Naturally, people are often curious as to how I became a Breakup Coach. Although I've experienced many relationships and subsequently many breakups, there were two major breakups that brought me to this work. Here is some of my story...
"Parting is all we need to know of hell,” - Emily Dickinson
I met my first love when I was 18, let’s call him Boyfriend #1.. We worked together at an oyster bar in the small town I went to high school in. He made me laugh and we got along like the best of friends. We did long distance while I was away at university, which was difficult. Although we broke up and "took breaks," it never stuck. After I finished university in 2004, we moved to Taiwan together hoping the fresh start would help us move past all the mistakes we had made with one another. We spent the next 3 years in an on-and-off again relationship. I can understand now how hard it was to try to sustain a breakup away from home - without the necessary support we needed to stay broken up long enough to heal and move on.
The worst part of this breakup was feeling like I lost myself and my dignity in that relationship by compromising my values. I took him back despite my better judgement time and time again; I also pleaded for him to take me back at other times; we would call each other in the middle of the night; show up on each other's doorsteps, etc. We just couldn't seem to let each other go, even through we didn't know how to be together in a healthy way. Quite simply it was awful for the both of us and for the all people in our lives that loved us.
Looking back now, I can better understand why I stayed with Boyfriend #1 for so long. I had certain beliefs and behaviours that were keeping me stuck. I worried he was my soulmate, my one true love, and I was terrified that if I walked away I might never meet anyone else I "loved" as much, and I would end up regretting it for the rest of my life. Also, I had never felt such heartache, and I thought that was a sign that I should do everything in my power to fight for the relationship - including giving up on myself and my needs. I was also terrified that if I really let him go I might never find love again.
But I was very wrong, there was much more love to come...
BREAKUP #2 - The Better Breakup
“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant,” - Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
Years later in 2008 I met the man that would become my fiancé, let's call him Boyfriend #2. We met in the most romantic way - it was practically love at first sight and things moved quickly. I had no doubt in my mind that he was “the one.” Within 6 months we were engaged, moved in and started building a home and life together. He was an incredible person, and though we had the best intentions I learned in that relationship that sometimes two great people don't make for a healthy relationship. Our relationship could have been viewed as highly "passionate," but in reality our personalities and values were in constant conflict, and we had both let jealousy and insecurities take over. The relationship felt oppressive, and I felt like I had completely lost myself to the relationship.
In the Summer of 2010, after teaching for 5 years, I started my first business, a small daycare. A few short months later Boyfriend #2 got a job offer in the Middle East and decided for the both of us that we would be going. Yet, even as I went along with the motions, in my gut, I couldn't really see myself moving abroad again especially since things between us weren't solid.
Then one day in mid-November, we had an terrible disagreement and in a moment of clarity I just knew - the relationship was not healthy and I had to leave the relationship. It all happened so fast.
I will always remember that evening, the experience felt completely out of body. Once I decided to leave, I called up a girlfriend and I went back to our home to pack a suitcase. I felt I couldn't even begin to think about everything I had to do, I just knew I had to separate and give us some time apart. All the while, I felt I had this little voice telling me, “It’s going to be ok, you can do this.”
2011 - My Breakup Recovery Journey
"It is better to live your own life imperfectly, than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection,"
- The Bhagavad Gita
Already having been through one major breakup with Boyfriend #1, I was anxious in anticipation of what was in store for me when I left Boyfriend #2 - the heartache, the moving out, the starting over... and then the dread of having to date again!
But I promised myself that this time, I would do things very differently. Above all I committed to myself that would maintain my dignity no matter what. Through my previous experience, I intuitively understood the "breakup process" and knew I had to take great care of myself. I also knew from experience, that my heart would heal and I would meet someone else to love.
After giving myself permission to simply survive and get through the first few days of this drastic change, I immediately got to work. I found myself a great therapist, got every book on breakups I could find, and started taking the best care of myself that I could.
I could not have been luckier that one week before the breakup I had signed up to pursue my passion for yoga by taking my yoga teacher training at Yoga Therapy Toronto. It's so interesting to me now to think that shortly after the breakup, I tried to convince the school that I needed to defer my program because I was too heartbroken. My teachers (a beautiful wife and husband team) encouraged me to stay in the program and told me that this was the best thing I could be doing for myself. They were so right. I immersed myself in my yoga and meditation studies, and worked through my emotions.
Tango was also an integral part of my healing. Weeks after the breakup, I returned to Tango, a dance I had fallen in love with during my time in Taiwan but had given up because of my relationship with Boyfriend #2. In Tango, I let the music and the dance express my pain, and I met new friends.
Looking back now, that year - 2011 - was the most challenging I've ever experienced but also one of the most transformative. That year, I worked hard and established my business, I became a yoga teacher and a tango dancer, and I invested in new friendships that I still have to this day. Six years later I have so much gratitude for that year of healing.
I can see now looking back, that my challenges in love set into motion a series of events that have completely transformed my life and I couldn't be more grateful.
GIVING BACK - BetterBreakups
Transitioning out of my work in education into coaching was a natural extension of my experiences. Once I was able to help myself grow through my broken engagement, I naturally started helping my friends who were going through breakups do the same, and then they started connecting me with their friends, and so forth. BetterBreakups organically grew from there.
It is my mission to share the insights and resources about heartbreak that I have discovered over the last six years since my broken engagement with people from all around the world. Since 2012 I have trained with several coaching companies to create coaching programs designed to help men and women through the breakup/separation process.
So how am I doing now?
A few weeks ago, after hearing my story, Scott Simon from NPR asked me in an interview, "So how are you doing now?" I was somewhat surprised by the question, but it made me smile. I can understand that given the uniqueness of my work, people are naturally curious about how I got here and how I am doing now after so much heartache.
I am so grateful to share that I'm in a great place in my life. I absolutely love my work, and I am excited everyday to work on some aspect of my business. I am also in the greatest relationship I have ever had with an incredible man who loves me unconditionally, supports me like no other, and is my best friend.
Most importantly, I am grateful to have grown through my experiences to have become a better person and partner. I have an appreciation for healthy relationships, and it is my mission to share my work with the world.