Tag Archives: break up

Open your Heart

A dear friend sent me a link to an interesting TED talk on love and relationships given by Mandy Len Catron. The theme of love and relationships had already been playing on my mind.

After watching the clip, I confessed to my friend that I long to share intimacy and affection with someone of the male variety. I quickly added that I’m just feeling impatient and that I should simply be present.

My friend replied: “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a special connection with a man. What you mustn’t do is ever make yourself feel bad because that want is there. It’s human nature.” It was nice to read her words.

Mandy Len Catron’s TED talk came about because Mandy, in the midst of a breakup, turned to science to better understand love. While researching the workings of the heart, Mandy discovered a study undertaken by psychologist Arthur Aron 20 years ago.

The study involved having two strangers ask and answer a series of 36 questions designed to make the participants fall in love. Six months later, the participants were married.

One evening, Mandy described Arthur Aron’s study to a university acquaintance. He proposed that they put the questions to the test. And they promptly fell in love!

Mandy went on to write an article about her experience for The New York Times. Since then, she has received endless calls and emails from people who all want to know one thing: Are Mandy and her university acquaintance still together? And the answer is that they are.

This may seem like the happy ending that we’re all hoping for. But what Mandy learned from this incredible experience is that there is no happy ending. There is no ending.

Falling in love is the easy part. The challenge lies in the decision to continue loving each other through the good and the difficult times. The hard part is to allow yourself be vulnerable and to give your heart to someone who may or may not choose to love you back.

These are the parts of love that many single people forget about when we crave a relationship. We want the smiles and the glances, the cuddles and the kisses, the electricity of attraction and the rush of romance.

However, closeness with a partner can really trigger you and bring all your issues to the surface. The choice then is to succumb to the temptation to close your heart and retreat (or defend) or you can deal with these issues and expand, both as a human being and as a couple.

It’s exciting and scary to open your heart to another human being. Being loved can make you feel blissful and secure one moment and out of control the next.

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Today, I told another friend about all of this. She excitedly suggested that we ask one another the 36 questions. “Imagine if we fell in love,” she laughed.

My friend and I answered all 36 of Arthur Aron’s questions. The questions encouraged us to share our life stories, embarrassing incidents, favourite memories, fears, problems and dreams. We were also invited to tell each other what we liked about one another.

Did we fall in love? I can honestly say that my heart was bursting by the end of the exercise. In truth, my friend and I already love one another.

However, this exercise highlighted how much we have in common and how much we value our friendship. Being let into my friend’s life in this way deepened my love for her. Answering these questions also reminded me of how far I’ve come, how great my life is and how wonderful I am.

How do a series of questions make people fall in love? I believe that these questions inspire you to share yourself with another human being openly and honestly. This vulnerability allows someone to get to know the real you. And this can greatly speed up the falling in love process.

I’d definitely recommend completing this exercise, preferably with someone dishy. It may just make you fall in love – with your friend, your partner, or an attractive stranger. It may also make you fall in love with your journey, with your life, and with you, the real you.

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“Great” Expectations

As I lie in a spa being oiled and kneaded, my mind is elsewhere. I find myself rating the atmosphere, the decor, and the manner and technique of the masseuse. I compare this experience with others. I shouldn’t be thinking, I think. I should be relaxed. Because I am in a spa, I expect to feel serene. Halfway through the treatment, I decide I’m tired of thinking. I surrender to the music, the heat, the touch…

Afterwards, as I sit in the relaxation room in a white robe and slippers, I get talking to an older lady. She tells me that she wasn’t able to have the hydrotherapy bath because she wouldn’t have been able to get in or out of it. She didn’t have the hot stone massage either because the masseuse was afraid of aggravating her psoriasis. I ask her if she’s disappointed. She says, “No because I had no expectations.” She’d enjoyed the swimming pool, the creams and the foot rub instead.

Expectations are usually a precursor to disappointment, anger and agitation. We get depressed because we think things should be different. We think we should be different. We become annoyed with loved ones because we expect them to behave the way we think they should. We cry on our birthday because it hasn’t lived up to the excitement we threw upon it. We feel let down by Christmas because the dinner tasted better last year; the presents didn’t make us / the children as happy as we’d expected; we’d looked forward to having all the family together but Steve couldn’t make it, Martha didn’t make an effort, and then there was that huge fight…

The movie that has too much hype surrounding it rarely lives up to our expectations. New Year’s Eve is often the worst night of the year. We stay in and we feel sad and alone. We go out and we’ve nobody to kiss at midnight and we’re embracing the toilet bowl. And as for sex… we’ve had better, right? Many women admit to feeling let down by sex (or their partner or even themselves) because they expect nothing less than an orgasm. As a result, they fail to let go enough to enjoy the moment-by-moment pleasure.

