Total Fitness: The BREAK-UP Guide


NOTE: Published in this month’s issue of TOTAL FITNESS magazine. Grab a copy TODAY!

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Who made the rule that you have to be friends with your Ex? No, seriously, how can two people who, at one point, shared everything in their lives –both emotionally and sexually, to the complete extent–ever break out of that mould and erase the past and pretend like it never happened? Some people manage with ease and élan, but some are just unable to.

I remember a very long time ago when R and I broke up, I often wondered ‘How can I be “friends” with him, when even now, when I’m not in love with him anymore, some part of me flinches to see him looking so good and taking this whole thing better than I ever could? How can I be friends with him, when he has successfully ruined my last three flings, because all of those guys looked at me and said,“Um…are you still hung up on your Ex?” How do I explain to people, that it is not because I am “into” him per se, it’s just that for a year and a half, he was the most important person in my life. He was my best friend, with benefits. We shut out everyone else, just being with each other. That he and I were like some stupid packaged deal that you cannot have one without having the other as well? And I hate that he’s able act all “Oh, I’m so over you” around me, and I turn into this completely different person, who’s being snarly and bitchy and picking fights for no reason at all. I might as well just paint myself red and run around waving a sign, saying “Remember me? I used to be your girlfriend. We used to date.”

That was six years ago and contrary to what my broken little heart feared before, my life did not end.  In fact, shortly after the proverbial bruise has disappeared and my ego has had a chance to repair itself, I woke up in a place where flowers are much more vibrant, the air a lot fresher, and dreams are much closer to reality.

Most of us who dare to love and make a decision to cast all else aside, are never spared from the lashings of a break-up – any break-up. When we are in a relationship, we tend to conduct our lives in a certain pattern or structure and this goes on for what seems like ages that when things finally come to a halt, we feel a great deal of pain and desolation. But usually, the pain is due to the fact that we suddenly have so much time in our hands that we don’t know what to do with – no more going to the gym together; no more candlelit dinners during anniversary and birthdays; no more hanging out with other couple friends, and yes, no more sex with the same person night after night after night.

Face it, the inevitable has arrived. You are no longer in a relationship and the sooner you accept that; the sooner you allow yourself to look past the hurt and wish the other party well, the better and stronger you will be. Getting over an Ex, especially if the relationship was the most intense you have had yet, can be a long and arduous process – but you will get there. Now to make sure you don’t self-destruct, here are some tips you can apply post-break-up:

  1. Find A Good Distraction. Go ahead, mull over the relationship and its demise, but NEVER obsess about it. If it ended, there must be a good reason why and there is no use trying to relive the good days over and over again in your head. So he now has someone new and it hurts like open-heart surgery without anaesthesia — but you have to move on. How to do this? Take on a new hobby. Start a blog. Get active in sports and group activities. Feed your creative side by reading great literary works or dabbling a little in poetry and prose.
  2. Keep Your Space and Ditch Memory Triggers. Usually, after a break-up, we go through the ‘We used to’ phase – ‘We used to come here every Saturdays’ ‘We used to shop here a lot’ – and it’s very normal. What is abnormal is when you insist on clinging to memory triggers:  Little gifts, dried-up flowers, and framed photos that you put on display on top of your office desk or the corner table in your bedroom, forming a little altar of love begone. See that trash bin over there? Use it! And while we’re on the subject, STOP CYBERSTALKING YOUR EX. Terrible idea.
  3. Love Yourself and Embrace Your Inner Goddess! So he dumped you for someone else – or a new toy (Don’t laugh, it can happen. A toy or hobby can sometimes be just as good a substitute to a tiresome lover!) big deal. Whatever she looks like, never use it as an excuse to wallow in self-pity and think yourself unattractive and unlikeable. You are beautiful and someone is dying to be with you. Keep your options wide open and don’t shut people out.
  4. Deal With the Hate Phase Positively. 9 out of 10 breakups are antagonistic, no matter how the splitting parties try to make it appear amicable. If the reason for the break-up is infidelity or betrayal of trust, expect rage to be boundless. But sooner or later, this phase will come to pass – unless you or your partner are chronically vindictive. Nonetheless, you should find a way to channel that hatred and rage. Be open to your friends about your feelings or write about it. By unburdening yourself of negativity, you are that much closer to achieving catharsis.
  5. Do NOT Rethink Your Decision…especially when break-up is caused by one party’s infidelity. It is very common for people to turn messianic thinking you can save that person from himself and if you find yourself going down that road, STOP and RUN the opposite direction! You wouldn’t want to be sitting in the front row for the re-run, believe me.

Breakup Sex.


