[Book Review] Your Breakup, Your Blessing

A few days ago I received an email to review a new book: Your Breakup, Your Blessing: Breakup Self-Help — How to Live Before, During and After Divorce, by Karen R. Rivera.

This is a self-help book for women going through a divorce. On Amazon, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. It is very straight forward and offers some good advice and insights. However, I find that most of the info in the book can be found by just using Google, where there are thousands of articles written about this subject. I, myself, have written lots of posts on my blog on dealing with a breakup.

With self-help books like these, on relationship advices, I find that most women are seeking answers to questions that their common senses already are telling them — but breakups, especially a divorce situation, is hard to deal with, and sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else instead.

The main criticism I have on this book is that it starts off its first chapter with different types of abuses in relationships. I don’t think this is a good self-help book for general breakups or divorces, automatically assuming that relationships are always caused by some sort of an abusive relationship is not accurate.

Like most self-help books, this one is targeted towards a female demographic, but I think it is best suited for someone in a relationship like Kourtney Kardashian, dealing with an alcoholic womanizing baby daddy relationship… or Nicole Simpson, who was actually in a physically abusive relationship.

Thank you to the author for the opportunity to review her book, and I wish her lots of success with it.

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It’s Not Me, It’s YOU

Looking back, I felt sorry for her. She felt threatened by me. She wanted me to know of her existence because she felt insecure about me.

In a new relationship and you’re over the moon about the guy? — well, please don’t be like this lunatic my ex ended up with — read my Unwritten article to find out how I realized she was stalking me on social media:

Don’t Be My Ex’s Crazy New Girlfriend

50 Shades of Crazy

I finally got a chance to read this smut. Unbelievable. If I had the motivation to actually finish my book by its deadline so that it’ll be published, I could write better porn than this crap! They actually made a trilogy out of this obnoxious-ness… in book and film!

Alright, I had my fair share of crazy — where I’ve dealt with the crazy, and have even been the crazy. If there’s any ex out there reading this (or even a random guy using Google), here’s some insight for you, the clueless guy… the lacking in confidence guy, the dealing-with-this-crazy-shit guy… you know who you are. You are that geek who tries so hard to get the hot girl in all those teen-flicks, only to realize afterwards that you have all the confidence in the world (Revenge of the Nerds).

There’s the normal jealousy and insecurity that’s even cute and makes us feel loved, and then there’s the does-your-mama-know-your-ass-is-crazy. Yet many of us don’t know the difference.

What separates sweet possessiveness (as seen in the few insecure stages of love) with bitch-be-crazzzyyyyy? (I’m thinking of the movie Gone Girl here.) At what point do we say enough is enough?

When left unexplored and unresolved, possessive relationships can amount to feelings of misery, anxiety, anger, and even physical or emotional abuse — for women and men — hey, I’ve known a few crazy gals beat the crap out of guys who just took the beatings because they felt wrong to hit a woman back. I’ve always followed the mantra: Act like a man, get treated like one. So if women truly believe in equality, then expect to get punched in the face if you’re swinging at a guy. An even better mantra is: Keep your hands to yourself!

At first it can seem adorable and even flattering to be on the receiving end of your partner’s intense love and devotion, but after a while it becomes smothering and even destructive. Is your relationship supportive of your well-being, or a declination to your health and happiness?

Although it can be hard to admit flaws in a boyfriend, girlfriend or partner (except for me, I’m critical of everyone, ha!), it is worth getting real about your relationship for your own happiness. After all, you have to live with your decisions for the rest of your life. Essentially, if you don’t comply with what your partner wants, then comes the nagging, demanding, threatening, and/or emotional blackmailing.

Whenever you want to go out, meet up with a friend or family member, or even just take a break from them (because honestly, sometimes you just want to say I’m sick of looking at your face!), your partner wants to be a part of everything you do. Often they will discourage prolonged periods of going out and try to keep you confined to the house, typically in menacing or manipulative ways… like sex. Men use love to get sex, and women use sex to get love — (Mallory Knox in Natural Born Killers flashes to mind).

Your partner keeps an eye on every little thing you do to the point of stalking you (or when they’re really nutty — they stalk your friends, your family, even your freakin’ ex’s ex). This might include logging in to your social media accounts and checking your private messages, reading through your emails or text messages, checking your internet browser history, etc… I usually just snoop through the papers on his desk like a normal weirdo, ha!

