We dated throughout high school for about 5 years.

We’re on the phone the day before Valentine’s Day saying “I love you. I love you too, goodbye” and then I’ve literally never seen or spoken to that person ever again.

Quite suddenly I found myself single. It did take me a while to realize that in fact was what had happened. Just kind of ghosted.

At first, I assumed something was wrong or something came up. That last of my thoughts was that she just didn’t want anything to do with me anymore.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t handle it all that well. I didn’t do anything crazy. I didn’t go to her home or anything like that.

It got to a point where anytime I would leave the house when I would return, I had this pitiful hope that her car would magically be in the driveway. Like she finally decided to show up and explain it and it would all be reasonable.

I called for a long time but the calls would go straight to voicemail.

For a long time, I was confused and waited and hoped that something would come of it. But nothing ever did.

I was confused and sad for a long time and then after several months I just kind of accepted that this was what it was and started trying to deal with that.

I was 20-years old and 6-months before I had lost my father from complications due to alcoholism.

For a while, there was a lot of anger and resentment out of hurt.

We were kids and it was a wild scenario.

Her parents were not big fans of mine.

She was a very sweet and kind person. It wasn’t in her nature to confront people about anything. I think she probably handled it the best way she knew how.

I’ve really never been in a long-term relationship like that again. I like to think that’s because I haven’t encountered the right person, but it’s very possible that there are some scars from that that I use to protect myself and don’t allow myself to be vulnerable in that way.

Dating around but nothing serious.

I lean a lot on my social circle. I get support there.

Finding something creative to do. To have that creative outlet. Something to express yourself that puts a smile on your face.

I’m kind of intimidated by having that kind of commitment to another person. It would take a lot for me to be convinced to forfeit my freedom.

I was so shocked and devastated for those first few months.

I was eventually able to able to operate without that resentment and without that anger.

I’m glad to know I can get over something.

Maybe what happened didn’t happen because that person was trying to hurt me as much as they could maybe that person was just doing the best they could.

It taught me empathy.

Trust me, there’s more than one.

Relationships can take a lot of different forms.

Me telling you to keep your chin up won’t help you in the moment.

Ultimately you have to find ways to make yourself happy.

 

We were high school sweethearts and ended up being together for eleven years, married for five.

As teenagers, we went through the honeymoon stage on steroids.

She ended up being diagnosed later in life with borderline personality disorder

After college, we ended up moving in together immediately

The episodes of BPD, depression, and manic states continued to increase in their intensity and timing. It ended up she was hospitalized and at that point, she told me to get out and never come back.

I went back to our house, packed six garbage bags of clothing and moved in with my parents.

I promptly ended up blowing out my knee and spent the next 3 months on the couch.

I found myself single, living with my parents and losing the ability to move myself around to interact with people.

The good part about that was it gave me all the time in the world to reflect back on my situation. How I got there, how I felt about it, where I wanted to go from here.

It was honestly probably one of the best things that happened to me.

There are so many distractions in life. While distraction is an invaluable tool, being forced to take your time and reflect on everything that you have just gone through and figure out who you are as a person in this new world.

I had sent so much of my young life, of my personality development, literally every aspect of who I thought of myself as a person involved in this relationship.

Now, who I was as a person was such a huge question that was left to be answered.

The conclusion I came to was I like who I am. I’m very happy with myself with my work ethic, with my drive, with my relationships with my family and my friends, with almost every aspect of who I am as a person I have a positive self-view.

None of that would have happened without that relationship. It was such a huge building block for who I became as a person.

It was such an integral part of my growth as a person.

If they’re not judging you then why should you be judging yourself?

I’m looking for baggage that goes with mine. Everyone has baggage.

It was important for me that I found someone I could be as open with as I was with my family.

I became more open to listening to other people and listening to their situation.

I used to try to solve problems. When somebody had an issue I would offer a solution to discuss the potential fallouts

There are certain problems that don’t have solutions, or at least not easy ones.

They’re looking for a sounding board, an acknowledgment of their feelings, an acknowledgment of their courses of action rather than approval or dismissal.

I realized in my previous relationship that I was constantly trying to solve problems.

I think towards the end that relationship was really unhealthy for both of us.

I wonder if she is better off without me because I was an enabler or making it worse.

Time heals all wounds. It is truly amazing.

Nothing will ever be the same but that doesn’t mean it won’t get better.

There really is life on the other side.

I’ve never been happier in my entire life and that something that is achievable.

In the moment of the breakup, it’s not possible.

What it was for is to make you who you are as a person.

 

I discovered backpacking.

He had a mild sore throat that wasn’t going away.

He had throat cancer.

