Sunday Newsletter: Three Ways for How To Handle Pain

Driving home today. I was reminded how much I love a frigid cold morning with the sun shining and icy blue sky while I’m in my car with my music and a coffee. I felt grateful. I was comfortable with being alone. 


Heart squeeze, knotted nervous stomach – that’s my pain. My emotional body has a lifetime of conditioning and therefore 1,001 different triggers and associations that lead to feeling that way. Here’s how I deal with it. My experience is that there are three distinct ways to handle pain.

Connecting with Pain

So I’ll use myself as an example. Shortly after a break up, I was constantly checking to see what my ex was doing on Facebook and Instagram. It was that connection to her social activity that allowed me to connect with her. Accept it was not a real connection, of course. As bad as it felt, it met my aching need to connect. This is why it is comfortable to stay in sadness and sometimes difficult to transcend. Because we are meeting our need for connection. The only way out of this is to have something else you want to connect with more. For me, that’s not the person I wanted to be. I wanted to connect with myself more. Once I made this choice, the pattern was immediately broken. I started making new patterns to connect with myself.

Sitting with Pain

Still using myself as an example. Sometimes, my new patterns to connect with myself weren’t effective at satisfying my need for connection. As hard as it is sometimes, I sit with the painful sensation. For me, it’s a heart squeeze, knotted stomach.

When I was young, on few and far between occasions enjoyed the use of magic mushrooms. In hindsight, the reason I liked them is because it was a fascinating portal to connect with myself. Every time I used these mushrooms, there was a moment when the drug came into my system rapidly and aggressively. It would completely overwhelm me. This is where people can freak out on the stuff, but I learned to dig my heals in and watch it enter my body. The same applies to pain. Recognize it, observe it, and dig your heals in for a few moments as it enters into your body. Then find your breath and watch it.

Redirecting Pain

This is my favorite. It employs the other three aspects of health. For example, I was feeling that familiar heart squeeze, knotted stomach the other day. So I picked up the jump rope, put on my Eminem playlist and skipped for seven minutes straight. The entire time I was yelling out my “being” statement: “I am present, I am connected, I am creative, I am attractive, I am kind. I am confident. I am facing my fears and overcoming them. I am courageous. I breathe deep into my pain. I am opportunistic. I am making my life happen. I love myself. I am enough. I belong.” Physical exercise is a great way to redirect the pain.

Another example is writing in my journal every day. I’m connecting with myself. That pain I feel is being refocused toward writing my noticings, adding thoughts and responses to them then declaring them precious. This is a mental exercise.

The final way to redirect my pain is by being grateful. Especially being grateful about hard things, “hard gratitudes.” Inside every “hard gratitude” is a seed that can blossom into happiness. It’s impossible to be grateful AND angry, or upset. Grateful is grateful. It’s all that can occupy your mind if you’re generally connected to the gratitude.

I’m getting better at these things because I am practicing.

Need practice handling your pain, reach out. I’m here.

Land of Misfit Toys

The land of misfit toys is how I refer to the greenhouse. Put simply, it’s a place where “misfits” gather and spend time – for a paycheck. You probably know that “Land of Misfit Toys” was made famous from the Christmas movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I use this phrasing as a term of endearment because only heartless societies throw away “misfit” people. At our greenhouse in particular, we help people stable their lives with a job. My job is not to grow flowers, it’s to grow these people for a season.

Yesterday, the 22 year old kid came into the greenhouse looking for work. It’s that time of the season for us. Brian is the kid’s name. He was with us last year.

He said “Eric, I won’t have school to deal with anymore. You don’t have to work around my schedule.”

I asked, ‘Why not?’

He said “I quit. I’m feeling a little lost these days.”

He looked lost. He seemed unsure of himself. His eyes were that of a deer in headlights. Yet I admired his vulnerability and honesty.

The grower was there. He was sitting in the conversation too. He’s 32, been married for a couple years, bought a house in the suburbs, and contemplates what it all means. He’s starting to contemplate and understand the universal condition we all face at one time our another, which is how to go from misery to meaning.

He looked at Brian then replied, “This is not going to be the first time you feel lost. I’m lost too.”

‘Hey fellas,’ I added. ‘I’m 40. I think I have finally found myself and it scares the shit out of me.’

Neil Young was playing Old Man on the classic rock radio station. I had tingles shiver the hair straight on my arms.

Tapas

I went to a yoga class last night. I haven’t performed yoga in a decade, and back then, I was chasing a girl. This was an “advanced” class, not in poses but ideas. Everyone there knew one another. I arrived alone, feeling a little unsure.

