To think about

To think about

The name of the blog

"It was never just an affair" needs to be in quotations, because it was something my ex-husband said to me early on in the break-up. I guess he thought it might make me feel better to know it wasn't just a fling per say, it was real love? It didn't make me feel better. Him ending the affair and being willing to work on the marriage would have made me feel better.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Peace, Joy, and General Okayness

“Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth 
Because I’m happy 
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do …” 
- Pharrell Williams

I just had a short little cry lasting under five minutes over an email exchange between M and I to facilitate the transfer of money from him to me to pay for the next instalment of the legal fees that will end our marriage. He got back from me three emails: my response with some different payment plans, an email I had sent earlier this week telling my lawyer to proceed which I forwarded to him, and lastly, an email that said simply “I find this whole business sad and distasteful.” Which I do; no one is winning in my divorce except the lawyers involved.  And my crying has prompted me to actually start writing in the blank text document I opened and titled over a week ago.

This article is about validating my journey to happiness for myself, and sharing with you dear reader, that your happiness is coming. If you are in early days, dark days, are angry and hurt, feel the loneliness and despair I felt until recently, if you have thought of ending your life because the pain and the journey are overwhelming to you, as it was to me for many months, and if you simply cannot imagine a life in which you will be happy again, please hear me: you will be. A few friends and my psychologist told me the same thing, and I didn’t believe them, so I don’t expect you to believe me. All I can do is encourage you to read my journey that I have been so brutally honest about, and believe each of those posts as being my mind frame at the time, and then believe this post in the same way. 

My happiness has been a long time coming, hard fought for, and I believe with all my heart I alone have done the work to create the loving and safe space I now live in. I was blessed to have many friends and supports along the way: pointing me to the right book, taking me for walks in nature, listening to me cry and ask the unanswerable questions, and distracting me when that was what I needed. I hope you have that same support system in place. It is likely requirement number one during your healing journey. Please consider me a support to you. If you reach out to me, you will get a response back (

I have been blessed, so far, to be financially cared for by my ex which has allowed me to make my healing my number one priority. Money has provided the funds for the countless massages I went for, the many books I bought, the many ill-advised escape mechanisms I utilized, the travel I ran to so I could escape reality, the travel I am about to embark on to really find and hear myself, and be with myself exclusively for a month, and everything else I did that gave me a ray of hope. 

If finances are tight for you, utilize your library. Search the internet for the millions of good resources out there. On my site I have links to the websites, blogs, and books I have used. I will also list my top TED talks for finding happiness, acceptance, self-esteem and peace at the end of this article that you can access for free, and watch as many times as needed. 

In October, four months after the break-up when I hit my rock bottom, I created a healing plan, which I followed pretty faithfully for months. When I stopped following it religiously, I felt those affects. Please read that over and create your individualized plan. 

I cannot speak highly enough of relaxation exercises and meditation. The free app I use to meditate before I go to bed every night is called Simply Being. I promise you, if you give that app 20 minutes of your day, every day for a month, you will feel more peaceful. There are many free online guided mediations available.  

A gratitude journal will take just five minutes of your day but will clearly illustrate in black and white why living is worth it even on your worst days. 

Take yourself on dates to do the things that matter to you and provide you enjoyment. 

Find massage schools in your area to treat yourself to compassionate human touch in the absence of a relationship. In Canada, there is a company called Spa Pure ( that is incredibly reasonable, and in both Canada and the United States there is a company called Hand and Stone Massage that offers membership to make the prices more reasonable ( 

I am on anti-depressants, and had been for almost a year prior to the break-up due to the depression and anxiety I had experienced within my previous employment. I am not suggesting or advocating for the use of anti-depressants, but I do recommend you keep an open mind and heart to all avenues of support, and have honest communication about your reactions to the grief process with your family Doctor. Reactionary depression to betrayal, separation and divorce are very common (approximately 60%)  and perfectly normal. 

If you are at all impatient like I am, or just drowning in the exhaustion of getting through your days, I want to share with you what is happening for me right now, and roughly what my time frame for healing has looked like so far. Between February 9-16th I strung together not only a solid week of happiness, but I was the happiest I had been in years. I finally got to that mystical place where I wasn’t lonely despite spending almost all of my time alone, I was comfortable with myself, I felt joy just to be alive, I was forward thinking to goals I want to achieve, and I felt a great sense of compassion towards myself. I was finally getting the automated responses I had been working towards in place. If a negative thought came into my mind, it was quickly followed by a challenging or loving thought. My brain was finally becoming conditioned to treating me the way my friends have treated me, and the way I aspire to treat my friends. Even on the days I don’t feel joyful, my baseline mood is significantly elevated and more stable than in prior months. 

