Cutting the Cord

Ahhh. It’s a nice hot day here in the Ozarks. The kind of day that makes you want to just stay indoors next to a fan while the air conditioning blows forced cold air. I’m sipping a crisp glass of Kim Crawford Chardonnay and watching the internet remind me of all my past mistakes, proving that even though one may clear all the negative folks out – or at a minimum keep them at arm’s length – one can also count on algorithms to remind you of days gone by. Fakebook memories reminded me today that four years ago, I was preparing for my divorce. It was a nasty one, too; An experience that I will not soon forget, that’s for sure. While he and I can communicate now, most of our discussions are just “Can you switch a weekend with me?” or sharing the first day of school photos. But, it’s a far cry from wanting to hire a hitman or move to Wyoming just to get away from it all.

I had to giggle when the ‘memory’ about how to survive a divorce came up in my feed because it’s on the heels of another breakup, and I think it’s funny how Fakebook seems to know these things when most of my ‘friends’ do not. Maybe it’s just that my life is a series of breakups – lol. Who knows? Maybe the program’s internal algorithms just seems to know that when my birthday arrives I’m probably single, which essentially means everyone is off the hook for a present. Who knows. I’ve stopped trying to figure it all out.

Anywho…we are talking breakups today over drinks. I’m no shrink, but I’ve gotten enough relationship advice in the last three years from people who think they are (or should actually be) in the counseling field, so I’m going to share what I’ve learned.

So. Grab a drink and settle in. I’m ’bout to tell you how to get over a breakup.

1) Stay busy. There’s a lot of research out there to support ‘feeling the hurt’ and owning your feelings, and loving yourself through the pain, yadda yadda yadda. So, yes. Do that. BUT…while introspection is lovely and has its place when you are coming out of a challenging endeavor, there is also research that supports sitting with your feelings for too long actually makes you unhappier in the long run. The bottom line is that the marriage/relationship is over. You need a hobby that doesn’t include accidentally sticking your penis in someone new right away. (If you don’t have a penis, count your blessings. Those things are overrated, and I’ve heard that those with them don’t know how to control them anyway).

2) Get a massage. Duh. Here’s why massage is essential. People crave touch, and when you lose intimacy, it can be easy to go on the prowl. Massage therapy relaxes you, soothes sore muscles, and increases serotonin. It also increased oxytocin – which is the ‘feel-good hormone.’ When you crave touch, you are actually craving oxytocin. If you have just received your “Dear John” (or Dear Jane) letter….don’t rush to build that online profile just yet. Instead, book a massage (or a facial or pedicure). The benefits of a bit of self-care are amazing.

3) Have faith. If you’ve shown up the majority of the time – even when you didn’t want to – please know that the Universe has been watching and is faithful to the weary and the brokenhearted. Call it Karma, retribution, getting justice – whatever – it will take care of you. I sometimes think, “I’m a XX year-old with a child. Who wants that?” The truth? Grown-ass men want that. Grown-ass men understand that single women with children can go one of two ways: They are on the prowl, OR so into living their best life, they forget to text in the morning. A grown-ass man wants a woman who works hard on herself and does what she can to make her child’s life better. If your guy didn’t understand that your child was the top priority, then he’s got a little growing up to do himself. Unless you want two children, you should be relieved you aren’t a couple anymore. The way I see it…when someone tells you that you aren’t what they want…it allows the Universe to send the right person your way. (This is gender-neutral paragraph. I only used “he” as an example.)

4) Find your tribe. There’s probably at least one person out there who supports you in this journey – which it isn’t over yet. Your tribe can be both small and mighty like I wrote about here. You made it this far in life because of people have listened to you, bought you wine or flowers (or wine AND flowers), and told you that you look like a beautiful princess (even when you haven’t slept for days). Those are your people. Wash your hands of the folks who haven’t even said “hello.” They suck. Those are not your people. Delete them from everything.