If anyone is ever in my shoes, hospice is fantastic.

It was actually one of the more tender and loving parts of my life even though it was traumatic and difficult.

I actually look back with an odd sense of even being closer.

We’d been together almost 30-years.

It’s hard for them to let people take care of them in certain ways.

I found myself in an unfathomable situation. I didn’t have enough money to take care of the day-to-day things.

I knew that I wanted to travel.

I couldn’t find a job, not even at the hardware store. I remember the cold dark fear of that.

I don’t even know how I did it.

I decided to sell the house. That was my dream house.

I’m spending all of my time taking care of my stuff. Everything I need fits on my back. That was a life-changing ah-ha moment for me.

I remember on I had this saying on my computer, “The barn having burned to the ground I can now see the moon.” I kept saying one day. That’s going to be me.

I kept saying, I’m okay for today.

Things always end up okay in our lives.

Don’t dwell about the future what if’s.

Adventure travel empowers you.

I was a late-bloomer to this whole adventure thing.

Even if I didn’t I would have been proud of myself.

It has opened my world.

Always try to say yes.

We all have this bond and this love of the outdoors. People are open. You know when you are on the trail people are your people.

We’re all a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for.

You’ve got it in you to do this. Just take that one step.

Say yes, you don’t know where this crazy life of ours is going to lead.

Your life is going to have lots of ups and downs.

 

It was a long moment of silence from my partner.

I thought maybe I should bring her flowers and show her that I care.

Over the course of time she finally messaged me telling me that it’s over.

The immediate feeling was a feeling of relief that I had some closure there.

You start to wonder how deep do those lies go.

I had some panic attacks thinking about how much harm I had done to her.

The more I thought about everything she did tell me it started unraveling.

The thing I blame myself for is not paying as close of attention to the inconsistencies in her behavior.

I am polyamorous.

The way I set up my relationships I don’t have a primary.

I would rather a person be honest with me than to be faithful. The communication has to be there.

It’s kind of selfish to expect one person to be everything for you.

One of the things I like most about polyamory is there are different levels of intimacy. It doesn’t mean I’ve having sex with all of them. In fact, most of them I don’t.

It’s good to remember there’s lots of wonderful people out there in the world. It’s just a matter of you opening your eyes and seeing where they are and seeing how beautiful they are.

 

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life.

I met this gentleman on a blind date. I was fairly young and we fell madly in love.

He was in the military.

We’d been married for about 25 years when he handed me divorce papers

He said, “I need to go find myself.”

I’m not even understanding what’s happening at that point.

My pastor said things like this often will trigger people to reevaluate their lives or possibly have a midlife crisis. This is a classic textbook midlife crisis.

You have to pick yourself up at that point. You have two choices, you either accept the circumstances or you accept yourself for who you are and recreate yourself.

At that point, I had spent almost 30 years taking care of someone else or having someone else’s needs in front of mine.

I decided to go ahead and do those things I hadn’t had an opportunity to do, like do a little bit of traveling go and create a new circle of friends.

Mutual friends feel like they have to take a side.

I explored interests I hadn’t been able to do. I bought a house. I wanted a project to rebuild my life. It had potential. I guess in a way, I felt I had potential too.

I took about a year to find myself and start doing things.

The dating situation had changed a lot since when I had my last first date.

I had to also divorce myself from the negativity.

If anything weird could happen it happened to me.

I was fearful.

I got into this meetup group. I was fearful for my safety. They would walk me to my car.

I had broken my leg at work.

I had a conversation with God. I said, “I would really like to fall in love one more time in this world. If it’s Your will let it happen.”

Most people are divorced with baggage…not baggage…steam lockers full of stuff.

Life is really short. In the scheme of things we are really here for a short amount of time.

Life is going to hand you things good or bad. If you can’t accept the bad ones you can’t appreciate the good ones.

You are where you are for a specific time for a specific reason.

Tenacity and resilience are two of the factors that have helped me deal with everything.

I grew up taking care of myself.

My sister died when I was 12 years old. She died and I didn’t even know she was sick.

She got this weird cancer. She had just had a child and her husband said he couldn’t deal with it. They had a 6-month old son.

I kind of feel like my mom died of a broken heart.

I was 16-years old and I left home.

My daughter got sick one night and my son took her to the hospital and dropped her off. He went home. She made it 3 miles before she fell asleep at the wheel and hit a pole Thanksgiving morning.

I got the call a parent never wants to get.

I am now raising her 7-year old.

I had only been married for a year. We had our whole life planned out.

It was supposed to happen this way. It sucks.

You cannot understand the hole that is left in your heart when your child is not with you anymore.