After that glorious week I crashed a bit, but not to any devastating depths. It could have been a boy situation, hormones, any number of things, but what I accept is that those seven days I had were glorious, and if I got there once, I would get back there again. I also recognized that I was reacting to outside stimuli; that I was in control of my reactions. I was no longer frustrated by the fact I was up and down; rather, I completely and peacefully accepted it as part of the process. And I did get my happiness back again, about two weeks later. I strung together another week of bliss and joy. A week of being happy to be alive, feeling honoured for my opportunities and friendships, and excited to engage in that big old world we live in. When I came down from that fantastic week or so, I didn’t drop as low as I had the month before, and I didn’t stay as low for as long. Within about four or five days I felt the upswing again. And no, I do not think I am bipolar, but thanks for your care and concern.  

This has been the cycle of grief for months now. In the beginning, I got no break at all. I was constantly in the midst of a low-grade panic attack for at least six to eight weeks after the disclosure. There was very little break from actively crying, or just lying around obsessed with my situation for months. And when I moved out of our home into an apartment by myself and cut off all contact with M, I hit rock bottom around the four month mark. I was borderline suicidal for a few weeks. That was the point in which I created my healing plan and started working it hard, daily. By working hard I mean I was dedicating hours a day to those activities; they became my priority. Then I started getting breaks: one good day, followed by however many bad. That eventually shifted to two good days, followed by however many bad. I don’t doubt it actually started with mere minutes in those early months, and later, mere hours, but those breaks in grieving passed so quickly I barely noticed them. It wasn’t until I got full days that I realized my obsessive anguish was releasing its morbid grip. October 14, 2013, a full four months and 10 days post-disclosure was the first day I noted that I had not cried once. I had created my healing plan and started working it on October 9, 2013, five days prior.

I crashed hard at Christmas; in fact, I started winding myself up about my first Christmas alone in late November, and this is the first time I am writing to acknowledge what happened. Despite my best efforts to prepare myself for either receiving an email from M at Christmas, or there being no contact at all, I was not prepared for what I did get from M, and I reacted horribly. I cried any moment I was alone for the next three days, barely kept it together when in the company of others, and certainly felt nothing even close to joy or happiness during those days. And then I got angry, finally. 

I spent most of January processing my anger towards M. When I released the anger, I seemed to have opened the space for joy and love. When M contacted me in early February on my birthday, I had no reaction whatsoever.  Of course, he didn’t drop any bombshells which helped, I was with friends in Las Vegas which considerably helped, and there was another man texting me happy birthday. I was determined to make Valentine's Day a great day about loving myself, so I booked myself a massage well in advance, and I bought myself flowers. And in late February, I didn’t even realize it would have been our wedding anniversary that day until bedtime when I wrote the date in my gratitude journal. I was shocked when I realized I had gotten through the last big hurdle without even noticing. I made it through the most volatile of dates that could trigger me, with nary a reaction. That accomplishment has done more for my self-esteem than perhaps any other single event in the last nine months. I encourage you to find your moments of victory and celebrate them. 

I started my blog on October 25, 2013, and this has been one of my greatest sources of joy, achievement, pride, catharsis, and reason to get up in the morning. I feel a responsibility to my readers that grounds me in truth and compassion, and motivates me to write. I encourage you to find your version of a blog. 

Will a day ever come that I am happy about the spectacular fashion in which my marriage crashed and burned, or the fact that I will have experienced a second failed marriage by the age of 41? Probably not; in fact, I fully expect to be sad about the end of this relationship and M’s absence from my life for the rest of my days, when I allow myself to think about it. However, I fully expect to make peace with these aspects of my story. They are a part of my experience here on earth; they do not define me wholly as a person. I fully anticipate feeling great joy, peace, contentment, love and general gratitude and happiness with my life despite what transpired between M and I.   

