(Can’t Live With ’Em, Can’t Live Without ’Em, Can’t Shoot ’Em! Well, Maybe in Some States.)
Falling in love is awfully simple, but falling out of love is simply awful.
Put Your Big-Girl Pants On and Get Over It
Breakups, good-byes, endings, however you see it, are hard. It feels like someone is driving over you with his car. You don’t know how you will ever get out of bed, eat again, or stop eating. You keep crying and telling the story, and beating yourself up for not seeing it sooner or doing it better. He goes from being the love of your life to your ex-boyfriend to a jerk to a piece of bleep to just a bleeping bleep. The radio stations only play love songs to torture you. Romantic comedies are on every channel. And only really happy couples eat at restaurants, go grocery shopping, and now, for some strange reason, stop and smile at you. You start to notice kittens because soon you will live alone with ninety cats and one fern. All the fruit you crave comes in bunches or pairs—even fruit hates you! The one time you do eat out, the guy and girl next to you get engaged and ask you to take their first photo (this actually happened to me the day after I had to end my engagement—cue the crocodile tears). Your eyes are so swollen shut from crying it’s impossible to see your future. Even old people and babies, who you can never get mad at, now seem like horrible people because babies have felt no pain and know not of your suffering, and old people don’t have to worry about finding someone new. And then one day, when everyone has let you live in misery for the needed amount of drama, it has to end. Like a cavalcade of angels with maxi-pad wings come your girlfriends. And these words change it all: “PUT YOUR BIG-GIRL PANTS ON AND GET OVER IT!”
And you do. (a) You’ve eaten so much you have only big-girl pants, and (b) Being depressed is not productive. Even if you have to pretend to be happy for a while, your spirit will follow. Remember, it always gets worse before it gets better. And when it gets better, it gets great. I’ve just gone through it and I’ve come out on the other side. I have a new respect for myself. I have been able to look inside and figure out who I truly am. I know that I am the marriage type and can be in a committed relationship, even if he was not the right one. And I know now that I truly can survive anything. Sometimes it’s in the toughest moments that you learn the most about yourself, and the more you know yourself, the less you are willing to give away.
It Was Vagazzaling
So there I was, trying to heal from my trampled heart. Trying to think of anything I could do to get out of this funk. I learned to crochet finger puppets, because any guy I date next will have that as a requirement, right? I perfected my “I’m over him and movin’ on” voice. My ultimate discovery came when I realized that if you stare at the ceiling and start counting around 11:30 p.m., you will reach 1,486 by 4 a.m. I am so glad I learned that. A lot like algebra—not! And then somewhere between the late show and the early show, it hit me. The lightbulb I had been waiting for, THE BEST IDEA I’VE EVER HAD. I need a spray tan!!!!!!!!!!!
God, I need to get a life. Spray tans seem very exciting after 1,500 conversations with your dog. It’s time to let someone in my house, and bring with them a little color. That’s right, soon I would be a walking caramel macchiato. Angelique was the magic woman’s name. She would be the first person I talked to in weeks and the one to start the cocoa-colored makeover. When she arrived, I was so excited to start my transformation, and then color layer by color layer my confidence grew.
She told me about this new beauty trend. It would not only change my outer appearance, but how I felt about myself on the inside. She said it would add a little sparkle to my life. I called it “VAGAZZALING.” She wanted to put Swarovski crystals on my hoo-ha. The lack of traffic on my hoo-ha highway at that moment and my fear of lying sober and naked while a woman puts crystals on my little lady made me hesitate. Then I wondered why. In my head I couldn’t have a “vagazzled” area without someone to see it, but I was wrong. I should do it for me. It should look like my favorite denim jacket from the eighties and be just for my viewing pleasure. So I lay down. It was very fast and not awkward at all. And what I saw when the mirror and I met was amazing. The once pale, sad girl who couldn’t figure out how to move on from her breakup had transformed into a bronzed sex goddess with the prettiest hoo-ha in my neighborhood.
For the next week I had this uncontrollable urge to show everyone my crystal delight. Thank God I fought that and kept the adoration society to one. It’s true; I had started a love affair with my lower region disco ball and before I knew it, I felt great again. So if you find yourself down and out, or just want to have a sparkly secret in your pants—go for it! Boost your confidence and get out of the dumps any way you can. But don’t bedazzle it, VAGAZZLE it!!
Table for One
Well, here I am, eating alone. Not to sound needy, but I’ve never done this before. Never ordered without someone to discuss it with. Never had the waiter say, “Just you? [Weird feeling-sorry-for-me pause and then] This way, ma’am.” Why am I a ma’am? Is it because I’m alone? As I sit in a pretty empty restaurant, I notice that everyone here is alone. Have these sweet patrons come out to support me in my table for one? Is this restaurant called Table for One? Or is it just that I find myself in a business stopover hotel where most people are actually alone? It’s sweet and sad in a way, to watch them all not want to be by themselves so badly that everyone is on the phone. Even me. I can’t call enough people to fill in the space between “More water, ma’am?” and my entrée.
So why is it that we can’t be alone? What’s wrong with laughing to yourself about the funny thing that happened that day? Saying in a hushed tone, “Wow, this tastes good!” Maybe it’s because when you can tell someone a funny story, it also makes their day, and a laugh that is shared is food for your soul. And maybe sharing something that tastes good between two people who care enough about each other to share a meal is the stuff life is made of. A few brief conversations with myself, two margaritas, and a really nice meal later, I decided it would be a very long time before I ask for a moment alone again.
In Whom Can We Trust
Have you ever really looked at the word trust? I mean, we’ve all talked about it, had it, not had it, given it and been sorry, or wanted to be able to give it so badly, but have been so haunted by the ghosts of the past that we couldn’t. But have we really looked at it? I did today, for the first time. I wrote it down on a piece of paper and studied it like the Da Vinci code, and there it was, right there in the middle of this simple five-letter word. The answer we all seek, but can’t or don’t want to see, in the middle of the word trust is the word us. Yeah, makes blaming your issues on someone else kind of difficult.
Maybe finding trust is so hard because it’s not about looking at another person. Maybe it’s about looking at ourselves. When things get tough and scary, can you be trusted not to run? When you feel insecure or threatened and have had your trust tested and it failed, will you be able to trust or will you live in fear of being hurt again? Can you be trusted to live by the same rules you ask others to live by? Can you be trusted with someone’s heart? It suddenly all becomes clearer. First we have to trust ourselves. And if we can be trusted (with someone’s heart), if we can trust (another person), and, most important, trust (in ourselves), then we will always be okay.
Really finding the ability to trust is the hardest thing to do. I’m still working on this one. Because when it’s broken, it feels like something inside you dies. But someone is worth all you have to give. Take a long look at yourself. Trust yourself and then trust others. Everything will be okay…trust me.
Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.
You Love Me, You Really Love Me…or Maybe Not
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty strong. Not a lot gets me down or damages my spirit. But I do find a difference between my inner and outer self. If someone attacks my brain, body, or image, I am fine. Sure, it sucks, but from the core of who I am comes this way of not letting it get to me. I am affected by it and then I move on. But when it comes to my heart, a bad or unkind review on my ability to love leaves me crippled. Someone attacking my heart is like being shot. I lose all ability to be strong. And here comes the really messed-up part, and I know it’s not just me—people can say nice things all day long and I’ll miss them or brush them off, but the one bad thing feels like it’s being shouted through a megaphone pressed directly against my eardrum! So why do we always believe the worst reviews?
I think it’s because to truly love or be in your highest self makes us very vulnerable. I also think it’s really simple. We all care what others think of us, don’t try to pretend you don’t, because I know you do. And if someone doesn’t like our outside we can take it as opinion or taste, but if someone doesn’t like our inside, it’s an attack on who we are. But here is the upside—we all get through it and most of the time we get stronger. The downside, however, can be devastating. If we wear our worst reviews like a backpack, they travel with us. The only way to beat the bad review is to leave it behind. Please don’t take it with you, it’s not healthy. And NEVER change who you are because of a bad review. Remember what they say: opinions are like…well, you know…and everybody’s got one! And let’s be honest, most critics are insecure and not happy with who they are either.
Please know that slight nitpicking and teasing in any relationship is healthy, but breaking someone’s spirit is never okay. A bad love review does not mean you are a horrible person, it means you may not be right for them, and why would you want to be with someone who feels that way? It’s okay to ask more of someone or to be loved differently, but it’s never okay to damage someone’s heart. The “love slayers,” as we will now call them, learn of their destruction only by seeing it at work.
So here’s what I will ask of you—next time you meet one of those love slayers in the dark alleys of relationships, be strong, take the review, look him or her in the face, and say, “Thank you, I will try and work on that for the next person.” Tell him or her that you feel this situation isn’t right for you anymore and walk away. In two seconds you have stepped on the slayers’ review, been stronger than they ever thought you could be, and fought off the bad-review arrow headed straight for your heart. Some people think it’s the first impression that matters most, but I think it’s the last.
Working out with a regular trainer has saved my life. Having a friend, female companion, and motivator has proven to be my best decision yet, especially in matters of my heart. Yep, that love thing again. Working out really helped me through it. Stevie, my fabulous trainer, was kind enough to share her secrets with all of you. So start the healing process and let the makeover begin!
There are generally three ways to go after your heart has been run over: (a) down Ben & Jerry’s Lane, (b) Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, aka the “get back/female empowering anthem route,” or (c) the least popular, last house on the left, “take good care of yourself, honor your loss, and forge a foundation of self-esteem.” What on earth am I talking about here? You’ve got to move AND you’ve got to sweat! Even if it’s just for twenty minutes a day. I vote for motion vs. no motion. Every little thing you do for yourself counts. You count. I try to use these unhappy but inevitable “opportunities” to fine-tune myself from the inside out, so that I may emerge from these situations stronger, more together, and healthier.
Love always teases me about my affection for Einstein, boring medical journals, and other areas of science geekery, but check this out. Low endorphin and serotonin levels make us reach for calorie-dense, sugary, fat-rich foods. Endorphins and serotonin are hormones that our body naturally manufactures. When the levels of these hormones are too low, besides the overwhelming food cravings that occur, we get stressed, anxious, and irritable. When we have enough of these hormones, we feel calm, confident, and balanced. It’s really no wonder that we reach for the comfort foods we do during emotionally charged times. We seek to regulate our moods. These sugars and fats give us those same feelings of ease, satisfaction, or anesthesia that those hormones do, EXCEPT they begin a constant cycle where we crave them, seeking out those initial feelings of comfort. So really, comfort foods aren’t so comforting in this format.
So, without breaking out my pointer with the little black tip from grade school, the BEST way I know to get these natural chemicals flowing, for us to feel better all around and put our hearts back in our chests where they belong, is to get moving!! Exercise and exorcise!!
Find a friend. Find a buddy (dog or cat). Find the time!
Things are easier with an accomplice—I mean good friend. I got through a world-class awful breakup with the help of my pals Wendell Hooper and Chris Zwirner. We got ourselves some running shoes (get some appropriate workout shoes), signed up for FUN group fitness classes at our local gym (go find something physical AND interesting in a group format), and took to our local parks (again, get out of the house!).
We didn’t care how far we went or how fast we ran or what we looked like doing it. That doesn’t matter. We laughed, we moved, we cried sometimes, and then started to feel better! I STARTED TO FEEL BETTER. Moving around starts a beautiful but slow upward spiral of positive effects. Not to say I didn’t still get moments of sadness, frustration, and, the less pleasant to admit, anger. But the times I did feel them got fewer and my self-esteem grew stronger. Admittedly, my legs and booty weren’t looking too shabby either! Nothing says “revenge” better than looking and feeling healthy and beautiful (not that I condone harboring such feelings, but it DOES feel good when you run into your ex and you look really happy and healthy from the inside out!).
THE BUDDY: Numerous studies (here I go again) have indicated that petting your dog or cat reduces stress and lowers your blood pressure. It’s true! The interactive touching is nurturing and soothing. It’s essential that we maintain a feeling of intimacy with another living thing while we are mending our hearts. If you don’t have a buddy or aren’t able to in your place, seek out your local rescue or animal shelters and volunteer to walk or care for the animals there. You would be surprised what even as little as a few hours a week will do for you, not to mention how happy the animal you are comforting would feel. Personally I feel compelled to mention that my dogs have seen me through two houses, one marriage, four births, three funerals, and a parade of irritating dating scenarios. As living things, we heal each other. Our health is the sum total of our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. This wonderful feeling of connectedness fills all three.
THE TIME: In short, make the time to move around. Take a crowbar to your schedule if you have to, but treat yourself like an honored and welcome guest. Make sure you put good energy back into your life. If you find yourself with possibly too much free time because your former partner isn’t there anymore, it’s doubly important to have something with equal physical and emotional value in its place. Too much free time leads to the refrigerator.
THE “WORKING IT OUT” WORKOUT: Here’s my favorite workout, which will get you feeling and looking strong and beautiful. Do this three days a week, in the gym or at home.
What you’ll need:
GOOD, LOUD MUSIC
A jump rope
A set of hand weights (5–10 pounds)
A dodge ball ($3.99 in the toy department), or wad up a bath towel
A chair (or a bench if you’re at the gym)
A tiara! If Love can take bubble baths in one, we can work out in them as well. She’s right—you actually do feel lovely wearing one!
NOTE: YES I DO THIS AND NO I’M NOT KIDDING AROUND!
This is a pretty thorough training session. It should take about an hour or so, depending on your speed. Once you get acclimated to the routine, you can really go through this efficiently. Go at a manageable pace. Take a short break when you need to. And smile—it opens up the doors to your heart.
10-minute warm-up run on the treadmill or take it around the block!
Part One—UPPER BODY
10 Push-ups (full-body or bent-knee position—you’re still using 75 percent of your body weight if your knees are bent!)
Grab a heavy set of hand weights for the next five exercises.
20 Chest Flies—lying on your back
20 Bench Presses—lying on your back
20 Overhead Shoulder Presses—sitting in a chair/on a bench
20 Biceps Curls—standing up
20 Triceps Kick Backs—Bending at the hip, so it looks like you’re bowing to the queen, lift your elbows so your upper arms are parallel to the ground; gently “kick back” the weight so your arms straighten out. Repeat 19 more times!
Keep your core engaged (tighten your tummy) when performing these!
Jump rope for 1 minute (This can be really, really fun or frustrating. It may take a minute to remember just how to jump rope, but you WILL get it, I promise. Lighten up and think like a kid! Once you’ve managed this, you can jump rope for one- to three-minute intervals at a time.)
Do this block of exercises two or more times!! Push-up position, please! Don’t forget to jump rope after each set. It will help shake things out. (“Things” are what I refer to as tight muscles. It’s in the same category as “thingamajiggy” and “whatziewhoozies.”)
10-minute jog on treadmill or take it around the block again—say “hi” to neighbors this time.
Part Two—LOWER BODY
You may hold on to hand weights during these exercises to make it more challenging.
20 Right Leg Forward Lunges
20 Left Leg Forward Lunges
20 Standing Calf Raises (Gotta look good in heels!)
15 Basic Squats—Think Sumo wrestler here; squat down just to the height of your knee, then stand back up again. Make sure your knees and feet are a little wider than shoulder distance apart.
Jump rope for 1 minute.
