The man with the chocolate kisses…

A lot can be said about kindness and human compassion. The first should be there is very little of either. People will give a dollar to this cause or wear a ribbon for that one. If it’s convenient or forced upon them, they’ll walk or bike for something… they might even hit you up for a donation for every mile they complete in the “you name it” race. It’s all good. It’s all helpful. No one has to reach beyond their comfort zone and when it’s over everyone goes home with a t-shirt and a possible selfie. I feel warm and snuggly just writing about it.

This week my feisty, “tell like she sees it” mother was hospitalized with pneumonia and placed in the critical care unit of Mayo Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. To say the least, I was worried out of my mind, living 2,422.1 miles away in Hollywood, California only compounded my fears. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder… it doesn’t; it makes a sense of helplessness overtake you. So, in true “Rob fashion”, I did what I always do… I reached out on social media for prayers, support, and positive energy.

I believe that God hears all prayers, regardless of your interpretation of God. If I have a need, I’m grateful for prayers uttered from a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Hara Krishna, Buddhist, Spiritualist or whatever you happen to follow this week. God, the positive energy in the universe, just needs to be accessed.

I turned to Facebook for support with a posting about my mom and a need for prayer and positive thoughts…. 100’s of my friends immediately heard my call, in fact nearly 1,000 people took a moment out of their day to acknowledge my mother’s condition and comfort me. They’ll never know how much that means to me. One man went a little further than saying a prayer; he put actions to the words he uttered to God.

Rob Carryl, a person I’ve never met but have developed a friendship with online drove to the hospital with candy and a message of love and compassion from me. Recognizing my parents as they drove away from Mayo, Rob followed them towards their home. After contacting me, I was able to get my father to pull over so Rob could deliver his gift. Yesterday, this complete stranger handed my 81-year-old mother two Hershey’s Kisses, wished her well and placed a symbolic kiss on her forehead… then drove away.

His act of kindness completely changed her day and reaffirmed my belief in the goodness of man. There was no photo opportunity… no ribbon… no t-shirt for Rob Carryl once he reached out to the stranger on the side of the road. It was an act of kindness performed by a man with a kind spirit… Nothing more… nothing less.

We are all authors of our lives, and when the last sentence in the last paragraph is finished it will represent what we brought to the world while we were here. I believe Rob Carryl’s story will be a self-fulfilling prophecy of kindness and compassion for everyone to read.

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

 

This loneliness is killing me…

ab1855360208ec67ddd2725a734f767eI’ve always battled loneliness… as a person in recovery, it is a very dangerous state of mind. It always follows a pattern… I feel lonely… I isolate from friends and family… I become more lonely… I become depressed … I relapse.

They say counselors have the answers to all your problems … but they can’t solve their own. There’s a lot of truth in that saying. My life over the past few years has been spent figuring out why I keep making the same mistakes and not learning from them. I am trying to understand what can be fixed and what can’t. Loneliness is on the “can fix” list.

Recently, I read an article on loneliness by Christie Wilcox that helped me… I hope my take on it will help you.

Though it’s hard to describe what loneliness feels like, nearly everyone has felt it. It’s that knot in your stomach when you’re away from someone you love, the sadness of losing someone you care about, the pain of feeling like an outcast, or the agony of loving someone who doesn’t feel the same way. We feel lonely when we are unhappy with the quality or quantity of our interpersonal relationships. We feel lonely because we think we lack connection with friends, family, or partners.
Sometimes we’re truly alone, while other times, we simply think we are. Either way, loneliness sucks.

Over the past 40 years, scientists have studied many aspects of loneliness, from its genetic components to how feeling alone impacts a person’s lifespan or quality of life. In these decades, they have learned a lot — including some things that might seem counterintuitive. There seem to be five common misconceptions about loneliness… see what you think:

Loneliness Is Not Just A Human Emotion

Often, people believe that our emotional responses, ranging from anger to loneliness, are felt uniquely by members of the human species. But science suggests that a wide range of species can feel lonely and that the emotions associated with loneliness are a key piece of a biological warning system that helps ensure survival.

Social species — like us — depend on other members of our species from birth, and in many cases, being alone means not gathering enough food or having adequate protection from predators. Thus, what we call loneliness may be our body’s way of protecting us when we are isolated to ensure our survival, just like feeling hungry warns us that we need to eat. “Loneliness represents a generally adaptive predisposition in response to a discrepancy between an animal’s preferred and actual social relations that can be found across phylogeny,” scientists explain in a Perspectives on Psychological Science study.

