skitched-20111026-232851.jpgLast night, I woke up briefly and heard the familiar rush of ticking in my ear. I vaguely remember muttering “Listen to yourself”, being awake for a few moments to hear the noise stop immediately and then I went back to sleep.

Some of you may know that for nearly two years I struggled with tinnitus and vertigo in and on again/off again saga that at times was pretty debilitating. Giving up wheat a year ago seemed to kick it into touch but it returned again a couple of times. On some level, I knew that it had to do with stress, but as I was too busy spreading myself thinly between work, kids, etc, I didn’t really do anything with that niggling knowledge.

One day in the car, I was really peeved over a family matter and was venting my annoyance with the boyf. The annoying ticking started up again out of the blue. I’d stop talking and it would stop. I pointed this out to him and for a few moments I thought it was something to do with speaking or my jaw, but then the ticking went nuts again. We continued talking and my ear was rattling so loudly that I had to shut myself up and change the subject.

The niggling knowledge was there but it was like I just couldn’t (OK more like wouldn’t) see it.

In August, those niggles kept getting louder and louder and suddenly I remembered a book that one of my friends had told me about nearly a decade ago. I’d purchased it at the time, skimmed through, noted a chart of various physical ailments and what they meant and then seemed to stuff it to the back of my mind. Even when I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis and went on to eventually do kinesiology and acupuncture, I didn’t think to pick it back up. However I suddenly couldn’t stop thinking about the book and picked up a copy of You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay. Before I’d even left the bookstore, I flicked straight to the back and looked up tinnitus, vertigo and TMJ with my heart thumping.

Tinnitus – “refusal to listen”. Dizziness “flighty, scattered thinking. A refusal to look”. Jaw problems (the TMJ) – “anger, resentment, desire for revenge”.

In some respects it’s like I’ve come full circle and been reminded of a lesson I learned early on in my journey of learning to love myself and improve my life – that my body, basically me, is capable of telling me everything I need to know about me…if I’m willing to listen and pay attention. I did this very well for about four years and then I got sidetracked.

When I’d get together with my ex, the guy who had the girlfriend, I used to have terrible migraines. They’d often start round about the time when he was trying to get my clothes off… The migraines stopped when I started No Contact.

The morning after the first time we got together, I woke up unable to see properly out of one eye and had light sensitivity. In the months that followed, right up until the night before I wound up in eye emergency, each time we had a trist, my eye flared up.

There was the awful panic attack when he was haranguing me in the street because of his jealousy and possessiveness.

With another ex, I developed a terrible rash right around the time when I definitely should have taken a parachute and jumped.

I suddenly developed asthma at 21 with another ex (the one who said all the race things, tapped my mates up for threesomes etc), which stopped after we broke up although returned for a brief stint when I went out with the ex with the drink, anger, and secret drug problem.

And of course my health dramatically improved and I dodged being put on steroids for life when I dealt with 28 years of hurt, frustration, anger, and resentment two years into my struggle with sarcoidosis.

When I tell you all this, it’s not because I’m all new age or an evangelist for alternative medicine (I’m not) but what I do want to emphasise is that what is important is to pay attention to you and what your body may be telling you in the context of the type of life that you lead.

Just over two years ago, my youngest daughter was only a few months old and it was quite an adjustment dealing with a toddler and a newborn. And then my mother and I clashed again at the end of the summer plus my father was doing his Mr Unavailable thing and flaking out on me. Initially I was so rightfully p*ssed off that I felt validated, but then the whole thing seemed to resurrect a lot of old stuff in my subconscious. I’m talking dreams, suddenly remembering stuff that I hadn’t even remembered when I’d gone through the major period of working through my issues, suddenly hearing old conversations, and even arguing in my head. One day I had to acknowledge just how angry I was – a renewed, fresh anger that had been triggered by the fallout.

Once I started acknowledging, venting, and processing my frustration, primarily to the boyf and my brother, the dreaming, memories, and sudden mental conversations ceased. Even though I didn’t make the connection between the whole ‘ear thing’ and the anger etc, because I learned from having sarcoidosis that unprocessed anger, hurt etc has negative repercussions, I made a conscious effort to deal with it.

Sometimes you need a boot up the bum to connect the dots. Ever since I read what I actually already knew but didn’t listen to, the vertigo has stopped and the ticking has only appeared to give me a jolt. As soon as I hear it, I stop in my tracks and listen to myself.

This means:

Thinking about what I’m doing at that moment and whether it’s working for me.

Listening more closely to what I was just thinking moments before. It may be something brief that passed through that is important, or annoying, or both, or whatever.

Who am I around and what are they doing?

Is there something that has been on my mind all day?

Am I ignoring something? Denying something (I’m on the BS Diet so I do my utmost to avoid this)? Not acknowledging a feeling or the importance?

Am I remembering something even if it’s from the past that I need to work through even if it’s just to think about some more or put pen to paper? Reading comments on my last post triggered some ticking!

Am I doing something that invalidates my own feelings, worth? Are they crossing boundaries?

Am I in a familiar situation? Or what is the situation? What am I feeling? What do these feelings remind me of? You’ll find there are certain situations that subconsciously get your back up.

Am I eating something I shouldn’t be? Listening to my body for six years has taught me that I don’t seem to be able to handle an excess of anything.

Am I procrastinating about something?

Am I afraid or nervous without fully realising?

Do I need to write a list?

Am I trying to do too much? Am I overpromising myself? Am I overwhelmed? I actually, like a lot of people, get email paralysis!

Is there an assclown in the vicinity? Joke…sort of.

Is someone expecting too much of me?

Write it down, record yourself on your phone or even do a video, keep a Feelings Diary, have a nightly run down of the day with yourself so that you can go off to sleep and let your mind relax and process the day. Sit down for five minutes. Keep an ongoing list. Have the awkward conversations. Make decisions.

One of the things that had caused the spate of vertigo, tinnitus etc was frustration at rewriting Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. Two weeks after I started listening to me, it was done. I have learned that while I have infinitely much more self-esteem and take no prisoners, that I hate not doing things, I do get very impatient and frustrated with myself, and I probably (OK do), still have to ensure that I stay on top of that fear of failure, fear of success thing that can put you in No Man’s Land (another post idea there!).

In short, listen to yourself. What are you trying to tell you?

Your thoughts?

The new edition of Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl is now available to buy both in print and in digital formats plus check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and and more in my bookshop.

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151 Responses to How I Learned To Listen To Myself Again…And Why You Should Too

  1. Natasha says:

    I can definitely relate! I have an autoimmune disorder that’s triggered by eating wheat. I’d never had any kind of food allergy, but then all of a sudden, last year my health just…sucked. Interestingly enough, this all started when I was working for a boss that yelled at me (and many others, so I tried not to take it personally) for the entire office to hear and my ex was engaging in blatant assholery. In order to be diagnosed with this thing, the doctor has to take a picture of the inside of the intestine (sorry, TMI, I know haha!) and I couldn’t believe it when I saw it – it was like I stressed and anger-repressed myself into the ruination of my digestive tract. Amazingly, now that I work from home and have been NC for some time, my symptoms aren’t nearly as bad – even when I’ve accidentally eaten the Forbidden Wheat. The only time they kick up again is when *big shocker* my ex starts pestering me or someone else upsets me. I really loved this post – very, very wise words.

    • NML says:

      Totally related to this Natasha! We must be doing a twin vibe with the immune system and wheat! What I’ve realised is that the wheat is an issue when the body is already under stress. I have a bit of wheat (I just couldn’t resist banoffee pie when with the kids the other day), and I was fine. It’s also surprisingly easy to have wheat by accident as its in a hell of a lot of stuff. Your body is a unit. I reckon if you wont’t pay attention to one aspect, it’ll force you to in another way. When I took care of my physical health, I began taking care of my emotional health because I realised I’d neglected myself.

      • Natasha says:

        Twin vibe indeed! I was just at a coffee shop that has these unbelievable mini-muffins and I thought, “Hmmmm, I’m stress-free today. Maybe just one little teeny tiny one?” 😉 Luckily I had my dog with me and he must have known what I was thinking, because he sat his chunky self on my foot.

        In related news, I’ve been seeing a new specialist for the past few months – he’s very old-school and a dude I would guess to be in his mid-60’s. He was asking me about sources of stress that cause symptoms to pop up. I felt very awkward saying, “I have an ex that bothers me.”, but I figured I’d better be honest. The doctor said, “Ohhhh. What did he do?” I said, “Well, he kept talking me into getting back together and ditching me. The last time was a particular problem because it happened at Christmas and he basically informed me that he’s grossed out that I’m a half-Jew.” To which the doctor replied, “If you like, I can place a call to him and inform him that, for medical reasons, he is not allowed to call you. I mean, I don’t even know this asshole and he’s making me sick.” Oh snap!

        • NML says:

          Honestly choked laughing at that comment! Hi-la-ri-ous Natasha! I do heart you!

          • Natasha says:

            Girl, you know I heart you too! :) It was absolutely hilarious – even the nurse couldn’t keep it together! I said, “I know you’re kidding, but even if you weren’t, it would be out of the question. He has a roster of sob stories specifically recounted to show what a long-suffering, sensitive soul he is. Next thing you know, I’m the ‘sick ex’ story that he’s telling at bars to get laid.” At that point, no one in the room could keep it together haha!

        • Anari says:

          Love it!

          • Natasha says:

            I did too Anari haha! Hearing this renowned, esteemed doctor dropping the word “asshole” still cracks me up. My Dad said that people in his age group have heard a million tales of nice girls getting hurt by jackasses and, therefor, the response is unfiltered 😉

        • Karina says:

          Natasha…you rock! Love your style! And love that specialist’s attitude!

  2. Cheese sandwich says:

    This resonates with me so much! When I was with my ex-bf (total AC, wouldn’t know where to start) I developed a niggling cough about 6 months into our relationship. I was living in a poor standard of accommodation so I assumed it was because of that. Almost 4 years down the line, yup, still coughing. Then I went to work in a hospital abroad (I was a med student at the time… I know) away from him and the coughing stopped. I assumed it was the heat and humidity clearing my chest up. Then I received an email from him and suddenly… coughing again.

    Ironically, med school taught me to listen to the patient as they’re telling you the diagnosis, yet I couldn’t/wouldn’t listen to myself – so much so that I got a physical manifestation of how bad the relationship was for me. I know we’re taught the mind and body are distinct, but this was a wake up call in the sense that if you’re not being mindful of what’s going on in and around you, the body will kick up a fuss in return.

    Great article. Happily cough-free

  3. LarLa says:

    The last few months I was in a job I didn’t like I had an eye tick that wouldn’t go away. Haven’t felt it once since I got laid off.