When it comes to relationships, expectations are often what hold them together but ultimately what drive them apart. I remember being dumped by a boyfriend and feeling disappointed because I’d expected him to be “The One” and it was going to be a pain to have to start all over again with somebody else. How far removed from the present moment is that? A friend told me how upset she was when her boyfriend left her. She added: “I was hoping to spend my birthday with him. I’ve never had a boyfriend on my birthday. And now, I’m gonna have yet another birthday as a singleton.” This guy just wasn’t right for her. It was her dashed expectation that saddened her more than the loss of this particular man.

We feel more at ease in the company of someone who’s not trying so hard to control everything. There’s more room to breathe, to laugh, to just be… So, if we stop expecting so much from those close to us, we’ll enable closer (and freer) relationships. And if we stop building up unrealistic expectations of events, we’ll enjoy them whatever way they turn out. It’s often the impromptu nights that are the most fun. And we end up really enjoying that trip we hadn’t been looking forward to. Why? Because we had no expectations and, therefore, no attachment to the outcome.

Having no expectations doesn’t mean acquiring a pessimistic outlook on life. It means slipping into the present. Enjoying everything as it happens. Letting go of control over ourselves and others. It means less stress and disappointment. It means relaxing into the flow and allowing life to get easier. When we have no expectations whatsoever, that’s when magic can happen…

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Relationships with others and how to relate to yourself

Recently, a friend informed me that the guy she’d been seeing had ended it with her. She admitted to feeling like a “reject”. I told her that there is nothing wrong with her, that she is perfect exactly as she is, and that she is perfect for the right guy for her. What I didn’t say is that the only thing that isn’t perfect about her right now is her lack of understanding of her own perfection.

Relationships are excellent for giving us very important lessons. They bring us onto an intimate level with another human being so we are forced to confront our issues, insecurities, and deep-seated emotions. Emotions do not arise only for us to squash them. They should be explored as they are a clear indication of what’s working in our lives and what isn’t. Emotions teach us who we are.

The most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. If you don’t know yourself properly, you can never experience a healthy partnership. And if you don’t love yourself, how can you say you love anybody else? Your love is conditional – you will love yourself when you look the way you think you should look, when you’re in a relationship, when society seems to accept you and tell you that you’re a success. The moment any of these conditions change, you snap your love back like a yo-yo. If the love you have for yourself is dependent on a list of conditions, the love you claim to have for others is conditional too. You love them until they behave in a way that you think isn’t right. You love them as long as they fit your criteria of a good friend, a loyal family member, or the perfect partner. This is not real love.

Accept yourself and then you will be able to accept others for who they really are. Lift the veil of delusion that you are wearing across your face and you will be able to easier see what a person is really like. Then, you can make an informed decision as to whether you want a close relationship with this person or not. When you find yourself thinking, “This person looks good and we have a lot in common with each other so we’d be perfect together”; realise that the moment you thought this, a veil came down over your eyes. You are no longer seeing this person as they are but rather as you want them to be. And when chinks of light appear in this veil, you don’t like what you see. So, you blame the other person for making you feel bad. How is a relationship like this going to work?

And when we can’t blame others, we blame ourselves. When relationships end, we often wonder what’s wrong with us. I’m not attractive enough. There must be something missing in my personality. What do I need to change about myself so somebody else can love me? Never change yourself for anyone! Always be yourself no matter what. You can only attract the right people into your life when you are who you really are. Don’t waste any more time pretending and crying over failed relationships. Be grateful that they’re over and that you are not trapped in an unhealthy partnership. Know yourself, be yourself, and love yourself, and everything else will follow.

Last night, a man called into me. As we drank our tea and chatted, he spotted a photograph of me when I was nine years old. I was sitting in the sun with my brother, cousin, and neighbour. We were in our swimming togs after enjoying a water fight. The man asked if I’d been happy back then. I admitted that I cannot remember ever having truly been myself, even when I go back to my earliest memories. I was always trying to change myself to please others. It was a mistaken belief that that was the only way to survive in this world. I worried what others thought about me. I was afraid of being less than perfect. I have cried tears of sadness over this. But that is simply how I chose to think and, therefore, feel at that time. As a result, I can better appreciate and savour getting to know the real me, living my life in the right way for me, and loving myself unconditionally.

Only very recently have I started to know, be, and love myself. I accept myself exactly as I am. Loving myself as I am doesn’t mean that I remain stagnant. Because I love myself, I take myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself with my own potential. This is scary but rewarding as my confidence and belief in my talents and capabilities are strengthening. I don’t run away from my feelings. I sit with them and learn from them.