What was I doing there? I am on a journey toward making my relationship with myself the primary relationship in my life. I think yoga can help with that because of the stretching, the lengthening, the breathing, the holding of poses and the many lessons found in yogic concepts. I’m discovering that the community of people involved with this yoga on Tuesday nights is a great group of people too.

The yoga class experience was amazing! Such a gift to myself. I’ll be going every Tuesday. The instructor took me under his wing. The other participants were kind, accepting. I felt as if I belonged too. They’re practicing their thing just like I am. I like the feeling of being amongst like-minded and like-practicing people.

The yoga session touched on all the aspects of health for me: physical, emotional, maybe not so much mental, and spiritual. At one point, I felt tears coming to the surface. At another point, I was sweating with holding a pose, trying to lengthen into it while also keeping my breath steady and natural. In between those moments was gratitude, or simply no thoughts at all.

I was texting with my friend, Megan, about the experience. She’s a yogi. She praised me for going by myself. Then told me about a yoga concept called tapas.

Tapas is that friction caused by doing something new and/or uncomfortable, which leads you closer to your authentic self. Every time we face tapas, we peel another layer and get closer to the true self, the self untouched by anything in the human world. This is what I’m doing. I’m doing tapas every day. These days for me, just being is tapas. I am strong even in those moments when I feel weak.

In the morning, I write in my journal. Today I wrote,

Tapas = How to be strong when I feel weak.

I want happiness as much as the next red blooded human being, but maybe during certain seasons of our lives, it’s not about “happiness.” Maybe it’s about “experience.” Maybe it’s about peeling those layers back until you arrive at the untouched self and live there for awhile.

Introducing Morning Moves

I’m in a process of shifting toward the idea that my primary relationship is my relationship with myself. Novel concept, eh?

If I’m honest with myself, that’s not the space I’ve been in for the previous 16 years! So I’m asking myself what that looks like? How does that feel? When I “find it” how do I stay anchored in it? What do other relationships look like now – are they different than ones I’ve had in my past? Ultimately, what does my life look like under this new paradigm?

But I’m getting far to ahead of myself. Right now… in my pursuit of feeling what a primary relationship with myself feels like and looks like, I have ‘new wiring’ to work through. In a nutshell, I am engaged in practices that help my physical and emotional body make new associations. This consists of routines, rituals, redirection of my focus and plenty of movement.

I’ve always been an avid student of this stuff, but now that I equate not changing these associations with pain, I’m kicking my commitment up a notch. I am the student, I am in the transformation process. And as the student, I’m going to share what I’m doing because this is where I’m hanging my hat for awhile.

Here’s one thing I’ve discovered to be so true:

Bad physiology reinforces negative feelings. As Tony Robbins says, “Motion creates emotion.” So changing your physiology means changing your mental state and breaking negative patterns. Which means great physiology leads to great emotions, and that is one of the keys to … having a great day and getting unstuck.

One thing I’m doing that’s working for me is to get out of bed and immediately perform a movement. I get out of bed, I have a fixed positive mental statement that I’m repeating then calibrate myself for the day with just 3 minutes of movement.

Here are the benefits:

– It reinforces positive feelings
– It breaks negative patterns and associations
– It produces good emotions
– It’s energizing, gets blood flow moving
– It doesn’t take longer than 180 seconds

Want to try this at home for yourself? Sound like this might be something you need? I’ve been doing this for a little while now and I can attest to the positive results. At the very least, if you’re feeling awful, it’s a way to NOT connect with that pain, turn down the dimmer switch on that pain and start the day off with good health.

I’m going to bring you a new morning move every Tuesday. The idea is that you do this move first thing out of bed every morning. Do this one move every morning for seven days. Then on Tuesday (every Tuesday) we’ll switch it up with something new.

I am a master, I know nothing. I am a student, I know something. I’m your healthy living agent and invite you to engage in these types of conversations with yourself, with me, with your family, friends, peers. Our strongest version balances our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.

Here’s Tuesday’s morning move

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Sunday Newsletter: Breakthrough!

Once upon a time, I had mastered making White Russians.

It was my favorite drink. This was early 1999, and I belonged to The Big Lebowski cult. One night of debauchery at a house party, I had an experience like never before. My beloved White Russian went down so smooth, but too many White Russians went down that night.

Unfortunately, they also came back up in an awful way, with a level of intensity, aroma and pain that – even to this day – makes me repel at the thought of drinking one.