    • NML says:

      That’s so true LarLa – I know so many people who have had the eye ticking due to work!

    • SM says:

      Wow Lar-la I get the eye twitching thing too which is then followed by a migraine. I always thought it was the weather. Now I’m really going to pay attention the next time it happens and determine if I’m stressed.

  4. imfree says:

    So true – I have an autoimmune disease which flares up and down and has done for many many years. Luckily I have been okay recently, however I swear that stress exacerbates it. I remember one night with the AC I was in so much physical pain along with the stress of dealing with *his* pain and second thoughts at having left his wife, it was pure torture. Not only was I suffering with this illness, it was compounded by his lack of care towards me and total absorbtion in his own problems. Our romantic evening in a hotel was spent with me just lying there swallowing pain killers trying not to move and wanting to cry everything hurt so much. (Now you would think a doctor would actually be okay at dealing with medical stuff and be caring – hmm, nope!)

    I am slowly beginning to realise the importance of being honest with yourself about how you are feeling and why. This last bit is where I have struggled in the past. Often for me feeling low seemed to come out of the blue and totally railroaded me. And if you can’t link it to anything, then you feel like you can’t do anything to change it or make changes to the situation that is causing it. I also thought I was a bit weird/odd to have these awful feelings just descend upon me…I couldn’t link these feelings to the result of someone treating me badly as I didn’t expect to be treated well…so in that sense nothing was wrong (if you see what I mean).

    I used to come off the phone to AC and some of the things he would say (or wouldn’t say) were like a punch in the stomach and would send my mood through the floor. I would put it down to me over reacting, because these things weren’t *awful* – e.g. him talking about him wanting to buy a house in a year or so – with the underlying message being that wouldn’t be with me. Rather than facing up to the fact that he was telling me in a round about way we weren’t going in the same direction and it was okay for me to feel bad as a) someone I loved didn’t feel the same way about me, and it was normal to feel crap about that b) I would have to *do* something with this information, like leave the relationship – I just felt awful yet didn’t know why… – my low expectations of my relationship and what I was worth meant I rationalised things by thinking why would someone want to move in with me, i was just asking/expecting too much.

    I should have listened to how horrible physically I felt to let me know things were wrong wrong wrong

    • NML says:

      Hi Imfree, I think it’s important also to remind ourselves that being railroaded may just be your body’s way of saying “Pleeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeeee take care of me! Feed me. Take me to the doctors. See a counsellor. Drop that asshole. Listen to me. Pay attention. Stop denying. Dooooooo something!”

  5. Movedup says:

    “In short, listen to yourself. What are you trying to tell you?” I didn’t even listen to me when I was with the ExEUM/AC and told myself in my journal to lose this loser. A year later – it took dropping 15 lbs, hair falling out, seriously stressed to the max, diagnosed with anxiety and depression (double whammy) and the threat of being institutionalized to get the picture. Living against my own primary values and beliefs was killing me. You shouldn’t have to be medicated to be with someone. I drop weigh fast under pressure and have been “small” all my life. Thou I still battle anxiety it really hit home when my son picked me up off the ground a full 25lb heavier than then and said – “Wow Mom you must be happy I have never seen you weigh this much!” Listen to your body – it will tell you whats going on or in the least alert you that something is wrong…

    Now to tackle those past moment reflections that pop up from time to time for no apparent reason… there must be one but what is the trigger… There’s one for you to tackle Nat – why years later seemingly out of the blue does a blast from the past creep up and piss you off when it should be long gone?

    • NML says:

      Hi Movedup, isn’t it just clearing out? Your mind may think you’re in a better position to handle it, see it with fresh perspective, maybe learn something new about yourself that you may be able to connect to a current or future lesson, or lay it to rest. I don’t think moving forward is about erasing your memory – people who have grieved even the most terrible of things still remember or get random memories. We’re works in progress. I remembered some completely forgotten stuff the other day about an ex. If I’d remembered it 6+ years ago, I might have seen it as a sign of how fucked up I was – instead I was like “Wow! That was a really bad relationship and he was a dick. Thank God you got away. Ooh that incident actually relates to a future blog post…”

  6. Ramona says:

    Wow Natalie. You are amazing. When I was in the relationship, I couldn’t eat much. Also, my metabolism was running on overdrive. I was so skinny, 2 of my friends cried tears when they saw me. They thought I was bulimic. I also, To make matters worse, drank to the point of passing out. Sometimes very embarrassing situations. Now, all good. Healthy weight and a glass of wine at night. NC is the key. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Ramona

    • NML says:

      Gosh Ramona – I’m glad that you are feeling much better!

    • Karina says:

      Ramona, I can totally relate. When I was with the ex AC , my parents went to visit me and my mom started crying about how thin I was and I’ve always been small. But that time you could of counted my ribs. I even went to visit my old college roommate and when she saw me at the airport she asked where was the other half of her roommate. We really need to focus on ourselves more when those things start to happen and affect us. I wa so thin because I hardly ate and was addicted to exercise because my ex AC used to say I dkdn’t have flat enough abs. Total creep!

  7. anoosh says:

    Natalie, I have hardly been able to process the last post, and here you are with another whammy. I’m still writing my magnum opus comment on My Life As A Dreamer, but now might have to switch gears to start contemplating the whole physical problems connection to repressed anger, grief, etc. Well, maybe I can do both :)

    I guess we each manifest stuff physically in totally unique ways. Science has proven the connection between stress and deadly illnesses, that’s a given. I read Hay’s books decades ago. but I’m extremely skeptical of new-age anything, any type of “healing” based on pseudoscience or just wishful thinking. I think the whole blame-the-victim-for-not-“believing”-hard-enough thing that terminally ill people get thrown at them is truly horrific, just wrong wrong wrong. that said, I know what I’ve been through with anxiety, insomnia, depression, etc is not in my imagination. I’ve literally felt instantaneous bodily/mind state change to toxic, poisoned, chest/throat seizing up, shortness of breath for months — after being rejected suddenly. not just by boyfs either, girlfs too. i believe it all began with getting bullied by girls at 10. then add a decade+ of cruel teasing about body, shape, facial/body hair (thx for the genes Mom), having major heartbreaks from 19-25 and *voila!*, a lifetime of rejection sensitivity + post-traumatic-breakup-disorder = perfect radar/magnet for EUMs.

    I feel lucky to not have to battle debilitating illnesses, or even many colds for that matter. but at 46, I feel that I don’t settle the emotional issues somehow and get some inner peace, any more traumas which take years to recover from could really do me & my health in. More on being a Dreamer later…

    • NML says:

      Hey Anoosh – good to hear from you! I still haven’t finished the book or even read half of it – I didn’t need to and as I said to Magnolia, I found that some of it as a bit new age for me but what I have found that resonated with me is pure gold. It’ll take more than affirmations to change your life although learning to positive self-talk etc is critical especially for a ruminating mind.

      I have friends whose frustration, anger, and futile attempts at trying to be and do everything give way to depression. They deal with those aspects of their life, the depression fades.

      Ultimately even mental and physical health is an action thing which feeds back into the mentality which feeds back into the action. When I was forced to address my physical health, I ended up dealing with my emotional health which helped the physical health. Letting go of a bad relationship became a thousand times easier. Really it’s basically self-care as a whole.

  8. Movedup says:

    Ok insight on this one. Just came to mind when I re-read the article. Lately I have been working on breast cancer fundraisers mostly through Zumba – (recommend it to anyone) and it hit me. One thing that pissed me off and still does was that he cheated with the highest age group category rate of infection of HPV. My family history is wrought with death from various women’s cancers so I am considered high risk my age also a factor. He made a decision for me I would not make for myself and potentially exposed me to a deadly STD knowing my family history. He never told me so I could get screened – early detection is the best for survival – or opt out. He carelessly took my life in his hands. Thankfully I got checked and dodged a bullet literally. He played russian rouliette with my life with all the chambers loaded but one. At the time my sister was going through this same thing and ended up with uterine cancer because of it and a full hysterectomie (sp) to boot. Maybe working for women’s health concerns and watching friends and family go through this horrible trauma of watch and wait and pray brings this old anger up. I am ok but how close I came and at the hands of someone else who made a bad decision made for me. It just pisses me off all over again. Jerk! How to resolve this and still do the work I love to do.

    • NML says:

      Hey Movedup – your ex is a real piece of work although you know that considering his actions in the context of your health would require empathy which he has an allergy to….

      Have you truly acknowledged, vented, and processed how you feel about him? You don’t get anger on a group discount – I’m sure there’s more than one thing you’re angry at. Don’t lump them all together but also grieve what happened. If someone did that to me, it would take some time to come to terms with. You may even have some anger at yourself. Unsent letters time. Also use the Zumba to deal with feelings afterwards – it’s grieving.

  9. Lin says:

    This article is just what I needed tonight. Thank you so much Natalie! Funny how that happens sometimes. At the moment my work situation is causing me more stress than my romantic relationship. There are assclowns everywhere and I’m dealing with a whole herd!

    Doing my best to get out of the situation gracefully and move toward something more positive. I have been on this career search for years but like a bad relationship I have, up to this point, been unable to find the courage and confidence in myself to break away from the security of a job I know and am well compensated for. Nonetheless I keep finding myself unsatisfied and unable to get what I need from it besides a paycheck.

    For 12 years I’ve felt a yearning for more meaning in my work life. Tonight I had an emotional meltdown in the car on the way home and your suggestion about figuring out what triggered it is really helping me. Going into the office tomorrow I will be much more aware of these cues and diffuse their power before they even have a chance to trigger an emotional response. I’ve come to understand these responses have deep roots in my troubled relationship with my mother that ended without resolution after her death 26 years ago.

    As a result I find myself having trust issues in all of my relationships – home, work, social – unable to maintain healthy connections long-term in any of these areas. I expose myself to emotional pain by inappropriately trusting the unworthy, undermine and sabotage decent relationships by betraying trust and have trouble consistently trusting when it’s appropriate so I struggle to form and maintain healthy relationships.

    Fortunately I have a very well-timed counseling session tomorrow. My concern with the work situation is jumping from one bad job to another. I am interviewing for an opportunity that on the surface could be my first step (finally!) toward my search for more meaningful work. I was thinking on the way home that I need to keep listening to myself and paying attention to cues so I take actions in my best interest rather than walking out with flames of fire burning in the tracks behind me as I have done before.

