No matter how much it was needed and how much it will contribute to your mental health and evolution, a breakup is still experienced by many as a major loss.

Loss usually includes a process of grieving and reintegration of what was broken into meaningful aspects/experiences in one’s life.

When the loss, the griever, or the process of grieving is not acknowledged or accepted (say you ended a relationship with a married individual and no one knew about it), it can lead to a phenomenon known as disenfranchised grief.

What is disenfranchised grief?

Disenfranchised grief is a term that was coined by Ken Doka. He defines disenfranchised grief as, “Grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned.”

It may be particularly difficult for you to express your feelings of loss during the current pandemic crisis when you know that there are people who are dealing with death, diagnosis, not knowing how they’re going to put food on the table, and not being able to care for elderly parents/grandparents. We often do not recognize our own loss. However, this lack of recognition may lead to this more complicated form of grief. The combination of stress and grief can create neurological changes that make the already-stressful coping seem even more impossible.

As much as we want to, we can’t change what has happened. The relationship ended and we are grieving. And that’s okay.

Here are some tips for exploring your attitudes about grief and your specific loss during this unprecedented time…

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So, you want to learn how to get your ex back.

You’ve gone through relationships where you knew the other person wasn’t good for you but every so often, you’ll leave someone and realize you’ve made a terrible mistake. Or, your ex left you, but you’re certain you still have a chance to have a great life together.

While there are no guarantees that your ex will come back into your life with open arms, there are some things you can do to entice them back into a relationship (given that they are not a toxic person and are actually capable of a mutual, non-toxic relationship).

Breakups of any kind are devastating. I write a lot about breakups with toxic individuals, but what if you were with someone who was truly great?

Not knowing what to do or how to get a great person back has made me feel suicidal in the past (emotionally and physically). I didn’t want to live anymore without this person. If you’re feeling this way right now, I want you to consider this…

Imagine you were writing the story of your life on your computer right now and all of a sudden, the computer got a virus and broke down.

  • Would you immediately pour gasoline all over it, light a match, blow it up (physical suicide), and risk burning your entire house down? (destroying those who love, believe in, count on, and need you).
  • Would you run away from it in fear and abandon your computer and story? (emotional and spiritual suicide).
  • Would you pretend that nothing was wrong and keep typing even though the screen won’t light up and the keyboard doesn’t work? (symptoms of emotional and spiritual suicide: denial, delusion, and avoidance).
  • Would you psyche yourself into believing that this was just a little glitch? And after a while, when the computer still wasn’t working, would you use every opportunity to berate it and tell it how worthless and defective it is? (another symptom of emotional suicide: self-sabotage).

No. You would not do any of these things.

You would understand that something in the computer is broken enough to prevent it from operating. And even though it doesn’t work right now, the virus can be killed and the brokenness can be repaired. Destroying your computer or refusing to address the brokenness does not erase the problem.

It takes away any chance for you to finish the story that only you can write.

Don’t give up on yourself.

Here’s what you need to do to get your ex back…

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I’ve written about how to deal with emotionally unavailable partners and friends but what happens when you are the emotionally unavailable one? Is there a way to become more emotionally available?

Readers and clients often ask me, “how can I find a partner who is emotionally available? I can never get anyone I’m dating to open up.”

No one can reverse unavailability other than the person suffering from it. Becoming emotionally available is not contingent upon your partner being “better” or trying harder to crack your impossible codes.

The unavailable person has to have a genuine desire to want to be better for themselves.

As much as you may want to mow your neighbor’s overgrown lawn, there’s no point in telling them how badly they need it or how willing you are to do it if *they* do not see a need to keep their side of the street clean.

If you want an emotionally available, mutual relationship, the first thing you need to do is make sure that you are emotionally available yourself. 

Emotional unavailability is when a person (either consciously or subconsciously) puts up walls and creates barriers that prevent them from being intimate with others. The root of this is undealt with trauma.

This can originate in childhood. You may come from a family of professional under-the-rug brushers and it became habitual for you. You may have experienced an isolated traumatic event or repeated trauma and as a child, the only way your emotional body could cope was by shutting down.

I became more emotionally unavailable when I started dating (with very low self-esteem). After my first big heartbreak, I didn’t want to feel the pain or have to grieve the loss of my relationship. I also didn’t want to face my part in how things fell apart. It was all too much; more pain than my heart could handle. So, I would jump into another relationship as soon as possible. This created a ripple effect of avoidance, denial, and massive unavailability. No matter how much I claimed to want real intimacy and connection, I could never seem to attract it.