. . .

It was 3:30 a.m. I couldn’t sleep. My heart felt squeezed. My stomach knotted and nervous.

I haven’t been a stranger to this feeling since my break-up.

I also felt frustrated. Thinking: ‘I’m sick of feeling this way. This can’t just be the break-up, really?!’

I tried to recall the times I felt that feeling before in my life. I felt this way after every break up since my 20s. I kept peeling the layers back. Then it dawned on me.

I felt this way when I was 12 when we left Kalamazoo and moved to Portland, OR.

Flashback to November 5th 1988

Mom pulled into the middle school turn-around. “Would you like me to walk you in,” she asked. On principle, I couldn’t say yes. I was a 7th grader. It wasn’t the first impression I sought to make. Although, every fiber in me wanted mom to walk me into the building. It was a long walk through heavy double doors, down the hallway of strangers, into the office where I told the secretary that I was “Eric Walker from Michigan.”

She handed me a class schedule, gave me a locker number and combo. I sat alone at lunch. After school was the first day of basketball tryouts. I was the only kid who could dribble between his legs. That was the first day I began building a life of my own. And I nailed it!

I built a life of straight A’s, varsity sports, good friends and wonderful experiences. Yet as soon as I found this personal success, my home life deteriorated. My parents broke up, my dad lost his job, things happened, our family broke up. Nothing was ever the same. There was nothing I could do about it. Nothing I could save.

In those days, I lived constantly with that squeeze on my heart and knotted, nervous stomach. It’s been something I’ve tried to avoid ever since. Bad association.

. . .

Still awake at 3 a.m., the White Russian memory returned to me. Light bulb moment!

A few years ago, I was at a Christmas party, someone was mixing a White Russian. I smelled it. Ew. I had a flashback of my younger self holding onto the toilet.

I started thinking…

What if this heart squeeze, knotted, nervous stomach is an association my body is making to the loss I felt when my family broke up?

What if I’ve been trying to make a family, and by proxy an attached relationship, to heal the one I lost when I was an adolescent?

What if I’ve been trying to re-make a future based on my past, and therefore, not conscious of who it is with? As long as they are loving and faithful…

What if every time my present gets painful, I escape into a relationship to get out of the pressure to change and make a new association?

Laying awake, I saw into my past and how it’s repeated itself in my future. My body started feeling the pain of NOT changing. Yuck!

Similar to the White Russians, I make certain associations of staying in relationships that aren’t right for me. I get into relationships with wrong intentions; without full consciousness; perhaps to heal what I lost as an adolescent.

These realizations have created an enormous shift in me. Sure, that pain still arrives, but now I understand why. Now I have been practicing tools and techniques to redirect my focus and change my state. For example, here’s how I prime the pumps for the first 12 minutes every morning.

Last thing – now that this pain has a bright light shone on it, I no longer want it, and there is no stronger force for change than choosing something different not just in the mind, but because my body now associates it with pain.

. . .

Here are a few take-aways for you. These are three things I’ve learned from sitting with my pain this week.

1. Realize

A. Sometimes the pain just creeps up on me, and boom! I’m feeling it.

It doesn’t seem like I have much control over that. Yet when I take control of my body, the mind and emotions respond. I can become emotionally stronger by getting physically (more) fit. When I put my body first, I get into a peak state, and my perspective on what I’m feeling (pain) changes.

B. I have the power to feed my mind or dwell in memories of past relationships or replay scenes over and over.

I now get why I was doing that. It’s the only connection I have, and I seek connection. We all do. Even if it’s to pain. Not healthy. So I feed my mind with information, poetry, spirituality. When the pain is at its strongest (ie 3 a.m.), I use it to discover more about myself and the life I seek.

C. Bottom line – take control of physicality and emotional state because it’s the first step towards a higher level of self discovery and personal evolution.

2. Connect

A. I want to connect to something else more.

I no longer want to be connected to this repetitive story of my life. I no longer want to feel this way. Metaphorically speaking, I’m done with White Russians. It hurts in the past. It hurts now. It will hurt in the future. I’m done with that.

B. I connect to a higher need.

Serving others as a “healthy living agent” is one way. I’ve been meeting up with people to talk about their health. I’ve been sharing my story. I’ve been making connections with others. In particular, I’ve made a new friend who has taken me under her wing to help see a different picture.

3. Use it

A. No longer do I sit and become a reaction.

This only makes me the effect of an event or emotion. Instead, I’m taking the power back and determining and assigning what things mean, and how I will approach life from this point forward.

