How to Mend a Broken Heart

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So it’s Valentines month and we are exploring the RELATIONSHIPS Life Theme here at Better Endings. I had a post for Valentine’s Day but was sick with the stomach flu so am just going to let that one go by the wayside. Now that Valentine’s is over this current topic may be more appropriate: How to Mend a Broken Heart. Not that everyone needs this but Valentines Day (or week) allows us to reflect back on both the good and lasting loves of our life as well as the more difficult relationships that need our attention too. Life mapping involves a holistic embracing of your total Self and of your total Life Story, and we can learn often as much or more from past challenges as from  our current success stories.

Troubled relationships from our past (or present) can trouble us for a lifetime, if we let them. It is helpful to nurture yourself with regard to your pain and loss, to help heal these effectively so you can go forward with a more open heart.

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The Better Ending sort of story that comes up for me around this theme is a scene from the wonderful movie Steel Magnolias. When I first saw this film I cried for hours, starting in the theatre and continuing after it was over. It touched a deep chord for me about family and friends, along with pets my own closest relations. At the time I was (still am til this August) living far from my family, and this film reignited my love and sense of loss for being so far away.

The scene–I will bet you will have guessed it–that I think can be helpful for anyone to help mend a broken heart is with Sally Field as M’Lynn Eatenton, after the funeral for her daughter Shelby, a diabetic who has died in childbirth. M’Lynn asks “why?!” (click below to view on YouTube.)

This is an amazing scene, beautifully acted of course by the amazing Sally Field along with Olivia Dukakis and Shirley MacClain.  What I love about it is how expressive she is of her feelings. She doesn’t hold anything back! It is wonderful to purge ourselves when we feel grief. Let it out! Release your true feelings. Allow your pain to surface and flow forth into the universe.  Scream out at God if you need to. Why DID this have to happen?  What is left now?

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images are from pixabay.com

Healing requires Letting Go, as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has written of so beautifully in her many books about Death and Dying. And you cannot Let Go until you come to terms with your loss and allow yourself to grieve.

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Relationships as a Life Theme

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As we are exploring monthly topics around LIFE THEMES, threads of experience that carry a pattern of content, February seems a good time of year to focus on Romance or, more generally, Relationships. Certainly RELATIONSHIPS is a primary Life Theme for most people in one form or another (e.g. Family, Romance, Friends). Like all Life Themes, RELATIONSHIP threads that weave through one’s Life Chapters and Life Story can be uplifting, inhibiting, or even like a Roller Coaster ride when it comes to their pattern of influence and impact on our lives overall.

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Since Relationships are so ubiquitous in most of our lives, let’s take some time this month to focus on various sorts of relations. For myself at 63 and single some 15 years after a long string of romantic adventures, romance is honestly no longer an interest after too many strains of Ups and Downs in that arena. I would rather focus my own Relationships Theme around the wonderful connections I now enjoy with family, friends, and my dearly beloved pet companions, just two days ago reduced by one as I had to send on his Soul journey after 16 years with me my dear companion cat Loki, due to kidney disease.

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images above from pixabay.com

If I were to map my Relationship Theme (which I will invite you to do in the next post), just in recent weeks of my current Life Chapter it would reveal quite a ‘wild ride,’ mostly very positive despite dips or deep troughs of sadness and loss. My mother’s passing just two weeks ago tomorrow brought our whole family together for a blessedly very positive time of sharing and remembrances. We are strengthened by our unconditional love for one another, which brings great joy and gratitude.

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photo by Jeff Watts

My relationship with my mother herself I feel is actually strengthened as I have been recalling to memory all of the wonderful ways she skillfully and lovingly parented me and imparted positive values in all five of her children and grandchildren.

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Elizabeth Anne Rugh Watts

May 25, 1927 – January 23, 2018

We gain so much from our close relations. We learn so much in a family of diverse Souls as in a community of friends and cross-species families, too!

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Relationship Better Endings

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When I coach people through a Life Path Mapping process, during a reflective phase I ask them to consider how they have managed transitions in their lives.  For each major Turning Point they have identified with their life mapping, I ask them whether in retrospect they wish they would have done anything differently and, if so, what might have transpired.

Most life mappers tend to say they would not make any changes in their past decisions or choices, because of all the subsequent change that also would have occurred.  They have learned from whatever has happened, so why look back?  Yet, those who do entertain this almost taboo thought experiment find it illuminating because it helps them to focus on what really are their core values and long-term goals.

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Significant relationships often bring about Turning Points in our lives.  Entering a new relationship, with another person or with a pet or with new colleagues as you assume a new role in your career, opens many fresh opportunities for growth and development. It is like you have pressed a REFRESH button, although of course soon you are likely to encounter similar situations and challenges you have faced before. How will you approach this similar challenge this time?

