Being my own woman

After the breakup: being my own woman

betty ming liu Relationships 15 Comments

Seven months ago, I chose to end a three-year relationship. In the past, I would’ve told myself to just get over it. This time, I let myself feel. So I fell into a bottomless pit of fury and grief. Climbing out of it hurt like hell. But to my surprise, I resurfaced holding missing puzzle pieces. Now, after the breakup, being my own woman is transforming my life. Being my own woman

What I learned was simple, yet profound:  To get a life I really want, I have to put myself first. This goes against every value taught to me since childhood. After the breakup, being my own woman means valuing me.

I was raised to take care of others. Sure it’s an admirable quality. But I always give too much, which leads to exhaustion, frustration and resentment. When I’m giving and the other person’s not changing, the relationship turns toxic.

During the weeping, I began to realize that I really can’t change anybody. And what do I know anyway? People have a right to make their own decisions. Who made me God?

Change starts with me, not others

The only person I can change is me. At some point in my misery, the aha! moment spoke…

Unless I stop giving too much, I’ll never, ever make truly satisfying connections with other people. I’ll always be giving more than I receive. After initiating the breakup, being my own woman meant reclaiming what was mine all along.

The breakup forced me to take charge of myself. I reclaimed my house from remnants of the live-in relationship. Rearranging the rooms and decluttering opened up space to breathe.

Now I’m reclaiming my life, with open eyes. I can see my past is the past. It’s time to let go.

So here I am, after the breakup, being my own woman. After years of tending to elderly parents, they’ve both passed on from this world. I’m empty-nesting because my daughter is about to graduate from college. After decades of rescuing men and stray animals, I’m down to just two cats.

My cats enjoying our wood stove

What’s next

It took me a while to come out of hiding. Eventually, I started seeing all that I have. Daily gratitude lifts me up. Every day, I wake to this view from my bedroom window. I am thankful for each new day, each sunrise.

Sunrise from my bedroom window

Friends new and old helped with the recovery. When my neighbor asks me to stop by and play mah jong, I say “yes.” I started eating out again, too. Plus, I’m in training to be a life coach, which has introduced me to a whole new community of kindred souls.

There’s also retail therapy. Seriously, this is important. To see myself through fresh eyes, my eyes need to see me looking fresh. Note to bargain hunters: If you’ve got a Lord & Taylor’s near you, check out the end-of-season super-sale going on right now. I just bought six, nice-quality tops for $68.  :)

Honestly? I’m operating from a place of inner clarity and quiet that is totally unfamiliar. It feels like I’m visiting a foreign country, but one that I just might fall in love with. Getting comfortable will take time. Sometimes, a memory will trigger me back to a sad place. But that’s okay. It’s part of being human. When this happens, meditating keeps me breathing.

If you have advice, suggestions, reflections or questions, please do share. And if you’ve read this far into the post, thank you. Thank you for being part of the new, emerging me. I feel your energy and it makes a difference.  xo

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Comments 15

  1. Martha Joy Rose

    Love this post- and YOU! Congrats too on finishing your free book (available on this website), and embracing “Life Coaching”.

    My added tip would be: to find one small inspirational reading each day! Readings offer knowledge, perspective, and wisdom. These are great tools for inspired living.

    Thanks for yours today.

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      betty ming liu

      Charlotte, I actually debated changing the line in the post to: “….trying to rescue men and successfully saving stray animals.” But it just didn’t have a ring to it. :) Thanks, and I love the sunrise shot too.

  2. Cindy

    Betty… thanks for sharing such a personal story. I really need to be reminded that we should focus on ourselves.. especially when it comes to change… and I’m always up for retail therapy. I know you’ll be a wonderful life coach. Recently started writing down 3 blessings each day… I love it xoxoxoxo

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      betty ming liu

      Cindy, three blessings a day sounds wonderful. It makes the whole topic of self-care go deep in a practical way. And hearing from you helps me realize just how much we all need the reminder to value ourselves. Thanks for the support on this stuff, including the retail therapy and life coaching. xoxoxox

  3. Average guy

    “But I always give too much, which leads to exhaustion, frustration and resentment. When I’m giving and the other person’s not changing, the relationship turns toxic.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I am 24 and I feel the same….. Thanks for the reassurance that I am not alone. It is hard for me to find the line that separates good effort and people pleasing. There is a lot of cultural upbringing that has to be undone to battle this form of “pseudo value.”

    Perhaps you may like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck6atQ6xppc

    Keep writing! Could you dedicate a post to how you practice gratitude? I am interested in knowing more.

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      betty ming liu

      Average Guy, this video covers great points. I think I’ll try it out on my speech communications class this week. Terrific line: “Choose discomfort over resentment.” Nice! Thank you. Your comment hits on key words here — perfectionism, people pleasing, cultural values.

      And yes, I will blog about gratitude. Maybe I can do it next week. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  4. Skye

    I’m glad to know that you’ve come out of hiding and have such thoughtful neighbors and friends. The emerging new you is a solo project, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get a little boost from those that love you. An earlier post of yours from this year mentioned love. Putting yourself first after historically putting yourself last is love. Spending time with a neighbor, yes, that sounds like love to me. Love always starts with one’s actions and extends to a community. When you’ve embraced who you are and love yourself for her, you’ve got a great setup to share yourself with the right community and to let yourself be loved by them. I took a few mental notes as I read your post. I will probably jot down some notes and reflect on this. Can’t wait to talk to you. Congrats on training to become a life coach. This is an act of love, too. A life coach allows people to be vulnerable and helps put them at ease into receiving the truth about themselves to go forward with their goals. Bravo:)

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      betty ming liu

      Skye, these are probably some of the best years of my life — for the very reasons you mentioned. Putting myself first has always felt selfish. So I’d either feel guilty or defiant about self-care. Now, it’s just…self-care! Thank you for you support, for always being there for me. xo

  5. Leslie Hunter-Gadsden

    Nice piece on where you are in your current metamorphosis. There is so much we can all learn from taking ownership of our well being. That is when we have the light bulb moment about our positives and negatives!

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      betty ming liu

      So true, Leslie. Owning it is definitely a sign of self-acceptance. With that, comes the ability to see myself clearly. Thanks for bringing your light bulb to this discussion. :)

  6. Cassandra

    I am glad to see you coming back to life and your perky self. I have a feeling that you could reinvent yourself many times over. Nostalgia is what is hitting you suddenly at times and I learned way back when that if you just let it take over and you remember the good with the bad then it makes it easier for you to keep climbing. I don’t meditate that much any more since it’s hard to sit with my legs folded but I do pray a lot. I think I am doing a “walking” meditation nowadays when I clean house so I end up accomplishing two things at once! Painting or drawing also helps a lot when I am in a funk. However, it sounds like you have grabbed Life by the tail again and are in it for the ride whether wild or tame! Hana Hou as they say in Hawaii!

  7. Kim

    Thank you for sharing your story. As a divorced mom with one child, I can relate. Many of us have to start several new chapters in life, and it is often scary because we don’t know where the story will go. Gratefulness has taken me far though, and I believe the energy you put out is what you receive in turn, and if not, get away from that negative energy. Please keep sharing your journey!

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      betty ming liu

      Kim, what a great reminder about gratitude. Sometimes the change seems endless. And guess what — it is. But I’m better at coping with it these days, thanks to gratitude. And, thanks to the energy of readers like you. Hope you stop by again soon. :)

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