Must watch TED talks for healing:

Amy Cuddy - Social Psychologist - Your body language shapes who you are
Brene Brown - Vulnerability Researcher -  Listening to shame, and The power of vulnerability
Jane McGonigal - Game Designer - The game that can give you 10 extra years of life
Matt Cutts - Technologist - Try something new for 30 days
Kelly McGonigal - Health Psychologist - How to make stress your friend
Helen Fisher - Anthropologist -  The brain in love, and Why we love, why we cheat
Amy Webb - Digital Stategist - How I hacked online dating
Esther Peral - Sex Therapist - The secret to desire in a long-term relationship

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Champagne versus Beer

I love me some bubbly and it does not even have to be the expensive stuff, read real champagne, either. I enjoy a good bottle of sparkling white wine, mid range in price. I have never even tried Dom, Cristal, or Krug, and I am pretty sure those high end products would be lost on my palette, but I have had a passion for champagne since I first tried it. Quality beer is much the same for me. I love amazing craft beer from a micro-brewery, especially the American market craft beer. There is such a variety of flavours, mouth-feels, intensity in alcohol content, and basically, creativity. What I strongly dislike is cheap American swill beer that is mass produced with rice instead of barley; the Superbowl Clydesdales beer and its ilk in other words. Champagne makes me giggle, horny, silver-tongued and giddy, whereas cheap beer bloats me, makes me burp and pee a lot. Gee, which would you rather? 

My ex-husband was champagne, or a beautifully balanced amber ale crafted with oatmeal, a fruity yeast, and a gentle hop aftertaste. He had an incredibly long list of good qualities, and met lots of my ticky boxes at the time we met; and over time he continued to meet my expectations of what a soul-mate or life-partner needed to be. He even created new ticky boxes of qualities or traits that I did not know I desired, that I am now stuck with in my quest for the next “Mr. Right”. M’s list of bad qualities was short, but lethal, and all deal-breakers: non-communicative, liar, cheater, and polyamorous. My ex-husband was sweet, sweet champagne. Spiked with a little arsenic at the bottom of the bottle.   

A girl simply cannot downgrade from 12 years of champagne drinking to cheap stinky beer overnight, or in nine months as my case might be. Not enough time has passed, or probably could ever pass, for me to forget the sweet tangy fizz of champagne. And let me be honest with you, the market is saturated with low alcohol content, stinky, pale, sharp beer. The supermarket has cases full of the crap, and most of it is cheaper than water. Good craft beer, and champagne, are not cheap, nor are they plentiful. They are elusive, come with really witty names like Dead Guy Ale by Rogue, my favourite beer, have really cool labels, or come in beautifully shaped sleek bottles. They are, in short, the sexy stuff in the liquor store. The good stuff you bring out to impress a date, to splurge and celebrate a special occasion, or if you are me, a serious connoisseur, you enjoy on a regular basis because it is worth the price, and dammit, I am worth it!

Not only does cheap beer have market share both in the United States and my home country too, but so does that quality or mentality of man have market share on Match. com. And I am not belittling this particular website; I have said it before and I will say it again, numerous internet dating websites are being factored into my opinions. 

So far, the odds of meeting a quality person through internet dating is sitting at 20% for me. I am not using a large pool of data though. Sadly, that data pool will probably continue to grow over time as my singledom stretches into years. I know there are amazing men in the world, I have even been lucky enough to meet a few in my lifetime, but that is the sad and scary part of this story. I  have only met a few in the last 15 years, five maybe? I suppose, like craft beer or champagne, they are not mass produced, so they are not as easy to locate, but they are worth the wait and the search. 

Let me tell you about the last gentlemen that contacted me on He started by saying that he liked my “body type” and went on to say he enjoys ABR/ANR, and would I please google those terms if I was not familiar with them. Curiosity will always get the better of me; if I was a cat I would be dead a thousand times over by now. For those innocents out there not familiar with the term, that acronym stand for Adult BreastFeeding and Adult Nursing Relationship. I engaged in a few emails back and forth because, who am I to judge if he isn’t hurting anyone? Mr. Boob said it is not a fetish per se, it is comforting and sexual at the same time. Well, a day without learning is a day we are dying I suppose; at least I got a story out of that contact. And the best line I have received on a date, so far, is, “you smell good, like a stripper good.” My girlfriends best opening line of contact thus far was from Mr. 6969 who told her she looked “yummy.” I am not even bothering to include here the several guys who randomly email me their phone numbers unsolicited.  