For example, they note that poor sleep is often associated with loneliness. When we’re sleeping, we’re most vulnerable to would-be attackers and thus sleeping less when alone might have helped keep our ancestors alive until they reconnected with others. Knowing that we’re not the only single species on the planet can help us understand the biological source of our negative feelings using animal models, and might just give us some much-needed insights into how to feel less alone.

Loneliness Is Not Just A Product Of Our Environment Or Circumstances

The more scientists study what causes loneliness, the more they have come to realize that a decent portion of how we feel is written in our DNA. Genes that regulate neurotransmitters and the immune system have been linked to worse negative feelings when alone. That’s not to say that our genes are entirely to blame, but people with certain variants of key genes will feel lonelier than others when in the same situation. By understanding how our genes affect how bad we feel when we’re alone, scientists may be able to determine what types of support or treatment are best for which people, particularly when loneliness leads to depression and other, more dangerous emotional states.

Loneliness Isn’t The Same At Every Age

Everyone feels loneliness at some point in their lives. But at different ages, loneliness can mean different things, and is triggered by various experiences. For example, scientists have found that friendship quantity is important when we’re younger. But as we age, quantity becomes less important than quality, and romantic relationships, in particular, rise in importance. Because the causes are different, the ways we react to loneliness changes throughout our lifespan, and so, too, do the best ways to resolve our negative feelings.

Loneliness Is Not Just Emotional

We often think of loneliness as feelings and thoughts, but those negative emotions have an impact on our bodies that goes beyond sadness or melancholy. Actual and perceived social isolation are both associated with increased risks for early death according to scientists. In part, this is because we don’t always treat our bodies well when we’re upset — we smoke, drink, or engage in other unhealthy behaviors to cope. But loneliness also causes physiological changes that are worse for us, like spikes in blood pressure or increased concentrations of certain hormones. All of this means that being proactive about our health when we’re lonely can be a new way to help snap ourselves out of negative thinking; if we consciously choose to eat better or do other healthy behaviors when we feel our worst, we can not only improve our bodies but also improve our moods.

Loneliness Isn’t Always A Bad Thing

While loneliness feels awful and can be harmful to your body, it evolved to benefit us, and it still does. Scientists believe that aversion to loneliness evolved as a signal to tell us that our connections are broken or under threat, thereby motivating us to maintain or repair them. Thus, loneliness helps promote healthy relationships with those around us, in the same way that thirst ensures we drink enough water. And even though it hurts at the time, science has shown that for most people, loneliness goes away relatively quickly, replaced by warm, fuzzy feelings when we reach out and connect with others. Persistent feelings of loneliness can be bad, but the more we learn about how and why we feel the way we do, the better equipped we are to prevent or treat loneliness to become our happiest, healthiest selves.

This is my journey …. This is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Change what you can… that’s all you have to do

 c76b131a5df415160bfc99142296cf1dFor the longest time, I thought I could fix everything… my marriages… my addictions… my looks… my life. In reality, I couldn’t fix anything beyond my control, and by not understanding that… I couldn’t fix anything!

Anyone who has been to a 12 Step program has heard the Serenity Prayer…

God, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

The biggest part of this prayer is understanding “the difference” … that’s often difficult to face.

Why waste time in futile attempts to change what you can’t, when there are so many things you can change? Here is a partial list of what you can change.

  • Your present behavior

  • Your future behavior

  • How you respond to the behavior of others

  • How you spend your time

  • Who you spend time with, the friends you keep, your participation and behavior in relationships

    This is just part of my list… Yours will differ… but you get the point I’m making.

    Things You Cannot Change

    You cannot change: the past, your history, the laws of physics, the weather, human nature (yours or others), personality traits (yours or others), another person’s beliefs or thoughts (unless they choose to change), someone who doesn’t want to change, who you are related to, human needs, sexual preference, your talent, and things you do not acknowledge.

    Don’t waste time and energy trying to change these things. Recognize and accept what you cannot change and move on with your life. To accept the things we cannot change, we need first to understand that we can’t control everything.  Until we explore this idea, most of us think we can control many things that we have no control over at all.

    For example, many people think we can change another person, if we just try hard enough. We believe that if we can just find the right words, or use the right amount of coercion, we can make others do what we want them to do. Sometimes we might even resort to shaming someone to “make them change.”

