Neither wants to be the first to say goodbye…

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“Lord knows it’s only me that I’m deceiving
When it comes to saying goodbye
That’s a simple word that I just cannot say” – Gladys Knight

Why do relationships end? How is it possible for two people who’ve shared everything from hikes in the mountains surrounding Malibu to hugs at 3:00 A.M. during Hollywood thunderstorms return to being strangers? Why do we only remember the good moments… like looking back as you walk into the elevator to see them looking at you as you leave? Why do we remember venues filled with 1,000s of people and only remember the smile once you found each other? Why do we remember so vividly the moment we met them and the hope and meaning that brief encounter held for us. Why do we relive the songs, places, seasons, smells and adventures we shared with them as though each was a spiritual experience? Why did it all end when neither one of you wanted to be the first to say goodbye?

Clearly, these are questions I’ve asked and experiences relevant to my life… but we’ve all been there. The more significant problem is why do relations end leaving us with shattered hearts and forever changed? We never remember the pig cheated on us… and was living double lives. We never remember the moments of pain when we realized nothing was as it seemed. 86b434de04c50e5cc4ca8a8312ca26ffReality is a bitch. I think Streisand said it better than anyone when she sang, “what’s too painful to remember… we simply choose to forget”. God knows my head went looking for sand anytime I didn’t want to see the truth. Ostracizing was my go-to card for a lot of years. I probably still run from reality but to a lesser degree these days.

Recently, I read an article on the “stages of breakup” after reliving a relationship in my head for the past month. This is pretty close to reality in my life… so, I’m sharing it!

If you’ve ever been through a bad breakup, you know the struggle is real. For the weeks (or possibly months, if it was a bad one) that follow, life can be rough, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t believe me? Just look around. Most people you see have all gone through the pain of a breakup at least once before. They survived it and moved on with their lives, so you can too. Because once you make it through these brutally honest phases of life after a breakup, not only will you feel better, but you’ll be stronger, too.

That all sounds great, but when you’re still very much in your heartbreak, it’s not that helpful. However, having an idea of what to expect can shine the light on where you are in the mourning process and how soon you’ll be ready to rebound. And while, admittedly, every post-relationship experience is a bit different and on its timeline, there are various paths that we all go on, so you don’t have to go through this experience entirely blind. Here are the post-breakup phases that we pretty much all go through.

The Black Hole Phase

678baafe7f90d9bee1e961086152344eOh man, this is a rough phase. It happens immediately after the split when everything feels like darkness and despair. This phase is the “stay on the couch and shove food and booze into your mouth and Netflix into your eyeholes” phase. There will be a lot of crying and a lot of imagining your life spent alone surrounded by pugs. (Full disclosure, that’s pretty much my dream scenario, so you know, different strokes for different folks.) All you can think about is everything you will miss about your ex, but also, everything that makes them fundamentally the devil incarnate. It’s a complicated phase. While the pain in the black hole may feel like it will swallow you up forever, it won’t. Just give it time, and be compassionate with yourself. It’s normal to mourn.

The “Friendtervention” Phase

cecfb5098344f885726c097b5d39c348Eventually, your friends are going to have enough of this black hole phase and step in because, for one thing, they can’t stand to see you hurt, but also they kind of always thought your ex wasn’t good enough for you, and it’s time that you realize it. They will pry you off the sofa and reintroduce you to your long lost friends: soap and clean clothes. It’s time to see the sun again and get some vitamin D (literally and possibly figuratively, if you know what I am sayin’…).

While every part of you wants to go back home and become one with the sofa again while finishing your Shameless marathon (you didn’t love it the first time you tried to watch it, but now you realize it’s freakin’ genius). There is a part of you that is grateful to your friends for getting you out of the house again.

The Boredom Phase

After the black cloud finally lifts, you realize that, yes, you are going to get through this. This breakup isn’t going to break you. Yeah, you’re still sad, but you’re up and moving and ready to start engaging in life again. But also, you’re so bored. The days are so long! Where did all these extra hours come from? You begin to realize how much time just being in a relationship filled. Being single is full of possibility and freedom, but being new to singledom can make you think it’s pretty boring! So you enter…

The New Routine Phase

Well, you can’t just sit around bored all the time, right? So, it’s time to do all the things you never had time to do before and make a new routine for yourself! One thing humans are generally good at is filling up our time. Before you know it, your new routine has filled your schedule, and you’re back to being stressed about never having a moment to relax. So that’s progress, I guess.

The Lingering Mourning And Relapse Phase

e6fb318de4f19fc2b3e5d7e193523ab5By keeping busy, you’ve started to feel a lot better. Being productive works! So maybe it’s time to go ahead and get productive about getting closure from the relationship. Time to purge social media and give your ex all their stuff back. You’re moving on and moving up! What started as a purge turns into a spiral, and instead of just hitting block you deep-dived on their Insta and followed those tags into deeper and darker water.

Suddenly, you hear the siren song of the sofa calling to you for another emotional setback. Go ahead and indulge in it. Part of recovery is relapsing. But next time, just hit “block” and keep it moving.

The Moving On, For Real This Time Phase

Eventually, those emotional relapses get shorter, less intense, and best of all, less frequent. In their place is a feeling of acceptance (and even some eagerness) to get back out there see what possibilities await. That’s the sign you’ve been waiting for; it’s finally happening… you are officially healing, and you are stronger than you ever knew. Congratulations, you’ve made it to the light at the end of the breakup tunnel!

Remember, it’s easy to give up hope after a bad breakup when it feels like love is dead forever, but give it time… and ice cream… and remember my blog is here with the answers to absolutely nothing… so remain strong!

