Even though it feels a little private, and a lot woo-woo.
But whatever. It helped me - a fucking lot - and it's still helping me, so let's just talk about it and then later I can post something ultra cool and rad to win back the street cred that I never really had, mmkay?
On the night of the Big Breakup, I wrote myself a little note. It was one of those nights when you absolutely cannot see your way out of what you're going through. You can't imagine a future for yourself now that this has happened, you can't ever picture yourself being able to live with this pain in your chest, and you practically scoff at the thought that you'll ever feel better or happy or even okay again.
I've had other nights like that before. Where the pain is so fresh, you're in shock more than anything. And knowing what I already know about that kind of heartbreak, I knew what was coming for me. I knew the wave was going to hit sooner rather than later...so I wanted to be ready for it. I wanted to have provisions at the ready, for when it was time to rebuild.
Plus. I still had to move out the rest of my stuff out of the apartment, and figure out where I was going to live, what I was going to do, what I was going to do with Pooks...
Yeah. It was going to be a tough week.
So before I went to bed that night, I wrote myself what I now call a Written Shot of Courage. It was a note that said all the things that, sometimes, you just need to hear someone say. Or you just need to believe about yourself. Confirm. The things that you are going to look back on and wish you would have said to yourself, then.
So say it now.
Begin it with, "Hey, Hot Stuff."
Tell yourself that it's hard right now because you loved him, but that is one of the best things about you.
Your capacity to love.
Tell yourself you did the best you could.
And then repeat that. Repeat it three times, even, just so it starts to sink in. Because you did. No matter what, we all do the best we can with the information we have at the time. Yes, we mess up sometimes. Yes, there's always that one moment when you were less than patient, less than kind, less than awesome, that is going to bother you. Haunt you, sometimes. Try to tell you that it's all your fault. But even if it was all your fault (and chances are, it wasn't. You're just being too hard on yourself, sayeth The Girl Who Is Always Too Hard On Herself) you can't go back, you can't change it, so the best thing you can do is ask for forgiveness if you feel you need that from someone else, forgive yourself because you do need that from yourself, and understand that we make the best choices for ourselves from the perspective that we have in each moment. So you did the best you could. YOU DID THE BEST YOU COULD.
Got it? Good.
And then tell yourself it's okay to cry.
Because we miss this step, sometimes, in our effort to hurry up and make ourselves feel better. And let's face it - we grew up our whole lives surrounded by people telling us that we're okay, it's not that bad, don't be a baby, there's no need to cry. But sometimes? You just gotta fucking cry. And you should. I'll talk more about this later, but right now, be that gentle voice for yourself that gives you permission to be good to yourself. And that includes crying when you really need to just cry.
And then write some nice things about yourself. Write the things you need to remember and all the things that are going to help to hear when you wake up in the morning - that you are going to be okay. You are going to get through this. You are brave, you are strong, you can do this. You make the best decisions for yourself and your heart.
And you will find love again. Love that is better for you. And you will be happy again.
And then tell yourself that again, and underline it this time, so it starts to sink in.
And then write some stuff that is even harder to believe, but that deep down in your heart you know you need to believe.
That this is going to turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.
That this is your fresh start. The beginning of the life you've always wanted.
And that doesn't mean you love them any less, or that that love doesn't mean anything anymore. It just means that now you have to love yourself as much as that - even more that that -and that love has to mean everything to you now.
And then write a goal that's going to make you feel better just thinking about it. Like getting super hot again. Or finishing your first book (that was my "take that, heartbreak and disillusionment!" goal last time I broke up with a boyfriend. And now we have Holiday Chick, and some of us are better for it). Or flying off to see that place you've always wanted to see. Maybe it's the one and only thing you can think of right now that will make all of this worth it. Maybe it's just something that you always thought would be really great to do. Maybe it's the thing you need most in your life right now. Whatever it is, write it down as if you're already doing it.
And then it's up to you how you want to end the letter. But make it the one positive, hopeful, comforting thought that you really want to carry you through your day. Make it your new mantra, even. The one thought that makes you feel better than anything (make it positive and about you, though. Ending it with "He's going to die a slow, painful, horrible, lonely death" is not conductive to a positive mental state). Like a "You are going to be great. Fuck YEAH you are!" or "You've got a super fine ass and there is somebody out there for you who knows it!" or "You've got a kick-ass life to live. So let's start living it."
Get the picture?
And this is not just a breakup thing. It's not a girl thing, or a heartbreak thing, or a motivational-tape thing. It's a life thing. And when life hands you a rough time, write a nice note to yourself. It's easy to be cruel to ourselves and shift the blame onto our own actions and secretly believe we deserve bad things (or at least that we don't deserve good things) and that this is the best it's ever going to get: congratulations, you screwed it all up again. It's harder to be kind to ourselves. It's harder to be nice to ourselves. It's harder to be brave and want more for ourselves than what we've just gotten. To believe that we deserve more for ourselves. And that we can have it.
So why not, just this once, take the courageous route and stand by your good self.
Because, in a year or two, you're going to read that note again and it's still going to be relevant. It's still going to make yourself feel good to be called Hot Stuff. You're still going to be the inherently good person you are right now, with that amazing capacity to love. You're still going to be brave and strong and good, and you're still going to want good things for yourself. And more than that, you're going to look back and be proud of yourself that you were able to say the things that you most needed to hear, even when it was hard for you to believe them.
And that's how that thing called "self-worth" is built up, kids - when you're good to yourself even when it's not easy to be good to yourself. And I don't know about you, but I kind of like this whole self-worth gig, you know?
When I first wrote my note, I read it to myself every night before I went to sleep, and it was the first thing I reached for when I woke up. And I made a point of reading it after every crying jag or frustration freak-out. And then it started to sink in, and I started to only really need it when I was having a tough day or wanted a little extra push. And now I've got it memorized, but I'm still never going to get rid of that letter. Out of all the things I've ever written, that is one of the best. It's one of the nicest, greatest, most motivating things I've ever done for myself, and I did it at the exact time when I needed it the most. It's a miracle moment (even though I kind of hate the saying "miracle moment." It makes me think of retreat centers in California filled with men who sport ponytails and earring studs and menopausal women who wear crazy-patterned Kafkans. They are not my people), to look back and see myself writing that note. On a whim. On an impulse. Out of desperation to figure out how I was going to possibly make it through the next few days without my heart exploding. Out of the knowledge that I've done this kind of thing before and my old methods of getting through it didn't always work out so hot, so why not try something new?
So that's it. That's the story behind the Written Shot of Courage. It helped me, it might help you, it might not. You might be like, "Amber, shut the hell up about this shit. Start talking about cool stuff again, like how you really feel about Nick deciding to choose KEEP on the Bachelor Pad finale, or whether or not you think Teresa really did set up Melissa on Real Housewives of New Jersey." I hear you, friends. You've been craving my insight on the current world of reality TV. You love my strong and intelligent opinions about what really matters in the world today. You do not know how to adequately form your own decisions about how to regard the most influential popular culture leaders of our time without me telling you what those decisions should be.
And I won't let you down.
I WON'T! Will NOT.
Hold your breath.
And get ready to Redneckognize.