    But the truth is that we can’t make another person do anything against his or her will. We can talk and talk in the hope of persuading the person to do things our way. We may try to coerce the person by using force or perhaps employ a form of emotional blackmail. Or we might attempt to show the person how foolish he or she is for not following our beliefs or doing what we want.

    But we live on a planet of free will, and the only time people change anything is when they make the decision to change. As human beings, we always have choices.

    Believing that we can make someone else change is a common mistake that many people make. If you look closely at the dynamics involved in this type of interaction, you will see that you have no power over anyone who does not choose to give that power to you. If you did… would you really want it? I wouldn’t I’m not that qualified to run the world.

    Ambivalence

    Do you want to stop smoking or not? On the one hand, you understand the health risks, costs, filth, growing opposition, and inconvenience of smoking. On the other hand, however, you have smoked for years, enjoy the calm it creates, immerse yourself in the rituals it provides, identify with it, and have been physically unable to stop each time you have tried. You have denied the harm, distorted the facts, indulged in confabulation, and almost convinced yourself that smoking is good for you. This is the essence of ambivalence—literally “both feelings”—torn between wanting to change and not wanting to change. Ambivalence is very common; losing weight, seeking medical treatment, changing jobs, limiting drinking or gambling, dumping your boyfriend, getting more exercise, changing jobs, and buying a new car all invite mixed emotions.

    People change when they are ready, willing, and able to. People are willing to change when they firmly decide to leave the past behind and make a new future. This happens when they understand the discrepancy between their goals and their present state and they autonomously choose to close that gap. They overcome denial and resistance and now are committed to the new outcome. People can change when they believe they are competent to perform the work necessary for the change. People are ready to change when the change becomes very important to them; when this is their highest priority.

    Be you. No less; no more

    This is my journey… this is my life.

    Rob Cantrell

“As long as I don’t drink liquor I’m fine”… sorry, it doesn’t work that way!

I’ve learned some things about the laws of substitution in the past few years… namely:
1. When I quit smoking … I gained 25 pounds.
2. When I quit hard liquor and took up beer… I gained 20 pounds
3. When I gave up alcohol and started smoking weed… I gained 10 pounds
4. When I gave up long term relationships for online hook-ups… I lost a lot of stuff out of my apartment!

Battling an addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, or anything else, is a tough road to travel. It will probably be the hardest thing you do, but also one of the most important. Unfortunately, too many people who are trying to recover from addiction either fail or transfer their compulsive behaviors to something else. If you are aware of all the potential pitfalls and follow the advice of experts, you can beat your addiction and live a normal, healthy, and happy life.

Substitute Addictions

Addiction is not just about the substance or behavior in question. Your addiction has underlying causes, and there are reasons you became an addict while other people never do. This means that if you are susceptible to one type of addiction, it is possible you will form another. It is very common amongst addicts in recovery to transfer their addiction to something else. For instance, if you are giving up alcohol, you may move your addictive behaviors to work and become a workaholic or take up smoking cigarettes.

Often, these substitute addictions seem benign or even healthy. You may turn to exercise, healthy eating, time spent with family, volunteer work, and other productive activities. For the most part, these are good things to do. However, if you become compulsive about them, they are no longer healthy activities. They have become substitutes for your first addiction.

The Danger of Substitutes

Many people make the mistake of ignoring or downplaying these substitute addictions. How, for example, can it be bad to exercise two hours a day, seven days a week if it keeps you from getting drunk every day? The truth is that addictive behaviors are unhealthy regardless of the subject of the fixation. Overcoming an addiction means making significant lifestyle changes. And that means battling compulsive and addictive behaviors in every area of your life. If you do not treat the underlying actions and reasons for addiction, you will never be free from it. Having a substitute addiction means you have not yet learned to live without your compulsive behaviors and that you are at risk of returning to your first addiction.

Many addicts will make the case that they should face one addiction at a time. It is a myth that you can and should take it one at a time. Much of the research into addiction and recovery supports the idea that addiction should be tackled all at once. Those who recover from addiction itself, rather than one substance, are more successful on average. They are more likely to stay sober without repeats than those who take on substitute addictions.

Recognizing Substitutes

It may not be obvious to you when you develop a replacement addiction. You may just feel as if you are devoting more time to work or honing your crafting skills while others see dangerous compulsions forming. And although you run the risk of forming these unhealthy attachments to new activities, it does not mean you should abstain from them. Getting into a new hobby or taking your exercise routine and health seriously can be beneficial to your recovery. You do need to recognize, though, when these activities turn into substitutes. Keep friends and family close and be open to their opinions. If they tell you that they see your addictive behaviors reemerge, don’t be offended. Listen to what they have to say and reflect on it. If you feel anything similar to your first addiction, such as thinking about your new activity regularly, wanting to get back to it at all times, or otherwise feeling obsessive about it, they may be on to something.

