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Family & Friends: When they don't say the right thing during your breakup

By Leah Sheppard

Family & Friends: When they don't say the right thing during your breakup

Our family and friends are the best, right? They are there to support us and have our backs whenever we need it, and when we go through a breakup they are particularly important. Sometimes however, they just don’t say the right thing you need to hear and all it does is make the situation feel much worse.

Often when we eventually tell our family and friends that we’ve broken up with our partner, the reaction is one of heartbreak on your behalf: ‘I’m so sorry to hear that! How could they do this to you?! Here, let me give you a hug’.

But while they think they are doing the right thing, sometimes the comments can head into the protective and defensive territory: ‘I never liked them; I told you they would do this to you didn’t I? Oooohhh I’d love to give them a piece of my mind!’.

When you look at the way a person feels after a breakup it’s a very confusing time, full of very intense emotions. Yes there is sadness, anger, ‘how could they?’ and so on, but you also have the same feelings of protection, loyalty and love on board – even if it’s not reciprocated by your ex. That stuff doesn’t just go away when your ex does, and it makes for a very chaotic environment when all you want is peace.

All you hear around you is how everyone wants to hurt your ex for dumping you, when in your mind everyone is trying to attack the one you love. They may all be going on about how much they never liked that person anyway, and all you’re thinking is ‘everyone was lying to me the whole time, and now I have no one’. You may not even want anyone to hug or touch you at all, because that intimate space was what you only reserved for your partner. They all become smothering.

The thing about true family and friends is that they love you, unconditionally; and while they may not say or do the right thing, they only have your best interests at heart. Behaviors such as the ones described above are only protective measures to make sure you don’t get hurt again, and are truly done as a sign of respect and love for you – even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Now, this isn’t to say that what they are doing is right; probably the contrary, but it is the only way they know best to make you feel better. No one knows the feelings you have going on in your head, only you. So make them known, but always with respect and love. If something is bothering you, figure out exactly what that is and tell them. If what they are saying/doing is not what you want them to, tell them this:

‘I really love that you are trying to help me, and I know this may not make sense to you - but I don’t need you to say/do that.

There are a lot of emotions going on in my head that I need to sort out, and all I need is someone to talk it out with, and be there when I need it.

I’ll get back to normal eventually; I’m just a little fragile right now.

They will understand. The more you open up about what you actually need, the more they will be able to help. You don’t need warriors right now, just someone to talk out your feelings with. 

The case may be that you can’t actually talk about all the details you’d like to with family and friends, and that’s ok too. There are a range of counseling services that you can look up to help out with that. Just know that in the meantime your peeps are trying to help the best they can, so ease up on them. Remember, they can’t read your mind; only the look on your face, so let them know what’s going on in there.

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Contemplating suicide after your heart has been broken

By Leah Sheppard

Contemplating suicide after your heart has been broken
Going through a tough time after your breakup? Feeling like there's no hope for feeling happiness again? You're not alone; AND there is help :) Get some friendly advice for your heartache recovery now...

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Drinking and going out after a breakup: Therapy or tragedy?

By Leah Sheppard

Drinking and going out after a breakup: Therapy or tragedy?

There is an illusion we create for ourselves that drinking and going out will make everything better: It’s fun; It will lift you out of the depression; You might meet someone special…When we drink the world seems fun and free of constraints, and in a way you feel more alive than ever. You speak freely, you express how you really feel and the people drinking with you are often doing the same.

Herein lies the problem: EVERYTHING comes to the surface; Not only the fun- loving, funny, and sexy side of you, but any pain, loneliness, anger, sadness and desire to be with someone comes out too. A lot of this stuff you may have thought you had dealt with and moved on from, but deep down inside, the stuff we hide even from ourselves, is in full view for yourself and anyone around you.

Getting over a breakup should be treated just like driving when it comes to alcohol: Stay under the limit. Being drunk means our ability to stop or manage the Pandora’s box of emotions running amok in your brain right now is severely diminished, and getting drunk will only end in heartbreak and deeper pain for yourself all over again. We allow a very private and vulnerable side of ourselves to be broadcasted to the world in an environment that is not geared for healing. All of our emotions, painful or otherwise are also heightened in our minds, and we become painfully aware of the perceived voids in our lives, and our desire to fill them. We over share to people we shouldn’t, we overreact to things we don’t need to, we hit on work colleagues or people already in relationships; and we go home with strangers just to feel wanted again, only to be left all over again in the morning. And worse, as we assess the ‘damage’ in the morning, an overwhelming sense of guilt, shame and regret floods in, and delays your healing progress until you can forget it ever happened.