Because lately most of my writing assignments are mainly on breakups and the arduous process of moving on – which is kind of an oxymoron if you ask me because my romantic life has never been more solid and colorful (quick, knock on wood three times!) – I remembered this little piece of brilliant poetry I wrote sometime in 2005 which i posted here. It was during that bleak period when I was dealing with my self-inflicted post-breakup drama with R, the man who had inspired some of my awkward writings in my beat-up journal. Yes, them with lined pages and confusing doodles of hearts, stick figures and what-not, usually at the bottom or top page. I tried to make some of the pages look even more abstract by doodling even more inexplicable images but my OCD tendencies just won’t stand for the mess so I would end up tearing the pages, re-writing the rubbish I would convince myself over and over again to be some awesome piece of literature, and sketching only a small heart, or star, or a floating leaf on some corner of the page.

Back then, I would mostly write about love as I knew it at the time and all the silliness that came with the package. But this one right here, this obra, is what I think would earn me my Pulitzer in the year 2090. Teehee!

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Breakup sex is how the relationship lid is sealed
Breakup sex means separation fulfilled

Breakup sex recognizes no emotion
Breakup sex is all about my orgasm and your ejaculation

Breakup sex takes so little time to get done
Breakup sex is what becomes of a love gone

Breakup sex is all “oooh, baby, oooh”
Breakup sex could also mean faking it, you know?

Breakup sex sure isn’t cathartic
Breakup sex is when you shag instead of speak

Breakup sex, farewell f*ck, call it what you want
Breakup sex is what we should be doing on my table right now, if I may be blunt.

Total Fitness: Is It Over? Recognize the signs!


Total Fitness April 2011

When you’ve been in the dating game for quite a while and have had your fair share of relationship highs and lows, chances are, you would have been quite adept at detecting a relationship that’s bound for failure. Especially when it is a relationship you’re involved in. However, most of us tend to play the denial card because relationships are wonderful and being suddenly cut-off from the ‘in a relationship’ club does not look good in your dating resume.

But relationships, no matter how  beautiful and promising they are and usually at the beginning, require a lot of hard work. And before you can even begin to work on your relationship, you have to have a clear understanding of what it is all about. You have probably heard couples say, “We knew the moment we saw each other across the room that this was THE ONE and we have been happily married for 20 years.” Although we all wish we could experience love this way, the reality is that for most of us, relationships go through certain stages.  According to Dr. Marty Tashman, a clinical psychologist, relationships and marriages that evolve successfully generally go through five phases of development: Honeymoon; Accommodation; Challenge; Crossroads; and finally, Rebirth.

But in most cases, relationships often do not survive the storm that rages after the honeymoon stage. As you know, the honeymoon stage is the romantic, passionate, stars-in-the-eyes phase where sex is beyond great and both of you can only think about being with each other and very little else. It’s when you think love is the greatest invention and is convinced beyond shadow of doubt that it’s perpetual. But of course, it’s not, which brings us to Phase  2 – Accommodation. This is when you and your partner are now confronted by the day-to-day realities and unfortunately, they’re not all pretty.  It is here that disillusionment sets in and power struggles become evident. The other person’s habits, needs, anger and withdrawal patterns become uncomfortably clear. Intense conflict has the potential for developing during this stage. This also where the relationship takes the hardest hit and partners find themselves aboard the flight to Splitsville (a popular tourist spot i’ve been told)  because they failed to see the warning signs – or perhaps they chose to remain in denial .

And what are these warning signs? Read on and see if you need to take a long hard look at your current romantic relationship.

  1. Conversation between the two of you has gone monosyllabic and you feel you would rather keep your thoughts to yourself rather than share it with him or her.
  2. He/she says, “I love you,” and you can’t bring yourself to say it back.
  3. You’ve started to notice other men with more interest than before and you make yourself pretty each day, not for him but for others to notice. Or he could be checking out other women more when he thinks you’re not watching.
  4. You no longer talk about the future and in the rare occasion that you do, one of you is obviously disinterested.
  5. You fight moreoften that you have fun.

 

***To read the complete article, grab a copy of this month’s TOTAL FITNESS magazine from your favorite magazine stand.

 

Simple Pleasures.


Fingers entwined, sunrise.

Tell me this. Don’t you sometimes feel that your life is but a cliché? A hazy blur of forgotten promises and dreams yet to be realized, or worse, unlived?

Every now and then I would feel my heart go on a full stop and I would be gulping in air like a drowning (wo)man – desperately soaking in everything, every moment in its entirety – as though to let slip even a dollop meant death. Such moments give me a feeling of incredible awe. Often, I have no idea what was so awe-inspiring to begin with but I did not want to question.

All I wanted was to live.

Lately, these moments have become exceedingly rare and often leave me with a deep sense of dissatisfaction. Lately, I have been waking up wanting to express what I feel, to shout for joy, writhe in pain and to share it with someone. And this is when I start sinking down the abyss again. My life, though beautiful, has been a chaotic struggle from one moment to another – drowning and resurfacing, sinking and soaring.