All grieving people and grieving families are eligible for Hospice grief counseling.

You can wonder how and why.

I had to make funeral arrangements for my daughter on my birthday.

People ask how I did it. I ask, “If I didn’t who would?”

I choose to move forward.

The best thing I can tell people is nothing lasts forever.

I have affirmation in my office that I am to focus on today and what I can control.

You have to sit there and know that today is happening for a reason.

You can become your situation or you can rise above your situation.

It’s going to get better.

I am going to rise above my reason for being sad or being depressed.

Keep on pluggin’ on. You just have to have it inside your heart and know it’s true.

I had been in a committed dating relationship since I was 20 years old.

I started to feel like I’m so old but so young.

Do we get married? Do we keep the relationship as is?

It felt like I was being the unfair one in the relationship, which was a really hard thing to admit.

For this immediate moment, it felt like the right decision.

There were a lot of tears. There was a lot of fear.

His initial reaction was anger and confusion.

I’ve been able to dedicate my best self to my work, and spending time with my friends, and travel.

In my gut, I knew what I needed, and I needed some time for myself.

When I’m in a relationship I’m less likely to go out of my way and try to meet random people and strike up conversations and take chances I would have normally shied away from.

I tended to shy away from some of that outreach and relationship building with other people for the sake of not threatening my current relationship.

I’ve had a lot of growth in the past year that I’m incredibly thankful for.

It has given me the ability to be selfish in the way that I need to be.

I don’t have to affect anyone with that decision besides myself.

I think going forward it will make me better equipped to handle my relationship because it has taught me my non-negotiables are.

Lately, I have been feeling so fearless. I just needed to give myself permission to not be afraid to do things.

Stringing a person along for me is just not an option. You have to do what you have to do.

A lot of young women are afraid.

If it’s not a hell yes it’s no in my mind. I had to act on it.

I see so many people in relationships that are admittedly not their happiest. They just think it’s the easy choice.

Why am I thinking through this in the way I am?

I was just really getting inside my head.

For me, the best mindset to have is an open one.

When you’re 20 you don’t know what you want and what your future is going to look like.

People are afraid to be open with what they genuinely want.

There have been tears. Holidays pass. You think about that person when you see something on TV and you’re questioning. Did I make the right choice?

A dating relationship just different. Not having that person and have someone genuinely care and be willing to listen has been really tough for me. I miss having that confidant.

What are those priorities? What do you see for yourself?

If things are meant to be and you’re meant to be with that person then you’ll find your way back to them.

I wrote a letter to myself reminding myself I was strong and I need to trust my gut.

Spend a lot of time self-reflecting and I really recommend writing down your thoughts and then setting them down for a little bit and then going back to them.

You don’t have to sound any alarms but they can be a sounding board for your before it escalates to the next level.

I remember one morning I woke up and felt so unhappy that I couldn’t get out of bed. The thing was I lived this seemingly perfect life.

That morning I knew I was living a life. There was something that was bothering me for a while.

It was a facade. I had the perfect life. Perfect marriage. Perfect husband. I was stuck in there. I still didn’t do anything about it.

He changed our savings account password

I had so much trust in him that he was taking care of our finances that I didn’t even check. I never went to check what was going on in our account.

Who is this guy? I don’t even know him. That was the starting point for me.

I realized all the feelings I have had and ignored. That I felt I was not connected to him. I didn’t feel the love I didn’t feel the passion anymore and I had all these fears.

A year after that I found myself in the middle of a divorce.

Neither of us wanted to move out because at that point our boys were 6 and 8. We decided we can be professional parents together. We were separated in the same house for two years.

At the two years separation I felt really depressed. I felt as a Mom I was failing my kids.

My young son looked at me and said, “mom just divorce dad. You know you want it. You know that’s why you’re angry. Just get it over with.” I realized at that point that as much as I was hiding things it was showing in my face. My sadness, my anger. Everything.

I found yoga. I heard yoga can help you release stress. That helped me to release anxiety and be able to think a little bit more clear.

I remember the first day my life coach told me I don’t think you love yourself.

I put all my accomplishments as a sign I love myself. Because I didn’t feel good enough I was searching for something outside of myself. I kept accomplishing all these different things because that made me feel complete and good enough.

My husband said, “You always complain I don’t love you but you don’t let me love you. You have built this wall. I can never get close to you.”

If you don’t love yourself you don’t allow people to love you because you don’t feel worthy of love.

I kept creating the same situation.

After two years of doing yoga, meditation, life coaching, hypnotherapy, energy healing, I transformed my life. I felt different.

I would write three things about him that I appreciate.