Obviously we are not always blind drunk, with our emotional pain/insecurities on display for the world to see. Often we can stop at one or two and leave it at that. The issue here however is not about your ability to ‘hold your liquor’, but more about your emotional strength at the time. We can go past the ‘tipsy’ stage into ‘off-your-face’ very easily at any normal time in our lives, but when we go through an emotional trauma, the euphoria of not having it at the forefront of our minds makes us want the night to never end. So we drink more, feel less, & repeat.

I know it hurts being alone, and I understand the waves of emotions you feel every single day. It is easy to think that drinking and going out will fix it, but it won’t. In order to deal with these emotions, you need to create an environment safe enough to do so. Drinking will make an already challenging emotional situation much worse, no matter where you do it or whom you do it with. So here is my advice: take some of the challenge away and don’t drink at all for a while. Deal with the very real pain you are feeling in the right way. The Proseccos and nights to ‘let loose’ will all be there when you’re better; just give yourself a fighting chance to get well first.

BREAKUP HELP

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Depression after breakups

By Leah Sheppard

Depression after breakups

If you are feeling really low right now, or wanting to harm yourself in any way, please call 000. If you just need a bit of advice or support, contact the beyondblue Support Service (1300 22 4636), Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467). If you are ok for now, just read on :)

For most of our lives we are in hustle-mode; doing our best to fit in, achieve our goals and make sure we stay out of harms’ way. Usually this is manageable, and while there are challenges along the way, ultimately we can deal with them. When we go through a breakup, however, these things can become too much.

While the initial shock of a breakup didn’t actually ‘break’ us, the effects of such a big emotional trauma and life- changing event can have repercussions further down the line. We managed the shock of the breakup, maybe having to move house, losing friends, and crying our eyes out for what seemed like an eternity. Ever-aware of the fact that we are now ‘Single’ we try to alleviate the pain and empty feeling through yoga, trips to Bali, going out way more than you used to, binge- eating, alcohol, diets, Tinder…But all of these things don’t address the one feeling that keeps throbbing in your heart: My soulmate doesn’t want me anymore, and I am so lonely I can’t bear it.

And one day, before you could realise it or stop it, your days become filled with an unwelcome fog of fear, anxiety, anger, and deep mournful sadness: Depression. One day we might feel great; the next we are having a panic attack or just feel angry at everything and everyone, and have no idea why. Other days we may feel nervous, anxious, fidgety and lonely with terrifyingly low self-esteem. Sometimes you may feel all of these things at once, and think you have no other way out but to let it consume you and drown.

Depression is one of those words that previously held a lot of stigma, which is surprising given how many people actually feel this way. While the stereotypical view of depression is sadness, it really encompasses a whole spectrum of emotions that are both confusing and very misleading to our usually calm, confident and ambitious minds.

You are probably the type to just get on with things right? Not tell anyone you are feeling down because you don’t want to bother anyone, or look like a fraud? I have been where you are, and I know what you’re going through. Trust me, Depression is no joke and can lead to much more serious consequences down the line if it’s not dealt with. This is definitely one of those times to get a bit of help, even if it is just a friendly chat with someone you trust and who understands. 

We are so fortunate to live in a time and place where there is more understanding around mental health and how to deal with it, and there are so many avenues for you to get some assistance without fear of embarrassment or labels. Speak to your doctor, or any of the numbers listed above to get some advice on what might be the best way to go for you. Remember: Take it slowly, ease up on that brilliant and ambitious mind of yours and treat yourself with a bit of care for the time- being. The World will still be there for you to grasp when you’re stronger. xxx

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Dating Again: When is it time to get 'back on the horse'?

By Leah Sheppard

Dating Again: When is it time to get 'back on the horse'?

You may have come to a point in your recovery where you feel that you can start getting back out there and ‘on the horse’ so to speak. You are over the worst of the pain from breaking up with your ex, and really feel like you’re ready to meet someone new. It is an exciting time, and full of hope and promise.

Dating again is an opportunity to revisit that romantic future you had imagined for yourself again, but it will probably also will be your biggest test since the breakup. It’s the first time you will think about how a new person will fit into your life going forward; but it is also the first time you will see what things you haven’t quite sorted out in your mind since you broke up with your ex.

There are so many variables and things we worry about with dating in general, let alone after we break up with someone we truly thought we would spend the rest of our lives with: Were all the bad things my ex said about me true? What if I’m not sexy enough, or pretty enough, or adventurous enough? What if I put my trust in this person, and believe in a life together…then they end up leaving me just like my ex did? Trust is a very real issue when it comes to any situation where we could get hurt (again), and however nice a potential new partner is, there is always doubt in the back of our minds.

