October 13


What Breakups Teach Us About Ourselves

A week ago I lost my best friend, the person who made each day brighter, and who taught me how to love better. The person who had danced their way into my life, who I talked with about marriage and raising kids, decided he needed to step off the dancefloor so he could find himself.


With no warning and no prior conversation, this beautiful future we had created shattered into a million tiny pieces and I was left – alone – to figure out what I wanted to do with the fragile pieces.


Elizabeth Gilbert once said, “The most interesting moment of a person’s life is what happens to them when all their certainties go away. Then who do you become? Then what do you look for?”


I’m sitting here asking myself, “Who do I want to become now?” I know in this vulnerable moment I’m at a crossroads. I will either allow myself to feel what I need to feel so I can move through it and grow, or I will emotionally disconnect and search for external factors to mask my pain. I know the latter is easier. I’ve been there and done that too many times in the past. I fooled myself into believing something outside could help heal what I was feeling on the inside. It was an empty promise. Every. Time.


As a certified coach, I know we experience life on the level of our vision, and our vision is always shaped by our perceptions. If we want to change our life, we have to change how we perceive things. But it’s difficult work because our perceptions are always shaped by our experiences, and people like you and me experience messy, hurtful, even unjustifiable things sometimes. When we do not slow down long enough to heal ourselves, we create baggage, and then we drag our unreconciled baggage behind us everywhere we go. We drag it into our next relationship and repeat the same patterns, we drag it into our jobs and it impacts our ability to lead and connect with others, and more dangerously, we see it in our reflection and it erodes our self-confidence.


We often have a fear-story that accompanies our baggage. My baggage is rooted in the story of, “I’m not lovable enough.” This story was etched in my subconscious mind from having a partner who stole from me, partners that have cheated, lied, and others who walked out with little explanation.


With each experience, I wanted answers. I needed to blame someone or find a way to justify it. So, sitting in my own self-pity, it was easier to blame myself. My blame became something I could understand and rationalize versus the ambiguity of all the unanswered questions in my mind. It also became a chisel that slowly hammered away at my own self-confidence. I would blame myself by saying things like, “Maybe I’m too boring. Maybe I’m not sexual enough. Maybe it’s because I travel too much. Maybe it’s because I’m not emotionally available enough.”  With each story I created, I took the responsibility away from the other person’s actions and I unconsciously wore these stories on my soul. It’s hard to thrive in life when you’re weighed down by the weight of your own words.


So here I am – exposing my soul to the world – making a conscious choice to stay emotionally connected and do the uncomfortable work to heal.


The week has not been easy. Frankly, I’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I’m sad and feeling lonely and the next moment I’m pissed off and sarcastically plotting to burn down his house. I trudge through each day, waiting for the moment I can go home and crawl in bed and be alone. Through the tears, the anger, and the love I still feel for him I know I can make a choice to grow from this. There, in that choice, lies my power and my ability to heal. I can let this experience destroy me or grow me, numb me or teach me, and I can let it make me bitter or make me better. I choose to be better.


So I have not become emotionally disconnected this week. I have not become addicted to fixing my hurt. I made a conscious choice to sit in the mess, be emotionally present, and feel what I needed to feel.


As part of my healing process, I put five reflection topics into the notes section of my phone. Every time an idea, a thought, a feeling came up I would record the response under the appropriate section. These questions helped me stay connected to both my heart and head space, and they’ve helped shift me from feeling like a victim to slowly seeing the opportunity. The five reflection topics were…


1) I Feel…

2) I’m Proud of…

3) I Need to Own or Recognize…

4) I Need to Forgive…

5) I Learned…


If you are experiencing any kind of loss or hurt or pain, my hope is that maybe, just maybe, my journey and this process can help support you through yours.


Here is a glimpse into my soul this week:

Blog_Breakup Pic


My world is a little lonelier. Fear could easily make me bitter and cynical, but I don’t want that. A Course in Miracles says, “Where fear has gone there love must come, because there are but these two alternatives. Where one appears, the other disappears…You have the one that you accept, because it is the only one you wish to have.” I. Choose. Love.


Breakups suck, but they do teach us about the work we’ve done, the work we still have left to do, and they teach us a master class on how to love ourselves and others better, if we let them.


Sometimes we are forced off the dance floor and other times we are left alone on the side. Regardless, keep doing your work and never abandoned yourself in the process. Someone will invite you to dance again and then you will be in an even better place to receive and give the love you deserve.


May you and I find the person that makes our heart smile and who never lets it go – even when loving is hard.


Justin Patton


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