We have all experienced heartbreak in some shape or form. Whether it be relationships coming to an end, unrequited love, being cheated on/lied to, rejection or just disappointment of a potential love. But I believe it’s how we deal (or don’t deal) with that pain that stays with us. There’s so many ways I’ve seen people work their way through break ups; whether you are the Bridget Jones type, hiding from the world wearing oversized knickers, ugly crying into a tub of ice cream larger than your head (that’s large in my case) whilst watching ‘The Notebook’ longing for your love to return. Checking your phone every 2 seconds, refreshing your news feed convincing yourself there will be a message. Or maybe you are the type to share your heartbreak with all your 100’s of followers (most of which are complete strangers or fake accounts) on social media by posting an indirect quote/caption praying your ex reads it and weeps. (Classic).
But I have to say the way we seem to excel in dealing with pain as a generation is summed up by this quote (which you’ve probably seen everywhere on your timeline): ‘FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT.’ In other words, suppress your feelings and straight up DENY them. It’s the typical “I’m fine” Ross tactic. (If you’re not a Friends fan then this will go waaaay over your head!). Putting on a front and smiling, when really inside you are crying a damn river. You make jokes referring to being single and laugh about being dumped/cheated on (which is SO Chandler of you!). Ah yes! Joking your way through the pain, a surefire way to make you feel better… No, really, let’s continue with the “bury my feelings until they eventually go away” tactic. Keep telling yourself, “Time will heal”, meanwhile you are finding a million different ways of which to mask your pain. Whether it’s drinking until you can’t see, buying a whole new wardrobe with money you probably don’t have, going on a Tinder date errry damn day with someone new. Orrr Dying your hair, getting a new tattoo (insert inspirational quote here), keeping EVERY waking minute in the day busy so you won’t be alone and FEEL what you need to feel. Sound familiar? I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done all the above at some stage in my heartbroken state. No shame Justine.
You’re probably wondering if it worked for me, but I guess I wouldn’t be writing this if it did. So no, to answer your question, it didn’t and, yes, I had to learn the hard way.
No matter how far you think you may have dug those emotions deeep deep down, to what may feel like the middle of the earth, you better believe those babies will come up eventually and HAUNT you. I don’t care if you’re FINE, I’m not buying it and neither should you.
See the problem is, it’s seriously hard to recognize when you’re not actively aware of the toxic coping mechanisms you’ve created when dealing with your emotional pain. And although time does make you stronger in a sense, if you don’t heal in that time it will still be with you wherever you go!
For YEARS I was self sabotaging, I would react when I was hurt in many different unhealthy ways, whether it was wanting revenge for the pain someone caused me, or entertaining/sleeping with someone I didn’t particularly like to make me feel wanted and desired again. Dying my hair bright red just so I could post that fire selfie with a caption about how happy I am (yeah that will show him what he’s missing!). I’ve done it all. My early to mid 20’s were the years of self sabotage. I just didn’t know how to deal with the pain and my ego wouldn’t let me face it.
My relationships were toxic and if they weren’t toxic in the typical sense (cheating, lies,abuse) they were in the sense of feeling the need to be stuck to my partner like a leech on a mossy rock. Attached lover alert. I was insecure beyond belief, even when in a loving, loyal companionship. I revolved my whole damn world around my relationships, forgetting that I have my OWN world to revolve myself around.
First loves and first heartbreaks
I always used to say my first ‘love’ was awful to me, that he was cruel and abusive. Which wasn’t so far from the truth as he was a serial cheater, he did lie ALOT, he mentally and sometimes physically abused me. He broke my heart into a million pieces more times than I can remember. But for years I put all of it on him. My happiness, my sadness, my reasons for being the way I was, was all his fault. And yes to an extent it was him, but I was SO stuck on that story of being a victim in a horrible relationship and for years I was just placing all the blame on him. I never for one second thought I was adding fuel to the fire, that it was actually me who was addicted to the drama, me who allowed it to continue by setting no boundaries in the relationship. I had no self respect and, I too, had a really toxic side that came to surface throughout it. I didn’t know who I was without this label. I was living with that victim tag, no actually, a banner held high and proud, and I wore it everyyy day for nearly 4 years (and a few of my single years to follow). 4 years of toxicity. I had a massive slap back into reality one day when I realized that it takes two to tango in a toxic dance. I had to stop pointing the finger and being the ‘victim’. I was so stuck on that version of me, when in reality, at the end of the day, it was ME who chose to stay for all those years, and ME who reacted with equally as toxic behavior. People can bring out the worst in you, but that’s only really if you allow them to. There’s nobody else to blame. And this is the exact moment when it clicked for me. The moment I stopped shifting the blame onto my ex and turned to point the finger back at myself was the moment I became free. (And also the pivotal moment where my healing journey began.) I was determined to de-tag myself and reclaim my identity. Trust me it has taken many years and another relationship since then to get me there.