. . .

This is my journey, my stories. I hope there is something in what I share that you see in yourself, something you can apply to make your moment, day, week, month, year or life better. I choose to start with me because if I started with you, I’d just be preaching. All advice is autobiographical. So why not just tell the autobiography and skip the advice.

Like this? Please subscribe to the Sunday Newsletter.

Reply here if you’d like to share, comment or connect.

What’s next? I’m feeling somewhat done with talking of this topic, I have a Healthy Living series beginning next week. Stay tuned.

How I “Prime the Pumps” For the First 12 Minutes of Each Day

Emotion is created by motion. The way you move determines the way you feel. We have 80 muscles on our face. For most people that area is the biggest area of atrophy in our body. Most use the face the same way, have the same emotions.

Every day – these days – I have to prime myself to experience more range, more motion, deeper emotion.

It takes about 12-15 minutes. Sometimes I choose to go longer, but if I don’t have 12-15 minutes for myself, I don’t have a life. I am intentional about creating a healthy life for myself. That’s my number one thing. If I want to grow, there is no more “I hope I feel good.” Action has to be taken. Motion, motion, motion.

I will share my “prime the pumps” practice. This is what works for me. Whatever you do, I think some sort of morning (and evening) practice is important.

First, I physically feel my heart.

I put my hand on it and feel that heart. Lately, my inner peace meter is in the red zone so I seek to breathe deep and aggressively straight into my heart. It might even resemble heaving.

Steadily, I slow my breathing down so I can mourn for my heart.

There’s a 12 year old boy in there who is scared and nervous. That 12 year old’s mom is asking him if he would like her to walk with him, but he says No. He has to walk alone. That’s when the 40 year old version of me steps into the scene and tells the boy to follow.

I’m grateful for that 40 year old.

My hand is still on my heart, my focus still on breath. The 40 year old me is walking that 12 year old through a mural of grateful. He’s showing the boy all his value, all that he is meant to give and be. We stop. Hold our breath. Listen to our heart. Then breathe again. Our final grateful is for the uniqueness of our heart. I sit with this for a moment and find a normal breathing.

Then I reach for three things that I am grateful.

Sometimes, if I’m sharp, I find hard gratitudes. There are tiny seeds of gratitude inside every difficult situation. They can blossom into happiness if tended. Other times, they’re easy gratitudes. For example, this morning I heard the heavy breath of my son’s deep sleeping. I try to FEEL these three gratitudes. I want to overwhelm myself with it. Because I know that when I’m grateful, it’s impossible to feel worry, anger or fear. All my life it has been anger and fear that have set me back the most, whether that be in relationships, parenting or business.


Tony Robbins says you have to wire yourself every day.

That I can’t “hope” to be happy if my habit is to be worried, pissed off, frustrated or stressed. He says that most people have a highway to stress and a dirt road to happiness. Sometimes I visualize me and the 12 year old version of myself in good ole Mike Muligan’s steam shovel and we’re rebuilding my inner highway to happiness  – one load of dirt at a time.


I pray for myself.

This is a combination of actual prayer and a re-visualization of my dream board. I have a dream board I look at every day. I go through each item in my mind’s eye and narrate what is happening for each one as if it has already happened.

Current Dream Board 2017

I finish by saying my “Ground of Being” statement three to five times.

I say it out loud. My hand is still on my heart.

I am present. I am connected. I am creative. I am attractive. I am kind. I am confident. I am facing my fears and overcoming them. I am courageous. I breathe deep into my pain. I am opportunistic. I am making my life happen. I love myself. I am enough. I belong.

I do all this before getting out of bed.

When I am done with that process, I can get out of bed.

I pour a glass of water, take my Juice Plus capsules and open my journal. I write the date at the top of the page and recap the day before, intention how today will be and add thoughts, insights and responses. Next, I do 25 push ups, 25 sit ups and 25 air squats.

Now I can face my day. I have just given myself bravery. My pumps are primed. I have altered my state of being. My wires aren’t crossing. This is the work to be done.

This is a post from my healthy living series. If you’d like to receive all the healthy living posts, then subscribe here.

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41 Blurbs for Our T-Shirt Business

I’ve always wanted to have a t-shirt business. Now’s our chance. I’ll get us started.

Let’s use thin, organic cotton V-neck shirts. I despise logos. I never want to wear a shirt that has a Nike swoosh on it. Or Polo. None of them.