So here we are left with a problem: I want to be with someone, but I don’t want to get hurt. Let’s just deal to some of those worries right now:

  1. No, all the bad things your ex said about you are not true. The opinion of one person is not the gospel on which you should base your life. Run your life how you see fit, with love and respect for others and the best person for you will fit right in.
  2. Being ‘sexy’, ‘pretty’ or ‘adventurous’ is again a matter of perspective. B Your. Self. There is no future or happiness in a relationship that does not allow you to be, and which does not celebrate, that who you truly are. Often these words are used by others in an effort to get you to change for something they lack in their own lives, so if they can’t see it, then get going.
  3. You cannot control the feelings or desires of another, in the same way that no one should control yours. Yes you may fall for them, and yes they may change their mind; but that’s ok, just as it is ok for you to do the same. Manage your expectations of another human being and understand that it is NOT a reflection on you, but a simple preference on their behalf.

Often we try to fit in to what others want, or constantly worry that they’ll leave if we’re not ‘up to scratch’, but in all seriousness it really doesn’t matter. If it doesn’t work out with this one, there will be another - always. Be yourself in every aspect of your life, and the right one for you will come along eventually. We are in a time and place in which our choices are our own, and our ability to have social, economic, and political opportunities are not dependent on who we marry. In other words, if the one you wanted no longer wants you, let them go; Your world will carry on regardless.

If at this stage you are unsure about dating again, but still want to get out there, join a Meetup group (www.meetup.com). Meetup is a website where you can find literally thousands of different groups for singles that don’t have the pressure of a dating situation. There is anything from cocktail party meetups to biking, wine tours and movie groups, and even ones like ‘All My Friends are in Couples & I’m Single’; like literally, that’s what it’s called. Seriously, I highly recommend meetups as a low-key, no-pressure way of meeting people and getting back out there. If you happen to meet some hottie, then go get it girl; if not, you’ve made some new friends and had a great time out.

Don’t worry so much about whether it works out or not with whomever you go on a date with. Just relax into it and enjoy some quality time out getting to know a new person. Remember, you got through a breakup up before and you can damn well do it again. Life is full of risk and adversity, but it makes the reward that much more special.

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Shame and embarrassment after a breakup

By Leah Sheppard

Shame and embarrassment after a breakup

Embarrassment is a feeling we all know and have felt way more often than we would like. From a young age we have understood what it’s like to do something that gains us the wrong sort of attention, and the absolute fearful desire to never have it happen again.

When it comes to a breakup, ‘embarrassment’ is unfortunately part of the terrain. Any of us who have been dumped before know that with rejection comes an unwanted shame, whether it was our fault or not. You weren’t good enough’; ‘you didn’t see it coming’; ‘you chose the wrong person, that’s why this happened to you’ – ‘You’, ‘You’, ‘You’. It’s amazing how we assume blame so easily when we run it back in our heads.

It’s even worse when it’s our friends, family and Facebook get to finding out too. Even if they aren’t saying it, we have this constant belief running through our minds that everyone is judging us for not being good enough to keep our partner, or saying ‘I told you so’; perhaps because we may have even done it to someone else in the past. Pitying looks, mutual friends with your ex may stop talking to you; and oh the unwanted spotlight that we get thrown into when Facebook announces we are ‘no longer in a relationship’. It’s hard because you so genuinely thought you were doing everything right, and suddenly it feels like you got everything wrong.

Look, we have waaaaay too much going on in life that we have to worry about without having to second-guess ourselves, and our abilities as a fully-functioning adult woman. Yes, being dumped is a kick in the guts, and yes we may have got some things wrong. But so what?! So what if we believed in happily-ever-after with our ex; So what if we chose someone to love that in the end didn’t love us back; So what if we chose to see the best in someone? These are the attributes of a caring, compassionate and loving individual, and being blind-sided by something you had absolutely no control over is NOT a reason to feel anything less than you are. Healthy reflection on your actions and attitude is fine; But running through every fault, and every deed you had done trying to reconcile why they left, and what you could have done to stop it only makes your recovery harder and more painful. It also makes you fearful for potential relationships in the future.

In our pursuit of happiness in life there will always be some stumbling blocks. There are so many things that you cannot control, and the actions of another are exactly one of those things. What you can control is the way you deal with it.

Treat your breakup like falling over on the street. You didn’t plan for it, you didn’t see it coming and it hurt like hell. Everyone may be looking, some may even laugh. But do you sit there on the sidewalk and tell yourself ‘I shouldn’t have gone outside’, ‘I should have kept my head down the whole time so that nothing would ever hurt me’.

No. You pick yourself up; you dust yourself off, and keep walking your fine ass down the road. You are a good person, with a kind heart that is going through some stuff and dealing with it the best you can. There is no room on this trip for anything or anyone trying to bring you down; only love and support – especially from yourself!

Remember, one foot in front of the other; and dream, risk, hustle and repeat as necessary.

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Abuse: The Trojan Horse of Relationships

By Leah Sheppard

Abuse: The Trojan Horse of Relationships

Sometimes in life we can be hurt by the ones we love. Whether it is emotional, Psychological, spiritual or physical, the impact that it has on us can be deep and painful, especially when it is enacted by someone we thought we could trust.