Finding Balance

Going through recovery to beat an addiction and avoiding substitutes is all about finding the right balance. You can enjoy new activities that help you keep your mind off of your drug of choice, but keep it all in perspective. To prevent a hobby from becoming an addiction, limit the amount of time you spend on it. Make a schedule and stick with it. Have more than one activity so that you are less likely to obsess over just one.

Living a newly balanced lifestyle will require effort and hard work. Use your 12-step program and your sponsor to help you through this transition phase of your life. If you feel like you are developing substitute behaviors, they can be a valuable source of help. You may also consider getting professional help. Remember that you are attempting to change your whole way of thinking and some very ingrained behaviors. A counselor can be immensely helpful when it comes to finding out why you face addiction over and over again.

This is my journey … this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Everyone knows you have a problem… Stop trying to hide your addictions.

I have no problem telling anyone I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict. It’s a disease just as diabetes and Parkinson’s and muscular dystrophy. It is what it is… no need to pretend like it doesn’t exists. Anyone who knows me is grateful I realize I have it. That was the first step in “getting better”.

Admitting that you’ve struggled with alcohol or drugs is a lot less shameful than it used to be. But despite enormous strides in pop culture and science, coming clean still isn’t always easy.

In the pantheon of difficult things to talk about, admitting that you’re a recovering alcoholic probably falls somewhere between “I have a tattoo” and “I’m a serial killer” on the shameful revelation scale. After all, alcoholism is a disease, according to the American Medical Association, like diabetes or arthritis—a painful but treatable illness. Except, of course, that addiction is different. People don’t tend to weep when you tell them you have arthritis.

Everyone likes a drink from time to time. There’s nothing wrong with this so long as the situation is under control. However, over time, there is a risk that drinking alcohol regularly and persistently could morph from a harmless bit of fun to an increasingly important part of your life. As alcohol gains prominence in your life, so too do the odds of alcohol addiction.

The fact is that those who develop a reliance on alcohol often try to rationalize their drinking. They’ll say it helps to calm them down, that it helps them sleep or that they could stop whenever they want. This inability to accept the truth of the situation can rapidly lead to “underground drinking.”

Perhaps you already know the feeling. You’re worried about what your family, friends and work colleagues might say about the volume of alcohol you’re now drinking, so you start to find ways to conceal the situation.

Perhaps you have alcohol stashed away at home where it can’t be measured. Maybe you’ve become adept at brushing your teeth or sucking a mint after a drink so people cannot smell alcohol on your breath. And maybe you’ve started making excuses about working late so that you can pop to the pub for a drink before getting home in the evening.

However, hiding your drinking can be a big mistake. If you’re concealing your consumption of alcohol right now, there are some reasons why you should consider coming clean to those who care about you.

Sooner or later most alcoholics realize just how much of a negative impact their drinking is having on their life. As a result, many alcoholics will make a genuine and concerted effort to cut down on their alcohol consumption – or quit altogether.

However, the truth of the situation for those with an alcohol reliance is that this detox process can be a tough experience both mentally and physically. Even merely attempting to cut down on your drinking can cause unpleasant side effects that require a lot of discipline to overcome.

Have you heard the stories of people who smoke all their lives, only for a friend of theirs to drop dead from lung cancer? The next day they quit smoking without problems, take up running and the next thing you know they’re the healthiest person around. That one giant shock was enough for them to transform their lives – after literally decades of wallowing and half-hearted attempts at quitting smoking.

So it is with so many other things – including seeking addiction treatment. It’s just so easy to continue down the same path, always putting off sorting out your problems, until you get the wake-up call you need.

The great news is that we live in a recovery-saturated time, where watching celebrities in treatment on television and reading addiction memoirs is the norm; as a result, alcoholism and addiction don’t carry the stigma they once did. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or comfortable to admit you’re in recovery. Stereotypes about addictions abound, as do misinformed family members, judgmental colleagues, and angry friends. The first defense against misunderstanding is discretion. Then, with a big dose of courage, a few well-chosen euphemisms, and a good sense of humor, the process can feel like a liberation instead of an albatross.