Needless to say this is not the type of man I want to attract, nor the man I am worthy of. As my self-esteem is increasing, so are my demands of what a potential date must present in short order to either capture or maintain my interest: intelligence, wit, confidence, good conversationalist, well-read, excited about life, interested in travel, not being obsessed with his ex, not being bitter and angry at women, generally well-adjusted, goal-orientated, and the list of champagne qualities goes on and on. I can only imagine that as my self-esteem continues to rise and I become more sure of myself in my journey, I will become even more rigid in what I will accept or not from a potential mate. For now, I am trying to view this all as a learning experience, a source of fodder for my blog and my friends, and an opportunity to possibly expand my social circle. 

Through this learning experience I have come across a new trigger I was not previously aware of: the expression, “I am what I am.” And why does this bother me when it is not that far off, on the surface, from, “it is what it is”. The difference between the two statements is actually worlds apart. One is acknowledging what is within your control to change, and what is not. When I spout “it is what it is,” I am acknowledging a frustrating external factor, like bad drivers, or bad behaviour on someone else’s part; something that is out of my control to change. For the sake of my sanity, I am relinquishing any ownership of the outer world; I am detaching from what I cannot control. 

However, we all have the power to change our behaviours or our circumstances, and that is why I am irritated by four of the five men I have dated telling me “they are who they are.” The subliminal message is either 1) I am good enough the way I am and I see no need to grow and change; or, 2) I am scared you are going to reject me, so I will rebuff you in advance by telling you to like me the way I am or leave. While I am a huge proponent of being accepted for who you are, the attitude that seems to accompany these statements is piss poor. These men do not seem at all interested in personal growth, and in fact, each has been very stuck in their ways. 

Which is why I will now add that expression to my list of red flags. I am not interested in someone who does not seek opportunity for growth, who does not challenge themselves, is self-centred or who is stuck. I want someone excited about life and all the opportunities it presents. I want someone who will challenge me with their wealth of knowledge and either begin, or participate in, a stimulating conversation about ideas or the world. I want someone who expects me to challenge them. I want to be inspired to sit taller, be greater, and do and see more. In other words, I want champagne with the surprising splash of Chambord, or Dogfish Head Breweries Black and Blue beer (it is so freaking good; you have to try it if you can find it). 

Somehow, in writing this blog and identifying my challenge in finding like minded quality people, I have been prompted to finally create my bucket list. Thus far it has eleven entries on it: four travel needs, two career goals, four activities, and lastly, to get married for a third time and make it last ‘till death do we part. Even if it requires a murder-suicide pact to get to the end. I see another marriage as being the most difficult of those 11 activities given that I will not settle for less than I deserve or less than I am willing to offer. 

I found hope today in an article at The Good Men Project: This woman is marrying the man I want, and met him through an online dating website. Lucky her. 

If you need some encouragement to be the one to do the asking for a date should you find someone worthy of your time, here it is: 

And finally, a link to an article calling me out about this entire post. Apparently I am the douche:

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Timeframe of Forgiveness

Is there a time frame that must pass before forgiveness can be pursued? I have offered my cheating ex-husband forgiveness on several occasion, not cheap artificial forgiveness though. What I have told him over the last nine months, is that when he is ready, I am willing to work with him to obtain and provide forgiveness. And each time I have offered that, he has either turtled, or told me that he does not deserve my forgiveness and cannot forgive himself. Yet another Mexican stand-off between us. 

What I mean by working with him on forgiveness is twofold. First, the only thing my husband has ever apologized for, or acknowledged as a mistake, is lying to me. There is a wealth of other issues he is not ready to face, such as the affair or deserting our marriage without a conversation. And until he is, I know he is not ready for forgiveness. And the other issue is that real forgiveness is a process that is undertaken by two people to each acknowledge the pain and issues they have caused each other. The book How Can I Forgive You by Janis Abrahms Spring brilliantly captures the difference between plastic forgiveness, acceptance about a situation which you create on your own, and real forgiveness between two parties. 

The popular rhetoric these days is that forgiveness is good for you; that you should forgive others to find peace for yourself. However, that myth is debunked in How Can I Forgive You in a way that makes complete sense to me. What pop culture is actually referring to, I believe, is acceptance. Sometimes it is highly inappropriate to seek true forgiveness with someone, such as the case of a child victim and the incest perpetrator, or between a rapist and the adult victim. Contact could further victimize the child, and a child cannot likely process empathy for the perpetrator, nor does a child have the life skills or capacity to withstand the emotional shitstorm that would ensue in confronting the perpetrator and having to listen to them. What a child could work on in therapy though, is acceptance of what has happened. Making peace with the assaults, as best as is possible, processing the feelings about the assaults and the perpetrator, and ultimately letting go and/or integrating that story into themselves in a healthy way does not require forgiveness. This is all I get to do with my story of betrayal and loss. I alone get to choose how to process it; there is no joint effort with M or a conversation to hash out my perceptions of what happened; thus, there is also no real forgiveness.  