My energy towards him started changing. We started talking and became friends. We started sharing things we never did before. It felt safe to talk.

I opened my heart and allowed him to love me and we decided to get back together and stay and we are still together.

It wasn’t easy. Trust me. It wasn’t like it happened overnight.

One day my 9-year boy said to me, “Mom I love the way you are, please don’t go back the other way.” Which brought tears to my eyes.

It doesn’t matter what situation you are in. If you have gratitude for what you have now then you would know your next step.

Gratitude allows us to see that what we focus on expands.

I saw my own value. I saw all the ways I was beautiful.

I deserve happiness. I deserve joy.

When you focus on beautiful things all you see around you is more beauty.

 

I got married right after college. I was young. When I married my wife she already had two kids and I was a step-dad.

Fresh out of college I stepped into a major responsibility role and then we had our son shortly after.

The first several years of our marriage things were going great.

Both of us lost our self-identity throughout our relationship and our marriage.

I’m so grateful since we’ve been separated we’re friends.

This was something we needed to do. We needed to be apart to grow and become the people we wanted to be. When we were together we just couldn’t accomplish what we wanted to accomplish.

Everything was on my shoulders. Financially…everything was on me and it’s a lot. Especially when you have kids. It took a toll on me and I finally got to the point where enough was enough.

We’re always putting people’s needs first ahead of ours.

You hear that phrase, “Happy wife, happy life.” It’s not true. At the end of the day, we have needs too. What are my needs?

I’m in my mid-30’s and I’m not going to live my life as a roommate with someone just because we have kids together. So I had to make that decision. It’s a tough decision for a lot of guys.

You just realize at the end of the day this isn’t it. This isn’t the right partner for me and it’s time for me to figure out what’s the next step, make that decision, move on and decide I need to focus on myself.

I had to figure things out. I’m not myself. I’m not who I am.

When you first meet someone and start dating everything is great.

Over time stuff starts to eat at you. A lot of stuff was on me financially. That took a toll on me.

I lost my house. I went through bankruptcy. I went through the marriage problems I had, tax problems, so many issues that were stemming from that relationship… there’s only so much you can take.

It’s one of the hardest things when you’re with someone for 14-15 years and then boom! All of a sudden you’re single. There’s no manual on how to handle that.

One of the things that’s really helped me overall is being active.

During my marriage, I did I have a struggle with alcohol. It became dependent on my life to deal with daily stress.

I’m enjoying a lot of those outdoor adventures and staying away from bar scenes. I’m active with the church I go to. I actually make coffee for all the patrons there and I really enjoy that.

I think the worst thing you can probably do is be alone to yourself and your thoughts and think about all the things that went wrong in the relationship. I think that’s where people can get into trouble.

There is that period where there’s self-defeat.

Realize we are human and this is a part of life. Yeah, it sucks but at the same time, there is a lot of good stuff we can do out there and be a part of.

One of the things that really helped me with self-reflection is journaling.

I think what I really like about that’s helped me out is it just gets things out. Could be positive, it could be negative, it could be things I’m excited about. It’s personal and it’s all kept private.

It’s a work in progress. I can’t come on here and say one tool or five tools are going to solve your problem but things are out there and resources that can help you.

Ultimately it falls on you. You’ve got to make that decision to move on.

Realize you’re not alone. There are a lot of people out there that are going through this.

Just realize this is a part of life for a lot of us. It wasn’t the right partner, that’s okay.

Don’t immediately jump into another relationship. If you’re in a long-term relationship I think the worst thing you can do is try to seek someone immediately.

Ultimately at the end of the day, we’re responsible for our own happiness and we have to figure out what that is. For us to go from one relationship to another we’re never going to figure out what that is.

That self-reflection period is critical. There’s no time limit. It could be years, it could be months.

Be around people who are going to make you feel better. Don’t be around people who are going to drain your energy or be toxic for you.

Make the best out of it. Figure out who you are and have fun with it.

I was married for about 8 years.

Most of our marriage we spent apart.

I became pregnant and we started to spend more time together and realized we should not live together.

It was sad at the time but looking back it seems such a necessary part of my story to come out the other side.

The question I asked myself was what do I want my life to be like?

Having a vision for what I want to be like and then executing that vision I probably don’t give myself enough credit for how amazing that really was.

I think almost dying brought things into sharp relief for me. I decided I didn’t like the life that I was living.

He confessed he had fallen out of love with me.

Am I somebody that’s desirable?

I had the reputation of dating a lot.

I really value having the freedom to have a relationship that takes its natural state.

I didn’t like living on the relationship escalator. This opened my eyes to polyamory.

