Adult language ahead! ~ Ed.
Being alive right now is like winning the civilizational jackpot.
On some days, this perspective may be difficult to embrace with all that is going on around us, but we are living in a time that will make or break empire and legacies. It’s as though we have tickets to the show of the cosmos and all of history.
The New Era is here!
To live through this period—call it the Digital Revolution, the Awakening, the End Times—is to bear witness to one of the most spectacular eras that will impact the story of life on Earth. We are demanding justice in every aspect of life, watching as the days of reckoning have come for politics, power, wealth, the economy, spirituality, business, wellness, equality, and the environment.
It seems that no matter how politics and media try to divide and tell us it is impossible to trust anything, there is a growing number of us who is ready to trust themselves and one another again. We are now questioning the reasons why we distrusted ourselves and one another in the first place, and what pillars we may need to retire that uphold fears that no longer serve us.
So while this transformation is large-scale, beautiful, and systematic—it’s about damn time it trickles its way down to how we approach dating and relationships.
As a single woman, I started to notice a relentless pattern in both serious and casual relationships with men I’ve dated: they are never fully available. I kept attracting men who had ever-present exes, which introduced me to a layer of ghosts.
Let me explain. I would walk into their homes, trying to ignore the presence of their former partners, especially the more serious ones. As the new person, how do we explain the ghost we feel around us: in the hallway, on the pillow, in the shower, standing at the sink, or from behind the stare in your new lover’s eyes as they stop on their ex’s picture on social media when scrolling during idle time?
It’s not paranoia. It is the perspective, rightly so, of those who have been subject to storms we hardly stood a chance of surviving.
The same goes for women. We claim to be “totally over” our exes, but many of us are lying to ourselves.
We are not doing a good job of breaking up with one another.
Not that anyone can blame us for this behavior either: we have been programmed to be “shitty exes” to one another. To me, this is when we do not let others move on from us. Messages embedded in our entertainment, literature, and music give clear instructions on how to do this: assume obsession, compete with potential new lovers, enact revenge where necessary, inflict pain for attention, and latch on using emotional manipulation when lonely.
We have been conditioned to focus on our own inner flaws instead of our growth. Powerful industries (particularly Hollywood) have spent the last several decades lacing their stories with coping strategies that increase our consumerism and therefore their profits. They’ve led us into unhealthy patterns to keep us in a toxic feedback loop. Just think of the less-than-flattering portrayal of breakups that show men and women using junk food and alcohol to cope with pain.
Technology is also to blame, at least in part. New apps and platforms made it easier for us all to romantically connect online, but they lacked mechanisms for ending our rendezvous with closure and honor. It was easy to slide into inboxes, yet there was no plan for exiting even our most casual encounters. We collectively opted for ghosting, or utter disappearances, instead of simply saying, “Hey, our paths are splitting—and I am really thankful for our crossing.”
Social media makes getting closure more complex as we watch the life we were just in from a distance. It has gotten to the point that meeting someone new who deals with their shit is refreshing and super-human. I’d like to believe this once was normal, and we’ve slipped into a mindset of constant confusion that feels a lot like mental purgatory. That build-up of a mental purgatory now has its own legion of unresolved endings.
What if collectively, we decided that being a “good ex” is a worthwhile value? It could be a key to our continued growth as a species for more than just emotional, personal, and self-help reasons. I think figuring out how to move on from “shitty ex” norms, to conversations about how to be a “mindful former partner” can contribute to our collective evolution.
Humans have long turned to ceremony when passing through transition. It is why our ancestors went out into nature when crossing over from adolescence to adulthood, and why burning mementos can play a pivotal role in putting things to rest. Failure to process a transition causes buildup and blockage in our conduits of becoming our true selves, but these rituals can activate a switch that moves things along.
By not going through motions of laying things to rest, we are at the mercy of our unresolved memories. I accept and acknowledge that I have to observe the residue that lingers in others, free of my own judgment. After all, each of us has powerful memories of and with people. However, the mind is like an energy switchboard and we have full control over what we energize. We need to be active thinkers in order to see the life we want reflected around us.
Breaking up isn’t always easy, but in an era when there is no shortage of examples to look to on how to be a “shitty ex,” where do we learn how to be a mindful former partner? Is that even something we are interested in becoming? Can we redefine what it means to be a person’s ex-something, and find another word to evolve from it?
If ever there is a time, it is now.
“Old minds think: How do we stop these bad things from happening?
New minds think: How do we make things the way we want them to be?” ~ Daniel Quinn
So how do we create breakups the way we want them to be? And how does changing our breakups change our society?
We first must change the old assumptions that tell us we need another person to fill a void within us, that we need to possess one another. In the New Era, the base assumption is that through mindful living and choices, we are whole. In the New Era, we enter partnerships and romantic possibilities when they bring benefit to our total livelihood.
Eventually, as the reasons we enter relationships change, so will the way we exit them. In changing our practices of parting, we can begin to see the magic and value in crossing, even if that crossing doesn’t lead to “happily ever after.” We can exit fully when we acknowledge that someone is no longer bringing benefit to our path or that the lessons we needed to learn from them have been fulfilled.
The Old Era already has a library filled with centuries of pain. Ending these loops and repetitive patterns of behavior are hallmarks of the New Era, which is all about co-creating and flourishing. Adopting this mindset impacts what we think is possible for all facets of life, including our relationships.
In Part II, I will share a few things: technical, emotional, and spiritual; that may help us flip the switches of mindful relationship transition.
Ultimately, redefining our breakups to that of being a mindful former partner is to manifest a greater vision. When we free the stagnant ghosts that continue to hurt one another, we can redirect that energy towards the co-creation of new infrastructure and ideals of the future. We can work on filling a new library with our current inventions, philosophies, art, stories—and cross to the other side, which we have yet to discover.
Author: Jill Boyd
Image: tacit reqiuem/Flickr
Apprentice Editor: Winonah A. Harrington
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Leah Sugerman