Sharing Advice: Practical Lessons From the Far Side of A Breakup (1 of 2)

random.pngOver the last couple years, I’ve had a lot of change in my life. I have referred to some of it here, obliquely. I’ve told some – and that “some” grows larger on a regular basis – people much more. I’m still not comfortable telling everything – not yet, anyway. It took five years for me to be able to even mention my suicidal gesture. It took a bit less to refer to my oldest son’s problems (not the Nuclear Kid) here or anywhere else.

And, y’know, I’m not sure I really want y’all to know all of it either. I rarely want sympathy for sympathy’s sake (for example, this was just me working through my own emotions and thinking the result was kinda neat). I’m a guy whose closest friends are people he doesn’t see on a regular basis. (Yes, I’m aware of how crappy a support network that is, thanks.) This isn’t new.

Before that, most of my support network were people I knew online and on message boards. I told people in the BBS (online forum back in the 90’s, y’all) community about my suicidal gesture years before I told anyone in my family or who I knew only offline. You might be able to find the message if you look hard enough – it was a networked forum, and someone might have an archive.

I’ve mentioned before that the online me isn’t the same as the real me – and I’ve said elsewhere that “con me” is an extroverted caricature of myself. I’ve said that if you need to look at a relationship status on Facebook to know if I’m seeing someone, you probably should be asking me instead.

It’s possible that this layer of obfuscation – these public and private masks – are a defense mechanism that I’ve used to avoid hard decisions. Probable, at least in part, given how people use rationality to justify our emotional decisions. In part it’s because I don’t feel comfortable sharing some things with some people. In part it’s because I’m quite shy at times, and sometimes because I’m embarrassed easily. Whatever. It doesn’t matter, really.

I was kind of up-front all of a sudden about my divorce becoming legally finalized. There’s a reason which I kind of mentioned, and I’m really going to stress here:

Our society does not prepare us for relationships ending in anything like a healthy way. Any healthy advice we can give each other is worthwhile.

The construct is relatively new to our society (divorce hasn’t been legal all that long), and we’ve spent a whole ton of time making the process as hateful and hurtful to everyone involved as possible.

I’m no guru, no monk. I’m sure as hell not one with the universe. But I know I don’t like feeling mad. I don’t like feeling pissed off. It’s a waste of time and energy that I could be using doing cool stuff.

Over the last few years, there are some things I’ve learned, and some resources I’ve come across. I’d like to recommend them to you.

So to start, I’ll repeat the items from last week (in case you skipped to avoid drama):

* You will feel sadness and regret and nostalgia, no matter how bad it got. That’s normal. It’s also NOT a sign that you are on the wrong path.

* If all parties involved can actually decide to be civil and friendly, that’s far easier and healthier. But if one person doesn’t want to do it that way, then it’s out of the question. Perhaps for the time being. Perhaps indefinitely.

* You can learn a lot about yourself and relationships by fucking it up. So just because one (or more) relationships ended badly or involved you making mistakes means you can avoid those errors in the future.

More resources later today and/or tomorrow, then publishing and research the rest of the week.

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