    Again, thanks so much for what you do. Your articles have been a huge help to me in so many ways. :-)

    • NML says:

      Hi Lin, I hope you’re feeling better today – it’s a horrible feeling to break down in tears like that. You’re clearly very unhappy with your situation. Work is a part of it but it sounds like a wider pattern of distrust and unhappiness. You also don’t trust yourself which is why you haven’t made a decision which is why so many aspects of your life are not resolved. You’re right not to jump out of the fat into the fire but I would invest some time, effort and even money into understanding what it is you want out of a career. What is it that you really want to do?

      When I first started taking care of myself, I experienced a very typical stressful situation at work which I gritted my teeth over despite being internally very upset. I ended up with a migraine that lasted for 4 days and a panic attack. When I went back to work, I spoke my mind and the next time they pulled that shit, I was ready for them. Eventually, I committed to listening to myself and started working for myself while on maternity leave. Best thing I ever did career wise.

  10. Tiamat says:

    God bless you Natalie, you are so astute. My ex AC abused me so much emotionally and verbally that I actually developed shingles! Twice. (Every doctor I met told me you are only supposed to get them once.) The intense physical pain was merely a symptom of an even deeper psychic pain. The more NC I am (and its a tricky situation) the better I feel physically. Time and again my body has told me what my mind doesn’t want to hear! I think noting/writing what is going on with you emotionally when you are feeling unwell is a great way to make the correlations when they happen and learn how to listen to yourself. Thanks so much for continuing to share your own journey with us, NML its so very helpful to know that even someone as wise as you learns a little more (and gets a little healthier) every day.

    • NML says:

      You’re very welcome Tiamat. Funny I know someone who had shingles twice in a similar type of relationship. Your body was saying ‘Get out. This is toxic!’

  11. MaryC says:

    I too had vertigo a few months ago, your post made me remember it was right after seeing my ex at the grocery store. It only lasted on and off for a few weeks but now I think about it my heart has always ruled but this time it was my brain letting me know to associate pain/unhappiness with him.

    What wonderful creatures we are if we would only listen to what we’re trying to tell ourselves.

    • NML says:

      I remember when you bumped into him. It no doubt triggered a lot of scattered thinking as on one hand you knew that he was a clown and that you were right to cut him off but he also triggered lots of contradictory feelings and grief in you. I’m glad you made peace with it again MaryC x

  12. Samantha says:

    Great post. Humans tend to disregard their physical ailments and/or do not connect them with other things going on in their life. It seems like the root of the majority of these problems are triggered by stress.

    Before I ended things with a big ass clown, I lost weight, could not sleep and I started finding grey hairs and my skin looked terrible. After I got rid of his disrespectful ass, I started sleeping better immediately, and my grey hair has disappeared (I was 24 at the time). I am still trying to gain back the weight and my skin is clearing up. I made the connection that he was causing all of this and not my diet and the heat–I was in denial.

    • NML says:

      Yeah it’s funny Samantha how we can find all sorts of random stuff to blame our ailments on. I bet if you’d gone to the Arctic with him the symptoms would have remained 😉 I’m glad to hear you’re so much better!

  13. EmJay says:

    When I continued to be with my ex despite the fact he was making my life miserable. I developed depression and anxiety. These examples are fairly obvious but also must be one of the mind and bodies clearest ways of communicating that all is not well. I also had several outbursts of nasty cold sores and developed eczema which I’d never had before. All these conditions I believe have been linked to stress. Coming up for two years NC and I am doing so much better. Yay :) Another great post Nat! Look after your emotional and spiritual well being and this can only benefit your physical well being. The only thing I can’t shift is the eczema on my feet!? Any tips anyone, lol x

    • NML says:

      Hi Emjay, I don’t know much a great deal about eczema but it’s definitely stressful factors although it sounds like it’s on its way out literally at your feet. Are you moving forward or standing still in life? Also make sure you have a good diet and aren’t eating something that’s exacerbating things – like a temporary intolerance.

    • Eloise says:

      Emjay, I suffered with bad eczema on my face for approximately ten years. At the time I was suffering from low self esteem (particularly about the way I looked) and was was seeking validation of my worth through my *relationships* with men. Of course, the guys I chose actually gave me the opposite of what I was seeking.

      From what I’ve read about eczema (in adults who haven’t had it in childhood) – it is something about invalidating your self, being overly sensitive and self critical and not being comfortable with the skin you’re in. It’s apparently sometimes connected with unexpressed anger. Having eczema on your feet may be about not feeling able to move forward…. Some foods may aggravate it.

      Apart from working on my self esteem and relationships with men, I went to visit a chinese doctor and got prescribed chinese herbs. It took a couple of visits to the chinese doctor to get the right formula, but when I did, it disappeared over night.

  14. PJM says:

    Totally. While I was with the EUM, I got this pain in the neck. Had physiotherapy, etc and it did get sorted – but – guess what – the EUM WAS a pain in the neck!

    My migraines have certainly cleared up since NC as well. In fact, I just generally feel less stressed, less miserable and it’s like there’s more room in my life for happiness.

    I have learned to recognise that sinking feeling when he’s around as just that: the laying of an immense burden on a soul that should be free and light.

    And the dream life: oh mamma. A dream that I saw a camel with his face, with a really contemptuous look on it, and he spat at me. A dream that I had to change his nappies.

  15. AngelFace says:

    First off: I really appreciate that you are writing and publishing on Baggage Reclaim current articles! They are so helpful and enlightening, and I appreciate you so much!

    I agree that is so important to listen to yourself and to do what has to be done. I’ve noticed that I don’t dream much – not like I used to. For years I’ve been compartmentalizing so many of my life experiences – and they are huge; living in Japan for 7 years, spending most of the 80s in Jamaica, chuncks of time I spent with specific mates & then proceeded to forget those memories and years of my life…..

    When I do dream, I pay attention to see if I am telling myself anything… or even if it was a time of… creative relief.

    I had a good day today.

    • NML says:

      I hear you Angelface. I think periods of our life can be a blue because we may have been dealing with something stressful at the time and in shutting it out, we shut out other things. I don’t dream that much but what I do get are flashes of memory. It’s like I’m equipped enough to get my life back and remember all of my past without derailing me. Let it come as you go about your life. Keep a notebook/journal as well.

  16. Tracy says:

    I gained weight with every EUM I was with. Each time they went away, I lost 20 lbs. Or, as my sister would say, “You lost 175 lbs.”

    These guys would have me in such a state, I ate, and with the last EUM, drank myself into extra dress sizes. The emotional eating and drinking was the sign I didn’t want to hear. I love to eat as much as the next guy, but I was eating constantly. Ironically, the last EUM was ALWAYS going on about MY weight, but he was easily 50 lbs overweight himself. Every lb I put on was noticed, commented on, etc. The more he said, the more I ate. At the end of the relationship, I did start to lose weight because I had developed a healthier attitude about eating and exercise. THEN he noticed and suddenly I became more desirable to him.

    As I read in a book over the summer, a HEALTHY man does not freak out if you gain a few pounds. They love you no matter what.

    • NML says:

      Hey Tracy – you’re sister is funny. Very true that anyone halfway decent that cares about you doesn’t lose their mind over you gaining weight. It sounds like the weight was like a protective shell against the crap you were dealing with. Or a cocoon.

      • blueberry girl says:

        …the weight was like a protective shell against the crap you were dealing with. Or a cocoon…I totally do this. Have kept my weight in control for years now but it’s creeping back up to uncomfortable levels. My whole body is saying, “Stay away; I’m fat and undesirable.” I’ve let the problems of my kids, my friends, and various assclowns and unavailables consume me and just eaten myself into a cocoon of protection. Wow, so my job now is to make the damn butterfly emerge! Thanks for helping open my eyes…

  17. Karina says:

    WOW! As hard as it is for me to admit…this year I feel that all the things that have happened to me are what finally caused me to develop Celiac. My body has no tolerance for wheat an it all happened when I found out about my exbf and my ex friend dating. I’ve managed to also realize that autoinmune disorders are usually trigfered by stressors that eventually affect the body. As I gradually am listening to myself in and outside of therapy, I have realized all my unhealthy patterns of thinking and am trying to really change them, even when sometimes I just feel like giving up. And Larla, I also had an eye ticking when I was with the ex Midwest AC! After my horrible bout wih depression it all went away and I hate that I find myself rumaging the past again, but like Nat says, time to listen, acknowledge and feel in order to process all the hurt. Eventually I will have let go, moved on and much happier with me. At tge end
    Of the day, it is me who I hve to be happy and satisfied with.

    • NML says:

      Hey Karina – don’t ever give up on yourself. If you commit to taking care of your health, your emotional wellbeing will be worked on which will feed back into your health. The ex and the girlfriend who is pretending to be very happy while using her spare time to have a go at you is not your concern. You are your concern. Your body is telling you to stop focusing on all this other bs and the anger and to start taking care of you. Listen. Don’t be like a dog with a bone with your ex and that silly woman – let it be. Stop trying to control what is out of your control, especially assholes.

    • grace says:

      I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. Cut off every last iota of contact, including internet stalking.
      Say you give up smoking and after three months you feel much better. It would be silly to start stalking the smokers at work, collect their used fagends, take them home, put them on a pedestal, and then spend hours of your time gazing at them. It’s garbage! It’s ugly, it’s stinking up your home and you don’t even smoke!
      Get rid of it all.

      • Karina says:

        Thanks ladies! I haven’t looked at any of their sites in a while now and it makes me feel so much better. I am trying really hard focusing on me and am doing things that I love. I volunteer more, writing about what I’m passionate in my blog, finishing up my grad school applications and working out a lot healthier. I’ve even been asked out by multiple guys! Therapy I feel is truly helping me and I’ve been managing my depression. I am slowly learning that I have to be happy with myself, because ultimately I will be living in this skin for a while. This year has def been an eye opener and thank God I found BR and Nat’s awesome advice to learn more about myself in relationships. You rock Nat!

      • phoenixrising says:

        ahahaha grace! great analogy. NO BUTS!

      • CC says:

        hahaha.. GREAT analogy for internet stalking Grace!

  18. Karen says:

    Nat-Think u are on the money here (as usual).
    At 51 and not having had a cycle for 6months I rendezvoused winter before last with a flame from the past who had contacted me out of the blue via email. We communicated off and on for two years prior to that and finally met for a day of skiing when I was in CO for a ski holiday. Im single, so was he, and hindsight has since revealed both of us EU (learned that about myself many thanks to Nat ). Long and short, of course we fell MADLY IN LOVE RIGHT THEN (see Natalies post on ..well all of ’em but esp living in fantasy land) and THE NEXT DAY I started bleeding, and it (my cycles) began again. Hormone overload and of course perimenopause and likely coincidental but they have kept going; (the periods , not the relationship. ) Done in one year; 90 days of actual face time revealed all I needed to know. Long and short, we’re done with all t hanks to Nat and NC. I also recently sustained a knee injury, tore ACL while walking my beloved doggie (sidebar, if I had known about dogs 35 yrs ago I really think my choices in men would have been different:-) and wonder what that’s about. DId not heed advice of the dog trainer I paid good money to who said do not use a retractable leash ( I was) much less talk on the phone while walking the dog. NOT PAYING ATTENTION which resulted in an accident ; that’s what it’s about and as I write this realize I am rarely present in the moment and especially w/ men. This injury is slowing my roll A LOT, showing me what love and care look and feel like and none of it coming from any romantic entanglements, imaginary or otherwise. Thanks to everyone here.

