My dear friend,
You know that disheartening feeling,
- When there’s nothing to talk about and you rely on the TV or food or a good song to inspire some limp conversation?
- Someone is constantly complaining about the other.
- You keep giving what your SO demands, and it’s still not enough.
- Or you keep demanding more and more, and no matter what your SO does, it’s just not enough.
My BF and I had been drifting apart for a couple of years. Sometimes drifting, sometimes skidding, sometimes moving with intent.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and I have to agree. It’s so much easier to see what’s what when you’re looking back at it than when you’re in the middle of all the mess.
Anyway, one morning in the midst of drifting apart, I was making the bed, smoothing the velvety quilted bedspread when I looked at him with a big grin and said, “You talked in your sleep last night.”
You know that saying, “You could cut the tension with a knife?” That’s what the silence was like.
It was so sudden that if I’d been walking, I’d have tripped on it and fallen on my face.
He came to a sudden stop, looking straight ahead at the wall in front of him. I doubt if he was actually seeing the wall.
I imagine his imagination was running rampant like a dog chasing a ball on a rainy day, hitting every mud puddle.
The silence was so… well, quiet. It had texture, thick like a good mattress.
Every point I had went up on alert. If I’d been a long-haired cat, my fur would have been standing on end, sparking blue lightning.
“What did I say?”
Well, all that rigid tension he was oozing was for nothing because what he mumbled in his sleep was something really, really mundane.
“Mother …r” That’s what he said. That’s what I said he said. He immediately relaxed and chuckled, started joking about it.
I’m still shaking my head slowly from side to side, rolling my eyes. I had a feeling… (You already know I’m psychic, right?)
When the End is Looming Like a Black Cloud
So what do you do when you know the end is oozing closer and closer?
When your SO is spouting ugly stuff at you, about you?
When you’re reacting like a toddler denied a crumbly cookie? Or worse, you’re throwing embarrassing tantrums.
Well, first, you…
1. Behave with dignity
You’ve watched people having a verbal, hit ’em where it hurts, kind of fight. No one wins.
If you already know it’s ending, act with dignity, accept the inevitable. If you can, be kind and considerate. If you can’t manage that, just keep your mouth shut most of the time. Don’t say anything personal. Cook your own meals. Wash your own laundry. Make your own bed. Take care of yourself.
2. Avoid emotional breadcrumbs
I hadn’t ever heard about breadcrumbing until the last few months of the aforementioned relationship. “Breadcrumbs” are those bits of romance that make you feel so loved and wanted, followed by the cold shoulder or ghosting. My discovery of emotional “breadcrumbing” was a huge ah-ha moment for me. It explained so much about all my romantic relationships.
3. Give yourself some space – Reach out to your connections
Do things on your own. Go to the coffee shop by yourself. Go see a movie with friends. Do whatever it takes to start extracting the threads and fibers of your energy from your SO’s threads and fibers.
Pull your threads and fibers back into yourself. After all, that energy belongs to you and you can really use it at a time like this. Your SO is not entitled to it. Read that again.
4. Be nice to yourself – Stay in alignment
One thing that helps me a lot is minding my self-talk, staying in alignment with my values and standards.
Whenever I heard myself saying something negative about me, I’d flip it around into something nice. If I couldn’t manage that, I’d think about something else altogether.
I created a ritual – a coping action and words to go along with it.
Action: I’d be sitting at my desk, working away when my thoughts would drift into No No Land, and start criticizing myself. To stop that downslide, I created a simple ritual.
I’d look out the window at the sky or trees or flowers and think about the beautiful colors, or watch the breeze dancing through the leaves, or imagine cloud shapes.
Words: I would tell myself something like, “That’s a pretty flower swaying in the breeze.” “That’s a beautiful cloud formation.” “I love the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves.”
It’s very effective because it breaks the negative train of thought and replaces it with gratitude. It’s hard not to be thankful when you’re looking at something peaceful and giving yourself a moment of escape.
Wear your nice clothes. Wear fabrics and accessories that make you feel good. Especially those clothes that you stopped wearing because your SO said something about them that made you feel unlovely.
5. Be wise – Take care of business
A long time ago, a counselor friend told me that a marriage is a business arrangement. I didn’t agree with her then, but I certainly do now.
Yeah, a relationship should have plenty of love and romance, but the money can make or break it.
Take care of your money. Get your own checking account. Cancel joint credit cards. What about the utility accounts – electric, gas, etc? Lease? Mortgage? Vehicles? Loans?
6. Talk to an advisor – Get counseling and legal representation
This is almost the last thing I’m mentioning, but it’s certainly not the least important.
You know your situation. Don’t fool yourself. No second guessing yourself. Don’t let your hopes and dreams of ‘what if’ set yourself up for a fall.
Be disciplined. Get yourself sorted out with advice from a trustworthy source:
Talk to a counselor and get your feelings sorted out.
Talk to an attorney to get your rights and obligations sorted out. It’s especially important if you are married, have children together, or joint property or debts.
7. Start the transformation – What’s next?
You’re gonna figure out your next step, that’s what.
If you live together, who’s moving out? Start the search for a new nest for yourself. Start boxing up extraneous stuff, knick knacks, tchotchkes, etc. Start clearing out your closet. If that’s not feasible, think about what you want to keep and what can be let go. Think of it as a way to purge and minimalize, to downsize – something you’ve been meaning to do for ages.
Get a Move On – Take Action
You already know it’s circling the drain, so get a move on – take care of yourself and your family. Do it now. This is how I did it. It’s a good road map for you.
- Behave with dignity
- Avoid emotional breadcrumbing
- Put some space between the two of you – spend some time alone and with friends
- Change your mindset – be nice to you
- Take care of your finances
- Talk to a trusted advisor
- Create a plan – dream big
And take all the sweet talk with a lot of salt and sand. For example, I was so gullible and naïve in my youth that I believed my ex-husband’s sweet talk and promises. Bad move all around. My life and my children’s young lives could have been so different.
Let’s make sure yours is different, too. When you look back on this, you may see it as a moment of enlightenment. Get a move on.
It’s time for a new dream. Let your Inner Visionary take the reins and lead you through your next breakthrough.
Peg, your Visionary Advisor
Photo by Tolga Ulkan on Unsplash