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One way to ‘trouble shoot’ fresh relationships is to review your past.  Take stock of the strengths you bring to these new relations as well as the patterns of inhibitions or difficulties you have encountered before.

Here is a Better Endings journaling tool you are welcome to entertain:

Reflect upon a relationship from your life history that was never well resolved or that continues to be troublesome in some respects, or one that ended poorly.  Consider that situation as a STORY.  Now then, change that story.  Imagine and/or journal about and re-write the ending or a better resolution of that relationship. What might have happened or could happen differently?  

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images are from pixabay.com

(After my own reflections today): If you find on reflection that you feel there is nothing about your past relations that you COULD have changed (as that is how it seems they were meant to be), still you can look ahead and contemplate what changes you might make as you approach a new relationship or to improve your present relations.

The more attention you give to how YOU might improve your past relations, the better prepared you may be to go forward with a new attitude, welcoming the new opportunities before you!

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

True Partnership

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The Sacred Marriage is our topic this month. For myself, where I have found this is with my pets and family and with my spiritual Guides, but a stable romantic partnership has eluded me so that I now consider myself ‘post-relational’.  Yet I find a great deal of freedom and personal responsibility in living without a romantic partner, and I am happier this way.

Still, what is true partnership when that is not defined primarily or necessarily in romantic terms?

It is when two Souls team up, with love and trust in each other, to weather storms and support one another’s individual and collective missions. It is a guarantee of unconditional love and a willingness to communicate about whatever arises, knowing the other is open and giving in return.

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My dog Sophie and I are true partners. She has been through hell and back again with me when we endured a scourge of parasite bugs last March.  I don’t know how I could have gotten through that without her, and I am so glad she made it through too.  (Yet  I must also acknowledge a Good Samaritan who helped us both greatly at a B&B;  she took us in and helped nurse us back to health despite the risk to her own business.)  Once when I was finally determined to drive back cross-country to deliver Sophie to safety and then finalize my own cleansing of remaining bug threats, my wounds were searing and I thought they might be infected. (A doctor had me using an ointment that was wrong for these kinds of wounds.) Still over 1800 miles from home, I was at a low. Should I just drive through it, or seek help?  At that moment Sophie started barking emphatically at me and I knew she was telling me to get help.  So, in the midst of a torrential downpour somewhere in Iowa late at night, I found an Urgent Care and got the best treatment I had yet received, enough to let me and Sophie push onward.

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My dear Sophia

But I will be honest with you. I always did hope to establish true partnership with a human, yet that never materialized longterm for this lifetime except in some absolutely deep and wonderful friendships.  As a writer this has worked out fine, as it gives me the solitude and space to immerse myself in creative activity and the freedom to follow my dreams. I am reminded of a poem by W. B. Yeats, on “Words”:

I had this thought a while ago,

My darling cannot understand what I have done,

Or what would do in this blind, bitter land.

And I grew weary of the Sun

Until my thoughts cleared up again,

Remembering that the best that I have done

Was done to make it plain;

That at length I could cry,

At last,

My darling understands it all

Because I have come into my strength

And words obey my call.

That had she done so, who can say

What might have shaken from the sieve?

I might have thrown poor words away,

And been content to live.

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images are from pixabay.com

True partnership is  Soul with Spirit and with Divinity Itself, including Spirit as It expresses through other Souls.  Human companionship may be lasting or ephemeral;      in either case it is a great gift to be treasured for all that can be shared.

I welcome your comments and stories!

Weekly List: Relationship Changes (Better Endings practice prompts)

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The following is a list of situations you might write, talk, or contemplate about with respect to our Weekly Topic of Relationship Changes. How might you envision, or re-vision, a Better Ending scenario for one or more of these types of situations? Enjoy!

  • a wedding
  • a divorce
  • a planned separation
  • a shared vacation
  • working together
  • employment shifts within the family
  • new parenthood
  • adoption
  • elder care / caring for an aging parent
  • caring for an ill or disabled family member
  • retirement
  • coping with death and dying

Feel free to Comment or add topics to our list. You may share your practice journaling or stories here by submitting a story of the week. You may also receive a Guest Blog post by answering: “What is an example of a Better ending from my life?”

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Unconditional Love and Acceptance for Better Endings

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“The Little Prince and the King” illustration by Carrie Neumayer

As a child, I was intrigued when I read the chapter in Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince where the Prince visits the planet of a king who has no subjects. He invites the Prince to become his subject and declares him to be his Minister of Justice. The Prince declines, asserting that he is a traveler and he must be on his way. The exchange continues:

“I,” replied the little prince, “do not like to condemn anyone to death. And now I think I will go on my way.”

“No,” said the king.