    • NML says:

      Hi Karen, I’m wishing you better soon – that sounds very painful! It certainly is a reminder to be conscious and stay in the present – I’ve noted that I used to be ridiculously clumsy and that when I’m unfocused, scattered, stressed, my clumsiness increases. There’s another lesson in there 😉

    • PJM says:

      Karen, my eldest sister was about 51 when her daughter’s boyfriend committed suicide. She also ‘began’ menstruating again at that time. So it can happen!

  19. brenda says:

    I used to get this lump in my throat and almost always wanted to cry around this assclown…HmmmmIm not crying anymore!!!

  20. ltg2011 says:

    Wow! I wonder if the symptoms of fibromyalgia are really warning signs that something is wrong in Oz? Hmmmm…

  21. Eternal Summer says:

    Hey Natalie,

    Are you my psychic friend? Haha!

    I have been sick for 3 weeks! Yes! With a cold that you don’t suddenly get better from. And my jaw has been super tight (I think I’m even grinding my teeth in my sleep-ouch!) So this has me scurrying to the internet looking up immunity boosting foods & drinking all kinds of herbal teas & writing about everything that is bothering me everyday.

    The fantasy post was so AHA! that it did alot to make me feel better, start looking at how much time I’m spending ruminating, fantasizing about “last word” convos with the (now) ex-EUM, and everything I am stalling on, not making decisions or taking action on that would definitely get me back into reality & almost certainly improve my life. So now I am tackling at least one task every morning that I don’t want to do so that I can have a great rest of my day & also feel productive. I wish things could go faster, but I have to be considerate of myself since I have been so ill.

    I am happy to report that on day 26 of NC that, even though it has been an up and down rollercoaster of emotions, I have some really clear & peaceful moments. And since there is no fresh communication to analyze, ruminate over, fantasize about, etc…I can really see a path to living a life I love. I’ve identified a “parent” voice inside that is the one enforcing the NC & taking care of me-even when (like a little child having a tantrum) “I DON”T WANNA!” I am so grateful for that voice & being able to hear it. I credit your enlightening, insightful, & compassionate words for that! :)

    • NML says:

      Ah thanks Eternal Summer – it’s great to see the fruits of your work in action. I know, because I’ve had enough jaw issues to last a life time that you’ve got to tackle whatever stressors you’re in denial about. I’ve hardly had any jaw pain since I started listening to myself. I’d also do a brain dump as well – write out everything that’s on your mind. That stops it cluttering up too much of your thoughts and forces you to process rather than fantasise.

  22. Kathy says:

    My ex suffered a stroke and I spent more than a year caring for him, in addition to working full-time. The worst part was his attitude — that he just expected this of me and was completely oblivious to how overloaded I was. I attempted to talk to him about it and got nowhere. My resentment and fatigue rose and rose, and after a year and a half, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I looked at Louise Hay’s book then, too. I remember cancer was connected with anger and resentment and breast cancer specifically with “mothering” and caring for everyone but yourself.

    Of course, my ex was nowhere to be found when I was diagnosed and went through surgery and radiation treatments. He had gone back to his ex-wife who could care for him better than I could. It’s been two and a half years and I’m cancer free. But what’s even better is I’m also assclown free! I really felt like my surgery cut out all the painful connection to him. Hooray! Not the easiest way to learn that lesson by any means, but at least I learned it.

    • NML says:

      Jeez Kathy, your ex is a real ratbag! He’s a very classic case of unavailable – when it suited him to drain you for his needs, he was ‘there’. When you needed him, nowhere to be found. Congratulations to you on being both cancer and assclown free. Keep taking care of you and never, ever be a caretaker for someone that doesn’t deserve it. They were on this planet for however long before you came along – someone else can be their nursemaid.

    • Fearless says:

      What a selfish self-serving git of man – Pffft! Am angry on your behalf Kathy. I hope you are better now and taking care of *you*! All the best.

  23. EB says:

    It’s just so rare to find someone who can write in such a front going, honest way. Well, if you listen to yourself truly, even to the yaki parts and see them as they are, I guess writing in such an honest way isn’t that of an issue.
    I get what you say N.
    Some traditions will call it wisdom.

    • NML says:

      Thanks EB. One of the things I’ve learned about myself and life in general is that admitting the existence of what’s already there isn’t as bone crushingly awful as we imagine it to be. Only good can come out of being honest with ourselves.

  24. Jana says:

    The mind and body are linked together, I am a nurse I know this. :)

    My left eye has been twitching for about 3 wks nonstop. Usually it kicks up w/ stress or fatigue and stops. It wouldn’t stop.

    I have been stressed at work, feeling an undercurrent of something yet not knowing exactly what was up. Well found out yesterday the company was sold and they don’t want us. New job is needed now.

    The eye twitch stopped. I never really liked it there, so a new job will be good. Once I find one. :)

    • NML says:

      Hey Jana – now there’s a sign and a half. I do find that life presents you with pain in the arse situations that if you see your way out of them, not only become this great lesson that teaches us something great about ourselves, but an *opportunity*. Another person might see this as an *obstacle* and continue with the twitching eye. You recognise that out of this is an opportunity to listen to you and choose a more appropriate and fulfilling job.

  25. Jana says:

    Ah and this is the second time I was referred to the book You Can Heal Your Life in a 2 wks time period. I have to get this book.

    Thank you Natalie, I just love your blog. xo

  26. sayso says:

    I just had to write because of the wonderful synchronicity at play in the spiritual healing that is taking place in my life. About two weeks ago I got some family news (new information, same old news) that kicked up alot of anger. As a result, I got sick, starting in my throat. This was not a coincidence- I have been laying low, not reacting to the situation and really struggling with my anger and all I would like to say, about the situation. In the last week, my fiance took out Louise Haye’s book and I have not been able to put it down. The work that I have been doing in there is invaluable. Your posting is perfectly timely. One more nod from the universe about the freedom of physical when I commit to healing myself. It’s not a coincidence to me that today I felt more of a freedom from this anger and today is the first day I have started feeling better. Thank you for the post- so glad you are here Natalie!

    • NML says:

      Hi Sayso – wow that is some wonderful synchronicity and I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling much better. Keep going with the work – I’ve found our families will always be crackerjacks but we don’t always have to be impacted the same way 😉

  27. Aura says:

    Hi Nat,
    I have sarcoidosis.
    How did you get yours to not flare up anymore? Was it just reducing stress and getting away from annoying people, or did the kinesiology and acupuncture help? Did you change your diet too?

    • NML says:

      Hi Aura, I went to kinesiology and immediately changed my diet and started drinking about 1.5-2 litres a day which dramatically reduced my joint pain immediately. I put boundaries in place with my family, ex, work etc in the meantime so that I could focus on myself – this meant no draining phonecalls, distancing myself at times, learning to say no, No Contact, getting a reduced schedule at work for a few months so I could get on top of my health, something that I hadn’t realised I was entitled to do. Self-care such as working through my old issues including unsent letters, taking care of myself, cutting the negative self talk and then followed up by five elements acupuncture, all in all, I was told I was in remission within 8 months and have been now for 5.5 years. Basically I had a total life change.

  28. MH says:

    Last March or April I began having panic attacks for the first time in my life. I have since been working them through. I had so many stresses going on in my life especially a nasty boss that was expecting too much from me. He was fired this summer and how amazing it is that my life improved at work.

    For three weeks now I have not had a panic attack. I am feeling sensations, however I recognize them and say it is silly and then they don’t even begin or they ceased pretty quick.

    I have recently been telling friends that when it is quiet my inner voice speaks to me and I listen. It tells me that my thinking is what is behind my singleness. I am scared to be in relationship because I have never had a healthy, happy, successful relationship. Which brings me to the matter that now that I no longer feel the break up pain from a guy why do I want to take a chance of getting into a relationship again, only for another chance to go through it all again.

    The bigger issue is my panic attacks are pretty well under control where as they don’t get a hold of me like they use to, but my anxiety disorder is still troubling me.

    I bring this up because I am listening to me and I don’t know how to turn it off. I could write the next scary movie with all the ways to die from and all the illnesses that a person could get. I can’t turn off the visuals of myself getting into a bad car accident everytime I am in my car. I can’t stop the thoughts of being diagnosed with a brain tumor or aneuyrism. I can’t stop worrying about something happening to my parents, my cat and sometimes my friends and strangers. I don’t want anyone to get hurt or die but his is unrealistic because it is the inevitable.

    I am seeing a therapist that I am not finding is the greatest fit l but I can’t afford to see the one that I found a little while ago who seem to be a good fit. I don’t have the money to see him and she is free, so I have to see her. I got rid of another free therapist just recently so I have to stick it out with her and see if I can achieve some help.

    Her idea is that I fear uncertainty and she wants me to write out my worse fears. I will do this exercise, however, what I feel is more likely happening because my inner voice tells me is that I have an overwhelming, unhealthy fear of death and illness. This interrupting my personal happiness in my life right now.

    • NML says:

      Hi MH, I think if this therapist was free and a previous therapist was free then there are other therapists that will be free. It is a bit like dating – you need to find the right fit. It’s very difficult to bare your soul, build trust, listen etc if you lack a rapport. Rather than back yourself into a corner and make this therapist your only option, I suggest that you get a bit uncomfortable and look at some alternatives. After two therapists, you should have some idea of what it is that you’re looking for that will lay a foundation for you being at ease. If there were qualities that you liked in the other therapist, note what they are and use those to help you find a new one. I also however feel that you need to be somewhat more patient with yourself. Someone who has a lot of fears doesn’t stop being afraid in an appointment or few. I would certainly write out your worst fears – you’ll start to understand what you’re afraid of plus you can address and where appropriate get a plan A, B, C. A number of the fears you have are not unusual – I’m scared of something happening to the kids or the boyf, or to me and then I’m not around. I used to get worried if they were back very late and sometimes when I hear awful things in the news, I think of it happening to me. The difference – I’m not overrun with these fears and I’ve actually had a rational conversation with myself otherwise none of us would leave the house. What I do suspect though is that if you have so much time to be worrying about all these things, it’s because you’re likely avoiding worrying about and putting into action addressing things that *you have control over*. Have you noticed that the things you worry about are what you have no control over but you’re not doing anything about what you can? You’d find the balance would tip something far healthier if you focused your efforts where you don’t want to. Also it’s important to note that while you have spent a copious amount of time worrying about these things, none of these things *are* happening otherwise you wouldn’t be worrying about them – you’d be dealing with them. Food for thought.

