The process of starting over after divorce is at a minimum difficult for most of us. For some of us, it can be downright impossible. I know this feeling first hand. While working through my own divorce, I struggled to shake the reminders of the relationship and continued to wonder if I would ever be able to move on. The slightest reminder of “what used to be” was enough to disrupt my day or even week. Sometimes it would be hearing a song on the radio, seeing a specific type of car, eating at a particular restaurant, or thoughts of a a vacation destination and my typical emotional stability was thrown into turmoil. These silly little things could place me smack dab in the middle of memories of “yesterday.” At times it took me days to snap out of that feeling of hurt and sadness. Does this sound familiar to you?
Tom Cruise’s movie Vanilla Sky includes a quote from his character that still resonates with me today. In the corresponding scene, Tom’s character is stuck with a feeling of “regret” with the outcome of his past relationship decisions and another character from the movie stands there and tells him,
“You may be done with your past, but the past is never done with you…”
That quote used to bother me, as I was not comfortable living with my past relationship decisions. So what do you do when this happens to you? I don’t know exactly, but I can share the process that helped me reconcile these feelings during difficult times and helped me when I was starting SingleDad.com.
What if I told you that you can live in harmony with your past break ups? What if I showed you a powerful exercise that allows you to see your past relationship in a whole new realm of reality? To actually coexist with your past and be free to “pick up or put down” your story of “what happened”?
Are you interested? Good.
You need a couple of things before you start the exercise. First, you need to dedicate 3 to 5 hours of your time. Make sure you have a close, reliable friend to be there with you for the exercise. That person is critical for the exercise. We call this person the “Generous Listener.” That’s all they do: listen. The second thing you will need is a pad of paper and a pen or pencil. Combined with a desire to move on, these are the only tools you will need to complete the exercise.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/6U4XzCdQ7e0" width="600" height="320" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]
Putting your “story” on paper:
For most of us, we actually speak our past break up story with pinpoint accuracy and vivid details. We know the Beginning, the Middle and the End. We know the Heroes and the Villains. We know the setting, the background and the timing of all the events very well. However, we don’t often get asked to write it down. Now is the time to begin the exercise. Watch the above video, follow these instructions, and share your results and experiences below.
- Write your complete, uninterrupted story about your break up
- Go back to the beginning to when you first met
- Write about the early times, write everything you liked / disliked about the relationship
- Bring up vacations or events that were turning points
- Write about your good and bad decisions you made in the relationship
- Write about your partner’s mistakes and events that caused you hurt
- Build the Beginning, the Middle and the end of the relationship
- Describe how you saw the end of the relationship happen
- Write about the people involved and how they felt,
- Write about how you felt about the break up
Try to sit and write your complete version of what happened all in one sitting. It is important to complete this exercise all at once while you have the emotional awareness, dedication and detail. When you are complete, ask your “Generous Listener” to sit across from you. They must be present and directly in front of you to make this exercise effective.
- Read the story from beginning to end
- No Editing allowed once you begin the first reading
- “Generous Listener” must face you and listen to your details
- When you are done with the reading, “GL” makes eye contact with you and says, “Read Again.”
- The first 3-7 readings you may notice a frown, tears, or anger being exposed. Keep going
- With 7-10 readings you begin to “detach” and notice some slight inconsistencies with your “characters” in your story. Keep reading!
- By the 11th- 15th readings the frown and story begin to lose meaning, you may find yourself smiling or laughing about the story. This story is becoming funny.
- By the time you reach 15-? Readings, you may find yourself emotionally exhausted from the exercise and experiencing a variety of emotions ranging from crying to laughing and then back to indifference. You soon find a way to see “what happened” in your life another way and you have the freedom now to “Make Life Happen… Again!”
RJ Jaramillo is the founder and president of SingleDad.com. He is also a single father of three children and resides in San Diego, CA. With over nine years of experience helping other single parents with advice, support, and resources, RJ is excited to share his company and personal mission on teaching others how to “Make Life Happen… Again!”