Take a stand against self-hate when you go through a break up

Spring Retreat is completely full. I like to say “spring cleaning” retreat.

You can do spring cleaning retreat on your own mind no matter where you are, as you go about life. It’s nice to have you come to Seattle, but the wonderful thing about The Work is…it’s not required to go anywhere to do it.

You can stop somewhere, find a pen and paper or your favorite device, and begin by writing down your painful thoughts.

THEN….do The Work on one thought at a time.

The other day, several people shared that one place they feel stuck, sad, despairing, or frustrated is in the middle of a relationship.

A break up, irritation with your partner, not feeling attracted to someone anymore and feeling like you should be, divorce.

Now, finding something annoying about the person you’re living with can be difficult, like getting poked with a pin every time you once again observe it.

These thoughts are like mosquitos. Here they come again. Huff. “There he goes again with leaving his stuff all over the table” or “he’s so out of shape” or “she’s always eating my snacks” or “she shouldn’t be so impatient’.

But it seems when people share with me that a relationship, even with it’s quirks and faults, is OVER….

….they feel pretty dreadful.

Thoughts begin to appear like “I’ll be alone forever” or “no one really cares about me” or “he’s already moved on so fast, I must have meant nothing to him” or “she ruined my life by leaving”.

Whew, these are super intense.

Let’s take a look at a break up, and see if we can get a little spring cleaning done.

One of the most difficult things I realized, long ago when I was going through divorce, was that because I was no longer wanted as a primary partner….I concluded that it meant I was un-want-able.

Worthy of being left.

Because someone moves away from me, I did something wrong.

This can even happen with other close relationships, family, friends, children.

Is it true, that if someone leaves you, or ends the relationship, or doesn’t want to talk to you anymore….it means YOU are worthy of being left? Leave-able? Don’t deserve a relationship that remains intact?


How could it possibly mean this? There are so many factors involved.

How do you react when you believe you actually deserve to be left, or somehow caused it, or made it happen?

I know this is going to sound a little harsh….but it’s kind of grandiose. Negatively grandiose, I know. But I realized, that break up over a decade ago wasn’t All-About-Me. I knew, when I really answered the question honestly, that someone leaving did NOT automatically mean I deserved it.

How do you treat that person, when you think you don’t want them to leave, or you need them to stay so you can still be worthy?

Ooooh. Yikes. I’m treating them like they are a precious diamond or some incredible prize or possession I can’t be happy without. Unhappy when they aren’t around. Happy only if they are.

It’s like being in a volatile prison. Everything’s hanging on what that other person does (coming, going) and I’m not here in my own business watching the world do what it does–which includes that person apparently “leaving”.

People can’t even die without me freaking out, when I believe them leaving means something about me. When people go, I never enjoy my own company.

So who would we be without this incredibly alarming thought that people have to stick around for my worthiness and feeling of deserving ease and support?


You mean….I don’t have to depend on anyone staying? I don’t have to believe it means I did something wrong? Or I’ll be alone forever? Or I’m a loser?

Yes, what if this meant nothing about you? Who would you be without the story it’s YOU?

I found this as I did The Work during my divorce. I could see so many reasons why my former husband wanted out of a marriage and to move into a new paradigm, to stop the one-track road he had been on.

As I did my work, and explored who I’d be without my dreadful self-attacking thoughts….

….I could begin to genuinely find turnarounds too, without bitterness.

  • I am want-able; I’m here, I’m alive, I’m available
  • I don’t have to depend on someone’s presence to feel love
  • There is no deserve or not-deserve, I am simply alive and can love this moment no matter who is in or out of it
  • I’ll be connected and loved forever
  • everyone really cares about me
  • I was clinging and crying so fast, he must have meant nothing to me
  • she/he saved my life by leaving

I can find examples for every single one of these turnarounds.

My life is completely different because of the pain I experienced through break-up. It woke me up. I was in a nightmare when it came to what I believed about relationship and love.

Now, I feel free when it comes to relationship, partnership and love, almost all the time. I get the best of everything: a feeling of independence like being single, and a kind accepting partner to spend time with and laugh with.

I see there’s wonderful things about being all alone, un-partnered, and that “deserving” or “worthiness” have nothing to do with partnering. Except maybe if I feel unworthy to begin with, I’ll put out that vibe big time and people will get the message and leave. I felt that way during my previous marriage: full of doubt and self-criticism. His leaving was a perfect match to how I already saw me. We were on the same page.

I see with others who have left that I don’t have to be so distraught when they go. My father died long ago, for example, and I still feel his love and have little conversations with him all the time. I don’t need his body to be here to feel comfortable.

Who would you really be without your stories of alone-ness or having a partner or being “in” a relationship or being “out” of one?

Everyday we’re “in” then “out” of relationship. Life is moving and dancing all over the place. All day long, this very day, the man who is my husband was gone, nowhere to be seen (by me). I hardly thought of him. He was busy teaching kids. I was busy doing The Work with people.

Perhaps fully breaking up could be the same in the end.

Without me putting heavy, harsh, self-attacking meaning on people coming and going….I’m watching, feeling, loving, sharing, moving, holding still, crying, laughing, thinking, taking action, being a human.

“It’s confusing for someone to conclude that they aren’t loved because there is something wrong with them. This person, who is trying to become lovable spends much time, attention and energy trying to be good, earn approval, please others, be perfect. 

And then, when they find that all that trying to be good doesn’t work, and doesn’t in fact get the love and approval they want, the only thing they know how to do is TRY HARDER. 

If you can find the willingness to look, and take a stand against the scam self-hate has you caught in, the confusion will give way to clarity.”

~ Cheri Huber in There Is Nothing Wrong With You

All I know is, ending the self-hate scam and self-improvement efforts have freed up time to explore many more things in this world.

And also freed up time or awareness somehow, to notice the red leaves fluttering in the wind through the window, the flash of pale pink blossom between bright green trees, a child on her bicycle flying past the front door, the tapping of the keyboard, the silence behind my back, the willingness to die without having all the answers.


Much love,


P.S. Breitenbush! Come join us to question the thoughts that keep you in conditioned self-improvement scam stories. We need you for other adventures in the world. At least, that’s a thought going through this mind. And, I love you even if you’re stuck.

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