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...
BREAKUP #1: Losing My Dignity
"Parting is all we need to know of hell,” - Emily Dickinson
I met my first real love when I was 18, let’s call him Boyfriend #1. We were inseparable and got along like the best of friends. We did long distance for the better part of 4 years while I was away at university and he was working in California. The time apart was hard on us, so we broke up and "took breaks" repeatedly, and yet 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 "passionate" (aka uber-dramatic) on-and-off again relationship. I can understand now how hard it was to try to sustain a breakup so far away from home - without the necessary support and distance, it was impossible to stay broken up long enough to heal and move on.
The worst part of that on-and-off relationship was that I felt like I lost my dignity 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. Quite simply it was awful for the both of us and for all the 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! (Sound familiar?) Also, I had never felt such heartache, and to my very young self - 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 (and loss) 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 the summer of 2008, I met the man that would quickly 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 had 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 great 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.
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 a terrible disagreement and in a moment of clarity I just knew - the relationship was not healthy and I had to leave. It all happened so fast.
I will always remember the evening I left, the experience felt completely out of body. Once I decided to leave, I called up a girlfriend and we went back to our home to pack a suitcase. I felt I couldn't even begin to think about everything I had to do - where would I live, what would people think, how could I start over again... I just knew I had to separate and give us some time apart. All the while, 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 the things I had to do to move on in a healthy way. 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 weeks of this drastic change, I immediately got to work and did everything in my power to heal and grow from this experience.
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 to do yoga. 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 all 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 Boyfriend #2. In Tango, I let the music and the dance express my pain, I found a new community and made incredible friendships.
Looking back now, that year - 2011 - was the most challenging I've ever experienced but also one of the most transformative. Years later, I have so much gratitude for that year of healing and transformation.
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.
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 their breakups, and then they started connecting me with their friends, and so forth. Lovistics organically grew from there.
It is my mission to share the insights and resources I've discovered since my broken engagement with people all around the world. Since 2012 I have trained with several coaching companies to create coaching programs designed to help men and women through their own romantic challenges.
So how am I doing now?
In the summer of 2017, after hearing my story, Scott Simon from NPR asked me in such a heartfelt way, "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.
Love has been my greatest teacher, and the lessons I have learned have been humbling. My relationship patterns forced me to look at myself (the common denominator) and guided me to discover to love myself, others, and to receive love.
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 help others in their love relationships. 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 this work with the world.