Here’s the thing about healing, yes it’s messy, yes it’s hard and no it doesn’t end. We are constantly learning, changing and evolving. Constantly being faced by new mountains to climb and emotional challenges. Things will come up every day, sometimes without us even being aware. Our subconscious mind stores trauma that we may not even realize we are carrying around with us, heavy on our souls, it’s THAT deep.
Let me share a little story with you as an example:
I was 10 years old on a school trip to Sevilla, I had a ‘boyfriend’ at the time. And by boyfriend I mean, meeting up in a big group on weekends, going to the cinema, holding hands throughout the film (my hands were always clammy I was so petrified!), then letting go of each others hands as soon as the lights came on, because EWW it’s sooo not cool to show affection at that age! Anyway, you get the jist. The school trip was kind of a big deal for me, a trip away from home with my BF (can life get much better than that at 10 years old?! No I don’t think so!). During the trip a few rumors started circulating that my beloved Boyfriend (who was a whole school year above me) was crushing on a girl in his year and Visa versa. This instantly made me feel inferior. Puberty had come early for her, she had TWO fully grown breasts, whereas I only had one (I have two now you’ll be happy to know), and she was leggy in that model way, whereas I was just lanky and out of proportion in the awkward teenager way. Anyway, he denied the rumors of course (starting young with the lies) and reassured me I had nothing to worry about. Long story short, two days into the trip whilst queuing to get into a theme park I get DUMPED, by my boyfriends friend! He came to tell me that Matt no longer wanted to be with me and he was now with ‘big tits’. OUCH. My first taste of heartbreak was not only humiliating and in public, but it hurt BAAAAD.
This is a story I’ve laughed about for years, but it’s one that has stuck with me.
I know I was only 10, so it wasn’t exactly heartbreak, but it’s the first time I felt that ache of “why her? What’s wrong with me” in my heart. Which is something Ive battled with throughout my teens and into my 20’s/30’s. Comparison. Not feeling good enough. Trying to be like every other desired girl instead of just being myself. Over the years social media became a huge thing and it wasn’t long before dating apps were created. (This is where my insecurities grew worse but more on that later!).
Past traumas can effect us without us even being aware. Every little disappointment, rejection, heartbreak (no matter how insignificant it may seem) can chip away at us over the years. If you don’t recognize it as trauma and you’re not careful it could be the main reason you’re attracting so much of what you don’t want in life and a lot less of what you really desire from life. What you believe you will receive. The law of attraction really works.
If you believe there are no good men/women out there, guess what? That’s what you will attract. The universe is listening to you.
If you fall victim to your past experiences and keep reliving them, then you’re not living in the present, you’re living in the past. And the thing about living in the past is you won’t move forward and you won’t be open to receiving greater things. It’s a vicious cycle! We will only ever receive what we believe we deserve deep down.
The same lessons will just keep showing up in your life until you break the cycle. It may have a different story every time, but the outcome will always be the same. Have you ever found yourself in the same pattern when it comes to love? Same situation, different man/woman? Well that lesson will keep showing up until YOU identify it and change the pattern. Until you recognize it’s familiar, that you’ve experienced this before and so you actively make the changes you need to make to stop it from showing up again and again. It’s not as easy as it sounds, trust me. It means stepping out of your comfort zone, it requires isolation, it involves setting boundaries for yourself and, most of all, it can be lonely as hell.
It’s much easier to accept situations that are convenient, over being alone. Anything has to be better than being alone right? WRONG. There is absolutely nothiiiing wrong with being alone. Being alone builds strength, confidence and can be just as beautiful as being in a relationship. Alone doesn’t mean weak. Alone means you are willing to wait for what you deserve whilst loving on yourself every step of the way. And the beauty in finding happiness alone is that when you do meet someone who sparks a fire inside of you, it won’t be out of need, it will be coming from a place of want.
Another amazing part of finding all you need within you is that anything else that comes along is just a bonus. You fill your own cup up so full of love that it overflows. The overflow is for others, you should never empty yourself by giving from your cup. That’s how we end up feeling hollow.
Facing our fears
I eventually stopped fearing love and rejection and started to be more open when it came to love. I decided that I’d rather jump fully in than tip toe in fear of being rejected or hurt. Would rather a ‘Oops’ over a ‘What if?’. All or nothing type of girl. I think this came with the confidence I had built through loving myself. My heart was fully on my sleeve! (And still is). Did I still get hurt, yes, but all the hurt served it’s purpose and in a strange way being this way made me feel free. It didn’t stop rejection from happening but I had no suppressed feelings, everything was always off my chest. Which is a great feeling. It saves a lot of time for both people involved.
One summer I even flew to Boston to explore a connection I had made in Spain with an American man. He wanted me to visit so I thought why not! I’m a hopeless romantic at times, that will never change. He seemed interested, he even sent me money towards my flight so o felt reassured it was the real deal! Little did I know that this would be the ultimate rejection out of all the rejections I had experienced. I flew there only to be ignored. I kid you not. The guy was working everyday. He would go to bed by 10, wake up at 6 and made NO plans with me. The closest I got was a kiss here and there. I had flown all the way over to be closer to him, only to be pushed away. It was mortifying and confusing. I started to question myself, am I not pretty enough? Has he changed his mind of me now I’m here? I ended jumping right back into that girl I was a few years back, desperately seeking validation. Cooking for him, buying him gifts when I was out and about, doing wifey stuff to show him how amazing I actually was! I may as well have been screaming for his attention. But still I got nothing from him. He eventually opened up to me by telling me that he wasn’t ready to open up again to anyone, that he was newly single, told me I was amazing but he just couldn’t give to me what I had to give to him. I felt like I had gone back to square one. I felt insecure and sad. I took myself to NYC for a few days alone to explore and I connected with an amazing man called Brenden, a Life Coach based in NY. We connected through social media and I remember opening up to him about the situation. He opened my eyes to a lot of things, about why I was attracting half assed men, he showed me that it was less about him not wanting me and more about the guys lack of depth within himself. I told Brenden I had been single for 5 years and I remember him asking me, “and what have you been doing in that 5 years? Have you been avoiding or healing?”. Ouch. That hit me right where it hurt. I knew the answer. I had been AVOIDING. I realized then and there I still had so much healing to do and that the situation with the dude in Boston was just the beginning for me. It actually changed my life! What a blessing in disguise.
Since then my whole outlook has changed, now when a connection fades or doesn’t work out, I don’t sit in sadness for weeks, I feel what I need to feel, understand it has served its purpose then I get excited for what’s to come! Ok I realize that sounds impossible when you’re hurting, but hear me out. I feel excited because it just means I’m one step closer to my soul mate. That’s how I look at it now. A stepping stone closer to my man! And on top of that I’ve probably learned a lesson from it which has added to my growth. Win win! Even though it can be upsetting when a good connection doesn’t turn into anything more, you have to be grateful for that experience. As short as it may seem, or as disappointed as you may be. The connection has run its course and you have to just trust that what is meant for you will always be for you and that it will never pass you by.
This has not only helped with me moving on, but it also means I am trusting in the universe 10000%. Try it and see!
How to put the love you want back into yourself
It can seem like an impossible task to show up and love yourself as you are, here and now. With all your flaws, your past ‘mistakes’, heartbreaks, insecurities and ‘wrong’ choices you think you may have taken. We live in such a judgmental generation. We’ve been programmed to aspire to being ‘perfect’ and our societies version of perfect is SO shallow. We are shown everyday how we should look, how we should think, what to eat, how to live ‘perfectly’ and anything that doesn’t fit that box is just not good enough. So we now have a society filled with so many unhappy, insecure people who have no idea how to fully love themselves because they are constantly comparing themselves to others.