But the little prince, having now completed his preparations for departure, had no wish to grieve the old monarch.

“If Your Majesty wishes to be promptly obeyed,” he said, “he should be able to give me a reasonable order. He should be able, for example, to order me to be gone by the end of one minute. It seems to me that conditions are favorable . . .”

As the king made no answer, the little prince hesitated a moment. Then, with a sigh, he took his leave.

“I make you my Ambassador,” the king called out, hastily.

He had a magnificent air of authority. 

I was impressed by the king’s flexibility, if not by his idea of dominion. So, let me relate this to a sample Better Endings story from my own life, about this week’s topic of Changed Relationships:

We grew apart. My spouse was a global traveler by nature, with parents from Italy who raised their family in Venezuela. It had only been a matter of time. I returned to Colorado from a road trip to visit my family in New York state. The forest home we had bought together and nurtured together for over three years stood silent and empty, over half of the furniture removed. I knew this would be happening, but still it struck me like a stone.

I was not alone. My two dogs and three cats cuddled around me that night on the bed, as if to show they understood their own relationships with me had taken a major turn.

That was over twelve years ago. I have not sought any human involvement since and genuinely feel I will be happiest never going that route again. That was ‘the One’, or so I had believed. Yet, in retrospect so many amazing opportunities have come my way since then; opportunities I would probably not have been free to fulfill as I have, had that relationship–or any romantic relationship–lasted. I have a stepson, also a global traveler, who spends nearly half the year as my housemate, so I have companionship and help with the house I moved to after leaving the forest.  Four pets remain my closest family at home.

My story reminds me of the Little Prince’s encounter with the ‘reasonable’ King because my spouse and I needed to accept each others’ needs to pursue our own dreams in our own ways. It also reminds me of a black and white movie I once came upon on late night TV several years ago, called “The Man-Eating Tiger”. A mercenary during World war II was hired to rid an Indian jungle village of the threat of a man-eating tiger. A nurse at a clinic there had once been the undeclared love of the mercenary, but she married his best friend. This friend was now missing in action. The mercenary felt conflicted; he wanted to pursue the woman, to rekindle a flame between them, but he knew his friend might yet return. The scene I recall strongly involved the mercenary taking a long walk at night with an Indian woman, a servant or another nurse he had confided in about his conflict. The Indian woman said she had observed Americans “in love” before. She found that our concept of love was what she would call possessiveness rather than true, unconditional love. If one genuinely loves another, she told the man wisely, then one desires no more than the total happiness of the beloved. If that beloved’s life calls him or her away from the relationship, then one must accept that with humility and send the beloved on their way with gratitude that they will be achieving a greater happiness.

Like the Little Prince‘s king, we can establish relationships that are not solely constructed on our own terms. With unconditional love we can promote a win-win situation, bringing Better Endings for all concerned, so long as we are open enough to accept each other’s dreams and the necessary means to achieve those. Certainly the more desirable pathway to many peoples’ better endings is from staying in relationship rather than in separation, so I am definitely not advocating a quick release from your deeply established relationship. But life/divinity/spirit or the Universe brings us circumstances and reveals to us over time what is required for all of our advancement. We can grow and learn from all life’s lessons and benefit from each of the beautiful connections we forge along the way.

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Practice your own Better Endings this week by journaling or writing about, or talking about or contemplating Relationship Changes and all that you have learned from them. Please feel free to Comment with your insights, or send in your story to be included as a Story of the Week (with your author’s byline, bio, and website info).

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Choice, Compromise, or Commitment?

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Our Better Endings topic this week is “Relationship Changes”. Relationships are always in flux: adapting, developing, deepening, sometimes dissipating. As we undergo our individual transformations, in relationships we weather or design our cycles in tandem when possible, or not.

How do you orient in your relationships with respect to Better Endings? How do relationships affect, in fact, what you might even define as a better ending in your life?

And They Lived Happily, Ever After!

This fairytale line suggests that stable relationships are an end in themselves, but of course we all know it’s not usually so simple. I love Stephen Sondheim’s comic musical Into the Woods, in which he brings several fairytale stories together but doesn’t end after Act II suggests “happily ever after”. Act III shows what really happens for the characters as life goes on. They face a Giant together and must forge a community and look past their petty grievances in order to survive.

Life happens; people strive to adjust, to adapt, to thrive. Sometimes they work together and their relationship strengthens and endures. Sometimes they grow apart. It’s not necessarily what happens in our relationships that matters for Better Endings but it is how we respond, what we make of our relationships and experience.

Consider Rumi’s excellent advice (our Better Endings Quote today):

“In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and watch how the pattern improves.” — Rumi

How have you or can you manifest Better Endings with respect to your relationships, of any sort or mode? Write a story, or send your insights to share with the rest of us.