While many alcoholics naturally believe they’ll be able to cope with these side-effects by themselves, the medical facts suggest something rather different. Those who have a supportive and caring environment are typically far more successful in beating alcohol addiction – and have a far easier time completing the necessary treatment.

While you may have started to conceal your drinking primarily because of “comments” that were being made by family members who you feel don’t understand your situation, these people are in all honesty worried about your health. Coming clean, asking for their forgiveness and then their support can greatly increase the chances of beating your addiction.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Without self-acceptance… self-improvement won’t work!

63676358d0dafcbbda5384aebe9c5b81I’ve spent the last few years trying to “get it together”… after a lifetime of destroying everything I touched. Nothing about my life is conventional, and I am not expecting an invitation from the Republican party to speak anytime soon… That is a heartache I’ll have to survive somehow. Since I’ve gotten sober, I’ve spent lots of time in universities, blogging, finding love and living. Most importantly I’ve found “Rob” buried under much confusion. Quite honestly, there’re lots of things I just don’t care about anymore. Walk in my front door… look around and take a big whiff and you’ll realize I’m telling the truth.

I haven’t even scratched the surface on what to do with my life or how to live without regrets or fears. What I’m learning is that self-acceptance and self-improvement are critically important. But they are not the same things… somethings I’ve got to accept others, I’m free to improve.

I don’t know what the world did before Oprah and all her happy living crap… I hated her when I was drunk… now she’s making sense. She didn’t become a zillionaire by being uninformed, so today I listen. Recently, she explained the difference between self-acceptance and self-improvement and suddenly the lights came on… this is what I’ve come to realize.

It is essential you understand the difference between self-acceptance and self-improvement if you are to discover your real value. Self-acceptance starts with the awareness that you are whole, innately good; lovable just as you are, and endowed with God-given talents and qualities to share with the world.

Self-improvement usually starts with the belief that something is lacking in you. Thus, your ego sets about working on itself, proving itself and making itself into “a somebody” that wins admiration and applause. The problem with self-improvement is that you are trying to improve upon a self that you have not really gotten to know yet. Self-improvement causes you to overlook your true nature. No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.

So often, self-improvement is full of musts, the oughts, and shoulds. For example, you must buy these jeans or your butt is not going to look very good. You ought to get eight hours of sleep every night. You should be more like your overworked, aggressive boss if you are ever going to get ahead at the office. The essence of who you are is already inspiration-packed, wisdom-infused and blessed with talents and gifts. You do not need to build a successful image of yourself. You are already good enough. What would happen if you stopped should-ing on yourself? Can you see that the real you is far better than the one you are trying to sell to the world? So much of what I present to the world isn’t the real Rob.

When you lack self-acceptance, your personality begins to compare itself negatively with 6 billion other people on the planet. As long as you refuse to love and accept yourself, you will tell yourself that you are not beautiful enough, rich enough, loved enough, lucky enough, successful enough or anything-else enough. No amount of makeovers, reinventions or new beauty secrets will do the trick. Deep down, you’ll still feel like a nobody, but only because you are identifying with the self-image rather than with the authentic you.

Self-acceptance is an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into who you wish you were for long enough to find out who you are. When you believe in yourself, and you are true to yourself, you will experience the miracle of self-acceptance, which reveals just how uniquely beautiful you are.

Without self-acceptance, you feel exiled from yourself, experiencing the world as an unfriendly universe. Life feels like hard work, a big struggle, with obstacles everywhere. Your ego feels helpless, incapable and ultimately defeated. Only when you make contact with your true nature again will you find clarity, flow and inspiration.

Self-acceptance is your home. It is where you return to find yourself again. When self-acceptance is low, you experience a ceaseless anxiety that causes you to doubt yourself, to be indecisive, to wobble, to question everything and to play safe. You search outside yourself for validation, approval and authority.

Self-acceptance helps you increase your overall trust in life. The more you accept yourself, the more you trust your innate goodness, wise heart and natural intuition.

People who practice self-acceptance are radically honest with themselves. They are willing to be accountable for their part in every situation. They do not hide behind blame, excuses or any other defense mechanisms because instinctively they know that the truth of who they are is strong enough to face everything. Self-acceptance reveals your inner strengths, and though it sounds counterintuitive, some of these strengths can include being vulnerable, owning your sensitivity, being less independent, listening to feedback, asking for help and opening your heart.