What I have been thinking over the last few days, since the last time I offered the olive branch and M did not acknowledge the offering, is that there might be a shelf life on my interest in looking backwards and dealing with a problem long since accepted. As M has left me on my own to grapple with the affair and break-up, I have had to do all the work by myself to get to a place of acceptance. I may not be completely there yet, but what I am starting to think is that once I am, I will no longer care to forgive him. Dealing with the infidelity and quickly dissolved marriage will become his issue, not mine. 

If it takes M four, six or eight years to come to terms with what happened between us, and be willing to talk about it, will I want to listen? Life does not move backwards, and way leads on to way. I fully expect to be in a very different position in life in mere months, let alone years. I do not believe that I will need to hear what he has to say once I have truly made peace with the end of our marriage, so I anticipate my moral question will be whether there is enough compassion and caring for him left in me to want to offer him a cleansing opportunity. Forgiveness at that point will be strictly for him, not for me. I need to work on forgiveness now, when he is not ready. I need him to take responsibility now, and he is not capable or willing. In the Canadian Federal Criminal Justice System there is a process available called Restorative Justice. A key component of this process is that the perpetrator must seek the opportunity to express remorse through a neutral third party, and then the victim is contacted and it becomes their choice whether or not to participate. This is what I want from M. 

I have heard two variations on how time and forgiveness can play out in relationships from two differing sides of a story. A girlfriend of mine who cheated on her boyfriend was not ready to seek forgiveness for four years. And when she reached out, she was rebuffed. Two years later, at the six year mark, she tried again, and was informed by the hurt party that he did not realize the depth of his anger and pain about the betrayal until she reached out, and that he was not interested in hearing her side of the story. 

Another girlfriends serious boyfriend dumped her and disappeared overnight with little to no explanation; she literally did not know if he was dead or alive. Eight years later he tracked her down and was ready to talk about what had happened with him, and between them. She was able and willing to listen to him, and they have developed a friendship years later despite his sudden departure and absence. 

I can speak from my own experience with my first husband, who 23 years later has still not asked for the opportunity to take responsibility for his choices, that I could care less how he feels about his legacy. I have no compassion for that man and I cannot imagine ever developing some no matter how my journey progresses. He has become so irrelevant to me that I simply would not want to spend a few precious hours of my life listening to him wax nostalgic about our son, who he disowned, and offer empathy for the pain he created. 

What I have yet to read, hear in a TED talk, or be told by someone in the healing profession, is where in the Kubler-Ross model of grieving is forgiveness appropriate for the injured party? The first four phases after a significant loss, denial, anger, bargaining and depression, all seem very inappropriate for reasons I think are clear enough that I will not insult your intelligence. Which only leaves acceptance as a possible stage in the grieving process where we can entertain the work of true forgiveness. Forgiveness could also feasibly come later when the grief has fully passed and we have integrated ourselves so deeply into the new normal of our lives, it is no longer new, only normal. I think I am in the acceptance stage, caught between daily exercising my new self in my new role, one foot forward, while occasionally glancing backwards over my shoulder. I believe I am ready to face M and talk about forgiveness. 

I want to forgive my ex-husband, mostly because it will mean that he is ready to face what he did and have an honest conversation with me. I know in my heart it is only through him asking for forgiveness in a good way that he will ever be back in my life, and I miss his company. Dare I say I miss the friendship we had, and I miss him. It is a hard pill for me to swallow knowing he would rather give me up than work on forgiveness.   

Friday, 7 March 2014

Do you, and how do you, self-medicate?

It can be really tough not to give in and self-medicate to get oneself through the agonizing quiet times during a rough spell in life. Especially when you want to be alone with your thoughts about as much as you want to be lounging naked in a pit of vipers. My mind, and my thoughts, can be as deadly poisonous as a snake bite. I start to wonder, what did I do to get to this place of loneliness in my life, and even worse, wonder, will I always be in this lonely place? With time, journalling, pondering, and a lot therapy through reading, TED talks, and with my psychologist, I am slowly becoming more at ease in the silence, although it is still not a comfortable place to sit. I have gotten better at shutting my mind off and stopping the negative spiral of self-criticism, self-doubt and loathing. So the need to self-medicate is easing a bit. My psychologist reminded me yesterday that the thought triggers the emotions, which prompt the behaviour. The need to self-medicate begins and ends with your mind. 