As I envision my life going forward this is the way I want to be.

Polyamory and relationship anarchy (which is another subset of ethical non-monogamy), those philosophies and practices have really helped us as co-parents.

Nothing happens in polyamory that isn’t agreed to from the beginning. There is such a thing as cheating in polyamory.

Everything is subject to negotiation. Everything is examined and nothing is taken for granted.

I had to really drill down and figure out what it was I that I wanted in my relationships and what I was willing to accept in relationships.

Currently, I have two partners.

Is she going to try to take my husband?

I’m not a person who thinks everyone should be polyamorous.

It’s a really fine line talking to people about your personal life and talking to people about your sex life.

I would never deny one of the people I love to anybody. I feel that would diminish them. To the extent it comes out, I share it.

There are polyamorous people who have relationships that don’t involve sex at all.

Jealousy is an emotion that everyone deals with.

Jealousy is a signal from my brain that I have a need here that is not being met.

Learning that these negative emotions that we have mean something.

I was just me again.

External validation is a cheap and easy drug and it goes away fast. I had to learn very quickly to cultivate my own internal validation and that was a huge turning point for me.

Try to find some calm and think about what you want your life to be.

Envision yourself in the place you want to be in 5 or 10 years and then start making the moves to make those things happen. Even the stuff that seems really impossible or really hard. You are a resourceful person. You can achieve these things on your own.

I was married for almost 15 years.

He was a high school football coach.

We received a phone call that he wasn’t breathing. He was on life support for 3 days

We did the DNR and he was braindead. He passed away from a massive brain aneurysm.

I was 38 at the time and he was 48. Our daughters were 8 and 11.

I remember when they told us there was nothing that they could do.

I’ve always thought myself and independent, strong, and powerful woman. I was surprised to find how broken I was.

My life prior was so easy and I didn’t realize it.

When it’s a sudden death there’s a lot that’s left unsaid. I had some regrets from our last moments together.

We got cards and condolences from around Kansas City

The emotional support that I lost broke me and I wasn’t prepared for that. I wasn’t prepared for the physical pains of grief. I had no idea what pain was until my husband passed away.

I did not realize how easily I could be broken.

I had a double ear infection and sinus infection and that was due to all the crying. The weight on your chest…it feels like you cannot breathe like somebody has their hands around your throat.

Nothing else matters except this deep dark pit that you are sitting in.

The emotional exhaustion relates incredibly physically.

Here I was leaning against the side of the shower just bawling. I’d hear my daughters doing the same.

There came a period of adrenaline too. And then anger arose. I wasn’t mad at Eric. You can’t be mad at someone that didn’t mean to die.

Life happens regardless of what your plans are.

I know that I had to feel everything that I was feeling. No matter how messed up it seemed or how messed up it felt it was valid.

I had to feel those crazy things in order to move forward.

We were a statistic in that we were not prepared. Eric didn’t have a will. We didn’t have enough life insurance.

I did not leave my house for quite some time because everyone knew us. I hated it. I hated it so much.

My kids are tired of grieving and they want it to go back to normal but they can’t because everybody knows that their Dad died so they’re walking around on eggshells. We don’t want the eggshells but we need the eggshells.

I think every time we share it makes it easier.

Grieve really really hard now so you can feel something else later. Doing this was making me stronger. Doing this was making me braver.

It’s nice to be able to smile while we’re sharing this stuff with each other.

When I was in the deep pits of grief if something triggered me I would literally be done for the day. Now I cry, I laugh about it and we get up and go. We go do life.

I like who I am now a whole lot better than who I was before. I hate that I had to lose my husband to evolve to who I am today.

I am more gentle. I don’t sweat the small stuff. Literally, it doesn’t matter. If it won’t matter in 5 years it doesn’t matter. I am more appreciative and I am more grateful.

I am blessed for this laundry because these people are here to dirty it. There is so much we take for granted in life and then life teaches us a lesson.

I put my phone down more.

When you do those things you create more experiences. The stuff doesn’t matter. I  have a slower-paced lifestyle and I like it.

How many times do we pose for professional photos with our children on the grass? Do you really do that? Or do you just pose for professional photos? I find myself doing it more now.

We were both workaholics in our previous lives and we had let that happen.

We put ourselves to the wayside and I wish we had not.

Hold on to hope.

One day you’re going to look back at this time and think, “That was a really hard time but I made it.”

Your heart expands and you learn to carry on and brings your spouse honor and keeps their legacy alive because they have changed you. You are who you are today because of the person you were with.

Whomever you spend your time with helps you evolve into who you are going to become. I am a better person because of my husband Eric.

I hold on to hope that good things are coming.