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A Thank You To My Ex

A Thank You To My Ex

I have always believed that everyone we meet is for a reason. It is never an accident, there is always a purpose. Even if we get hurt, we learn something so much bigger than the pain we endured.

I thought I had experienced being in love before. I cared for past boyfriends deeply. In a way, I loved them. I just didn’t realize there was a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. Now I can honestly say that I have been in love once. It was the most beautiful yet terrifying experience I ever had.

The guy I fell in love with, was also the guy that truly broke my heart. Despite all the pain that was caused in the end, I hold no regrets. My ex showed me exactly how big my heart is and just how much love I am actually capable of.

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    I have always been quite guarded. I had my walls up high and it took a fair bit of effort on another person’s part to even get close to me. I’d like to think I’m not quite like that now, but to an extent I am still quite guarded with my heart. When it comes to friendships and meeting new people, I am a pretty open, loving, and outgoing character. When it comes to my heart and opening up my soul to another, I suppose I am pretty cautious as not everyone deserves it. I have many acquaintances and very few people I consider my true friends.

    For the sake of fairness, let’s call my ex “Dave”. Now, it wasn’t a “love at first sight” kind of deal. It was actually quite a slow burn. I had known him for years. I worked with him, lived with him, and also became best friends with him before we even started anything intimate. Through all those years, there was never even an inkling of attraction on my part towards him. However, what I actually had for him was respect.

    Dave was extremely charismatic. He had a magnetism about him that drew people towards him. He oozed confidence, gave great advice, was a master at communicating with people, was always so generous, and would take the shirt off his back to help someone else. He also had a killer sense of humor.

    Here’s my weakness: if a guy can make me laugh, like actually “laugh out loud”, I’m pretty much caught. This may sound easy because I am known to laugh a lot. You know those “lols” or “giggles” where you find something kind of funny, so you nervously (or confidently) fake a laugh to give it some credit? Yeah, that’s me. I do that a lot. If you see me in person, my face is a dead giveaway. I have been told my facial expressions are priceless. It seems to tell all. Now, to get me to actually laugh out loud to the point where my stomach hurts, my eyes are tearing up, and I am chuckling uncontrollably, takes talent. Dave had this talent.

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    Dave and I spent a lot of time together. When we weren’t together, he would randomly call me just to say hi and we would chat for hours. He would send random texts throughout the day, just to make me smile. Our friendship grew and we both started to open up to each other. I told him things about me no one else knew, and he did the same. We would send random Snap Chats, see how each other’s day was going, and enjoy hanging out in each other’s company for hours on end. There were tears, a copious amount of laughter, and many moments of just being silly dorks together.

    He made me feel safe. When I needed a shoulder, Dave was there. When I had a tough day, he would do little things to put a smile on my face. Needless to say, the chemistry between us started to build. I think this went on for months, as I was fighting it and didn’t want to ruin a good thing. However, we eventually started hooking up. This stage also went for another few months. I will still say, as much as the chemistry was insane, there was always that voice in my head telling me to be careful about this one. I didn’t end up listening to it. We became exclusive. It was official and now everyone knew. There was no going back.

    I felt so safe and secure with Dave. I figured because he had known me and seen all the sides of my personality, there was no need to prove my loyalty or trustworthiness to him. After all, he saw what I was like in the work place, and he saw how I was with the boys. He also knew I wasn’t the kind of girl that had a reputation for sleeping around. I thought it was amazing that someone finally understood me and didn’t need to question me. Unfortunately, I was wrong, but that is another story.

    Once Dave and I became official, I let my guard down. I trusted him with all my heart. I never thought (not even for a moment) that he would have the ability to hurt me because I knew how much he cared for me, especially our friendship. At first, I was scared to allow myself to give my heart and be vulnerable. I fought an internal battle. I have always and probably will always be an all or nothing kind of girl. My heart won and I fell hard. The chemistry was off the wall, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. We were always laughing and just enjoying the simple life and each other’s company.

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    It was like the universe was smiling on us. Everywhere we went, every traffic light would just go green. Things just flowed. I can’t even really explain what it was like to fall in love with Dave. It was nothing even close to what I had ever experienced before. There was really only one word to describe it and that word was “magic”. I realized that I had not in fact been in love before – not even close. This was a whole other level.

    I was always independent. I made my own way, I had my own back, and I worked for everything I had. I relied and depended on nobody but myself. I always took care of myself. Because of this, I always put myself first – until Dave. I found myself becoming selfless. If it made him happy, it made me happy. Just seeing him smile made my day. For the first time in my life, someone else’s needs came before mine.

    The relationship ended badly. It’s safe to say it was the worst break up I have ever been through. I can just say that it was insecurities that caused it to all fall apart. They were insecurities that didn’t need to be there. He wasn’t the one for me. I miss our friendship more than anything, but some doors are better left shut.

    I can’t say that being with him was a waste of time because it took someone like him who knew me for years, to teach me some very valuable life lessons. Dave taught me what it was like to actually be in love. He taught me what I was capable of when I gave my love. He helped shape me. When I actually meet the right guy, now I know exactly how to love him. My ex also taught me exactly what to look out for and what I don’t want.

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    The next time I give my heart away, the man for me will have come to terms with his issues and insecurities already. He will be aware of them; therefore, he will not allow them to control him or take it out on me. There is not a soul on this planet that doesn’t have insecurities. It is just not possible. No one is perfect, and I’m sure I’m not either.

    I don’t know when I will fall in love again, but what I do know is that the right guy for me will love me for exactly who I am, and I will love him for exactly who he is. We will not want to change each other, we will only be by each other’s side to help encourage and motivate each other to grow into the best version of ourselves. If someone is trying to change who you are and wants you to do things that aren’t really you, how can that person really love you for who you are?

    These are the lessons my ex taught me, and even though the break up was extremely painful and a lot of hurt came from it, I cannot thank him enough. I will be forever grateful to have had met him. Without him, I wouldn’t know exactly what I do and do not want. I hope Dave has also learned some valuable lessons from our relationship.

    The universe has a funny way of sending certain people into our lives to make us, break us, or shake us up a little. Even if we meet for a day, a season, or a lifetime, it is always – most definitely – for a reason. Sometimes this reason is camouflaged as a painful event; however, if you look back, it was trying to teach you something.

    How we deal with pain is up to us. As the old saying goes, when something bad happens to you, you have three choices: you can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you. I choose the latter. For that, I thank my ex. He has made me stronger than I have ever been.

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    Last Updated on January 24, 2021

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

    Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

    For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

    But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

    It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

    And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

    The Importance of Saying No

    When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

    In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

    Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

    Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

    Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

    “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

    When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

    How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

    It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

    From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

    We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

    And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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    At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

    The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

    How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

    Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

    But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

    3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

    1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

    If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

    2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

    When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

    Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

    3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

    When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

    6 Ways to Start Saying No

    Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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    1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

    One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

    Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

    2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

    Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

    Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

    3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

    Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

    Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

    You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

    4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

    Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

    Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

    5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

    When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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    How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

      Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

      Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

      6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

      If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

      Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

      Final Thoughts

      Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

      Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

      Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

      More Tips on How to Say No

      Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
      [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
      [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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