But despite that, I still believe with all my heart that these brief moments – and YOU – are what make life worth living for. Mine, especially.

Sunrise, fingers entwined.

Fingers entwined, sunrise.

What makes life beautiful?

The sunrise or the fingers?

I am once again in awe.

Ah, the simple pleasure of waking up to streaks of morning light…and none of his dark, ugly and disturbing shadows.

Who’s That Girl? (Subtitled: Something from 2008)


Karma karma karma chameleon...you come and go...you come and gooooo!

You know some of them, these people we label as chameleons. People who lose their identity to become who they think people want them to be. Girls who rapidly metamorphose from personality to personality to suit their partners. Boys who mutate from club-hopping partymeisters searching out their latest statistic to looking ridiculously agitated as they jump off their seats to do their girlfriends’ stern bidding. Put them together and you have two people buying into each other’s preferences — from music to books to food to clothes and all the way down to sport and recreational activities. They complete each other’s sentences; develop fondness for something they used to despise; and are just togetherallthetime24/7noroomforanyoneelse. If you’re friends with a chameleon couple, I’m afraid you will have to get used to the idea of having lunch, coffee, dinner or after-dinner drinks with the two of them – even when you really just need to be with one of them.

I confess I used to be a chameleon. I used to change personalities faster than my outfits. With Editor Ex, I was a party accessory. I went to most of the parties he went to, I hung prettily off his arm, and sometimes I’d chat with the other girls there while the guys went to get us drinks from the bar. Sometimes, (and this embarrasses me) I’d watch his weekend basketball game with friends or whatever, the perfect image of a groupie girlfriend, with the long curly tresses running down the back of my cute little tanktop which he says he likes over any other outfits I own because it doesn’t make him look terribly under-dressed standing next to me – only without the nicotine stick lodged between my fingers because I gave up smoking soon after we started going out. I quit smoking mainly because he didn’t smoke and since I’ve always planned to quit anyway, I thought ‘what an impeccable timing!’ I still haven’t snuck a puff (not even out of curiosity) since going cold turkey and if there’s one good thing that came out of that little episode that would’ve been it. That and my heightened appreciation for Formula One and 80’s music.

With Architect Ex from years ago, he was the chameleon. He started drinking because then I had just started my affair with Red Horse and wasn’t quite ready to cut loose, beginning with taking a swig from my bottle to finally buying his own drinks. My friends became his friends, the movies I loved were the movies he loved, the food I salivated for were the food he’d bring and eat with me while we pop in disc after disc on my DVD player at home. Did it get on my nerves? No, because I thought it was sweet and beautiful that he had the same pursuits, that he liked my friends and they liked him, that we were such a postcard couple.

In his book High Maintenance Relationships, Dr. Les Parrot described chameleons as the most deceptive of all the high-maintenance personalities because they seem to be low-maintenance at first. And because they are so agreeable, they seem to be very easy to get along with. But underneath the pleasant façade is a “complex web of distorted perceptions and insatiable longings.”

Chameleons need a lot of attention and they create a false sense of compatibility. And while compatibility feels superb because it makes us feel safe, understood, appreciated and comfortable, too much of it can also be stifling and suffocating.

 

HOW TO SPOT A CHAMELEON:

Chameleons live to please others. No matter the situation, they will always be wearing a smile. They hate the idea of hurting someone’s feelings as much as they hate feeling rejected. But chameleons are such experts in camouflaging themselves, making it a bit difficult for anyone to see through the rapid colour-changing. If you haven’t been with a chameleon I suggest you watch out for these unconventional behaviours:

  • Overly Agreeable – Chameleons agree with anyone they are with. They don’t openly share their opinions for fear of being contradicted.
  • Pushovers – She relies on you to make all the decisions or if she seems set to do one thing, it takes so little to talk her out of it.
  • Conflict-dodger – Chameleons can’t stand arguments or confrontations.
  • Guilt-prone – They blame themselves for everything that goes wrong.
  • Narrowly-focused – They get obsessed with the seemingly insignificant details.
  • Phoney – Chameleons always worry what everyone else thinks, so they look and act differently from how they really are.

 

HOW TO DEAL WITH A CHAMELEON:

Stuck with a chameleon? Well here’s some good news for you: Chameleons are the easiest to help change their ways so that you can both enjoy a more honest and fulfilling relationship.