5) Read a good book. Or a dirty book. Or a Good Dirty Book. Take a break from the books written on the subjects of divorce or toxic relationships, why bad things happen to good people, how to disarm narcissists or how to find your Zen. You are getting divorced or experiencing a breakup of some sort. You are entitled to the time it takes to grieve, but you can do that with a really raunchy book. You don’t always have to be sad. By the way, Zen can be anything – like, for instance, this delicious glass of wine.

6) Be sad if you want – for a bit. It’s okay to be sad when your dreams are destroyed. It’s okay to be sad after making the right decision. It’s okay to be sad when, despite your kind nature, you don’t respond to a text or call that kinda smells of manipulation. It’s okay. Just don’t pack up and move to Sadville for too long. Life is meant to be lived and so many don’t get the opportunity to do it for very long.

7) Resist dating sites – for now. I’m not a fan of dating, but I’m especially not a fan of dating sites. Do you want to find someone who is broken and looking for the next person who can tolerate their bullshit? You’ll find that fast on a dating site. You’d be better off making a list of all the things you enjoy doing and then finding groups of people who like the same thing. You might meet someone new that way – but you’ll for sure gain some new friends with already established common ground. For me? I joined a local hiking group and a ‘new restaurant meet-up group’. I’ve yet to go, but I joined. There’s always a first step to every new endeavor.

8) Cut your losses. This isn’t the same if you’ve experienced a death, so don’t even try to make it relevant. But, there is a reason she told you she fell in love with the guy at work. There is a reason he told you he didn’t even really like you. There is a reason they just up and moved out of your life. There. Is. A. Reason. You don’t know what it is yet…but…you will look back someday and realize that the hole in your heart – you know, the one you felt after they broke it? That’s just the spot the Universe needed to fill with something or someone better suited for you.

9) Be kind. My son announced on Tuesday of this week that he ‘had a girlfriend’ and by Friday had broken up with this girl because ‘my mom says I’m too young for a relationship’. In my defense, he is too young for a girlfriend, but I found myself actually empathizing with this poor girl I had never even met. I simply asked him if he was kind when he broke up with her. He said he was and then asked me why it was important. I said “Because…you know that saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me?”. He nodded. “That’s just not true. Words can very much hurt someone.”

I’m dying to find a #10 to round out this post, but as I’ve said before, I don’t have all the answers. I’m just a blogger in SW Missouri with thoughts that I need to share. But I do have faith in the process, and that’s really all that matters in times like this. For now, I’ll leave you with a song – not that any of you ever click the link (yes, there are stats!).

That fits the Bill.

I’ve been spending a lot more time with my BFF these days. If you remember, I wrote about the loss of her husband, Bill, a few posts back, and I am doing my best to be a good friend to someone who is under a tremendous amount of stress and walking through the grief process. Our time together has been both cathartic and sad – as every memory and moment reminds me of the man who is no longer here with us. Yes, he was my best friend’s husband…but he was also my friend…and I miss him.

I realized, as today’s thoughts tumbled from my mind to my keyboard, that I’ve written about Bill or, instead, his influence in my life, in several places throughout the last year. In fact, almost a year ago I wrote this post and the prose was formed around a campfire with he and my friend. I don’t know how to explain it, but…well…have you ever just met someone who instantly lights up a room and makes you want to be a better person? Well, that was Bill.

Fuck. I miss that guy.

I don’t know why I’m so focused this morning on what I’m calling “The Lessons of Bill”. Full moon in Aquarius, maybe?Maybe I’ve been thinking of all the Billisms and all the memories. We are all a bit raw, still, from the loss. And admittedly, I’m still a bit angry that evil walks the planet in human form while good people are called ‘home’ (whatever that means).

I thought I’d share a bit with you, dear Reader, some of the things Bill taught me. So. Grab a drink. Settle in. Some of these are ‘Billisms’ in lesson form, so stick with me.

1) Replace the word ‘Love’ in the infamous Bible verse with the name of your significant other. (Essentially, the entire point of this post.) You know…”Love is patient, Love is kind. Love does not envy, Love does not boast, Love is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, Love is not self-seeking, Love is not easily angered, Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” According to Bill, if you replace the word Love with the person’s name with whom you are in a relationship and the words don’t ring true…run. Actually, he said, “You should probably take that as a sign to run for the hills.” I’m a slow learner but I’m listening now, Bill.

2) Once you’ve been shot at, everything else is a cakewalk. I asked him, a decorated military veteran, on his birthday (August 13th) last year, how he can be so calm all the time. “You’re always so fucking calm, Bill. What are you taking for that?”. He smiled that Bill smile and said, “Well, you know…I have been shot at many times. Every other problem seems insignificant compared to that.” So true, Bill. Right – as always.

3) We were together. I forget the rest. Ask him how he and my friend got together, and that’s the answer you’d get: “We were together. I forget the rest.” Bill wasn’t one to dwell on the past and put a lot of faith in the future. I love their ‘love story’ – which Dedee tells occasionally – but I love Bill’s version the best. To the point, no embellishments. No half-truths or inflated drama. No future. No history. Always in the present moment. Isn’t that a refreshing mindset?

4) We are our own worse enemies. I asked him once about the ‘enemy’ we had been fighting for decades overseas, and his response was so thought-provoking that I wrote it on a sticky note, sure it will make it into my next book. He said, “Oh, they are sneaky little bastards, but it is our own minds that are the real enemies. You gotta keep your head in the game.” I’ve had to learn when my anxiety is telling me lies and when my gut is really telling me something true. I’m learning to retrain my thoughts to not be so biased toward the negative and focus on what is actually going right in my life. It’s easy to take a hurtful word and turn it into a definition of who you are, when in fact, people can just be mean. Their response to stressful situations might be to lash out verbally or to blame you for something they need to address. This is more about them than you. Remember that. Make a list of all the things that are good and right about you and don’t let the voices of people who don’t like themselves get in your head. I wrote about that very same thing here. Might be time to revisit this.

5) Don’t let anyone criticize your methods. Bill taught me to build a fire using the ‘tepee method,’ so that’s how I build a fire. I was trying to make a fire one day, and an observer questioned my method and even tried to mansplain why my fire wasn’t going to start. I ignored him and continued to build my fire my way. It might have taken longer than expected, but it turned out to be a damn good fire. Good enough to burn a marshmallow or two, at least. I remembered Bill’s words of wisdom about not letting anyone criticize what is working in my life – even if they aren’t agreeable to my methods or think they can do it better.

6) A soldier’s greatest weapon is his silence. Pronouns aside…Wow, right? This took me 49.9 years to get. According to Bill, the best thing to do is be quiet when you are in enemy territory. The quieter you are, the less opportunity there is for people to shoot you. You get the metaphor, right?

I’m sure you haven’t heard the last about Bill Culley – a man who made everyone want to be a better person – as I walk through my own grief and listen to my friend share her stories. I’ve lost several people in my life, but rarely has anyone made the impact Bill did.

As it stands today, I’m going to leave you with a song…and then I’m going to clean my garage. I’m not sure why I told you that, but come on over and help out if you’re local. There is always something cold in the frig.

Sleeping Beauty Was On To Something

I’ve been on vacation this week, and while I love having a break from work, I miss all the day-to-day activities that keep my mind from obsessing over silly stuff.

I’ve also been working for the last month with a health coach to get my body back to normal. Oddly enough, we have yet to cut out carbs, get heavy into workouts at the gym, or say no to a glass of wine or two. What we have been working on seems simple to most but has proven relatively tricky for me. I want to say I’m further along, but it’s only been thirty days, so I’m giving myself a bit of grace. So, what have we been doing, he and I?

Sleeping. I mean, not together, and more specifically…working on sleeping. I have insomnia and anxiety, and with the lovely addition of a global pandemic, economic crisis, and the unretracted claws of people in general, I’ve been running on little or no sleep for about 1.5 years now. Sometime in mid-June, I realized that my lack of rest was the foundation for all the other challenges. Who has the strength to exercise when you are running on 4 hours of sleep? Who can meal plan and prep when – by the end of a workday – one has changed into pajamas hoping to fall asleep as soon as the clock strikes 5 pm? Not me, that’s for damn sure.

The plan seems simple, but it hasn’t been. Most of it goes against my investigative sense because most of it requires cutting ties with the very things that keep me connected. It wasn’t until I realized that the things that keep me connected also keep me wound up and angsty.

So, what’s been happening? Well, I’m about to tell you, so grab a drink and settle in while I share with you what Adam is helping me through.

1) Turning off all digital electronic devices by 9 pm. Phone, tablet, television….blah blah blah. I even bought an alarm clock because my phone was my alarm for nearly five years. Now, the phone isn’t even in the room with me. I had to let go of the thought that something terrible might happen and I might not know about it. It turns out…something terrible DID happen, I didn’t know about it, and…it didn’t matter. (Gunshots fired in the street right in front of my house, and I slept right through it.) Mind you, people did text me – they were concerned – but I also didn’t get those texts until I turned my phone on around 10 am. I giggled because they weren’t concerned enough to drive over to see if we were okay but then again, my friends and I watch enough true crime to know if anything had happened, next of kin would have been notified, and then details would flow out into the media. None of that occurred, because, well, it was just another night here in Springfield, MO: Shots fired. No one knows a thing. The media doesn’t cover it. Everyone goes on. End of story. Like I said, just another day in the Ozarks.

2) No news is good news. I’m already not one to appeal to those who like to discuss ‘current affairs,’ but I haven’t watched the news for months. Sadly, I’m not sure what is going on in Afghanistan – I know something is because the older men discussed it at my son’s barbershop. I didn’t ask questions, though. I don’t want to know. If this makes me a terrible person, I’ll just add “Doesn’t care about current affairs” to the ever-growing list of reasons people don’t like me.

3) Social media detox. I bought a thirty-day workbook on how to conduct a digital detox. Of course, Fakebook was the first to go. I had mixed feelings about that. Not many people have subscribed to my blog, so how will I get the message that a new post is ready? I guess I’ll trust the process. When I hit ‘deactivate’ this morning, I felt almost immediate relief. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve watched so many good people act like complete assholes over everything from masking mandates, back-to-school quagmires, gas prices, and vaccinations. For fuck’s sake, can we go back to doing what Fakebook was designed for in the first place: Posting pictures of our dinner? I still have a FB account, although I have no friends (LOL. As it is online, it is in life.) I have to be able to post in some of the volunteer areas of my life – but that’s all I need it for so I can stay a bit stealthy. Linkedin? I’ll keep it for the learning classes, but I don’t really care about what else is going on outside my four walls at the moment. The less I focus on what is ‘out there’, the less I can focus on the internal work I need to do. Pinterest is about to get the ax, too, which…seems a bit tragic. However, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna save some cash if I’m not constantly looking at perfect homes and well-decorated back yards for hours every week.

4) Meditation, breath work, and restorative and Yin Yoga. These activities, about thirty minutes before bed, prepare my mind for sleep. I have been able to reduce the number of sleep aids I consume, and cutting off digital devices and the ‘noise’ of the outside world helps me settle in. Which, I suppose, is how I managed to sleep through two active rounds from a .45 two nights ago. (I made that up…neighbors reported hearing 9 shots from a gun. Nobody said what kind. But isn’t my version better?)

5) Clearing clutter. (You knew this was coming, right? It’s as though you don’t know me at all). Physical clutter is linked to increased anxiety on so many levels. Decision fatigue, inability to process complex thoughts, and the constant reminder of projects long overdue can wreak havoc on a calm mental state. So yes, I spend my vacation cleaning and organizing. It’s therapeutic to me. I feel better. I sleep better.

So, nothing earth-shattering here, but some things to ponder. I hope one or two of those ideas are helpful to you. Of course, I don’t have all the answers, so you might want to work with a health coach or a therapist. You do you. I’m simply sharing what is working for me. I’m feeling better, which means I’ve found the strength to do things I didn’t think I could do.

In summary, sleep well, friends. I just spent two days by the water, so here’s your song. I wish you well.