Self-acceptance encourages you to accept your limitations. Without self-acceptance, you see limitations as obstacles; with self-acceptance, you see limitations as opportunities. For example, if you can accept that you are not strong enough to do something by yourself, an opportunity presents itself for you to receive extra help and inspiration. You free yourself up, see yourself differently and discover a source of strength that is far greater than that of your ego.

For real change to happen, we need to understand just how much damage we cause ourselves through self-criticism. By letting go of self-criticism and self-judgment, the power of self-acceptance radiates throughout our very self, evoking a shift in our self-perception. When we move past judgment, then the real healing begins!

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again

I don’t care what Hollywood tells you… there are no perfect relationships… believe me… I’ve had my share! I listen to how people walk away with their hearts in their hands with dignity and class. Not me… every time one of my relationships ended I wanted the world to know I got screwed! Figuratively… not literally… I was ready to snatch the weave right off their heads! I’m going to blame my behavior on drugs and alcohol… because it’s partially true.

If you’re in recovery, be very careful how you mend a broken heart… no one is worth relapsing over!

To fall in love is awfully simple, but to fall out of love is simply awful, especially if you are the one who wanted the relationship to last. However, to stop loving isn’t an option. Author Henri Nouwen writes, “When those you love deeply reject you, leave you or die, your heart will be broken. However, that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful.” But how do we get beyond the pain? Here are techniques I’ve gathered from years of heartbreaks, professionals and from conversations with friends on how they patched up their heart and tried, ever so gradually, to move on.

Go through it, not around it.
I realize the most difficult task for a person with a broken heart is to stand still and feel the crack. However, that is exactly what you must do. Because no shortcut is without its share of obstructions. Here’s a simple fact: You have to grieve to move on. During one of my break ups, my therapist repeated almost every visit: “Go through it. Not around it.” Because if I went around some of the issues that were tearing me apart inside, I would bump into them somewhere down the line, just like being caught in the center of a traffic circle. By going through the intense pain, I eventually surfaced as a stronger person. Soon the pain lost its stronghold over me. The process of working through it sucks… because you realize, “Hey (insert name), isn’t coming back. I can’t make a heart feel something it won’t…. I’m going to make it! As Tina Turner sang, “when the heartache is over… I know I won’t be missing you!”

Stand on your own.
One of the most liberating thoughts I repeat to myself when I’m immersed in grief and sadness is this: “I don’t need anyone or anything to make me happy.” That job is all my own, with a little help from God. I may not like it or even believe it… but it’s true. When I’m experiencing the intense pangs of grief, it is so difficult to trust that I can be whole without that person in my life. But I have learned over and over again that I can. I really can. It is my job to fill the emptiness, and I can do it … creatively, and with the help of my higher power.

Make a good and bad list.
You need to know which activities will make you feel good, and which ones will make you want to toilet paper your ex-lover’s home (or apartment). You won’t really know which activity belongs on which list until you start trying things, but I suspect that things like checking out his wall on Facebook and seeing that he has just posted a photo of his gorgeous new girlfriend is not going to make you feel good, so put that on the “don’t attempt” list, along with e-mails and phone calls to his buddies fishing for information about him. On the “feels peachy” list might be found such ventures as: deleting all of his e-mails and voicemails, pawning off the jewelry he gave you (using the cash for a much-needed massage?), laughing over coffee with a new friend who doesn’t know him from Adam (to ensure his name won’t come up).

Create a new world.
This is especially important if your world has collided with his, meaning that mutual friends who have seen him in the last week feel the need to tell you about it. Create your own safe world–full of new friends who wouldn’t recognize him in a crowd and don’t know how to spell his name–where he is not allowed to drop by for a figurative or literal surprise visit. Take this opportunity to try something new –to program your mind and body to expect a fresh beginning – without him.

Find hope.
There is one emotion that is stronger than fear, and that is forgiveness. However, forgiveness requires hope: believing that a better place exists, that the aching emptiness experienced in your every activity won’t be with you forever, that one day you’ll be excited to make coffee in the morning or go to a movie with friends. Hope is believing that the sadness can evaporate, that if you try like hell to move on with your life, your smile won’t always be forced. Therefore, in order to forgive and to move past fear, you need to find hope.

Love deeply. Again and again.
Once our hearts are bruised and burned from a relationship that ended, we have two options: we can close off pieces of our heart so that one day no one will be able to get inside. Alternatively, we can love again. Deeply, just as intensely as we did before. I never believe for a second that it will happen for me… but it does. I am never going to give up on love… I hope it doesn’t give up on me.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell