Back in 2005, I went through a breakup of a 13-year relationship. It was quite a shock to my system.
One night she told me she no longer loved me. The next day, she moved out. And shortly afterward, I fell into a depression.
It hit me pretty hard. I didn’t realize how much I took for granted being in a relationship. I didn’t see any of the warning signs. The first few months of my depression, I was just trying to stay afloat. I didn’t really have my own identity without her in my life. So I wandered around aimlessly for a while.
I kept working, but it was always dark and lonely inside my head and heart. After a few months of this, I believed the next best step for me would be to meet someone new and replace the person that left me.
I made an effort and did eventually meet someone. We hit it off right away, however, she lived 3000 miles away so I had no clue how it was going to work out. After a few trips across the US, spending as much time together as possible, we both knew we wanted this relationship.
I chose to move across the country to live with her. Our relationship seemed perfect except for one big problem that kept rearing its ugly head…
I was still depressed!
I found it hard to be happy or even connected, which made her think perhaps she would be better off without me.
In one of my more intense moments of depression, she told me that she couldn’t be in a relationship with me until I got some help. She said she was leaving.
That news put me into shock and I felt my life crashing around me once again. In that moment, I had so much fear that I was going to ruin another relationship and be alone again I had what most would call a breakdown. A lifetime of repressed hurt, anger, and hatred about everything I’d held back in my life starting coming out in tears.
I fell to my knees and cried out many emotions. Some I had no idea I was holding on to – emotions I never let anyone see before. It was the first time I’d ever expressed emotional upset like that to anyone. I didn’t realize I had it in me.
My breakdown contained years of repressed childhood fear and anger from growing up in an alcoholic home. And it poured out of me that evening until I was exhausted.
After I was done crying, I felt lighter. I felt like something had shifted inside me. It was a glimpse of what it was like to be without hate or anger. And for the first time in a long time, I felt a tiny bit less depressed than I did hours before.
That small taste of “less depressed” was a vast improvement considering how it’d been.
My tears dried and I felt peaceful. My depression wasn’t over by any means, but I realized that by being vulnerable and releasing all of that repressed energy, and expressing what was truly on my mind, it made a huge, positive impact on my emotional well-being.
That’s when my journey of personal growth began. I spent years diving inside myself while also studying books and taking classes on human behavior and how we communicate. I became certified in brain sciences such as hypnosis and neuro-linguistics (NLP).
I picked up meditation techniques on how to clear my mind and be present. And as I was healing myself, I discovered how to communicate what I learned with others in such a way that they would also transform.
I ended up marrying the woman I had a breakdown in front of. She was incredibly understanding, loving, and caring, and just the type of person I needed at that time. However, our marriage did not survive my healing journey. I was toxic and emotionally abusive, having carried over many unhealthy behaviors from childhood.
The coping mechanisms and survival behaviors that I picked up in childhood helped me survive back then but were poisonous in my adult relationships.
My emotional triggers and toxic behaviors were disintegrating her love for me. Toward the end of our marriage, I realized how destructive my behaviors were and started another journey of growth and healing.
However, as many of my hurtful behaviors were disappearing and I was transforming into someone my wife had never met (a kinder, supportive, non-judgmental guy), she revealed to me that she was no longer in love with me and wanted to leave the relationship.
Our divorce was the wake-up call I needed to kick my butt into gear and accept that I was the common denominator for all of the relationship failures in my life. It was the first time I took full responsibility for my results and stopped blaming the people I loved.
I made profound changes during and after my divorce. And even though my wife could tell I was an entirely different person and appreciated what she saw in me, she said it was too late. She had no more love for me and could not reconnect. It was a painful time.
The end of my marriage was a powerful opportunity to continue working on myself and become the best version of me I could.
It seems that at the peak of any type of personal growth and development is a challenge that tests just how much we’ve actually “evolved”. My divorce was a hard lesson, but something the greatest lesson in life is when we lose something great.
I’ve lost some pretty great things in my life, but they have all shaped me into the person I am continuing to become today.
Along the path of healing, I learned to become mindful and present. I learned how to be at peace even during stressful times and suffering. I’ve also been able to connect with a deeper part of myself, not afraid to explore what else is in there.
My journey has helped me uncover deep emotional wounds to process and release. I’ve become more balanced and more honest, especially with myself. I’ve dropped many of my old people-pleasing and other co-dependent behaviors, unafraid to speak up for myself and live as authentically as I can.
I don’t claim perfection or enlightenment. I’m just more aware today than I was yesterday. And I look forward to learning more tomorrow.
Today I work as a Behavior and Relationship Coach and a teacher of emotional intelligence. My purpose with The Overwhelmed Brain is to help empower you to make decisions that are right for you.
I do this through:
If you’d like to connect with me for any reason, reach out! You can send me an email by clicking here.
You may also want to subscribe to the TOB Insights, The Emotional Intelligence Newsletter for even more ways to create the life you want.
I hope my work and teachings bring you just a bit closer to living the life you want. I’m glad to be able to connect with you. I appreciate you!
About The Overwhelmed Brain
The Overwhelmed Brain blog and podcast is for those who want to better their lives by questioning what doesn’t work and changing behavior that doesn’t serve them anymore.
If you have the desire for a more emotionally stable, happier life, this show will help to empower you to forge the path to that destination.
We are bombarded with thoughts, emotions, and an unending series of unpredictable events. The Overwhelmed Brain was created to give you specific, purposeful steps to help you improve your life and empower you to make the right decisions.
You won’t find any rehashed, regurgitated self-help teachings or new age mysticism here, just practical and sometimes radical steps that guide you to fulfillment.
As critical as that may sound toward other authors or speakers in the self-help field, I am not against anything that works. In other words:
- If psychics help you become fulfilled then keep using psychics
- If energy healers help you cure your ailments then keep using energy healers
- If religion is your path to happiness then stay religious
Do what works for you, not necessarily what you’re told to do.
But do it armed with knowledge.
That’s why I approach personal growth and development from a critical thinking perspective. Critical thinking is about learning, questioning, and being skeptical, even about your own beliefs.
When you question what you believe, you either reinforce what you know to be true or find out a different truth you weren’t aware of before, causing you to make better decisions for yourself.
Either way, you win!
And your life will improve regardless of old beliefs or subconscious programming.
When you combine critical thinking with personal growth, you not only learn and grow faster, you understand how to repeat the process and teach it to others.
Learning about your own, and other people’s behavior, in general, is a fascinating, life-long process. But learning how to repeat successful behavior is what creates a more enriched life.
The Overwhelmed Brain is here to help you:
- Increase your emotional intelligence
- Strengthen your self-worth and self-esteem
- Learn how to show up in the world as your authentic self
- Get into alignment with what you value most
- Build the courage to honor your personal boundaries
- Create strong, authentic relationships
If this sounds like a good path for you, you’re in the right place.
Listen to the latest episode here.
If you are dealing with a difficult relationship, you might find my other podcast Love and Abuse helpful as well.