I am constantly exploring new avenues of growth and change. I exercise because my body cries out for it and thanks me for it. But I don’t deny myself rest and relaxation. I want to eat healthful foods because that’s what my body deserves. I enjoy what I eat and am grateful for it. I am good to my body so it will be good to me. I get up early to get work done. I study and attend classes because I want a good life of abundance and fulfilment. I help others because I have something to offer and because we are all connected in this world. When I feel sick, hurt, angry or scared, I observe it and allow it, and when I remember, I give thanks for the challenge as it is an opportunity to learn more about myself, which, in turn, enables me to grow.

I am good to myself. I have baths and light candles. I walk in nature and take yoga classes. I feed myself with knowledge as it’s one of the most important nutrients there is. I read books and meditate and listen to music. I wear pretty colours and do my hair. I travel and swim in the ocean and laugh with friends. I spend time alone so that I can centre and rejuvenate myself. And because I now know, accept and love myself, I have given myself a wonderful gift – the freedom and the ability to know, accept, and love my family, friends, and potential partner.

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Co-dependency

I had a rather interesting awareness today. I was needy. Up until very recently, I had been behaving in a needy, co-dependent manner. Throughout my life, I had a number of co-dependent relationships (not all romantic), which were safe and sweet when they were good and devastatingly painful when they weren’t.

I became unreasonably annoyed when a boyfriend didn’t contact me for a whole day. And I felt justified in my anger. He mustn’t care, I thought. If it had been a friend or family member, it wouldn’t have cost me a thought. But because he was my boyfriend, the rules changed. Boyfriends should contact their girlfriends every day. Otherwise, it’s a sign that they’re not interested. Can we take this deeper? If he’s not interested, it probably means that there’s something wrong with me. That I don’t deserve to be loved. No wonder I was angry! Which made him frustrated. And not long afterwards, he left me. My heart broke. And then it healed. I now know that he did me a huge favour. I’m glad it’s over. That’s not to say that he’s a bad guy. We just weren’t suited. Deep down, I’d always known this. I’d just become too attached to the idea of being attached that it hurt too much to detach myself.

I only realise now that I’d been acting needy. I needed constant reminders of his love. I needed to be reassured. To be held and rocked and stroked like a screaming baby, terrified of being left alone. To be left alone as an infant means certain death. But we forget that we are adults. That we are strong. Capable. Loveable. Enough. So, we wail and cry and demand attention. We get attention all right. Just not the type of attention we’d been hoping for.

The core feeling in co-dependency is a fear of being left alone. We long for connection. Because when we feel connected, we feel safe. The delusion is that we are disconnected. Separate. Alone. So, we cling to others. To the people who show us affection; to the ones who look after us, and make us feel good about ourselves. When we fear they might be slipping away; the love, security and trust that we associated with that person disappear with them. And we are left vulnerable and scared and angry that they could make us feel this way. They didn’t make us feel anything. They didn’t make us feel hurt or betrayed. They didn’t even make us feel happy or in love. We did it all by ourselves.

When you love someone so much that you can’t live without them, that’s when you’ve got to live without them. Live your life to the fullest. Believe in your power and potential. Love yourself exactly as you are, where you are. And when you feel strong enough to be compassionate, independent enough to feel connected; and when you’ve got so much love for yourself that you can accept somebody else’s love for you, then, and only then, will you be ready to enter into a healthy partnership.

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Some useful things I learned today…

Owls are so in this season.

The smallest-sized Starbucks’ Gingerbread Latte costs four euro!

Some people still call hats “bonnets”.

A person can be in chronic pain and laugh more than I do. 

A large chest makes you look bigger than you actually are.

The first ever text message was sent 19 years ago. It said Merry Christmas.

If you do what you love, a whole new world will reveal itself… 

You will never know absolutely everything about a person.

Everybody goes through times of hurt and grief and self-doubt.

You can love someone but find it easier to stay away.

It takes just one person’s belief in you to help you succeed. If that one person is you, all the better. 

Mariah Carey has just done a duet with Justin Bieber on All I Want For Christmas. Good to know. If I avoid the radio, department stores and supermarkets for the next three weeks, I might never have to hear it.

Teenagers use shopping centres as pick-up joints.

Sometimes, you just need space. You’ll come back when you’re good and ready.

If you start being true to who you really are, you’ll stop caring what others think. In fact, it won’t even register with you any more. 

Getting into the holiday spirit and hot toddies are synonymous.