One key sign of a possessive boyfriend, girlfriend or partner is their tendency to remind you that you are the center of their world; so much so that they need no other friends or social connections because they have you… it’s when they display anger or resentment towards your friends, colleagues or family members — or the exact opposite, make “friends” with your friends, colleagues, and family — that the alarm bells should be sounding. I’ve never understood that need to be so clingy; you know, to extend the theory of six degrees by separation, and this from a woman that approves every random friend request sent — who the hell are those 250 people following me on Instagram and LinkedIn!?!

A dark and serious kind of jealousy seems to boil under the surface of your partner’s façade as they try to dissuade you from spending time with your friends, colleagues or family members. They might criticize, character-dissect, bring up old issues you’ve experienced, or even fabricate lies about those you want to spend time with, sometimes even turning you against those you care about. They might also make up stories about non-existent people and events to try to make you jealous; like, telling you someone asked them out, gave them a compliment, anything to try to make you feel as jealous as they do; they equate jealousy with love. This is the most serious and dangerous warning sign of an abusive or destructive relationship, because these behaviors are so hard to unmask or reveal.

In a possessive relationship, personal space is rarely a concept that is valued. If you have a possessive boyfriend, girlfriend or partner, chances are they will impose themselves too much on your need to have time, space and objects that are exclusively yours. To them, they need to know it ALL. What’s the name of your first pet, your best friend’s name, the make and model of your first car — dude, that’s how Russian hackers get your bank info! … Seriously though, they’re just crazy. (I’m thinking bunny-boiling Fatal Attraction.)

If you talk to a man or woman, they want to know why. If you get a phone call from someone, they want to know why. If you get a friend request from someone, they want to know why. If you get spam mail, they want to know why. And God help you if you innocently reveal any kind of attraction to another person! This might lead to severe guilt-tripping, emotional punishment, or even violence. (Think a young Mark Wahlberg in Fear.)

Going out? Better make sure that you get approval from your partner! The possessive boyfriend, girlfriend or lover will always openly invite themselves somehow to anything that you are a part of — oh, you’re going to a men’s prostrate club meeting, bring her along too because you are her world!

For some reason, your partner always seems to call or text you more than usual because you’re out, they know it, and wasn’t able to swindle their way into joining you. (Oh, I’m just texting you for the 50th time in the last 15 minutes to tell you how much I love you, miss you, am sniffing your underwear for the scent of you because you’re so great and I looovvvvveeeee you so much!) Every decision you make — your partner wants to be there. Period. Often you will even feel pressured to do what they want to do, even if the decision has nothing to do with them.

Your possessive boyfriend/girlfriend/partner has a way of diminishing your self-confidence. They might be emotionally abusive, gaslight you and make you feel as though you don’t truly know what is best for you. All of their jealousy, all of their paranoia, all of their controlling behavior… “it’s all just love”. Your partner justifies his/her toxic behavior by pulling the love card on you, thus paving an easy escape route to avoid responsibility and blame. In fact, you might have bought into the “love” excuse yourself, continuing to justify your partner’s destructive behavior because you are unconsciously too scared to face reality. Fear that this person is the best you can do, fear of wasted time and investment, fear of embarrassment in having to explain it all to others. Fear of being alone.

Possessiveness and any kind of controlling behavior in relationships is a clear sign of insecurity. And where does this insecurity come from? From the fear of abandonment, rejection and powerlessness. If your partner is possessive, it is very likely that they have a great lack of self-love and self-confidence, and this is because deep down, they feel that they need you in order to be happy, safe, secure, and successful. This is the main reason why you are their world, they have no motivation or ambitions of their own, and basically is riding on your coattails in friends, status, financial security, and satisfaction. They live by-carelessly through you. They are “successful” because you’re successful, and therefore they see themselves as successful too for being with you (For Colored Girls).

Re-establish your self-confidence and self-respect which might have been crushed or depleted in your relationship. For instance, explore self-assertiveness, how to love and take care of yourself, and if you are quiet by nature, learn how to discover your voice.

Set aside an appropriate time to talk with your partner. Open the conversation by letting them know how and why you appreciate them, and then merge into the problems you are facing with their behavior. Always talk in terms of their behavior. (No one likes to be called crazy; beware of the woman who adamantly denies it, because let’s be real, all women are to some degree crazy — sane is the woman who knows it.) This removes unnecessary blaming and negativity. Provide specific examples of what behavior is disturbing or upsetting you, and what you would like to change.

Be aware that your partner might get very offended, angry, dismissive, or upset. Prepare yourself for this beforehand to ensure that you keep your cool. Be very clear about what you want to change in the relationship. Remember, if you emotionally react, then the conversation is over once egos get involved.