If you find that you attract/are attracted to people who are emotionally (and sometimes physically, morally, and spiritually) unavailable…

If you tend to excuse disrespectful behavior, try harder instead of walk away from red flags, and blame yourself for other people’s emotional limitations…

It is your own unavailability that you need to address; your own proverbial lawn that you need to mow.

We attract what we exude.

Don’t you want to attract someone who can maintain their own property? If you’re emotionally unavailable, you will claim to want that but secretly, only feel satisfied if you can turn weeds into a rose garden; horsesh*t into a bar of gold.

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Loneliness is a vicious cycle. It happens when we feel like we can’t express our truth.

Whenever I find myself out of a situation where I was constantly critiqued (in a destructive, non-constructive way) and consistently seeking validation, there is a part of me that feels such relief – even if I’m heartbroken over the ending.

It’s just like stretching an inflexible body. Of course, it’s going to feel uncomfortable to stretch at first (it may even feel painful at times). But as you are stretching, there are certain muscles that finally, get to relax amidst the ones that are causing temporary discomfort from being stretched.

When it comes to your emotional muscles, unplugging from chaos is the ultimate exhale, however, the surrounding muscles (your triggers) will get tested and cause pain. And if you don’t know how to give that pain a purpose, you’ll start feeling lonely and depressed; like you are socially isolated even when surrounded by talkative people.

This quarantine has literally unplugged you from life as you knew it.

It has removed much of the chaos of our daily lives and replaced it with the kind of uncertainty that would make anyone miss even the most dysfunctional aspects of an existence that temporarily, does not exist.

Yet, somewhere, deep down… there is a relief to be found, a certainty to implement, and peace to be experienced. There is a light within that no matter how much your fear, other people’s bullsh*t, and your insecurities try to dim, it can never be fully extinguished.

The purpose of this post is to get you to amplify that light. I can’t do it for you. Neither can your friends and family, a course, a seminar, or a TED Talk.

Only you can do this.

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When it comes to red flags in a relationship, in dating, and even in your friendships…

Have you ever heard the saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”?

A red flag is the smoke that no matter how much you try to fan away, choose to identify as fog, or spray with the air freshener of denial and keep walking through, it will always lead you to fire. You may be able to see past the smoke and keep moving for a while, but fire is one thing that we all can agree, you will never be able to move through or ignore into extinguishment.

All you can do is tend to your burns by adjusting your boundaries, understand that ignoring the red flags of others is a major red flag of your own, and make the decision to stop normalizing and personalizing smoke signals when they appear.

The emotional toolbelt you were born with did not come with a hose to put out the fires of relational arsonists.

And their fires/red flags are not meant for you to extinguish, take ownership of, or be “good enough” to change the color.

They are meant for you to get away from.

The problem with red flags in a relationship is that they are the easiest to identify in every relationship but our own.  And when it comes to the red flags in our own relationships…

They only seem to be the most visible in hindsight. Continue Reading

With so much tragedy in the news lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about life, death, and life lessons. I’ve also been thinking about what saved my life years ago.

There have been times in my life where I wanted to die. I think we’ve all been there.

I hated myself to the core. I hated that I was so desperate for crumbs from toxic people and I hated that as an adult, I was still trying to be one of the cool kids.

I was also ashamed of how little I valued the good people in my life.

As a result, I committed emotional suicide and adopted unhealthy habits that allowed me to gradually, contribute to my own physical death.

Looking back, this is what I now know:

When I wanted to die, I wasn’t implementing any of these life lessons.

In my early twenties, when I was boundary-less, smoking cigarettes, needing a cocktail just to have enough confidence to carry a basic conversation, and not taking care of my health… I wasn’t implementing any of these life lessons.

When I was involved in fake friendships, situationships, and toxic romantic relationships, I wasn’t implementing any of these life lessons.

When I would …

  • Engage in petty gossip
  • Need an opposing force just to feel motivated enough to take action
  •  Compulsively lie to compensate for my insecurities
  • Create drama just to feel significant for a hot minute

… I wasn’t implementing any of these life lessons.

When I blamed myself for being emotionally orphaned by a well-intended yet unavailable parent…

I wasn’t implementing any of these life lessons.

None of the above ever turned out well or felt good. Obviously.

So why did I continue? 

Because I couldn’t bank on the unpredictability of happiness. Every time I did, the other shoe always dropped.

My own misery was at the very least, predictable.

So here they are, some life lessons that saved me from robbing myself of my own life. I would be dead if I hadn’t implemented and acted on these.

Here are 17 important life lessons that literally saved my life

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