      • RadioGirl says:

        Hi MH,

        I really feel for you with the panic attacks, having had them myself at different flashpoints of extreme stress dotted through my life. I am so glad you’re learning how to minimise them now, the trick is to completely go along with the sensations and accept that, while they are pretty unpleasant, you can consciously remember that your past attacks have *always* proved to be temporary and that the present one, too, will pass if you just float with it. One thing I have always done is to put my finger on the pulse in my wrist when an attack starts to happen – I don’t quite know why, but somehow being aware of my own pulse still beating strongly (even if it is racing a bit!) feels comforting and now triggers calmness and acceptance of the attack in me, and it then subsides.

        Natalie has given some great advice about finding a therapist who fits better with you. I will just add a suggestion that you might see if there’s one listed who does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This is basically a technique where you learn how to consciously turn your negative thoughts around by viewing things from a different perspective. Eventually you don’t even have to do it consciously any more, because you replace your old habit of viewing situations fearfully with a new habit of looking at things in a different and more positive way. Have patience, MH, and be very gentle with yourself.

    • Carrie says:

      Sounds like she thinks you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I have it too, though it’s amazing how much it’s decreased since being away from my ex (oh and switching from coffee to green tea has been immeasurable!!). GAD is when you worry about everything all the time even though in most cases there’s not much you can do about it. That’s why they say it’s a fear of uncertainty.. but because life is full of uncertainty, you’re constantly in fear. I used to worry all the time about someone I love dying in a horrible car accident or having a heart attack or any number of things. Then one day I realized that living out the story in my head and thinking of how I would feel if this were to happen wouldn’t save me from having to go through those things if they actually *did* happen, so in essence I would have to live it twice. Once I realized that, I stopped playing out the scenarios in my head.

  29. That book of Louise Hay’s is brilliant.
    Our bodies tell us so much if we listen. And it is crucial to listen.
    So much of the time we talk too much to hear what our inner selves are wisely trying to help us with.
    Great post Nat:)

    • NML says:

      @Cinderella11pm “So much of the time we talk too much to hear what our inner selves are wisely trying to help us with.” Now *there* are some wise words. I was talking over myself and also too busy talking about anything other than what I should’ve been to have to hear. Thank you!

  30. Kris says:

    I truly believe pain can be psychsomatic. I was told I had fibromyalgia. I was suffering from so much muscle and nerve pain that would bring me to tears. I couldn’t get out of bed on some days it was so bad. I don’t particularly believe in fibromyalgia. I believe it’s a cop out diagnosis when they don’t know whats wrong with you. When I finally gained courage to leave my relationship of 6 yrs., about 6 months later I realized my pain had been gone for awhile. Then I really started to pay attention to myself. I realized what my triggers were. I could literall feel the pain run through my body when a trigger would set it off. Now, I REALLY listen to myself. My body tells me when to abort or when to rest. It was awesome to read this! Most people just think I’m crazy when I mention it!

    • NML says:

      Hi Kris. I believe viral infections are a bit of a cop out too. There’s nothing that can be done about them and they’re a catch all for a lot of stuff including vertigo and tinnitus. Steroids are a cop out medicine simply because they’re inmuno suppressants. They force symptoms into suppression – not rid. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

  31. Magnolia says:

    While with the AC I went from having normal periods to developing fibroids that made the bleeding so bad that now, once a month, I have to stay home, and be near the bathroom b/c I go through two superplus tampons and a pad every half hour. My entire figure has changed as I now “look three months pregnant,” as the doctor said, because of the growths in my uterus. I had hoped that a year away from the AC would have this condition calm down, but it hasn’t. Perhaps, as the last post has got me thinking, I still have way more anger than I thought. I know I learned how to speak to myself nicely, but there is a voice in there that is super abusive and it seems to ambush me from within. Maybe with time and self-love the anger, self-abusive-language, and the bleeding will all lighten up.

    It’s hard not to be angry at the AC for “causing” this, especially since he got nothing but perks from our time together, but if the anger is just going to hurt me, then it’s not worth it.

    I have that Hay book. I find her tone a little new Age but she’s first and foremost about self-acceptance and self-love, and you can’t go wrong there. And I’ve been having a couple weeks where I’m pretty productive but still hating myself (I don’t understand this, usually productivity is where I get hardest on me), so I have to get back to basics. Self-care, self-love, self-acceptance, one day at a time. I’ll take another look at Hay!

    • NML says:

      Hey Magnolia, I still can’t manage to read the book cover to cover. I’ve read the charts at the back, the first couple of chapters and her life story at the back. I think in its entirety it may be too new age in style but much like another book I read in the same manner, The Contented Little Baby by Gina Ford, I take what I need and put aside the rest. What I did read especially of the charts, was enough to force ACTION.

      Re the bleeding thing, I had that with the ex with the race issues… and it then dissipated into very bad period pains after I ended it but moved into another poor relationship. Stopping the pill helped a lot but it is also no coincidence that in those two relationships was where I felt very tormented and child like (they were both a good bit older and controlling) plus I just felt rejected on all levels. Just a thought…

      • Magnolia says:

        Hmm. Interesting. Childlike and controlled is indeed how I felt, and the race stuff in that relationship was wonky (not as bad as exAC once removed – holy moly – in that one I lost weight, and I am a stress=eating kinda girl!). I have gone ON the pill as of this month after not being on it for over 15 years. We’ll find out on Friday if that has helped. Here’s hoping! And I’m now going to go see how much Louise Hay I can handle before beddiebye – pick and choose makes sense. Thanks as always for sharing so much of your own experience, Natalie.

        • Lynda from L says:

          Hi Magnolia, just thought I ‘d share that during my time with EUM I experienced massive disruptions/probs with cycle too and that since I ‘ve left… it’s getting better. I went to the doctor because I ‘m in forties and thought that I must be menopausal and a couple of weeks ago had confirmation that I ‘m not even perimenopausal yet and will possibly have late onset menopause.
          Yet when I was with him, my period started to go out of sync, happening anytime…to his annoyance, to be sure ,because my sexual availability was a big concern for him. He prioritised this highly.
          I do not go in for too New Age solutions to this or Magical thinking but… I do think my own biology was starting to reject him. I think my body knew what my mind had yet to suss, if you get me? This guy was controlling in many ways to my emotional detriment and somehow, holistically, I began to get out of that. Natalie’s post is so timeous…a true signpost for way forward.

          • NML says:

            I get you Lynda, I get you. I *know* that ‘lady problems’ sure as help cut out a lot of bonking action and kept them at arms length *snigger*

          • RadioGirl says:

            I had a similar experience, Lynda! Having been very regular before the relationship with my last ex, my cycles got more and more messed up in the year we were together. By the time things ended with him in February, my periods stopped completely for several months. This may have had something to do with my rapid weight-loss after discovering his online/Skype emotional infidelities with several women, including his previous ex-gf (who he had apparently “never got over in any way at all”). My doctor did a blood test and said it was likely I was menopausal. Three months after breaking up, when I decided to go NC, my periods started up again, and they have been happening regularly ever since! I also had frequent ocular migraines during the relationship, but since we broke up have only had two in the last 7 months when I was still at the height of my grieving. And finally, I had increasingly severe depression, many panic attacks, unexplained fainting fits, a nasty bout of thrush and tummy upsets while we were together. My family and friends were visibly shocked at the terrible shape I was in by the end of last winter. All but the tummy upsets have cleared up completely now, and I’m willing to bet those will improve as I continue the progress with my “detox” and recovery. As another reader has said, it wasn’t that he was overtly abusive, just that it became more and more obvious from his actions and behaviour towards me and behind my back that I was sinking further and further down his list of priorities. It’s still amazing to me what subtle changes the subconscious will pick up on and feed through into physical health. I’ve always believed that emotional, mental and physical health are inextricably linked but reading everyone’s experiences here I’m even more firmly convinced of it.

  32. Lavender says:

    I love this post and also love Hay’s book. My body is irrevocably affected by my feelings.

    I was sexually assaulted by a boyfriend when I was a teenager and in the weeks after developed raging anorexia and depression that put me into hospital and an eating disorder clinic, neither of which worked. That relationship only lasted for six months, but I was anorexic for the next six years. Maybe it would have happened anyway, but it certainly triggered it off and the anorexia genuinely almost killed me.

    As an adult I have suffered with severe depression over relationships and have been hospitalised and it’s really a surprise to me that I’m still here and going.

    I think I give away too much of my personal power to other people. I don’t blame them for what happened to me, but I blame myself.

    • RadioGirl says:

      Please don’t blame yourself, Lavender – you only did what you knew to do at the time. Now you know different, and you’re learning to listen to your own needs properly and act on them. My therapist said this morning that I had given too much of myself to others and not held onto a strong sense of myself in past friendships and relationships – this is why we feel so lost when they come to an end. We are all works-in-progress on here in getting our sense of self-worth up to a healthy level, but please don’t hinder that work on you by beating yourself up about things you did at a time when you didn’t know any different. Better to take *responsibility* for it, own it, accept it and move forward – onwards and upwards!

    • NML says:

      I always feel like I want to give you a great big hug. What you suffered was a huge violation that you struggled to deal with. I think most people in your circumstance would struggle. It certainly wasn’t your fault – it certainly sounds like you thought it was by punishing your body and denying yourself nourishment. You haven’t been or done anything to invite anyone’s violation of you. Keep working on loving yourself. Day by day, brick by brick, you’re getting there.

      • runnergirl says:

        Lavender, you are still here. Let’s eat a giant cheese sandwich followed by a giant cheese burger. So we may gain a pound! Native Americans and non-western cultures have always connected the mind and the body in traditional healing. I don’t deny the miracles of modern medicine but sometimes modern medicine may fail in connecting the mind with the body. The mind and the body are one. No more self blame, just lots of love and cheese!

    • Lavender says:

      Thank you all so much for your kind comments, I feel a real sense of community here and support.

      @RadioGirl – I think your therapist is right about losing a sense of self in relationship. I’m really trying to work on that. I think it’s really true that if you don’t know who you are, when you leave a relationship you feel empty.