And how do I self-medicate? Very well thank you. I became a master at avoiding negative feelings about situations that seemed beyond repair through gambling, overeating, and comfort eating. And I smoke to boot, although I truly see that as more of a chemical addiction than a numbing behaviour designed to escape reality. To be clear, this article is not touching on the vast topic of addiction, only self-medicating behaviours which may or may not be addictive. A natural chocoholic, I routinely soothe myself with chocolate or ice cream. And there is nothing quite like a monotonous slot machine to turn down the volume of my mind. In fact, there was nothing better for me to escape my whirlwind thoughts than gambling with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. God love Las Vegas, the last bastion of freedom for those of us that sin to excess. However, since the break-up, not even my trifecta of personal numbing agents has worked when I am really struggling. Once I acknowledged my brain was still going a hundred miles an hour, and I was losing money, I eased off on the gambling. It just wasn’t cutting it anymore for me. 

And where has all this self-medication gotten me? Overweight, addicted to smoking, and I am a compulsive binge gambler which well may have cost me my marriage, or at least contributed to its downfall. And that doesn’t even touch all the money I have wasted during my life on smokes and gambling. The only blessing I can find in this is that for whatever reason, alcohol never grabbed a hold of me, and I was terrified to try drugs. I think it is the controlling side of my personality that never wanted to let go in that way that has saved me from having to go through detox or attend Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Not that it matters; how people stuff their negative emotions and thoughts differently than me is irrelevant; why we are driven to the destructive and self-serving behaviours that we are is what interests me. 

A date recently commented that he appreciated that I had shared that I had not self-medicated after the break-up. I welcomed the demons and when I couldn’t fight them head on, I hung out with them and willingly let them do their damage. Then, when I felt stronger, I resumed my efforts at undoing the chaos I had let them wreak, along with maybe some older crap from childhood that has been lurking unattended in my mind. My new friend, on the other hand, fully acknowledged that he had self-medicated with work for years and is now facing the same problem he had five years ago. The result of which has left him feeling shameful and regretful for the lost time and personal weakness. I am pretty sure my ex-husband was probably only sober when he had to go to work for the first four months after our break-up; or at least that was how it seemed to me. I seriously doubt he has yet to deal with our break-up fully between drinking, working lots of overtime, and having a new girlfriend; all just different versions of self-medication and avoidance. As for the man advice I got recently from a friend when I talked to him about getting back into dating: less thinking, more drinking. 

Knowing that burying the grief is the primary side effect of self-medication, and likely the direct goal, was the exact reason I chose not to. I wanted to have my pity party and get it out of my system so that I could move on and deal with my baggage. That is my impatience, another wonderful personality trait I have, rearing its ugly head. Why procrastinate when you can get it done and over with, and maybe if you are lucky, get it done with yesterday? We all have our issues as we accumulate relationship failures, career let-downs, or personal dreams that haven’t ripened to fruition. To not acknowledge those issues and find ways of making peace with them is to stuff or avoid; neither of which is indicative of personal growth. Trust me, I have 42 years of experience with avoidance. Your problems are patient. My ongoing experience with a stuffer, my father, a classic passive-aggressive personality, is that they will eventually blow up, and most likely over something quite trivial. A snarky comment or poorly phrased question at the wrong time will be the proverbial straw that broke the camels back and the stuffer will barrage you with everything you have done wrong since the inception of time. I don’t want to be that person, especially since a blow up from me could only be directed at an innocent person. 

Therein lies our personal responsibility to deal with our minds garbage can of moldy beliefs, leftover heartaches, and half realized, and then discarded, dreams. The next person that comes into your life, be it friend, lover or soul-mate, is new to you and deserves the very best version of you. Not perfection, for we all have flaws, but certainly they deserve someone who is aware of their pitfalls and actively challenging the triggers and land mines to keep them in check. The next person you will share yourself with deserves a growing and healing version of you, not a broken, bitter, fearful you, or a five year stuck self-medicating you. That next person deserves your presence rather than a self-medicated and dumbed down version of you. 