Often abuse is gradual, and unrecognisable at first. It may start with the odd comment here and there, about how you dress, how you speak or think, even about your lifestyle choices or family. You let it go thinking that this must be a normal part of any relationship and all they are doing is trying to help you… Eventually however, in an effort to keep the peace - or worse, to keep the relationship, we become trained in the way that THEY think, how THEY see the world, and in the process we lose confidence in our own ability to think, and act. We become subservient to their worldview and only find validation in ourselves through their eyes…Whether this is physical or psychological makes no difference: They no longer have to train you to be how they want you to be because you are already doing it for them.

Abuse infiltrates our lives like a Trojan horse - if it didn’t, we’d be able to deal with it straight away, right? We’ve all seen the ads about abused women in bad relationships and wonder why they didn’t just leave. But here’s the thing: No one enters this life hoping that they will be abused and hurt by the one they love. They all started out just like you, feeling so happy and relieved to have found someone to love and share their lives with, and to keep them safe. One off-hand comment led to another, which over time led to a raised voice, which led to a stronger and more deliberate way to make them understand that they weren’t up to scratch. Many women are abused in relationships, not just in a way that produces bruises and scars; often it will take a breakup to actually realise that you had been abused at all.

If you have been abused in your relationship, or at any point in your life it is important to realise that this is a reflection of the abuser, not yourself. There is nothing you did to warrant anyone treating you with pain, or anything other than respect and love. You are beautiful, genuine, loving, intelligent and powerful beyond belief. Your life choices and background and way of viewing the world have enabled you to become the amazing person you are today.

Trust yourself, trust your mind; Know that you are exactly what you must be at this point in time, and have all the strength and knowledge you need right now. You will grow, you will learn, you will develop; but in your own way, at your own pace and in the way you best see fit. Your scars, physical or otherwise, will heal with time; and you will be able to identify that Trojan horse whenever you come upon it in life. Always maintain your value, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you need to speak to someone about abuse, or your experience, call The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 RESPECT, or 1800 737 732. It’s a free telephone and online confidential service for any Australian experiencing or who has experienced domestic or family violence and/or sexual assault. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Soulmates

By Leah Sheppard

Soulmates

We’ve all heard the term ‘soulmate’ thrown around whenever it comes to finding ‘true love’. They are the ‘one’, the love of your life and the person you were meant to be with for the rest of your life. And whether you believe in souls, the after-life and so on, deep down we all hope that concept in particular is true.

There are a few misconceptions however when it comes to soulmates, largely brought about by decades of romantic comedies, novels, and literally anyone trying to sell the 18- 35 year-old demographic on the whole happily-ever-after thing. It is the idea that there is one true love; we must seek that love (or hope that they rock up on a white horse and find us), and if we lose that love we are destined to a life of sadness and despair. Sound familiar?

It is true that we have soulmates, one hundred percent; but not in the way that most people think. We have many, many soulmates across eons of lives, and we all cross each other’s paths as we go about learning the things we each need to learn. Soulmates can be your Mother, brother, best friend, or a completely random person on the street or that you meet at a party; it is not always a romantic partner. 

Every living being comes from a unified source of energy, and we are split off into singular forms to raise our frequency; think of it like leaving home to go to Uni, so you can better yourself. Before each lifetime we chose where we’d like to go, what type of life we want to experience, and what we’d like to learn. Now these aren’t really subjects like ‘science’, or ‘international relations’, but more like ‘humility’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘loving others in the face of adversity’; things like that. Over our different lives we meet other souls on their own journeys and we make connections with them.

As we come back for subsequent lives, as different people, in different bodies and in different circumstances we may come across these soulmates again; And it is these encounters that make us feel different compared to other people we meet. No doubt you have already felt this before, perhaps even with your ex, where you feel like you already know them; like you’ve met them before???

The problem is that often when women identify a soul connection with a partner they will try anything to keep them, even if it means it’s not in their best interest. Worse, when they break up they will never truly let them go because it means they have lost their only chance for happiness in this world.

What I’d like to tell you is that it just isn’t true. The beauty, and indeed blessing of having so many soul connections, is that there isn’t just one, there are many; Many opportunities for love and learning with such a wide variety of people, and it would be crazy to think you would give up on love if just one of those didn’t work out.

Your breakup did not mean the loss of your one true love but rather the end of an encounter with one of your many loves; with none of them being greater or more ‘true’ than the other. The concept of ‘the love of my life’ negates and disrespects all the types of love we encounter every single day; You will have the loving and romantic connection you desire, but you are doing yourself an injustice by thinking that is all you are ever going to have. We must love all the people we encounter, we must learn everything we can from one-another and we must be grateful for the time we each spend together; that is the true wondrous meaning of life.

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