      @Nat – Thank you for your hug. Your posts are amazing and really help me every day. I’ve read a lot of things online to try to help myself, but your site has been the most helpful. I found no-contact to be extremely hard for a long time and it even made me angry that I should do it, but now I realise it’s been such a help and healer to me. It’s helped me to get toxic people out of my life. Not just ex’s but “frenemies” and so on. You are right that it’s brick by brick. It’s one thing to be in denial about how bad things are, but when you realise the reality, it’s overwhelming to realise how far you have to go, but this site is really helping me. Thank you. :)

      @Runnergirl – I think a cheese sandwich sounds like a good idea ? I think the mind and body are one too and when our mind or heart is hurting our body does too.

  33. braveheart says:

    This post is so true, ended up on antidepressants and in counselling because of this awful relationship, but when i look back over the 15 months I was with him, I lost a lot of weight because I felt so insecue, I had problems with my teeth, and I was aware that I grinding my teeth so hard in my sleep it woke me up, I developed a weird skin condition 3 months after being with him, mind you he got it too hahahha! and towards the end, I was on the verge of a couple of serious panic attacks, something that has NEVER happened to me.

    I havnt seen him for weeks, and I have come back to myself more and more, and can actually regard the experience as positive, although incredibly painful, mainly because I am back to me.
    Realised when reading this post that the teeth grinding has stopped! Sleeping better and feeling quite centred. What I also realized was that I am my constant best friend…..I kept telling myself things were not right everytime red flags were waving….right from day 1; But I didnt listen to my best friend, but she kept nagging…every time something happened…I still wouldnt listen… she became ill….trying to communicate her concern for mine and her well being…..then I did start to listen, gradually. She looked after me and told me it was all his stuff and nothing to do with me, my ‘crime’ was very low self esteem after leaving a 20 yr marriage, and a predator took advantage of my weakness. so we both decided to work on the weakness to make sure it never, ever happened again.
    We both thank you from the bottom of our heart for this site. And do you know what, we are going to live together happily ever after, because I will always be there for her and listen to her wisdom, she always has my best interests at heart, and I trust her implicitly.

    • Lavender says:

      Braveheart – I have the teeth grinding problem too. Whenever I go back to visit my family I wake up to the grinding and have chipped many of my teeth from it.

    • NML says:

      Thank you Braveheart for a really heartwarming comment. We truly never ever need to be alone when we like and love ourselves, especially when we’re willing to listen and trust. I used to be a major teeth grinder – I don’t do it anymore mostly but on the rare occasions it happens, I know someone or something is really getting on my tits and that I’m holding back.

  34. Tulipa says:

    I feel very blessed for having my health.
    I relate to the article from when I was living at home as a teenager and every day was a major struggle just to get out of bed. If I got out of bed and made it to school it was a good day and if I didn’t the day was terrible where I literally lay in bed till I knew someone was coming home and I would rush round and act like I’d been at school.
    But here is where it gets strange sometimes these overwhelming feeling would return but it was the opposite the battle would begin to get out of bed and to go on with the day only when the ex eum was NOT in contact with me.
    I remember after our first date he mentioned that he stayed up late, I thought cool thats like me a night owl. One night I couldn’t sleep so I risked a text he didn’t reply, the next day my mood was low it was a struggle to go about my day then my phone went off and lo and behold he had replied and the high was indescriable. Needless to say for the rest of the day I was happy.
    So the pattern was set, if I stayed at his place,the next morning I’d be anxious waiting for his I will call you and once he’d said those words, I’d relax.
    When I ended communication with him for 6 months those 6 months were often spent in battle with myself. When I first ended it I was high but once the novelty wore off I sunk low and the battle began with getting out of bed and going on with day, once back together all fighting to get out bed disappeared.
    This year I have worked hard on not letting him have so much control of my emotions and though I admit to bad days I try hard not to use him anymore to stop the feelings.
    I feel as though Im wired backwards or something. Though I should say I never want to go back to those dark days as a teenager and I’d do anything to going back there thats why I chose to go back to the ex.

  35. Fedup says:

    I just want to know when ACs screw us over, do they EVER get psychosomatic symptoms at all?

    • AngelFace says:

      Hi FedUp, I wonder this too and it seems they would get sometype of health issues. I do think that over time, the ACs, the narcissists, and other careless evil men have unhappy lives (depression..) and poor outcomes for all the bad works they did. I’m not a religious fanatic, but I do believe in God and Goodness. There is a biblical saying “Revenge is mine, sayeth the Lord”. It is out of our hands, we shouldn’t hope for it-really bad things to happen to our abuser(s). The idea of justice sounds logical to us: He hurt me, he should pay/be punished for hurting me – but by doing No Contact we can get on with our positive life & healing. We don’t have to *worry* or desire that our abuser gets what he deserves… it is not our issue.

      • RadioGirl says:

        Fedup and AngelFace,

        My last ex did suffer with his health – he had constant digestive problems, headaches, insomnia, depression and a rash round his middle that never seemed to clear up – it looked like eczema to me. I think they were caused mostly by his unhealthy and ambivalent relationship dynamic with his teenage daughter – but also because he has *big* responsibility and commitment issues. He seems to have suffered from a sort of claustrophobia and vaarious health issues over and over again once each of his past relationships (and the one with me) have started getting “serious” and deliberately wrecks them by behaving like a selfish jerk. The last text he sent me was still moaning on about his health. Same old same old. No wonder I got so deeply depressed spending time with him – I must have been a SuperFlorence to believe I could fix him… As AngelFace so rightly says, now I’m NC with him he’s no longer my issue – yay!!

        And for a really extreme example of karma, here’s what happened to my penultimate ex-EUM, whose “relationship” with me, in hindsight, was a *classic* 5-year-long case of . Eight years after saying he he felt nothing for me, and then dumping me for a teenaged girl 28 years his junior, he was found dead by his colleagues at the airfield where he worked, having hanged himself.

    • MagicPotion says:

      I believe they do get psychosomatic symptoms, but they suffer when they are forced to be ALONE. We suffer when we are WITH them.

      Case in point, my ex-husband/AC/EUM: sciatica and suicidal depression. The cause? He was going through a dry spell, no one to screw around with. His Fall Back Girls and “Friends” With Benefits all wised up and left. Wonder if they found out he cheated on them, too? That would explain the sciatica, his body was rebelling from all that thrusting and cheating. I’m surprised his penis hasn’t fallen off…

      The suicidal depression occurred after he lost his very last harem member. There was not one woman left, let alone several lined up- he was always on the prowl and he always had backups for his backups! Must’ve been hell for him to have to look in the mirror and not be all puffed up. He probably had to do laundry on a Friday night like everyone else…

      • Fearless says:

        “Must’ve been hell for him to have to look in the mirror and not be all puffed up. He probably had to do laundry on a Friday night like everyone else…”

        Excellent! Hee, hee! :)

    • NML says:

      It sounds like you want to ensure that your ex or exes feel ‘repercussions’ Fedup. Like you’re angry and want them to get their comeuppance.

  36. Spinster says:

    As usual, good post. It resonates with me.

    In recent years, I’ve listened to myself more than I ever have in my ___ years of life. Going through counselling helped that quite a bit.

    At my last job, I began breaking out into facial hives out of nowhere. My friend (who was also my co-worker at the same time) saw me on the phone, noticed something wrong with my face, I looked in a mirror & there they were. I left work and went straight to the doctor. I got blood drawn for an allergist to analyze and I wasn’t allergic to anything. So it was nothing but stress. There was a LOT going on around that time. The hives have subsided, but they still pop up from time to time. When they do, I think about what’s going on around or within me, take an allergy pill, make myself relax, and try addressing the issue later that day or the next day when I’m more rested. If I think about what’s going on around or within me and my day was good, I still take an allergy pill and relax. I do the same when I have headaches (except with ibuprofen and some form of healthy hydration) or if I unknowingly clench my jaw.

    As a result I’ve gotten better at recognizing what my triggers are a HELL of a lot faster than I used to and, as I said before, the hives have subsided in frequency. Sometimes it’s still a struggle, listening to myself, but I’ve improved a LOT compared to just a few years ago. I’m glad that I did.

    • NML says:

      It’s funny Spinster – I’d completely forgotten that I went through a period of getting hives on my face too. They would suddenly appear and then suddenly disappear. I wonder what that is. Either way I think it’s good that it’s become your boot up the bum to take. care of yourself. It’s like “pay extra attention to me!”

      • Spinster says:


        S/N: One Xmas – may have been 2008 – I broke out into hives after spending time with my immediate family… namely my mother. That told me something immediately. 😐

  37. Lynda from L says:

    I was just considering how I was feeling better physically after going NC and this article appeared…!
    My minor allergies calmed down, my skin stopped reacting to everything but best of all I got rid of a persistent cough that had been bugging me for weeks. It had been resistant to everything, anti-biotics, the doc thought it was trachiitis,upper respiratory infection or sg…but it just wouldn’t let up.
    I went on a trip with the EUM feeling like crap and my cough took over and irritated the hell out of him. I sucked cough sweets and thought I ‘d have it for life.
    Then the sh**t hit the fan with regard to our relationship. I left his put downs and his sniffing around other women and got out….12 hrs later my cough vanished!!!! I have no way of explaining this other than it vanished with him.
    One other thing I notice is that my weight always stabilises when I ‘m healthy ‘in mind’ I’m not overweight but do retain water, have sore breasts at different times of the month…despite natural hormonal changes, this is definitely better now. I just think the angst and drama of a EU/AC relationship pollutes us….. Leaving it is Detox for the Soul.

  38. Magdalena says:

    As a recovering EU person, I have found meditation to be a crucial part of my emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. For a long time, I genuinely thought that sadness and anxiety were my only emotions, but through meditation and “noticing what I notice,” I’ve come to understand a broad spectrum of emotion that never fails to manifest itself as a physical sensation and there’s always an important message attached.

    Healing wishes to all.

  39. Anari says:

    What a timely post, and how weird…I would have never though you’d write about something like this!

    With the first EUM after the split a day after I woke up and my whole face turned into a massive explosion of third degree zits, that were purple. It took 10 years for that to go away and I still have the scabs. The docs said it was stress release, that my body was building up tension and finally released. With the 2nd EUM my hair started thinning, and I hardly have any hair on my crown anymore, again stress release…and I have learned through it to be confident as I have to accept who I am and live with what happened.

    And with the most recent EUM the minute we split my mouth wouldn’t open and my right side of the body froze. I was diagnosed with TMJ and told that again it was my body’s way of releasing built up stress. During the time I was with him everytime he’d call my severe asthma would start up where I couldn’t brethe and would have to sit down whereever I was to regroup and relax, and during the time before I ran into him my eyes kept twitching almost as if warning me that danger was lurking..because afer 4 mos of my eyes twitching after the run in 3 weeks ag0…my eyes stopped twitching!