Instead of a logo, imagine a short blurb stitched across the upper left pectoral like where a pocket might be. Instead of a pocket, it’s a blurb. Let’s call the T-shirt line “One of One.” Every T-shirt will be unique. Truly one of one. We’ll just have to keep coming up with more blurbs. Maybe a social site for “Blurb Makers” to come up with blurbs or take selfies with their One of One t-shirt. Maybe an eBay-like online store for collectors of One of One to buy, sell and trade.

We could then extend the idea to the backs of jeans, the back pocket. Just a blurb. How about “Blurb on Your Ass?”

To get us started, I’ve come up with 41 blurbs. This is mental exercise. This post is more than I can handle and I’m mentally sweating and stretching. Now I’m getting mentally stronger.

Can you do the artwork? Artwork for some of these might be cool too.

For each blurb, I’ve added a short description. Read them below

These blurbs are mostly an inventory of sayings I’ve been saying to myself and friends & family all my life.

Give these a quick (fun) read and let me know which of them you like.

1. Love is the law. No limit! – This was a mantra of mine when I was full of anger and hate and I beat it with love. If I was to get a tattoo, this is what I’d have across my back.

Love is the Law. No Limit!

2. You are your own rescuer – I say this to myself now. “You are the hero who helps you become found. No one else.”

3. Run the stint, make the poetry – It’s my way of saying “go the distance.” Or I say it when I’m having a night on the town.

4. I’m not afraid of being tired – I say this when I’m running the stint, making the poetry and I have an early next morning.

5. One of one – Some folks say, “He is an OG (original gangster). I say, ‘That dude is one of one.’

6. Embrace the mess, but keep the dishes clean – I say this because life can get messed up. Situations and scenarios can fall off the rails, but there’s still the daily upkeep. You can follow up “Embrace the mess” with just about anything… Embrace the mess, but “mow the lawn” …”tuck the kids into bed” … “wash your armpits.”

7. Oh well, oh well, 3 coins in the fountain – This is what I say when I throw my hands up in the air, exasperated and defeated. It means “I quit” for today. Tomorrow I will wake ready.

8. The first step is a commitment. All the way is a promise – This is my mantra for parenting.

9. Fuck the world. Grow a flower – I say this now to our grower at the greenhouse. He’s depressed, dislikes his job, dislikes his wife, feels trapped and stuck. It’s kinda like, ‘Look on the bright side, bro – you’re growing flowers.’

Or Fuck the World, Eat a Hot Dog

10. Better men have done worse things – My friend Dave said this to me after I confessed how bad I screwed up my marriage and my relationship with my newborn son. Between a sip of bourbon and a drag on an American Spirit black, he said, “Better men have done worse things.”

11. Physically Relentless – This used to be my mantra toward fitness.

12. Brevity – Keep things short.

13. I love you. More than yesterday, less than tomorrow – I say this to the one’s I love.

14. I love myself – Because your life depends on it.

15. Never let go of the thread – Whatever it is, don’t let it go. It’s why you’re in the world.

16. Escape Velocity – i.e. Getting out of the rat race nine to five daily grind BS.

17. Everyone needs a story to reign in the facts – What’s your story? I just agree with this statement.

18. Are you selling shit? Or do you give a shit? – This is my definition of giving value.

19. What I do is what I seek – Kind of like “fake it until you make it.” Right now, I’m single again after two years. I have to love myself. Be in relationship with myself. I’m going through the motions.

20. I’m happy just smoking a doob – Don’t get hooked on smoking marijuana. I more so mean that if you need to lower your expectations to find simplicity, do it.

I’m just happy smoking a doob

21. The second day is the hardest – Because it is. Sure, you can show up on day one, but to come back on day two?!

22. Do it before you have to – Especially true of health, fitness, nutrition, taxes or getting any type of important affairs in order.

23. Life happens to the ready – I say it to myself when I’m up at midnight doing something I don’t necessarily want to do, but know that I have to in order to get something desirable in return.

24. Compatible geography – This is when you have a job that isn’t bound by location and you travel around to work.

25. Seek wise people – Every day I seek out mentors: people who have great experience to help me, particularly in areas I am new to, excited about, and know nothing about.

26. No one asked Hemingway what kind of pencils he used – The tools don’t matter, it’s the content that matters.

27. Nurture the sweet spot – Build on strengths not weaknesses.

29. Character within range – Sometimes my romantic partner would look at me and question whether it be in awe, love, disgust, anger, etc, “Who are you?” I’d reply, ‘A character within range.’