I spent YEARS trying to look like all the other girls, spent money I didn’t have on a new outfit every weekend so I could ‘fit in’, spent hours on doing my hair and make up in order to feel good enough to be out, but still never felt good enough. Never pretty enough. Never worthy. When a guy showed interest in me I automatically questioned it, why me? I’d convince myself that he only wanted me for sex and nothing more, because that’s all I believed I was worth. I’d gone from an attached lover in my relationships to an avoidant lover in my singleness. If I saw ANY signs of feeling something for somebody I would run. I would convince myself reasons as to why they weren’t for me and I would shut them out. I never let anyone know how I really felt about them out of fear, or rejection or experiencing heartbreak, but the saddest part of this was I STILL felt heartbroken at the end of it. I broke my own heart more times than I can remember. And these are the types of heartbreaks you end up suffering in silence with because you were never technically together, you acted way to cool for them to even know you liked them. Friends would laugh and be like “what are you heartbroken over, you weren’t even in a relationship with him?!”. So I often felt stupid and ashamed of my heartbreak, but I was still so attached to being the girl with the label ‘unlucky in love’.
The amount of times I’ve had to get over someone who didn’t even know I was under them! (Friends quote, if you know you know). I never communicated what I wanted from somebody, never expressed how I felt and what my heart really desired, instead I would disappear, hide behind a facade and I never admitted or honored what I truly wanted. A lot of it was fueled from fear of being rejected or fear I’d end up with nobody interested if I expressed what I truly needed/wanted from them, when the truth was I just didn’t feel worthy and I had NO love for myself. I was moving out of fear to protect my heart while deep down just longing to be loved.
There were rare times where I did meet someone I stuck around for, someone I really liked. These were usually the men who I knew, subconsciously, it would never work out with. The ones who couldn’t fully love me. The ‘bad boys’. The ones who didn’t do much for me but took a lot from me. It sounds crazy that I would even entertain these men, but I knew deep down it would inevitably end, so therefore that was safe to me. I could keep my label of ‘why me?’ on when it went wrong. I could sit in my pity pool feeling sorry for myself when I was rejected, or when they moved onto the next girl, leaving me alone.
For some reason these are the men I wanted to bend over backwards for (no pun intended!), the men I wanted to give allll my love to. Cook for them, look after them, fulfill their every desire, drive miles to meet them, be there at 3am when they called, go out my way to make THEM happy. This is a cycle I went through for YEARS and have, admittedly, only just broken in the last year.
I figured out whilst solo traveling that it stemmed from a lack of love from my father. Now that’s not to say my Dad isn’t amazing, because he is. He has always told me he loved me, he never abandoned me, I grew up with him in my life, but I never felt like he really tried to have a strong bond with me. He’d never go out of his way for us to be closer. From age 12, when my parents split, I lived with my mum, then age 15 I moved to the UK and he was still in Spain at the time. I rarely received phone calls or messages from him. We’d go months sometimes without speaking (and still do). I knew he loved me but it was his lack of effort and poor communication that hurt. As a result of that, I’ve attracted those same type of men throughout my adult life. Always half assed men who couldn’t fully show up for me. Inconsistent. I’d always be the one giving my all only to receive a small percentage of what I put in back. I accepted it because I’ve never really known any different. Although as a family there was a lot of love there and it was a happy upbringing, I never really witnessed a man adore his woman. My parents never went on date nights and I’d never seen my dad spoil my mum or openly appreciate her. They were hard workers, always on the go and doing their best to give us a happy, healthy life. I remember my mum always making a fuss on birthdays and at Christmas but I never witnessed such effort form my Dads part. He just let her do it all and she seemed happy doing it alll! He will even admit he took her for granted.
Since being aware of this and connecting that link to my love life now, I have been more conscious in breaking that pattern. What we experience and see growing up through our parents/guardians and the love we receive growing up, is usually what we end up experiencing or attracting in adult life. However, it doesn’t have to be what we settle for. It’s completely up to us to break the patterns and do the work to attract better. A lot of unlearning. But attracting better starts with YOU.
You have to work on being the best version of yourself you can be. Be patient enough to heal yourself. Ensure you are loving yourself every step of the way, without judgement and accept yourself throughout the journey. It’s not selfish to dedicate time to do this. Its not selfish to set boundaries and be committed to growth. It’s actually quite the opposite because once you are in that place, everything else in your life enhances. Relationships, friendships, career, life experiences. Alllll that yummy stuff. You start attracting better because everything you do comes from a place of love for yourself, you don’t waste time on people and situations that don’t serve you, you’re intuition becomes clearer because you’re sure of who you are and what you deserve. You trust yourself.
The relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for every relationship you will ever have. It’s that simple. You want to attract a certain type of love, you first have to BE that love for yourself and be willing to give that same love out. You can’t keep parts of yourself closed off and expect somebody to be open with you. You can’t be dishonest then expect honesty from somebody. What you put out into the world comes back to you. This. Is. Key.
How to attract better
It isn’t always easy to manifest and attract what you want in life. It requires trust in yourself, a deep love for yourself, a belief that you deserve what you’re asking for, KNOW that it exists with no doubts and, most importantly, it requires action behind the words you speak. You can’t sit there and say, “I want this type of partner” then keep doing the same toxic shit you’ve been doing for the past few years. And by this I mean entertaining men/women who you KNOW are not for you, but you talk to them anyway because you like the attention, even when it’s the wrong attention. (We all thrive off attention let’s face it!). Swiping aimlessly on dating apps to get a match, which just feeds your ego, and then proceed to engage in small talk, go on dates with people who don’t tick all your boxes, but “it’s a free meal and I’m bored so why not?!”. We’ve ALL been there and this is where I was going wrong. I knew what I wanted. I had a vision of the type of companionship I wanted. I want a team. A best friend. Someone who encourages me to grow. Someone I can be goofy with. A passionate love that never gets boring.
See I’m a woman who knows what I want. I would pride myself on being the girl that would ‘never settle’, but where I was failing was that I wasn’t being the person I wanted to attract. I was still on dating apps, still engaging in meaningless chats with men I knew weren’t for me, then I wondered why I STILL hadn’t attracted a soul mate. I was sending out mixed signals to the universe. I had test,after test,after test of the same type of men coming into my life. Same story, different man. Yet I’d still allow myself to explore it, then I was left with the same feeling of disappointment. I knew I had to make a change. I had to stop these old habits, change the tune. So about 7 months ago I deleted Tinder (for good this time!). I stopped seeking for attention from an exterior place and I started doing more inner work (which I’ve been journeying with for about 2 years but more intensely and consistently in recent months). I began putting that energy I was wasting being in meaningless spaces, back into myself, into my health and into my business. I now only engage in connections that give me power rather than suck the life out of me. Connection over attachment. I don’t chase connection, I’m learning to just flow and trust that whatever is meant to stay will stay. This is still really difficult for me, but it’s something I’m working on – Love without attachment. Learning that people are to be experienced and not to be possessed. It’s one of the biggest and hardest patterns I’ve had to break as I’ve lived a life needing constant reassurance in love, due to being hurt and neglected so many times in the past, my insecurities would need to hear and see that someone was there to stay. I’d be constantly on edge and anxious with love (even if I didn’t show it) rather than just enjoying the now. What I’ve come to realize is we can’t control anything in life, we can’t control what another person does. If something isn’t going to work out it’s written in the stars way before we can even think about it not working out. Every experience serves its purpose. Not every great connection is meant to last forever. (Hard pill to swallow). But we’ve been programmed to focus on our “Happily ever after” and not on enjoying the experiences that get us there! I wouldn’t change one thing about my past, not one. It has brought me to where I am now and to the person I am now. All the heartbreak, all the pain and mistakes. I’ve loved every version of myself, even the versions I’ve felt shameful about in the past. I had to be that girl in order to become this woman I am today.
To end this let me make clear that I am nowhere near perfect, nor do I have everything figured out. All I know is I’m working on my growth everyday and falling more in love with myself a long the way. I still have days where I judge myself and moments where I feel sad about being single. I am only human after all. However, the changes I’ve made in how I react to these moments of doubt is what has changed the game. Now when I feel something come up, I sit and ask myself what I need in that moment. I allow myself to feel what I need to. I’m kind to myself. We all have scars and insecurities, it’s what makes us human. It’s impossible to live a full life without picking up bumps and bruises along the way!
As long as you honor yourself, honor who and what you truly are, without a mask, you won’t fail. Never lose hope, don’t settle for places and people who don’t connect with your soul and that don’t give you a burning desire to dig deeper. It may feel like those people are far and few, but trust me they are out there. They come in all different forms, not all deep connections are romantic. Look around and you will see how connected we are to so many different types of love. Its all around us! You just have to open your eyes and LOOK.
Keep loving yourself the way you want to be loved, don’t search for anyone to fill a void, everything you need is within you.
Be grateful for what you have here and now. DON’T compare yourself to anybody else. And just know how powerful and deserving you are in receiving everything you dream for in this life! It’s all in YOU.
Peace and love always