    I’m glad that ( well glad sounds kinda mean) but glad that i’m not the only one that the body tells things to. And I do think I should buy that book as well!

  40. Bee says:

    I see my ex as the straw that broke the donkey’s back. Sometimes, by not fovusing on your own needs your body focuses your mind by breaking down on you. When I met my ex I was in a great job on paper but one I didn’t enjoy. He turned out to be a toxic dwarf [poisening my mind and my life and my back seemed to fall apart on me to the extent i was unable to put my own shoes on, tie my own laces OR put my knickers on. I was at an all time low forced to admit I culdn’t do my job, depesseed because of resigning my job on ill health grounds and mourning the loss of an idiot who wrecked havoc in my life. Now though, I am thankful for two years in bed nursing my back and my depression and feeling sorry for myself!!! lol. It forced me to face what I was running away from and what I was in total denial about. I am now embarking on a new career which will get round my disbility, I have found a way to heal my back, I am no longer in pain and thankfully my ten year old doesn’t have to tie my shoe laces. I think listening to your body is really a valid exercise and by listening to mine, it’s given me a real opportunity to change my life. For the first time in five years I am actually excited about my prospects having worked through my health and psychological issues.

  41. jennynic says:

    I have a career in western medicine but have recently been reading a lot about eastern medicine (acupuncture and the like) . It’s funny, although the mind body connection is commonly called new age, I learned that the basis for it is over 4000 years old and nothing close to new. I know that I was sick all the time when I was with the AC, but haven’t been sick in the year and a half that I’ve been NC. I believe that our bodies do reflect our emotions and mental state. Stress has measurable negative effects on the body. Over ten years ago I was getting esophagus spasms that had me curled up in fetal position for hours at a time, and bladder spasms that felt like a UTI all the time. This went on for about a year and then literally just disappeared after all kinds of tests and medicine trials. When asked what I did to fix it, my reply was, “I got divorced.” It’s true. While my ex husband was not an AC at all, I was unhappy and struggling with the decision to leave the relationship. Once I left, so did my symptoms. Weird how that happens.

  42. Ivy says:

    Oh wow this really hits me.

    The boyfriend I had last year before the big heartbreak (the one with the drug problem that I thought my ‘love’ could heal) before a certain senario between us both I had pretty severe chest pains … that actually brought me into hospital a few times because I thought I might have been having a heart attack. They could never find anything wrong with me then only ‘anxiety’ and although I’ve experienced anxiety to some extent all of my life never have I felt the urge to go to hospital with it fearing I might die.

    After we broke up the pains vanished.

    With my big heartbreak when we started living together I became completely swamped with colds and tummy bugs … it was one after the other. We had started living together in a different country to what I’m used to so I attributed my ill health to that and a new environment. At the time however I failed to take into account that I have been a frequent traveller in the past and have never experienced such ill health in the other countries I’ve spent time in. I remember he was such a nitpicker … picking on almost every single thing I did … I used to feel nervous around him and even at night when I was ill lying in bed beside him I used to be afraid to cough (I had so many different colds and bugs) that I’d sometimes leave the room to cough because I knew it annoyed him when I made too much noise around him and even if it didn’t his previous reactions to other things of little significance made me feel uncomfortable to be ill around him. I also began falling into depression.

    Eventually I left him, it was all very messy … but I haven’t been ill since.

    • Arlena says:

      “…..fearing I might die.”

      @Ivy – You inspired a huge revelation to me. I suddenly understood what my body is telling me with all these panics:

      “Hey, don’t let ME, your SELF, die.” WOW!!!!!
      This makes completely sense to me, always being compared to others by my father I learned to refuse to live ME, rebelling against discovering who I am and rather be like a stowaway on someone else’s life boat…. That voice pleads: ”Let ME live, care for ME, give ME your attention, don’t go outside, come back, come inside ME, don’t let ME alone, I am here buried under all this rubble of anger and hurt, free ME not them, talk to ME, I so much need YOU, PLEASE…. Give ME all your love, I need YOUR respect, commit to ME, let ME relax, don’t tense up and frighten ME, don’t tell ME constantly that I am not worth it, or a loser, a failure, not lovable, I can’t stand it any more…”

      I had a wonderful reunion with myself last night :)

      Thanks to all who comment here, your honest sharing of bits and pieces of information helped me paving the way and coming into the open admitting about my panic attacks. Greatly appreciated, thanky you all.

  43. Wizzy says:

    I am learning the very same lessons through MS now. I always get a message with increasing intensity (if I ignore it). I over-do things a lot and now I have ms which hits the brakes very hard in my life. It’s funny that all this coincided with me dumping a Mr. Unavailable”Don’t- like you-but-i’ll-shag you” man; and through it all, the flare ups kept recurring, until I started nc. Then again, I got crazy Pins and needles when I was dating another similar guy and it stopped when I did the needful and disappeared from his life.

    I was raised to always put people first, including society and my very critical unavailable parents. Even as a kid I new things were very wrong, but I had no way to define it or process it. I took everything personally and suffered headaches, acid reflux, and glucose intolerance.

    I had to learn to acknowledge my presence in my own life and actually live as if I was actually there!. Now with MS I am learning to listen and I am not suicidal about it. having said that I acknowledge that I still have major issues with relationships, I have to stay single for now, otherwise I’ll just date the same dude I’ve been hating all my life!!

  44. Carrie says:

    My mom had Colon Cancer just over 5 years ago (still cancer free! woo!) and discovered it had probably started about 5 years before that. Just happens that 10 years ago her ex-husband (my asshole ex-stepdad) cheated on her and divorced her. She’s convinced that it’s related and I totally believe it! Stress can do such unbelievably awful things to our bodies.

    For all the ladies with TMJ, or heart palps, or eye twitches – I highly suggest supplementing with Magnesium. Most of us don’t get enough from our food due to current farming practices and since it’s involved in 350 processes within our body, it is extremely important. It helps to prevent heart attacks, heart disease, strokes and many more things.

  45. Carrie says:

    Since so many of you have autoimmune disorders, I want to share with you guys an amazing medicine I found for my Multiple Sclerosis. It’s called LDN or Low Dose Naltrexone and it’s been found to work for many autoimmune disorders. I’ve been taking it for 2 1/2 years now and have not had an MS relapse since! For someone who used to get at least a couple a year, this has been a miracle for me. Plus it’s cheap – around $30 a month without insurance and there’s little to no side effects. I personally didn’t have any at all. I can’t speak highly enough about it. There’s a lot of information online about it, but because it’s cheap, Big Pharm will not do any research on it. Anyone want more information, let me know and I’ll ask Natalie to pass along my email address.

    • Fearless says:


      A very dear friend of mine has MS. I’d be interested to know more about this LDN to pass on to her – be happy to hear from you – and for Nat to pass my email address to you for communication on this. Thanks!

      • Carrie says:

        I asked Natalie to send me your email. I will be more than happy to provide whatever information I can! I love spreading the word on LDN considering MS causes such fear of the future. My future so far is looking quite bright!

  46. Lizzy says:

    Natalie, thank you so much for sharing. All your posts speak to me, but this is one of those that REALLY really does.
    I have struggled for the past 10 years (I am 42 now) with unexplained infertility. For half of that time I was in a ltr (read: I clung like a limpit because he reminded me of my sulky/abusive mother who had recently died when we got together) with an narcissistic assclown. I desperately wanted children and he was reluctant to commit to a n y t h i n g, and sure enough nothing happened. No hospital tests could detect anything wrong. After that, on the rebound, I got together with someone much younger than me who had bipolar disorder and a fondness for drink and drugs – we did lots of partying but I didn’t conceive with him either despite foolishly throwing caution to the wind in the sack as I was 37 and worried time was running out. And more recently, I’ve been in a relationship with my former best (male) friend who I feel pretty ambivalent about, and nothing’s happened with him either (more tests last year and nothing amiss was detected). It has been very painful standing by as my friends and family produce beautiful daughters and sons. But I think I have finally finished grieving for what never was, and when I look back now it actually seems that my body protected me from getting pregnant by any of these losers. I feel certain if I’d been healthy emotionally in my 30s and in a strong relationship with a decent man, that it would have ‘just’ happened.
    In addition, with the moody narcissistic assclown I stayed with for 10 years, I used to regularly get huge cysts on my face, two of which had to be surgically removed (I still have the battlescars). I just looked up what Louise Hay has to say about cysts: ‘running an old painful movie, nursing your hurts (rather than grieving and releasing them), and false growths’ – you can say that again. And last year, I was pursued by a MM (epiphany relationship that lead me to BR) and the day I’d arranged to meet him to tell him I couldn’t carry on meeting him for post-work cuppas, I woke up with a rash all over my body. And I’m sure I’ve suffered many other assclown-induced ailments too.
    Thank you so much for writing…

  47. Aimee says:

    “I’m talking dreams, suddenly remembering stuff that I hadn’t even remembered when I’d gone through the major period of working through my issues, suddenly hearing old conversations, and even arguing in my head. One day I had to acknowledge just how angry I was – a renewed, fresh anger that had been triggered by the fallout.”

    I call it the peeling of the onion. For me, I believe, this work we do will be ongoing. Do the work – live the lesson – do more work – live the next lesson – peeling of the onion.

    Great article Nat – I have the virtigo and TMJ as well. I even had some of the same neck pain issues the ex-ac has (he had surgery and does pain pills and stuffs the emotions). I did accupuncture, cranial sacral, chiro, and massage and emote (at times WAY TOO MUCH). I also do EFT for the TMJ and Vertigo. I am healed, but during stress have to go back to these modalities when things flare up and new “symptoms” appear- when my mom died I got massage thru out her estate.

    Body, mind, and spirit are connected in my belief – sometimes it’s time to work on the body, sometimes the spirit which can clear my body, etc. It’s all conncted and I thank the universe, all the teachers and avenues I have been blessed with and of course your blog to remind me what I have learned, still need to implement and to learn new things!!

    Thanks again!!

  48. colororange says:

    Only occasionally do I wake up in the middle of the night and most the time I can get back to sleep no problem. Not last night. I woke up a little after 1AM and all that was running through my head was the married guy. For three hours I tossed and tossed and finally fell asleep to only have to get up about an hour later for work. I have been exhausted all day long. I am trying to stay awake for this class tonight but really I want to go to bed. If I go to bed now, I won’t sleep through the night.