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Stop being who you aren’t and you’ll discover you.

e44661f621e0b1dbf312dc799f480fa2Have you ever wanted to leave everything and walk away? Have you ever wanted to leave the people, commitments, obligations, relationships, and mountains of stuff you’ve acquired while creating a lifestyle you hate? Have you ever felt completely alone in a room on 20 people? Have you ever had the same conversation repeatedly and knew exactly when to laugh as someone told that meaningless story about their kids? Or when to act enraged when someone is bitching about rude service in a restaurant? Have you ever dreamed of leaving a job you hate and holidays you’ve shared with people you deep down despise? To never again listen to the endless religious, political and NFL views you don’t agree from people who bore you. To never buy crap to support someone’s kid’s activities or pitch in for someone’s baby shower, birthday, bar mitzvah. To not feel obligated to attend anything which requires a gift or money. To not be asked to do community-based work so you can give back to a community you never liked. To not feel less than or exposed or talked about behind your back by toxic people. To walk away from relationships you never wanted in the first place… to leave no forwarding address or email or phone number… to walk away from believing “maybe one day” towards “one day is now” and making it happen.

I did it. I walked away and never looked back. It was the moment my life began to have meaning. It was when I found the authentic “Rob”.

I have been a very blessed man. I’ve traveled around the world, lived in dream homes and have owned some amazing European cars. Money was never an issue in my life and I lived accordingly. I remember watching the economic collapse for years on the evening news with no empathy because it wasn’t part of my world. I wasn’t fabulously rich but I was comfortably above upper middle class.

c3d72fd973c23a7018df5610f19eab09Do not believe any of the bull shit about money not buying happiness…. that statement was made by a poor person. Money most certainly will buy everything a person needs to live a happy life. What it will not buy is inner peace or quiet that feeling at 3:00 A.M. when you realize nothing is working in your life or the wave of sadness that comes over you as you think back in time when you still believed in truth, hope and tomorrow. The realization of the compromises you’ve made and what you’ve lost. I’ve always hated 3:00 A.M. for what it made me see in the darkness.

I don’t think it’s possible to love anything until you love yourself…. and I will assure you I hated me. I remember the morning I called my parents for help in getting into treatment for my drinking and drug addictions. I’d decided if they didn’t answer the phone I was going to jump off the oceanfront condo and simply end the mess I’d created. I had no intention of leaving a note explaining anything to anyone. 30 years of addiction and alcoholism had finally won. Fortunately, my mother answered my call and I’m here today because of it. Thank God for her!

Please understand my comfortable lifestyle was a gift from very hard working people. I did nothing to create any of it. My mother and the mother of my son are brilliant businesswomen who know how to make money. These women are to be credited for allowing me to live very comfortably for decades. But I hated the life I’d been given and resent it. I was so lost in my addictions… death would have been a relief. I hated everything about me and to be honest so did anyone who knew me.

5e49ef2c4f17f7c8c8b2b3167fa7d421When I got out of rehab in California I knew I’d return to a life I hated if I returned to Florida. So with no money, I started over in Hollywood, California and put my past behind me. I was terrified. No one was going to hire a middle-aged, overly educated recovering drug addict who had never done anything with his life. I was approaching 50 years old in a town where beautiful people are has-beens at 24. I had nothing but a dog, $300.00 in the bank and an AARP card. Holy shit! I was screwed!

Hollywood, California is where my life began and I was so grateful for every second of it. Gone were the maids, Mercedes and oceanfront condos. In their place was a city bus schedule, grocery cart and food from the Dollar Store. Never once did I regret leaving the people, places, and things I’d grown to hate. No one knew me or my past or expect anything from me. For the first time in my life I was at peace at 3:00 A.M. I had no idea what the future held but I was thankful for the moment and knew it would take only one drink or drug to destroy it.

Those days were filled with exploration and self-discovery. I realized I would never be able to actually live a full life until I faced the pain and trauma I desperately tried hide. All the trauma of my childhood..the damage I’d done to my children and wives and any relationship I tried to build. All of the lies that kept me imprisoned for decades. Everything I’d sabotaged so publically. I had a 49-year-old onion that needed a lot of peeling.

f50340a391e8dd40e141dcccbf31830bWe all say that we have accepted ourselves and our lives the way they are but actually, we don’t. Self-acceptance is very important in making the journey of life brighter and happier. It is vital to accept whoever, whatever, wherever you are. Self-acceptance is definitely the process of befriending the unconditioned self… the part of you that is more than just your name, your failures or your successes.

Accept yourself the way you are first, and then try to work on your faults to improve yourself. Stop uselessly criticising yourself. Once you find some time from your schedule to look within, you will find that you have a number of strengths and weaknesses in yourself. Accept them because both represent who you are.

People often say, “I cannot change” or ” this is my basic nature.” But lack of self-acceptance eventually leads to a lot of anxiety and mental turmoil. Nothing external gives the desired happiness and peace. The ability to think in the right direction is lost and gradually the person finds himself surrounded by darkness and unrest. This is because people don’t accept “now.” Self-acceptance can act as a major tool in paving the way for further improvement and advancement. Also, this way we can safeguard ourselves from the clutches of sadness and despair. To look inside and accept and love the person you are is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others.

Today, nothing in my life is perfect and it simply doesn’t matter. I’ve hurt so many people in the past and have done my best to make amends to them to the best of my ability. Many people will never forgive me for the harm I caused in their lives. I realize it and will respect them by loving them from a distance knowing we may never speak again. The greatest amends is living a changed life.

Once I decided to stop being who I wasn’t… I was able to become who I am.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell


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