1-minute Inner-Thigh Ball Squeezes—Lying flat on your back, place the dodge ball between your knees. Gently squeeze the ball, using medium pressure. Your inner thighs will feel “spicy.”
1-minute Hamstring and Booty Lift-Ups—Using the same position as above, hold the ball firmly with your knees and gently lift your pelvis all the way up and then lower it down to the ground. Lift your pelvis about 8 to 10 inches off the ground. You’ll start to feel your hamstrings and booty get tight. Breathe. These are very effective.
Repeat the lower-body section 2 more times.
10-minute light jog for the last time, taking it around the block. Your legs should feel heavy, but do it anyway—they will loosen up.
Use a towel or your hands to support your head.
20 Basic Crunches—Keep your chin up and gently lift your chest off the ground, about 4 inches up and back.
20 2-Part Lift Crunches—Lift high, higher, and highest, then go back down all the way. You’re only lifting up about an inch and a half each time.
20 Bicycle Kicks—Bring opposite knee and elbow in to the chest (almost close enough to touch) then switch. Go smoothly and evenly. Make sure to extend the leg out when you’re switching sides, so it looks like you are “pedaling.” Count each of the kicks up to 20.
3 30-second Body Planks. Lying flat on your mat, facing the ground, come up on your elbows and toes. Your elbows should line up below your shoulders. Your legs should be long, but not locked out. If this is too much weight to lift, bend your knees onto the mat. Again, this will be about 75 percent of your body weight. You can increase the intervals as you get stronger. This will strengthen your core and your back, and give you a light shoulder workout.
And last, but oh so not least:
Clamshells!!!! Because really, jeans are expensive and it’s important to keep this area looking good! Lie on your side, in what I call the TV position. Rest your head on your hand. Bring both knees up to where your belly button is, stacking the feet. You will look like you were sitting in a chair that fell over. Place a light weight on your top knee and hold it there with your hand. Lift the top leg up and down. Make sure your foot also lifts up to the same height as your knee. (Just like a suitcase—one side doesn’t raise higher than the other when opening.) Do this 50 times at a comfortable pace. Folks, it’s going to smart…a lot. But this will shape up the booty in no time. Do the other side.
CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE DONE!!!
Take a minute to turn off the music, sit down, close your eyes, and allow the body to “receive” what you’ve just done for it. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and then open your mouth to exhale (like you’re fogging up a mirror), emptying out your lungs. Repeat, breathing deeply a few more times.
If this is the first time you’re working out and getting physical, you’ll be sore. Please stretch and continue with the training schedule. Not moving makes your muscles tighter. On that note, I highly suggest getting a massage every couple weeks. Your body is like a fine sports car; we have to make sure it gets tuned up, so it will keep performing well. I hope you experience as much joy and accomplishment as I have, being present and moving through the areas of my life.
Be well. Be happy. Be strong.
Twenty Things to Do After a Breakup
· 1. Listen to Jagged Little Pill (Alanis Morissette).
· 2. Eat chocolate, but only for forty-eight hours.
· 3. Get out of bed, preferably within seventy-two hours.
· 4. Get out of the house (remember, your friends still have to know you, so shower).
· 5. Talk about something else.
· 6. Go to yoga.
· 7. Delete his number.
· 8. Change your number.
· 9. Make out with a stranger (he must be gorgeous or you’ll feel worse).
· 10. Get a new outfit.
· 11. Get a new hairdo.
· 12. Call that guy you have always thought about.
· 13. Stop driving by his house (it’s not Fatal Attraction).
· 14. Delete him from Facebook (refer to earlier IM chapter).
· 15. Don’t have regrets.
· 16. Don’t go to see romantic comedies.
· 17. Do something extreme (that you wouldn’t normally do).
· 18. Don’t go to the old “we” spots.
· 19. Take it one day at a time (we all have to take it one day at a time, that’s how it works).
· 20. Know you won’t die (you have to stick around so he can see what a mistake he made).
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.