  • See and Own Up to Your Own Chameleon Ways. Let’s face it. We all have our little chameleon in us.  At some point, we have had our own wishes hidden, fake-smiled and compromised just to make that someone like us more.  If you remember what it was like to worry about other people’s approval, then you might begin to understand her.
  • Find Out What She Really Likes. You like her, don’t you? Then take a personal interest in your chameleon. Ask how she’s doing and really listen. Like the rest of us, she becomes more genuine when she feels listened to, accepted, and understood.
  • Give Little Reassurances. Chameleons people-please their way through life and always defer to others because they are convinced their choices would be unpopular and people will like them less for it. Your girl needs little reassurances that her opinions are safe with you. Encourage her to share them, and show your appreciation for it when she does.
  • Ask for Honesty. We already know that she needs a lot of gentle prodding and encouragement before she will voice out her honest opinions on anything. But once you’ve coaxed it out of her, whatever you do, don’t show disapproval or disappointment if you don’t share her opinion. The more often you invite her honesty, the more genuine she will become around you.

 

Going back to the postcard episode Editor Ex and I briefly starred in, well, the show got cancelled shortly after the pilot and my friends all went like “Oh you don’t need him to fill your voids.” Or, “Honestly, we’re sick of seeing the two of you constantly together that we hardly get to spend time with you. Don’t you ever do anything without each other?” There were a few times too when I could almost swear they ignored me and my whining and who can blame them? I guess me as a chameleon is too much to handle even for my friends. Other times too, they’d scoff at me saying “Just wait till you start dating again, you’ll never even want to have anything to do with that guy or that silly little connection you imagined you had with him.” And once again, I admit, they were right on the money.

Personally though, I will never be a chameleon again. Though I think my case was mild and trifle compared to what others might have, I almost lost my identity once or twice in my past relationships and I’m scared if I let someone else swallow it up again I will never know who I am. Singlehood, I believe, is the road less travelled to self-discovery. It is knowing that one and one make TWO and NOT putting two halves together to make one whole or any of that. Do the math. I resolve to stay independent as a cat, mildly-opinionated, eccentric and fun. The only time I will ever be a chameleon would be in the privacy of my bedroom for some off-the-charts adult role-playing games. But that’s an entirely different story.

Overcoming Grief


When my Mom succumbed to breast cancer in 2003, I was not by her side. Not even within the premises of the hospital where she was taken three days before she drew her last breath, of which I was also not informed. I only learned about it when one of my siblings called me from the hospital. What followed after that was a very painful process of (a.) First, having to deal with the loss of my Mother who was the heart and soul of the family I have come to know as my own, minus the biological ties; and (b.) Having to deal with the painful drama that ensued between family members, made only worse by one ego trying to outdo another’s and, well, you must have seen enough teleseryes to know very ugly family squabbles can get sometimes.

Losing my Mom was not at all easy for me.  In more ways than one, her passing had alienated me from the rest of my adoptive family and for the first time in my life, I felt so alone – literally and figuratively.  Aside from one older brother who remained loyal to me from the very beginning, I did not have anyone else to talk to about the pain I was going through. I should have already gotten used to it by that time already given that I never did enjoy the brotherly-sisterly affinity that biological families enjoy because of one little thing that got in the way – DNA, which, I did not share with anyone of them. But still, losing my Mom hurt me more than I was prepared for.

Two years passed and it was my Dad’s turn to surrender his mortal body. Colon cancer took him away from us but if you ask me, a part of him died when Mom went and he died little by little every single day since. And once again, my tough and ultra-independent stance crumbled and I was left feeling raw and emotionally vulnerable.

Looking back at what could possibly be two of the darkest moments of my life, I realize how important having a good support system – composed mainly of family and friends – is. I had an abundance of the latter, but was clearly left out in the cold by the former. But I told myself, one out of two is still good and with my friends’ support, I was able to slowly get back on track and inch my way closer to complete catharsis.

During the healing process, I did not carry around a manual to refer back to for every achingly familiar situation I was about to face. But I do remember doing a lot of things which eventually led me to completely accept my loss and do what every person in the same situation must do – move on.

  1. I allowed the opulent pain of grief to wash over me and continously fought the urge to retreat into the dark world of denial.  My mother was gone and with it came the many interesting conversations we’ve had over the years and the sooner I  accept it, the better for me. And it did get better, eventually.
  2. I started keeping a journal which eventually turned into blogging. I would be the very first one to admit though that most of my blog entries are in no way spiritually transcendent, but by simply allowing my thoughts to flow from my head all the way through my fingertips, I have found  a way to honor my loved ones and keep my emotions on check, and my sanity intact.
  3. I asked for help during those times when the pain of loss was most acute.  I remember having countless conversations with my very dear friend Dinzo in coffeeshops or in his car. Monologue, was more like it, as I remember doing most of the talking anyway, but that was my way of letting it all out and it helped greatly.

Lastly, and I am very proud to say this, I never used my grief over my adoption and the loss of both my parents as an excuse to do bad things. I may have gone over the alcohol limit one too many times during my grieving period but I never lost control of my faculties. I took it one day at a time, all the while focusing on work, my writing, my friends, and other extra-curricular activities and before I even realized it, I was happy and smiling again.