If they agree to change, help them out by drawing attention to any possessive behavior in the future and setting “time out” periods where you sit together and talk about the progress being made. Possessiveness can’t be cured overnight. Give yourself an ultimatum if there’s no real effort to better the relationship from either side. If you can’t carry out these recommendations (e.g. due to abuse, egotism, financial dependency, etc.), it is best to consider ending the relationship, and build a support network for yourself.

Being in a smothering relationship can be really hard and stressful. Remove some of that stress and burden by letting go of unrealistic fears of being alone, starting over, embarrassment, etc. And if you have any advice… please feel free to lend a helping hand, there’s a lot of crazies out there!

Going Cold Turkey

These last few days my blog stats have been insane. I’m getting hits from Google, Bing, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook… even some Russian search engine I’ve never heard of. Thank you for reading, it’s really been motivating.

One thing that people always seem to seek out is advice on relationships, and I am definitely no relationship expert. A lot of things that people are searching for answers to are actually common sense, but I think sometimes they just need to hear it from someone else to really solidify it.

I’ve read so many breakup stories these last few days, and the ones that hits me the hardest are the women that just can’t let it go. I know it’s hard to let go of that last cling of hope, but you have to realize that the person isn’t coming back and most likely has moved on. I’m going to tackle the questions that seems to be on a lot of broken-hearted minds:

But maybe he doesn’t know how much I love him, and I should keep calling and texting him so I can convince him of my love? NO!!! He knows how much you love him, the problem is he doesn’t love you. Being a crazy lady isn’t going to win him back. No guy ever says to himself, Wow! She must really love me because she’s calling every second of the day, I’m going to text her right now and tell her how much I love her too!

If I could just see him again I know I can get him back. Sure, he might be determine it’s over on the phone, but I know he’ll want me back if he actually saw me again. The 100% honest truth is that he checked out long before the actual breakup. If you’ve been dumped, the pain is fresh and unbearable at times. Your world seems like it has come to an end. All those plans you had are gone. Over. Just like that. But the worse part is that he has had a huge head start on the healing. However long he entertained ending the relationship is also how long he’s been emotionally detaching himself from you. So while your wounds are fresh and painful, your ex has the advantage of not only being in the power position, but also having had a chance to wean himself off of you emotionally while you have to go cold turkey on the relationship. It’s a harsh reality, but the truth is that he was already partially or even totally over it before you even knew it was going down. And if you’ve ever broken up with someone, then you have a pretty good idea what he’s going through right now. Yes, breaking up with someone sucks. Yes, you do feel badly about hurting someone’s feelings. But the fact of the matter is that once you get past the initial guilt, the overwhelming feeling is relief.

But what if he doesn’t realize the mistake he’s made? There’s no way he’ll ever find anyone better than me, who’ll love him as much as me. Listen up pretty lady, he’s moved on — but it wasn’t to become a monk or be a hermit. Even if he does realize that you were the best thing to happen to him since Astroglide, he’s trying his luck elsewhere. If there’s no one else out there for him that’s better than you, that’s his loss, and you’ll be the one that he stacks all other women up against. That’s actually an ego booster in my book. I have exs that I still keep in contact with, and while I don’t want them to be miserable, it does make me feel good knowing that they’re trying to find someone better than what they had (and you should too, especially if you think you’re the best he’ll ever get, because that means he’ll never find anyone that tops you).

Will I ever stop thinking about him and get over this? I promise you that it will get better in time, but the thing about time is that it takes actual time. In the meantime, work on setting realistic emotional goals for yourself. Try feeling different instead of better, and then encourage your ability to reach other milestones. Once you accept that it’s a slow process and you need the actual time to grief and mourn the loss, you’ll begin to heal.

But how can he just move on so easily? Walking away from a relationship is never easy. When someone does walk away, it means that they’ve fallen out of love, for whatever reason, have wanted out for a really long time, and finally got up the courage to do the deed. OR that there is another motivating factor in the equation — like, I’m sorry to say, another woman. Either way, the thing you have to realize with yourself is that while you thought things were great, he was working out an exit strategy. What this means is that clearly at some point the two of you stopped being in the same relationship. In his mind, things have probably been broken for a while, and what looks easy now is likely the result of him questioning his own needs and whether a future with you was really the one he wanted.

Alright, I’m just going to ramble on a few more things that should be a kick in the head to all you pretty ladies out there that’s tormenting yourself over a guy:

Sadly, it sounds like he doesn’t miss you— at least not enough to call you. The thing you don’t seem to grasp here is that you are broken up. You shouldn’t be calling or messaging anyway, because your status with each other has changed and contact with him won’t help you cut those emotional ties. And even if he does miss you occasionally, those feelings are superseded by his conviction that the relationship wasn’t for him. Even if he is thinking of you, he doesn’t want to be in contact with you — which should tell you that the breakup is for real, and that you should leave him alone and move on.