Actual Facts About the Heart
Whenever we suffer a breakup, we can’t help but wonder about the damage done to our hearts. Maybe some interesting facts about how truly strong the heart is will help us remember that the damage is just emotional:
· The average human heart, beating at seventy-two beats per minute, will beat approximately 2.5 billion times in a lifetime, which is about sixty-six years.
· It weighs on average 250g to 300g in females and 300g to 350g in males (for once, it’s not women who have the weight problem).
· The human heart begins beating at a rate near the mother’s, about seventy-five to eighty beats per minute, around twenty-one days after conception.
· There is no difference between male and female heartbeats before birth; it is only after birth and during full function as a male or female that they become different (boy, how different).
· The heart is the most critical organ of the human body, as it pumps oxygenated blood to feed the body’s biological functions. Therefore, it is the part of the body you should take care of the most.
· High blood pressure and stress (breakups and fighting) can increase the risk of developing heart disease. Of course, one must also consider other factors, such as lifestyle and overall health (mental and social as well as physical).
· The heart is essentially a muscle only a little larger than the fist (great things come in small packages).
Let’s Snuggle! The Hormone That Makes Us Do So
Oxytocin is the hormone that will be your new best friend. It is produced in both males and females. Oxytocin plays a role in response to maternal, sexual, and social behaviors. Even virgin female rats injected with oxytocin fawn and nuzzle anything nearby, protecting them as if they were their own. Studies show that oxytocin in females as well as in males is key to pair bonding. Oxytocin has been proven to increase trust and reduce fear (wonder if I can get it in a pill!). Our oxytocin levels rise when we are touched anywhere on our bodies, producing that “warm and fuzzy feeling.” If there is a key that can help unlock the heart to love, it is oxytocin. Don’t skip over the feeling when it happens—breathe it in and enjoy it. Oxytocin cocktail, anyone?
In the Name of Love
Okay, I know we have all been through this one. After you’ve stopped dating someone, everyone in your life has to tell you how awful he was. “Did you know he was cheating on you the whole time?” “Did you know that he hit on me at my birthday party?” “The first time I saw him, I knew he was all wrong for you.” “He SO was not even cute!” You get the point. The initial purpose is sweet. It’s to boost you up, make you feel special and like you were too good for him anyway. But the internal conflict that you are experiencing is invisible to those around you. You start to think, Why? Why didn’t anyone tell me I was with Satan? Why didn’t anyone tell me as my life was dwindling away? And then you think, and why tell me now? As if I need more bad news on top off all the pain I’m feeling. Then you feel stupid for not seeing it. And it’s only then that you realize, sometimes the best good-bye is a nice one. Leaving yourself with a good memory will get you a lot further in the healing process.
Look, if it was good, you would still be in it. It wasn’t, so you’re not. But wouldn’t you rather know that you were in it at one point for a reason? Of course you would. You want to know that you chose the right person to spend time with for that part of your life, that he was a good person, and that, at that time, you made the right choice. That your time together mattered and you can take what you’ve learned here to your next relationship. You want to remember good times, because it’s only good that can fill up your heart so you can move on. Hatred makes you stagnant—it leaves no room for growth and isn’t real.
I have apologized to friends and loved ones, but you can’t say who I chose was wrong. That’s for me to decide. Loving someone, even someone who you don’t love anymore, for what they brought to your life, is you being your highest self. So, earmuffs. Let people know that your relationships are not to be gossiped about, that you love their support, but to support you with positive things, not negative. There are so many things to talk about, let’s leave each other out of it.
An act of love that fails is just as much a part of the divine life as an act of love that succeeds, for love is measured by fullness, not by reception.
This is the section where we truly bond. This is where there is no judgment, just support. I’ve had personal experience with how tough people’s opinions can be; it’s not fun, it can hurt. But we can also laugh and move on. Read ahead and know that I, too, have been there and will be there. Being a woman is the best thing in the world. It also comes with some tough times, hormones, and body changes, and while men grow old gracefully, we gracefully try not to grow old.