30. People like me and you… – We share similar values.

31. The struggle is worth the effort – Always! Even if you fail, you learn.

32. Burn black holes in dark memories – Make amends with your past.

33. I believe in you – I do.

34. Passion is clean, our reason. Instinct is drive, will be messy – I don’t know… This was my excuse for leaving my marriage.

35. Do over – If I have a bad day, I say, ‘I quit.’ Then when I wake the next morning I call a “Do over.” We all need ’em.

36. Let your freak flag fly – Fitting in will only slow you down.

Let your freak flag fly

37. Sink sandwich for sale – I make sandwiches so big and so yum and so juicy that you have to eat them over a sink.

38. NO! – I started saying “No” to people who weren’t right for me. I started saying “No” to everything I didn’t want to do. My ex-girlfriend said “No” to me every time I wanted to talk to her after we broke up. Her “no” to me was a “yes” to my life.

39. Gonna to look you right in the face – Whatever it is, look it right in the face. Hold your power.

40. Understandings not answers – I used to exclaim to my 5th grade students when they did math, or explained the plot of a book. There are no answers, there are only understandings. That’s life.

41. “Boy you’re going to carry that weight. A long time” – It’s from a Beatles song. I say it to my fellow younger men peers who are experiencing something I know (from experience) will impact them for a long time. Forever.

42. Put your ass where your heart is – Nike has “just do it.” I have Put your ass where your heart is.

Tell me what do you think?

If you become the one you long for, what will you do with your longing?

If you become the one you long for, what will you do with your longing?

– Rumi

Dear Rumi, I might lack the art to decipher it, but I think you’re asking, What if you (read ourselves) are the only one you seek and the only one to seek?

I think you are telling me that when I fall in love with myself, I will reclaim my heart. You’re saying that instead of seeking someone else to complete me, I must complete myself. I must love and honor myself for being exactly who I am right now, and to keep reading from my own book of transformations.

I appreciate the timeliness of your words, Rumi. I promise you that I will become the great love of my heart just by being who I am. More of who I am.

Thank you, Rumi. Your impossible poetry grounds me after just one sentence.

The Old Roaring Me

The old roaring me
The one that lives off gut
Requires a resharpening of old intuitions
Rehoning the original face of my instincts
The one that knows and trusts myself
Today, while the mud is still frozen, and
The wolves hunt by scent in the darkness,
I will again become a student of me
The old roaring me
The one that lives off gut

Sunday Newsletter: Hard Gratitudes

On November 12th, after months of having one foot in the relationship and one foot out, I wrote a break up letter to my now ex-girlfriend.

I had written a similar letter a few months before that too, but we reconciled.

She responded to the letter on November 12th by saying that she thought it was a terrible idea to break up, that she wanted to do the work with me, and she was sorry to see me go, BUT… she was never going to receive one of these letters from me again. Therefore, she was adamant about keeping me at my word. It was over.

I am grateful she has kept me to my word. It has been SO difficult, but I am courageous and breathe deep into the pain.

My weakness with romantic partners has been staying when I no longer wanted to stay because I have had this always conversation that asks, “Who will love me now?”

My weakness has been saying “I’m done” then coming back several days later to say that I was wrong. That I didn’t really want to be done. This has been a pattern of mine throughout a few major relationships.

Not this time. There has been no reconciliation. My ex-girlfriend has kept me to my word. Despite my efforts otherwise. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I have had to be with myself. All by myself.

I am grateful that she has kept me to my word.

I re-read my break up letter the other day, and many of those original feelings returned. The biggest one being the compartmentalization between our relationship and my family life with my kids. She was a great girlfriend, but not the right life partner for me.

I ran into her at the grocery store. I had discovered she was seeing another guy, and in a weak moment persisted, “Hey what the heck is going on with you and that other guy? Don’t you love me anymore?”

Those weren’t the exact words, but they my as well have been. That’s how I felt. All she said is that she wasn’t going to talk to me about it. That she didn’t think we should talk at all. That’s been her line since we broke up.

I’ve needed to grow in this way for a LONG time, and have come to recognize pain as growth.

In this sense, my ex-girlfriend has helped me incredibly simply by saying “No.” After the grocery store run-in, I’m just realizing this. I feel more confident now that this is exactly where I need to be.

I call this “hard gratitude.” Inside every difficult problem, there are tiny seeds of gratitude that can blossom into happiness in your life. I’m certain that her “No” is a big “Yes” for my life.

Best to you,

Eric

PS. Related: What I Talk About When I Talk About Healthy Living

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