year's Prayer -- a sort of Persian poem -- about loving and forgiving everything about yourself.

After breaking up or getting a divorce you may start to examine all the dark and loathsome parts of yourself. You many even employ a form of self-punishment so as to keep yourself safe from engaging in new forms of love and relationship. I particularly love Jeff Buckley's insight that we can spend inordinate amount of energy creating our own electric chairs so as to destroy ourselves over and over again as a way to cope with shame instead of engaging in the process of forgiving oneself.

I've always found this song a comfort, a call to consciously forgive yourself for your past actions, and an invitation to accept your life so as to create anew. To learn how to forgive yourself and your ex, download my free ebook Be Forgiveness by clicking here.  

New Year's Prayer
by Jeff Buckley

Ooh, fall in light, fall in light, fall in light, fall in light
Feel no shame for what you are

Feel no shame for what you are

Feel no shame for what you are

Feel no shame for what you are

Feel no shame for what you are
As you now are in your blood, fall in light

Feel no shame for what you are

Feel no shame for what you are

Feel it as a water fall, fall in light

Ooh, fall in light, fall in light, fall in light

Ooh, fall in light, fall in light, fall in light

Grow in light

Stand absolved

Behind your electric chair, dancing

Stand absolved

Behind your electric chair, dancing
Past the sound within the sound

Past the voice within the voice

Leave your office, run past your funeral

Leave your home, car, leave your pulpit

Join us in the streets where we
Join us in the streets where we

Don't belong, don't belong

You and the stars, throwing light

Ooh, fall, fall

Ooh, fall in light, fall in light, fall in light

Ooh, fall in light, fall in light, fall in light

Grow in light 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Healing from Your Codependent Relationship after a Breakup or Divorce

Last year a friend sent me the book The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations on Codependency as a gift. Wow, am I ever grateful that someone else was able to see the thing I needed most in my life and sent it to me like a life raft during the chaos of the holiday season.

Having read and benefited greatly from Melody Beattie's book Codependent No More in my twenties, this group of meditations came at just the right time when I was ready to own up to everything I had created from my marriage, subsequent divorce, and the codependent behavior I exhibited in my relationship.

If you are unfamiliar with codependency, checkout this Codependency for Dummies Cheat Sheet.

If you suspect you were acting out codependent behavior in your previous relationship or marriage, I recommend both these books by Melody Beattie. Codependent No More is a basic guide for healing and the meditation book is wonderful daily support.

I discovered my codependency twenty years ago and attended a 12-step group for help. I remember looking around the room and thinking, "I'm going to kick this habit and cure myself in a couple years." It was only after several years of therapy and various support groups that I realized codependency is a life long lesson. It's with you until the end, and it's up to you to choose how you dance with it. The Language of Letting Go honors this process and helps you realize that every day you can greet your codependent behavior afresh, without shame, and grateful for the opportunity to make new decisions.

Other Tools for Codependency

Loving Kindness Meditation
Lemonade Mantras
Gratitude Journal 
Develop a Spiritual Practice
Physical Exercise
Support Groups
Focus on a Hobby

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Film Divorce Corp

A new documentary about the legal and financial ramifications of divorce just hit the theaters this week.

Divorce Corp explores the system of family law, and how it's "designed to create conflict" so as to fuel a 50 billion dollar business, preying on people's deepest needs for love, family, and security.

Here are some interesting quotes from the trailer:

What you have is a tinder box and the lawyers are throwing gasoline on that fire. 

Family court results in more violence than any other area of law.

More than ever it seems important to seek conflict resolution whenever possible outside the justice system for divorce. If you are facing divorce, consider the alternatives such as doing your own dissolution which I outline in this other post or engage in the mediation process.