Friday, October 24, 2008



Here is another chapter in my book called BOUNCED BACK. I hope you find the following inspirational. It was great for me to revisit her story and I am delighted to share this one with you.

Rebecca (Reb for short) is a thirty-three year old graduate student from Canada. She joined SYBD in August of 2003 when her brief, six-month relationship came to an unsatisfactory ending. She had met her ex at a birthday party thrown by a close friend in her own honor. The friend thought the two might get along well so she invited him to come, and making a good impression, he showed up with a thoughtful gift – gloves and mittens for jogging.

He seemed so thoughtful, interesting, sensitive and laidback, but I felt that we would be “just friends”, and over the next three months, the three of us hung out, jogging, going for breakfast, etc. The relationship progressed quite rapidly from there, with us spending every evening and night together for at least two months. We had a lot of interests in common, like skiing and biking and traveling to the mountains. He even brought me little, thoughtful presents almost every time I saw him. He was a doctor, fit, attractive, wealthy, and adventurous.

What more could a girl ask for? Well a bit more, it would seem…because within a few months, things started to change for Reb in oh-so-subtle ways.

First of all, he could not seem to break off ties with his ex-girlfriend, who was depressed and lonely. He claimed he was her only friend, making it sound like he was sensitive and caring and couldn’t abandon her. My problem was that he’d see her and not tell me about it. And one night, we had a date, and he showed up three hours late because one of his other female friends had asked him to dinner and he felt he couldn’t say no and hurt her feelings (or tell her that he had a girlfriend).

These were certainly some warning signs for Reb to take note of. If someone starts to lie about the little things – what else will he or she lie about? Also it’s disappointing when you are spending a lot of time with someone and they refuse to tell their family and friends about your existence.

I started to feel like I wasn’t following some sort of script that he had playing in his head. He would get frustrated at small, insignificant things. The one example that sticks in my head is the time we went biking with some of his friends, and he wouldn’t speak to me afterward because somehow I “biked funny” and embarrassed him! At the time, this behavior was odd and subtle, but now I see it as controlling, in that he felt he had to control the way everything progressed. The mother of his child used to leave these wild messages on his answering machine, screaming that she knew what he was up to, that he might have his new girlfriend fooled, but that he couldn’t control HER. He passed it off as her being crazy, but when our relationship ended, I thought “aha! she was right!”

The relationship came to an end over a folk festival in the city of all things. Well that was not the reason, but rather the catalyst for change. She didn’t fancy going and suggested he take his son along. When a mutual friend bumped into them – he was with his “depressed” ex girlfriend.

I confronted him that night, saying that it was the deceit that made me angry, and that it must mean that he had something to hide. We met for coffee the next morning and he said that our relationship had gone too fast, that we should slow things down and just be friends for a while. And then (this was the best part), that we could “re-date” later on, but this time “do it the right way”. I said that it wouldn’t matter, that we would always end up at this same place. He still claims that I broke up with him, since I wouldn’t follow along in his master plan. And sure enough, a few months late, he tried to grab my hand and insinuate himself back in.

Regardless of who ended it and why, it was a painful thing for Reb to come to terms with and she struggled. First she didn’t really eat and ended up losing ten pounds. Then she realized she needed to drink meal replacement supplements to get by in lieu of eating. The shock was overwhelming.

HE had initiated all the talks about love, and moving in, and getting married. HE had cleared out half his closet to make room for my stuff and talked about having a child together. Then I moved on to sadness and self-pity. WHY couldn’t I be the one? WHY couldn’t it have worked out this time? I was very embarrassed, to tell my family and friends and coworkers that yet another relationship had failed. I think it took me a very long time to actually get angry, to look at HIS life patterns and see that he had treated me exactly the same way as his other girlfriends, and that his history was full of on-again-off-again relationships.

The break-up feels like a different lifetime ago for Reb. She’s taken some time out and healed. She took a cold, hard look at her relationship patterns and found some disappointing discoveries. One failed relationship after another.

Nothing had really changed. I was confusing anxiety (“does he like me??”, “will he call??”) with passion. Now that I have released that need, I feel so much happier and centered. Don’t get me wrong, I still remember the pain and suffering that used to grip me in my stomach, but I realize now that it is a sign that some things need to change.