My favourite antidote to my personal demons is a walk in nature for at least a half hour or three kilometres. Better yet is a six kilometre one hour plus walk; that generally shuts my mind right down, or at least gets my anxiety down to a tolerable level. My personal insecurities and fears are no match for sunshine, birds chirping, the sight of the snow capped mountains, the sounds of the river, or the endorphins my body produces when I exercise. Zumba, with its sexuality and upbeat music is another fine way to get feeling better about yourself. To each their own, the trick is to find your physical hit. Another brilliant solution to self-medication is time spent with another person, so long as that person is a positive influence for you. Perhaps if you too couple a natural stress reduction with some gratitude, you will be less likely to self-medicate with: alcohol, food, chocolate, sugar, drugs, shopping, cigarettes, sex, gambling, work, or whatever your personal poison is for feeding the abyss and avoiding what you are unhappy about. These behaviours are called numbing behaviours by Doctor Brene Brown, a research professor in social work, and a personal hero. 

In a blog article chronicling an interview with author Jennifer Louden, Brene Brown writes: “When we numb the dark, we numb the joy. When we’re anxious, disconnected, vulnerable, alone, and feeling helpless, the booze and food and work and endless hours online feel like comfort, but in reality they’re only casting their long shadows over our lives.” And her interviewee, Jennifer Louden writes about what she calls shadow comforts in her book The Life Organizer: “Shadow comforts can take any form. It’s not what you do; it’s why you do it that makes the difference. You can eat a piece of chocolate as a holy wafer of sweetness—a real comfort—or you can cram an entire chocolate bar into your mouth without even tasting it in a frantic attempt to soothe yourself—a shadow comfort. You can chat on message boards for half an hour and be energized by community and ready to go back to work, or you can chat on message boards because you’re avoiding talking to your partner about how angry he or she made you last night.”

So when the going gets tough, and: the man I thought would be my best friend and lover until the day I died doesn’t even want me in his life, the guy I desire doesn’t desire me back, the date I had last night has drastically changed his communication pattern and I am feeling insecure about that, my son cancelled our dinner date and leaves town again tomorrow for another week, and my cell phone is dead quiet, it becomes really easy for me to sit in the oppressive, deafening silence of my life and let the demons in my mind tell me it will always be this way; that there is no point fighting on because it is never going to get any better. Which is when I start running for an escape mechanism. It is really tough for me, and quite tiring, to get going and put on my big girl panties and fight those demons every day. It is so much easier to self-medicate with Bailey’s in my coffee in the morning, followed by 30 or so Hershey’s kisses in the afternoon, and then a big bowl of ice cream after dinner. I know what I need to do on a dreary winters day when I can’t get out for a walk is turn up the music really loud and have myself a dance party instead of a pity-party. Self-medication might be the easier route, but for how long, and at what cost? At what point do we stop stuffing and avoiding, and face reality head-on and start doing the work that needs to get done to move forward out of a difficult situation? 

At my recent counselling session, my psychologist told me about her author friends acronym MORE. I cannot properly credit the source of this acronym because I was not given the authors name, or the title of the book; my apologies. M stands for Movement - people, like water, need to keep moving. If we aren't moving, we aren’t growing and learning, and we become stagnant. Like stagnant water, we become smelly and gross with insects laying larvae on us. I say no thank you to that disgusting image. O stands for Opportunity - find the opportunity in every situation. My psychologist said that for me, I may never have this opportunity of time again in my life, and I should use it to lose the weight, I think is holding me back, take stock of myself, and really learn from each moment. She referred to each date I have been on as a learning opportunity about people in general, and myself within the context of that communication or in reaction to that personality. R stands for Realistic - take a realistic account of where you are, where you want to go, and what your opportunities are and then make a plan. E stands for Exceptional - if you do these three things you can't help but become exceptional. Sign me up, I want to be exceptional! Mostly, I just want to be healthy; I don’t want to screw up my next relationship. I want to be content enough with myself that I don’t feel the burning need to self-medicate. I want to be grateful for the quiet times in my life and see the opportunity in every situation, no matter how challenging. 

So for now, I remind myself to breathe, tell myself that I am right where I need to be on my journey, tell myself I am safe if the emotions are really overwhelming, tell myself that I will try again tomorrow, and most importantly, tomorrow morning, I wake up and tell myself that something amazing will happen today. Sometimes the amazing thing I write that night in my gratitude journal is going for a walk in nature.

You can read the full interview with Jennifer Louden on Brene Browns blog at -

You can read more about how exercise combats depression at -  

You can read about other forms of self-medicating at -

You can read about the superpower you already have at -