How can it just be over? Because it is. The relationship may have been perfect for you, but it wasn’t for him. People move on after a breakup — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. The thing you have to remember is that it was over for him before he ended it, so he had a head start on the process of getting over it. Not only that, but people get over breakups in different ways.

Some like to do it alone, and others like to jump right back into dating. It sounds like you shouldn’t be holding hope for a reconciliation, so it doesn’t really matter what he’s thinking when he’s hooking up with his new lady. My guess is that since he was the one to move on, he’s not looking back.

It would be unfair to generalize and say that men don’t mourn the loss of relationships, but men do have a tendency to recover more quickly from the setback of heartbreak than women. The truth is that men and women are wired differently and tend to deal with their breakups in different ways. Men seem to be more sexually driven by nature and seek companionship more frequently and less selectively. So while a woman in the midst of heartbreak might not be able to even think of looking at another guy, a man might deal with the loss by getting back on the prowl, or a bucket of wings and a six-pack to heal his broken heart (especially during football season). Men also don’t really allow themselves the same indulgences during a breakup as women do, so they are socially conditioned to get past it faster or risk being seen as pathetic. Men are kind of dumb, really.

Think about it this way. Have you ever broken up with someone? Then you know that on all of those occasions, the common feeling was that you were over it before you actually got out of it. Being over it is, in part, what pushed you to end it in the first place. If you’ve been on the receiving end of a breakup, then you have to swallow the bitter pill that your ex is already over it and was possibly getting over it before you even knew you were in it. How much does that suck?

What sucks even more is getting hung up on the “what is he thinking and feeling?” shit. Does he miss me as much as I miss him? No. If he did, you’d know it by his actions. Is he seeing someone else? Maybe. Probably. Or at least he’s planning on it. Again — it sucks, but if you get real about it you’ll realize that knowing the answers to these questions still doesn’t change the fact that it’s over.

Guys may flip-flop and send confusing messages, especially when the potential for sex is involved. But if you really listen, they’re telling you everything you need to know by breaking up with you in the first place. Tell yourself the honest truth, he knows you’re still in love with him, but he hasn’t tried to get back with you, so what does that tell you? Here’s what I tell myself after a breakup — he’s dead, he got shipped off to war and got lost out at sea, he got married and has ten kids now, he’s dating Ms. October from Playboy, he’s got an STD, he was really a woman with a sex change… okay, maybe these are extremities, but whatever helps you to move on. If you’re convince that he broke up with you because there was someone else, then tell yourself that he’s with another woman and doesn’t want you anymore. You gotta do this cold turkey, it’s the only way.

Goodbye to a Friend

My best friend is my guy (my mister). I tell him EVERYTHING — I complain to him about others, I vent to him about my life, he’s always the first person I call or text when I have news to share (or even news that I don’t want shared); I completely trust him… and just like the security of a best friend, we talk about everything too.

However, once upon a time, I actually did have a best friend who was a guy. He was a friend from high school that I was very close to, and for the most part he was a very good friend to me. He had a lot of personal issues to work through after high school, like relocating with his family to another state, and dealing with issues about being gay… honestly, I never knew he was gay until he just one day seem to have completely come out of the closet.

During the “college years” we still hung out together; we’d go clubbing and stuff like that, but I always felt him slipping away into himself, especially with drugs. I think he was a wonderful person that was very caring and thoughtful of others, extremely generous too; but I also always thought that he was a very weak minded individual, easily manipulated and a follower.

After the “college years”, I got a job with a company that I stayed with for six years (even surviving a merger); I moved out, I became a mother and a wife; I relocated, moved back home, and relocated again. All the years that passed though, I never realized how deeper and deeper my once dear friend have sunken in life.

This was a friend whose whole family knew me; his mother always hugged and kissed me, and would say how beautiful I look each time she saw me; I knew his brothers and cousins, and I’ve been to his extended family’s homes as well. Yet, like most childhood friendships (especially when you’re no longer living in the same area), we had grown apart.