Lots of people dread Christmas. It’s too much pressure. I don’t think that’s what Baby Jesus intended…

Others can’t get enough of it. Below is a house in Newbridge. It’s like this Every. Single. Year.

When a shopkeeper asks, “Is this a gift for somebody?”, it is not because she cares. Or because she is going to kindly offer to wrap it for you. It’s because she’s about to try and flog you a Christmas box.

I could be the next Perez Hilton. Only nicer.

You can’t beat a good instrumental interlude. 

Images: http://www.maccazine.com.au/general-information/christmas-lights-competition/; http://alligator-sunglasses.com/post/13780955850/hi-little-fellah; http://liveyoungforever.xanga.com/734450391/want-you-to-make-me-feel-like-im-the-only-girl-in-the-world/?cuttag=tru; www.flickr.com; http://fading-gently.tumblr.com/; http://favim.com/image/225426/

On the floor

The last time I ventured to the pub was about three months ago with my then boyfriend in the Donegal Gaeltacht, where the most outrageous thing anyone did was speak English. The last time I got drunk was about six months ago with an old college friend, when we had Thai food with our wine and spent the following day blaming the takeaway for the annihilation of our insides (as you do). And I can’t even remember the last time I set foot inside a club. Does watching self-proclaimed guidos fist pump on Jersey Shore count?

And you know how when you haven’t done something in a while, you wonder if you could even remember how to do it? It’s part lack of energy after a recent flu; part rawness after a recent break-up; part fear- I think I’ve put on weight, I don’t have anything nice to wear, I don’t remember how to small-talk; part sense- memories of extreme exhaustion after a 7am finish, a night spent hugging the toilet bowl (it was a night on the tiles all right!), hangovers so bad you rue the day alcohol was discovered. Damn you, rotten fruit! And part downright laziness at the thought of having to choose an outfit, do the hair and makeup, and stand around in heels all night. Effort. I think I’ve developed a mental block.

But after three weekends in a row of calling over to my mam’s for chips and a two-hour sentence of The X Factor, where the most daring thing I did was drink tea after 11pm, I think it’s time I worked on my social life.

I’m told I need to get out there (code for showcase my talents- I have a large chest- in order to date around). But do I really want to find a man in a swirling sea (maybe I shouldn’t have had that last Cuba Libre) of checked shirts and shark-like smiles? It’s dangerous choosing a partner when you’re both sporting beer goggles (Why do they call them beer goggles anyway? Goggles help you see. They should be called beer shades. Because they blot out the light. But I digress. I do that when I try to avoid an issue.)

On the one hand, I’m not bothered with all the pretending that goes on on a night out… fake tan, false eyelashes, concealer… pretending that everything’s funny, pretending that this club doesn’t suck rear end, pretending that you can walk in those heels and that your feet aren’t burning… Plus, I don’t want to get so drunk that I lose the following day (or my mammy’s chips).

On the other hand, I miss dancing to the latest Rihanna number, making an effort with my appearance and being told it’s paid off by a random hottie (even if he is hauled outside by the bouncers three minutes later for being too drunk) and cackling at dirty jokes with a gaggle of mates.

I don’t have to drink too much (famous last words). My eyelashes and tan (or lack thereof- I didn’t have a sun holiday this year, okay?) will be real. And I might wear flats. Who’s with me?

Images: http://myspace-fusion.com/graphics/photography/index.php?page=6; http://willberwillberforce5333.wordpress.com/tag/willber-willberforce/page/159/; http://bahalwan.de/gallery/fashion/MicheleWaldmeyer/

Featured Image: http://2812photography.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/dance-floor/

Dumping the Inner Critic

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Are you fed up of listening to your inner critic? Well, I’m bloody exhausted! I’ve finally had enough of its negative chat so I’m determinedly defriending this dedicated demon.

Here’s what I’m gonna do. I’ll take it for a nice little drive… before abandoning it in the middle of nowhere. Yes, it’ll command me to come back, leaving dozens of pleading (and threatening) voice mails… I’ve got nowhere else to go! Who’s gonna talk to you 24/7? You’re nothing without me! I will hunt you down! But without me to collect it or pick up its calls, this inner critic will have to give up. All it wants is constant attention. If I ignore it, it will simply lose interest in me.

It will be awfully quiet without this lifelong leech but the only one who’ll really miss it is my ego. And one day, when I’m brave enough, I’ll ditch that cunning so-and-so too. Those two deserve each other! I’ll no longer be part of that unhealthy three-way. And when our paths cross again, as I stroll arm-in-arm with my new-found freedom, I’ll greet them with a very friendly middle finger salute. Then walk away.

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Featured image: asphaltandrubber.com