As a romance writer, I spend hours putting fictional people through their paces, creating obstacles for them to overcome, forcing them to face their fears and inner demons, on top of working together to form a strong relationship. Wouldn’t it be nice if real life happy endings could be constructed in a few months of planning, note jotting, long hours of staring at a computer screen, listening to voices in your head and typing…THE END?
When my fourteen year marriage ended, I was like a lot of other people who get out of a relationship—I wanted to be in another one. However, I didn’t have a clear idea on what I wanted in a new mate, never mind the daunting task of facing my personal insecurities in order to find one. Instead of focusing on someone else, I decided to have a relationship with the most important person in my life – ME.
Here are the steps I took on my personal journey to loving myself.
1. Spend Time Alone
As a busy mom in charge of a household, I had little time to myself while married, and I recalled how much I enjoyed those precious few times when I could do whatever I wanted. Once my husband and I separated, I wasn’t sure what to do, other than go out with friends so I wouldn’t feel lonely.
Rather than lamenting my single status, I embraced it, choosing to make the most of the quiet I now found myself faced with. I took myself on “dates”, sitting at a quiet table in a restaurant, enjoying a meal while reading a good book. Or on the spur of the moment, I would go to a movie. I loved sitting in a dark theater alone, eating popcorn, without having to worry about someone else’s good time. Other weekends I’d rent a movie and stay in, sipping a glass of wine while lazing on my couch. You get the idea.
Sometimes I use my time to catch up on work, but more frequently, I spend my alone time on personal or spiritual growth, learning something new, or simply taking care of my own needs. Being alone doesn’t have to mean you’re lonely; it’s simply a way to reconnect with yourself in positive way.
2. Find Friends Who Support You
Before you get the impression I’m suggesting you become a recluse, I think it’s imperative to have friends to support you in your choices and who you can talk things out with when the going gets rough.
Some friends are good to go out with, others are our confidantes. Since I’m normally a social butterfly, I accepted invitations to events I didn’t have time for when I was married, thus widening my social network. It’s a great way to meet new people if you’re up for it. Other times I opted for sitting around in my yoga pants and T-shirt, sipping tea with a trusted friend. Not all friends are able to be there for you in the way you need at any given time. The most important thing is to spend time with those who will lift you up, not tear you down.
Delving into my own psyche wasn’t always a treat. Overcoming insecurities and changing internal dialogue I’d had for years was difficult. I didn’t want to repeat past patterns or make another person responsible for someone else’s past mistakes.
Take time to reflect on past patterns of behavior and attempt to understand why you did what you did in the past. Read books on relationships and/or spirituality. In the process, you can learn to stop and evaluate when a situation makes you upset or uncomfortable, and why.
Allowing myself the opportunity to examine my emotions and taking the time to form a proper response to a situation, rather than a knee-jerk reaction, went a long way toward forming a healthy relationship with myself and hopefully a new partner. Do whatever works for you. Everyone’s journey through life is different, and self-reflection is an important part of learning to love you.
4. Make “The List”
In this day and age, many of you may have heard of being able to manifest what you want in your life—“the law of attraction”—the principle that you attract what you want into your life by your thoughts and actions. After my divorce, I really put this into action, resulting in a surreal moment when, two years later, I had my first date with a man who was the living embodiment of my “relationship list!”
Whether it’s for a new career, goal, or for a future relationship, make a list of all the traits you want in what you desire. The list can be as long as you like, and you may find over time, you’ll shorten it as things you thought were imperative for you to have, no longer are. On the flipside, you might discover additional things that are important to you.
Read it often, and believe you can have—and truly deserve—all of the good things life has to offer. Remember—things might not happen right away. What we ask for will be given to us, but not always in the way we may think, or on our time schedule. One thing I’ve learned is that life has its own agenda! Be open to new opportunities, and be willing to take chances in order to achieve your goals.
5. Letting Go
When a relationship ends, we go through a grieving process. Not only do we lose our significant other, but also family and friends, even possessions. Beginning a new life is difficult.
In order to honor their place in my past life, I allowed myself to feel whatever I felt in the moment, but always endeavored to let it go. Everyone goes through the steps of grief in their own time, and in their own way. I won’t dishonor anyone else’s process by giving you a step-by-step guide as to what you should do.
Remember, there are lessons to take away from any situation and positives that come about with any major life change, even when we can’t see it in the immediate moment. Over time, the feelings of sadness, anger, and/or loneliness will dissipate as you learn to love yourself and work toward the life you were meant to have. Having faith, whether it’s of a religious or spiritual nature, or just the belief in yourself that you can handle anything that crosses your path, goes a long way on the road to loving who you are. Spend some time with you. You’re worth loving, and once you realize it, someone else will too. And remember—a happy ending begins with you!
Kellie is a single mom of four, contemporary romance author and audio book narrator. You can visit with her at: www.kelliekamryn.com