One night, out of the blue, he messaged me on Facebook. It was late night, but I’m a night owl and keep odd hours; he seem very upset and depressed. I was sincerely concerned for my friend. I never judged him on his lifestyle because there are things in my past that I wish I can erase, just as in all people’s past; many people do things when they’re young and wanting to experience their lives. A lot of young people have some sort of drug experiences too — because it’s fun, it’s wild, it makes you feel good, it makes you forget, it makes you social; it makes you bold, fearless, and strong… hell, depending on the drug, it can even make you super horny and have awesome sex! … But, most young adults grow pass that stage, especially after the “college years”.

I hadn’t realized how far down the rabbit hole he had fallen. While everyone else was maturing, getting their lives together, growing as a person, leaving behind the clubbing days — he was getting weaker emotionally and mentally. He was becoming an addict, and then one day, he was an addict.

I stayed on the phone with him that night until like 3AM, even though I had to be at work the next day. I got teary-eyed and emotional when he told me what had been happening in his life… his drug habits, going to rehab, his job, so-called “friends” that he was getting high with, getting arrested, problems with his family, etc. Mostly, what he wanted to vent to me about was his boyfriend. I do not know this boyfriend personally, but he seem to me to be the typical drug addict co-dependent partner in toxic relationships. This relationship was all very back and forth, and I had warned my friend against continuing this kind of relationship. The only way to fix a bad relationship is to leave it.

For a while, he seemed okay. I really couldn’t tell, we kept up with each others lives via Facebook status updates and posts. Then yesterday, I had saw a post that his boyfriend had posted on his page, as well as tagged him in… this post was very degrading and must have been very humiliating for his family to see. It was complete rambling, nonsense, childish and obnoxious. I hate when people have no control over themselves on social media.

What bothered me the most was that they seem to both enjoy the drama that they create in their misery with each other. For some reason, I still felt I needed to defend my friend, maybe because it was out of loyalty to the friendship I had remembered — I’m not really sure. Yet, I realized that it was stressing me out, making me feel exhausted, and that I was dwelling on issues that my friend had to fix on his own.

The thing with addicts is, every 12-step program has some sort of statement in there that acknowledges that an addict is a selfish person. What supporters of addicts don’t realize is that you can’t fix them, they have to fix themselves. It’s no different than alcoholics or cigarette smokers — the constant need to want it yourself has to always be present, someone else can’t want it for you.

It made me so depressed, but I decided I had to think about what was best for my life too; so I decided to cut him out of my life for the moment. The road to recovery is a long one, but the traveler has to walk that road himself, no one else can walk it for him.

What’s Love Got to Do With It

It’s 1AM, it’s hot and I’m being stingy and not turning the AC on and using the ceiling fan instead — unless there’s a heat wave going on, I refuse to turn it on!

I’ve watched a bunch of Tyler Perry movies, and a bunch of other strong, black female character movies… now, I don’t know if the black community is aware of this, but the stereotypes that they feel are discriminating against them, are the same ones that they display about themselves — I mean, seriously, have you ever seen a happy Tyler Perry movie!?! Everything is about rape, incest, abuse, drugs, etc. I’ve watched Precious, For Colored Girls, Waiting to Exhale, What’s Love Got to Do With It, etc. These are some sad-ass movies! These movies enforces the stereotype about black men and women!

For Colored Girls and What’s Love Got to Do With It are my favorite — especially the latter, because it’s a bio-pic about Tina Turner, and I loved her music; I grew up listening to a lot of 80’s music. I love bio-pics, and I felt very sad that she lived such a hard life, even when she became famous and all… I’m glad that she found her strength through the Buddhist religion — everyone’s gotta have something to believe in to get them through the hard times.

Domestic violence is no joke. If you’re in a situation, you need to help yourself; you’re the only person to do it. Never become dependent on a man for your happiness, and especially not financially. I know so many women on a personal level and experience that felt they couldn’t leave an abusive relationship because they didn’t have the means to support themselves. Do what you need to do to defend yourself, and especially if there are children involved — fight back, stab him if you have to, or leave… but never just take it, because it WON’T STOP, and he WON’T change. People like that just weren’t raised right, but even that is not a 100% excuse — you have two options; you can either continue the cycle of violence, or you can overcome it. It’s hard to have compassion and sympathy for a woman who chooses to remain in an abusive relationship, especially when the man is not only abusive to her but to her children too.

Also, there is no shame in your story. Put a voice to it. Let people know what kind of man he is; tell his friends, his family, his coworkers, whoever — if he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong about beating you, then he should have no shame if everyone knew about it. Get the help you need… even if you are struggling financially, there are resources out there. You can get on food assistance, cash assistance, medical assistance, housing assistance, heating assistance, etc. Only YOU have control over your own life, you can’t change someone else’s; don’t stay another day thinking that you can change him.