Good times come in strange ways (Or: Silver lining in a lead balloon)

4 Sep

There’s never a good time to find out that your boyfriend of 16+ years has been cheating on you. But, as it turns out, you can turn that situation into a Good Time if you approach it the right way.

So, if you ever find yourself sobbing in the middle of the night, here’s my 10-Step Plan to Convert Heartbreak & Despair into Hope & Delight in <72 hours.

[Another FREE Masters-Level Seminar for JustAdventures followers!]

1.  Get a Regular Stress Inoculation Booster-Shot. So … I’m pre-reading a textbook for my Neurophysiology class (I need to pre-read all my texts to prime my Etch-a-Sketch® brain to become slightly more likely to absorb coursework even though I totally will have forgotten my pre-reading effort by the time I actually need to [attempt to] recall it).

From this book I learned that “the way you choose to cope with stress can change not only how you feel … it [also] transforms the brain.” Further “neurons get broken down and built up just like muscles — stressing them makes them more resilient.” Stress prompts brain growth. Assuming that the stress is not too severe and the neurons are given time to recover, the connections become stronger and our mental machinery works better.

Since I’ve experienced several cataclysmic events (Stress Boosters) over the past few years (multiple bike wrecks, homelessness, suddenly dead dog, and that whole brain injury thing…) my cortical tracts are exceptionally well primed to quickly process and assimilate unexpected horror.

My Stress Inoculation is fully-up-to-date.

2.  Accept the Truth Immediately. It *is* a Black-and-White situation. There’s no gray area. This is good news. You can completely and totally skip the First and Third Stages of Grief. Denial is not an option here and why on earth would you engage in Bargaining?

Focus your energy on Anger and Depression. These stages *could* take awhile, but if you’ve been good about getting a regular Stress Inoculation, you should be able to move through those pretty quickly, too, to get to Acceptance.

3.  Go for a ride. If you’re lucky, it will be a ride that allows you to witness a miracle — like having a blind cyclist on the back of a tandem learning how to push someone with Cerebral Palsy who’s cranking on a 75lb fully upright hand-cycle. Good luck feeling sorry for yourself when you see that!!

But even if you don’t get to experience that humbling blessing, you’ll at least have the road and the sun and the silence and the intense inner-focus that cycling requires and it will center you, calm you, and —when you make it home safely– make you ever-so-thankful that you are, in fact, still alive. Still strong. And you know —you just know in your core– that as long as you keep going, you’ll continue to grow even stronger.

4.  Give thanks for your friends who give you cheese and beer and allow you to float in their pools and let you curse and cry and say crazy things and still love you and accept you just as you are — a total crazy mess. Cry even harder (and maybe even get more angry) when you realize that you more-or-less neglected these lovely, tolerant, vibrant, brilliant friendships for the past 16 years.

5.  Do not overwhelm those lovely, tolerant, brilliant friends by insisting that they babysit you or take you out for distracting, awesome, fun events — even though they all WILL offer to do so and you will (and should!), eventually, take them up on such offers.

6.  Instead, first sequester yourself as soon as humanly possible into a Spa, preferably a Russian one where they will offer you vodka and comforting borsch and then beat you with sticks before pummeling you mercilessly on the massage table — trust me, all of these things are good, good, good!

SPEND ALL DAY THERE. Immerse yourself deeply with all of your crazy, whacked-out, sad, pathetic, rancid, stoopid, silly ideas and emotions. Let them all simmer in your messed-up little head as you bake yourself in various sauna rooms and plunge yourself into pools of intense heat and freezing cold and blissful perfection.

DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE. Be at one with your pain. Meditate on your madness. And as they scrub you with abrasives in the wet room, imagine your fresh new life emerging.

7.  Judiciously eliminate reminders and mementos. Note the word “Judiciously.” I did *not* say “Completely,” “Indiscriminately,” or “Immediately.” Take your time here…

Be thorough and discriminating. Read all of the old emails and cards and letters and other writings. Dump the ones that are fluff. Keep the ones that are truly exceptional examples of well-written prose (they may provide quality story material later). Smile and laugh and luxuriate as you’re reminded of events or moments that had slipped your mind.

These were 16 really excellent years. Celebrate them. Be thankful for them, but don’t enshrine them. Don’t build an altar to the past.

And, by all means, DO keep the shoes and the cashmere blanket and the motorcycle helmet. Those things are just plain awesome and who cares where they came from?! You’d be an idiot to simply toss them!


8.  As you dig through drawers and boxes, take time to examine the other things you’ve tucked away … like the 13-years-worth of tax records (time to put the shredder to good use!), and all the mixed tapes from the 1990s that you’d forgotten, and the postcards that your friends sent you from all around the world…

9.  Find a tape player (this may take awhile). Set it up next to your shredder. Crank up the tunes. Crack open a Fat Tire (or 3). Read the postcards. Put on the motorcycle helmet and bust a move. Shred your bank statements. Love your dog. Rejoice in making a fresh start.

10.  As you enjoy the tunes and the beers and the purging, remember to reach out to all the friends who made this possible. Play those tapes, wrap yourself in the memories and the cashmere blanket (even if it’s really f*cking hot)….

Gimme the beat boys and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock-n-roll and drift away….

Thank you, friends, for being everything I need — always, and especially now.

<72 hours since my world turned upside down and I yet I’m now feeling more than fine.

Good times.
I love you guys.

8 Responses to “Good times come in strange ways (Or: Silver lining in a lead balloon)”

  1. Carissa Barker September 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    Beautifully written and good advice. Sending you hugs my friend.

  2. Welch, Bobbye September 5, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Well, Cristin, what can I say! Men, you can’t live with them and you can’t kill them! I’m sorry to hear this news and I’m sorry that you have to go through the agony of having to “move on” but that, I am confident, you will do. I know how you must be feeling as I’ve been there and remember the explosion of emotions ranging from dissapointment, anger, emptiness, etc. etc. etc.. Breaking up with someone is never easy but breaking up because they “cheated” is just fucked up! To me that is cowardly and it pisses me off that a person (man or woman) can’t just step up to the person that they have shared their life with and just be honest enough to say, I need a change or whatever the fuck they have to say!

    Well, enough about that…. as you said it is a done deal and you cannot undo what has already been done. I have to tell you in truth that from my own experience, I went through my period of anger, mourning, etc. for a period of time that was not excessive and moved on without looking back. I have to say that is one of my strengths and knowing you, I suspect you will do the same.

    Please except my “condolences” and all I can say to you is that when one door closes, another opens so “Rock On” girlfriend!



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