Hi! Can share a little about yourself and what you do?
By day I work at a Psychiatric Hospital and by night I run the Instagram accounts @HilariousHumanitarian & @HumanitarianMom. I am a Psychotherapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of California and I have worked in the field of Mental Health as an Advocate, Clinician and Mental Health provider for the past 10+ years.
Aside from my professional career, my husband and I had our first child almost one year ago so naturally we are walking around like sleep deprived zombies. Becoming a Mom is the hardest but best job I could have ever been blessed with. Being a new parent has shown me just how strong I am. It also has shown me that I have many new and exciting opportunities to express my neurotic nature through humor & kindness.
Can you tell us about a significant heartbreak and how you recovered?
The relationship certainly wasn’t all bad but when I reflect back I can see that our personalities were not compatible. We both are good people but we were not good for each other. I ignored red flags because I believed that my ex and I could work through certain issues. We had major communication problems but I stuck in there because I cared for him. Ultimately we broke up and it got weird and somewhat ugly, in that a lot of unwarranted, hurtful things were said to me and about me to mutual friends, posted on Facebook etc. This break up was the opposite of anything I had ever experienced before. There were never any attempts to gain closure and there were no apologizes for the things that were said. This was hard on me and confusing. One day a mutual friend of ours said to me “An apology is a luxury that isn’t afforded to everyone. Sometimes we just need to move on and do better without getting an apology & know that you did your best.” After I heard that a light bulb went off and I felt ready to move forward.
I did a lot of reflection after this breakup. I was 30 years old at the time and it was starting to feel like I was not that great at picking partners for myself. I also realized that I was a serial monogamist, jumping from one relationship to the next only to break up and start the cycle all over again. I needed to do some soul searching. I took six months off of any kind of dating, hooking up, you name it. These six months were solely dedicated to working on myself. I read a ton of self-help books, I taught myself some new skills (I learned how to garden and taught myself how to face-paint. Super random, I know.) I focused on figuring out my own emotional baggage, getting in touch with what I really wanted and re-entered the dating world more emotionally equipped and aware than I had ever been before. I knew then that if I did meet someone and entered a relationship it would be for the right reasons and not because I was bored, curious or lonely.
After the six month hiatus, I re-entered the dating world with new perspective and an open mind. I also challenged myself to be receptive to the idea of being set up on a blind date. In previous years I would have never entertained this. I thought the idea was awkward and unnecessary but instead of being stubborn, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went on a blind date with a man who turned out to be the person I was going to marry. I was emotionally in a good place and I was confident about the things I would no longer settle for and I was excited for new beginnings. I was no longer afraid to feel vulnerable around someone who genuinely wanted to get to know me for the right reasons and who showed me that unconditional love, support, communication and respect is possible. Ultimately, I recovered from my previous breakup by turning inward and getting to know myself. Once I realized that I had been walking around for years somewhat emotionally unavailable, I started to see how that was leading me to all these relationships that would ultimately hit a dead end. I began to see the connection and I took responsibility for my part and demanded myself to do better.
What are major red flags for you when you start dating someone new?
When someone spends a lot of time bashing and bad mouthing their ex to me it sets off red flags. It didn’t always though. Throughout my 20’s I entertained this kind of conversation because I figured “This person is just opening up to me and trusts me with this information. I like this.” It also created a false illusion that I wouldn’t have to deal with the drama of their ex coming back into the picture to rekindle things. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In my dating experience, people that set the tone of a new relationship by bad mouthing someone else usually ended up being someone who didn’t have (at least yet) healthy communication or conflict resolution skills. Typically there were also a lot of unresolved feelings and issues from their past relationship (s) that I felt the brunt of. With all this said, I want to be clear; there is a difference between speaking about our past (understandably, most of us do to some degree with our new partner) in an appropriate and mature way compared to someone aimlessly throwing around insults and gossip about their ex to someone they hardly know.
Do you stay friends with your ex? Unfollow or follow them on social media etc.?
I think because I grew up in a divorced household where my parents acted civil toward one another and were able to remain friends post-divorce, I grew up valuing the concept of having a friendship with my exes after a breakup. What I didn’t consider at the time though was the fact that my parents most likely remained friends because they had children together and made a commitment to my brother and I to successfully co-parent us. In retrospect, there were no solid reasons for me to have remained friends with any of my exes because I did not have children with them and I had enough friends of my own. With that said, more power to the people that can make this kind of thing work. It takes establishing clear expectations and boundaries set forth by both parties for the friendship to exist without hurt feelings. In terms of social media, I do not follow any of my exes but I also don’t have anything against it, per say. You just gotta do what makes you feel good. If following your ex on social media is feeling like you’re taking a depressing trip down memory lane, then perhaps it’s time to turn yourself around and focus on what’s to come.
What are your favorite mood elevators to uplift and inspire you?
When my mood and spirit are in need of TLC, I tend to disconnect from my phone. I bring it back to the basics and simplify things instead of trying to accomplish 1,000 things at once which is usually the mode I’m operating on. I enjoy taking a bath, blowing bubbles, being goofy, baking cookies, playing board games, walking or even just laying a blanket down on the grass and zoning out while I look at the passing clouds. All of this sounds pretty corny and almost too simple but I swear, these things are a life saver for me. In my household we also have a “no phone” rule for a few hours a day so that we can focus on ourselves or each other in a meaningful way. I value practicing self-care and encourage everyone to do the same because it is absolutely essential to managing our mood which ultimately effects everything else. I find that when I am in a good mental space, I am also inspired more easily and that gives me motivation to pick up a new hobby, learn something new or continue working on a project I have already started.
Any tips for our users on moving on from heartbreak?
Take care of yourself. Heartbreaks are painful so give yourself permission to feel your feelings, even the uncomfortable ones. Know that you will be ok even if it doesn’t feel like it. Not only will you be ok but you will be stronger than before and you will also be one step closer to finding the person you are truly meant to be with (in due time.) It is ok to cry a lot but don’t forget to take a shower, eat and drink healthy things to keep your body well nourished and take time out for yourself. It is important and essential that during a heartbreak we do not abandon our responsibilities such as work and other personal commitments.
Keep in mind that soon after a breakup, our friends might want us to join them for a night out on the town because they want us to have fun, to be happy and carefree. Generally speaking, our friends have good intentions for us and they don’t like to see us sad. If you are not into the idea of going out it is ok to decline the invite. Point is, sometimes we prematurely force ourselves to “get over it” and “move on” and go out into the world and realize pretty quickly that we weren’t ready. An example I can think of is when I was in my early 20’s, my boyfriend and I broke up. A few days later, my friend’s convinced me I should go dancing with them even though that was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I went and immediately regretted it. There I was on the dance floor finding myself sad, resentful and feeling repulsed every time someone approached me to dance when all of a sudden the DJ starts playing me and my ex’s “song.” I burst into tears in the middle of the dance floor and went running to the bathroom where I stayed until my friend’s found me and took me home. Listen to what your heart is telling you. At that time my heart was telling me to stay home, hug my dog, cry a bunch and relax on the couch. I knew eventually I would want to go out with friends but at that time it was just too soon. It is important to note that sometimes people do find themselves in a major funk and don’t feel like they are returning to their normal functioning even after a considerable amount of time has passed after a breakup. If you find yourself in this situation, I encourage you to reach out for additional support and help.