Sometimes it’s too hard to make improvements all on our own and we need to get professional help or support. Reb used this experience as an opportunity to look inside herself and confront some demons lurking there.

I got some one-on-one counseling and also joined the SYBD website and got a lot of positive feedback and advice. I realized that I was so afraid of someone not wanting to be with me, that I never stopped to see if THEY were right for me. I lived a lot of my past relationships in my head, dating some fictional character, and then being shocked when “out of the blue” they dumped me.

Reb made a vow to focus her energy on herself and see what ways she could improve herself. She worked hard at banishing her negative thoughts (no easy feat when agonizing over a break-up). I had suggested to Reb to come up with a “mental bouncer” that would guard her thoughts and not allow her negative ones to take root. They, I suggested, should “literally be kicked to the curb”. So she tried it and found that with practice she had success with it. Though it was challenging, Reb upheld the No Contact rule and felt that it helped her move on much easier than when they were in contact.

Her tips to the newly dumped are as follows:

1. Get some personal counseling.

2. Find a like-minded support group like SYBD, a place where people won’t get tired if you repeat yourself over and over again.

3. It really wasn’t meant to be. Even if you thought they were the best thing to ever walk this earth, if they didn’t love you or want to be with you, then they weren’t the right person for you. In order to do this, you might need to take a really good, objective look at that person – if you can’t see ANYTHING wrong with them, then perhaps you need to take off your rose-coloured glasses.

4. Try not to rebound! I made this mistake, and when I was dumped six weeks into that relationship, it all came crashing down even harder. In my case, it’s almost like I had to go through it in order for the point to be really hammered home. But try to get the message the first time. ;-)

5. Especially in the beginning, make sure you treat yourself well – don’t leave the house looking like crap, or you’ll just feel like crap. And women, wear your lippy! Or you’ll end up bumping into your ex like I did, when you haven’t showered in days!

6. Try to not focus on the “why” or the “how” of the breakup. If it’s over, it’s over. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can move forward. I would obsess over the fact that one guy broke up with me over the phone. The coward! On the other hand, there is no good way to dump or get dumped. That can keep you from really getting the point.

7. You can’t change people. And just because they don’t come running back to you, saying they made the worst mistake of their life, doesn’t mean that you are any less of a wonderful person. A relationship is the chemical reaction between two people, or the fitting together of two blocks. A lack of reaction or a wrong fit doesn’t mean either part is deficient.

8) Try not to focus on the “maybe s/he’ll want me back”. My ex tried to insinuate himself back in, but I would have been just putting myself back at square one if I’d gone along with it.

When things get tough, and they always will in life, you want someone who’s going to be there through it all. Someone who wants to work things through.

So if s/he has broken things off, you are either not the right one for them (most likely), or they are playing hot/cold with you, and either way, you deserve better. I felt embarrassed that I’d been dumped by him once, but I would have felt way worse to have been dumped by him twice.

These days Reb feels like a new woman – more at home in her own skin. Her spirit is calmer and less clouded with worries about her future. She changed her dating style and made guys work a little harder.

At the time I hated the idea of dating more than one person in the beginning, it was definitely a good thing for me. It helped me keep my perspective. And when I found myself really liking one guy (and NOT the one I would have ever expected!), it was easy to let go of the others. And that’s my final point here – I’ve ended up with a guy unlike the kind I had ever thought I’d be with. But I’m with him because he makes me a priority, calls me, adores me, tells me I’m beautiful every day, and rushes home to be with me every evening. These were not qualities on my radar before. The break-up, and what it opened up, led me to realize that the focus is ME, not some guy.

It definitely led to think about what is really important to me in a relationship, and for some reason, this was quite hard. It forced me to look at my upbringing and how I had developed some of my values.

She’s left her native Canada to move in with him in Seattle. She feels that once you learn to make your happiness a priority instead of just “being with someone”, you begin to get it all. And the confidence you gain in looking after yourself spills over into other aspects of your life. If you know you can survive a horrible pain, you are willing to take more chances. Sage advice indeed.

Thanks to Rebecca for your honesty and candor on this subject. If you'd like to be a case study for SYBD - and help to inspire others - then get in touch via

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