    This is like the last go around or I don’t know how else to describe it better. It is just so difficult letting that go. I remember how my dad would make so many promises when I was little. He would be drunk and say we would get to do all these wonderful things. Naturally I got very excited. None of it ever happened. It was a constant let down. That is similar to what I experienced with this MM. He is so emotionally not there (and he’s married) and it was such an intense draw to him, more than any man in my life. Normally, I’m pretty bla but thinking about him and all he said sends me into this I don’t know what. But I lost sleep over it and I feel sad. Sad there will never be anything I want there and I am alone. That I can not depend on anyone else outside of me to give me what I should have gotten long ago. It’s like drawing water from an empty well. I’m so tired and I wish my head would just shut up. I wish my thoughts would stop. I wish he would leave my head. I wish I could go back 4 years and never have met him.

    • ixnay says:

      Hey, colororange,

      Just want to say I hear you. I’ve had two terrible nightmares this week; in one my teeth gradually crumbled and fell out and in the other my ex died of choking and I cried and wailed. In both cases I couldn’t fall back asleep; I woke up and googled dream imagery and let overwhelming waves of feeling wash over me. Yesterday I couldn’t get back asleep until 7 and then slept through an important work conference call.

      Yes “this is like the last go round.” I sucked it and saw all year. He would press the reset button and then slowly back off as if he hadn’t. It was excruciating.

      My dad, too, was unreliable. Because of mental illness that cycled so that he could be fine and normal, or psychotic and scary. Despite his acting out on my mother and their eventual divorce, he relied on her, financially, logistically, and emotionally, for another 15 years until his death. She’s strong and independent, but she loved him and he was sick and often disoriented, so she was his emergency contact and sometimes he would just show up and she’d have to help him sort out basic stuff like housing and medical care.

      This model must have affected me more than I consciously thought (as a flippant young person I thought, let him suffer on his own!) because it’s like I’m assuming the same degree of responsibility and permanent connection to my own erratic guy. Like my dad, he is brilliant, funny, charismatic — and damaged.

      For the past 7 weeks of nc I was strangely calm at first. Something happened that I’ve never experienced before which was that when I went to have my habitual thoughts about him my mind actually physically repelled them. I could feel a force, like some magnetic field, pushing them away before I could think them. I didn’t know I had that self-protective ability; I’m not consciously doing it like some cognitive-behavioral exercise; it’s more like some core visceral survival mechanism.

      But tomorrow will be the anniversary of the first dramatic suck-it-and-see triggering event, and Halloween will be the anniversary of us moving in together in 2000. My dreams are grief dreams. It’s *very hard* to not make contact because he will be sweet and contrite and I’ll feel great for a day or two until I realize it’s not enough.

      I gave in to wallowing a bit and last night watched a 4-hour marathon of “say yes to the dress” — brides choosing wedding dresses. They have always known their grooms for much much less time than I’ve been in this thing, and the grooms are doting and over the moon to be getting married. I look at the women and think, is it really true that they’re more deserving of wholehearted commitment, do they really have better self-esteem and relationship skills? I don’t necessarily think so. They seem blissfully unaware of this whole quicksand territory I live in; they’re on solid ground and the fit of the dress is what they’re stressed about — not that their guy will savagely turn on them.

  49. kirsten says:

    Hi Nat,
    T.O.N.S.I.L.I.T.I.S urgh, even put me in hospital with a raging fever that took 3 days to bugger off.
    Thankfully I have been tonsilitis free for around 2 years now, since Mr control freak/jealous/bitter and I split up.
    And I have been out a few times with someone who has been my friend for the last year and wow I think I might have a *normal* one on my hands lol, lots of respect, manners etc, god not even an orange flag (early days I know!!)
    PS – my divorce came through yesterday :)

  50. Tyla says:

    Wow can I ever relate to this! I had major anxiety on a regular basis with my ex EUM And developed an ulcer! I wish I’d known then what I know now. Anyone who makes you physically ill is NOT worth it! Especially if they’re too busy reaping all the benefits. I’ve read Nat say before “listen to your body” and this actually also made me rid myself of a friendship that also stessed me the HELL out and filled me with anxiety and anger! These are not people you need in your life. People should bring out the BEST in you! I realize that now, loud and clear.

  51. CC says:

    With every one of my EUMs I didn’t eat. I had no appetite whatsoever when I was engaging with them. I lost 5 lbs in a 3 day stay with my last EUM. I had always chalked it up to mass amounts of dopamine being released, which I do feel was a factor, but mostly it was because I could not get comfortable with any of these men. No matter what I did I never felt safe nor was able to just relax. Deep down I just felt not good enough, constantly trying to prove myself and make them see. It made me nauseous and depleted my appetite. Kicking these guys to the curb is the best thing we could ever do. Self esteem is a wonderful thing… I only wish more girls and women will grasp theirs and stop giving ANY of these guys the time of day. We are not to be used. We are amazing, smart, beautiful women that all have a choice to raise our standards. 3 words for these guys… Not. Good. Enough.

  52. colororange says:


    How do you manage to continue to communicate with your father when he does that? Is it worth even having a relationship with him? I swing from wanting absolutely no contact with mine to feeling like I should talk to him some. But right now I am upset. He is facing many years in jail if he is caught using again. He has been drinking so it’s a matter of time before the law figures it out and off he goes. He sucks and it puts all my own struggle with compulsiveness in my face.

  53. sunny says:

    Natalie your site is the first thing I look at in the morning. And have done since I stumbled on it a year ago . After 27 years married to grade a assclown and narcissist Ive come a long way piece by piece. But I never connected the dots on my health and his behaviour. I seemed to have had a whole litany of problems, panic attacks for years, ear trouble, vertigo and tinnitus for twelve years (talk about not listening!) splints on both wrists due to running myself into the ground to please this man. Frozen shoulder I had for over a year, headaches , aches in joints , fallen arches in my feet due to overwork, have weat special soles in my shoes ! When I was kicked to the curb metaphorically and literally Im sure he thought he had left me for”dead”, a broken person. Thing is , since Ive slowly put myself back piece by piece with reading and rebrainwashing myself with good stuff. Your help has been invaluable. I feel as if Im rising from the ashes headaches gone and verigo(my god is there anything worse). Shoulder is fine and even my feet are coming along. Hair (which was falling) is great even my anaemia is sorted!! I think if he saw me now, looking better than I did ten years ago hed have a bloody shock.!!!!!I heard hes moved to this town so who knows and who the hell CARES!! Thanks onces again Natalie!!! My health is great at 45. Im all better since hes gone….funny thing that isnt it?!

  54. Elle says:

    Well, it took me a few months to realise that every time the AC (have been calling him his first name lately, which I see as progress, but no point changing for this site) had a panic about us (resolved after he pegged crap at me, and I tried my best to analyse it all and soothe him), I would seem restored, but always get a cold sore. Then with the latest guy, I had all sorts of symptoms, including ear aches and vertigo. Unfortunately, I could not tell (and still can’t) how much these were about new man, and how much it was because of the fear of having another AC experience, the old steady withdraw and devaluation process…

    Actually, new man and I broke-up this morning (after 6 months together). I am in shock right now, but, essentially, I ended up saying to him (after weeks of feeling short-changed) that we had to acknowledge that we had a real difference in expectations about how the relationship should work, and that he needed to be honest with me about whether he wanted to work on things together or not. He said (as frankly as this), that he was always going to put work first and want a high degree of emotional autonomy, and that he was already giving as much as he could and (at least he said it) as much as he wanted to (an email or call most days, and at least one night and day on a weekend in person), and that he had begun to feel worried about speaking to me because he could not make me happy (which made things worse for both of us).

    So, am definitely in far better shape to handle a bust-up than I was a little over a year ago with the AC, and don’t need to analyse it all in the ways I did then. But it still hurts. I like(d) this guy, he is not a meanie, he is actually kind and pretty sensitive.

    I have to back my needs as real and legitimate – I just could not find a sense of rhythm (let alone an enduring feeling of love and calmness) with a workaholic – and stop that little sh*tter in my mind who wants to hold them up for scrutiny as possible ‘neediness’ or being unrealistic (Professional men work, right? Women with big houses and babies where I am from don’t see their men much, so maybe I ask for too much). Ick.

    Anyway, realise this is a process and one I will get on top of, but would love and really appreciate some BR-love. It hurts.

    • Natasha says:

      Awwww Elle, sorry it didn’t work out. There is something really positive in all of this though – when you recognzied that the relationship wasn’t working for you, you ended it. As much as it can suck, it’s way better than staying in something that you’re not happy in or trying to “adapt” to hold onto it. This guy sounds verrrrrry set in his ways – you didn’t try and change him, you just said “not working for me”. Not easy to do! Everytime you break off something that’s not for you, you’re making space for the relationship that WILL be perfect for you. Feel better soon girl! *Big Hugs*

      • Elle says:

        Thanks Natasha. I appreciate it (and your top form generally in recent comments). Yep, he definitely did not want to shift his priorities or at least change the tone towards his work. I am nervous still because I am now remembering all the nice, generous things he did do for me (classic break-up stuff!) and wondering whether I somehow made this end by asking for too much and not showing enough gratitude. I don’t think this is valid, but my mind is tired and my resolve weakening (not helped by my friends who have been telling me recently that these relationships with successful men, where you’re essentially only communicating on the weekends is normal). Also that bit about how I didn’t make it easy for him to know how to make me happy smarts. Anyway, must-get-through (trudge, trudge). Thanks again – will try to focus on that new, lovely empty space. x

        • Natasha says:

          You are very welcome my dear! It’s very, very easy to second guess yourself when your friends are saying that this type of thing is normal. I agree with Nat that there’s an EU vibe goin’ on here! I also concur that you are a great lady and I have no doubt that there are wonderful things on the way for you :) xoxo

    • Carrie says:

      So sorry to hear about your break up! {HUGS} Sometimes it’s just not meant to work out. If being with a workaholic isn’t working for you, no amount of trying to talk yourself into accepting it is going to change that. I’m the same way. I need someone who has a balanced life and while recognizing they need a job to live, they don’t live to work. I love my free time and I’d want someone who feels the same.. and also enjoys spending it with me! Great job on recognizing it is what it is and trying not to overanalyze anything.

    • Fearless says:

      Aw Elle, Sending you lots of BR love and support. Sorry it turned out this way – one day/night a week in person does seem to me a little thin. Wish I had some good advice but I’m not even ready to put myself out there; you are doing it, so good for you. Keep on keeping on!

    • NML says:

      Ah Elle – sending you a big squeezy hug. I’m sorry that you’re hurting and that it didn’t work out. It sounds like you’ve done the right thing even though the right thing often hurts a lot initially.

      Some people use work to avoid intimacy. Then it becomes that they ‘love their job’ or are so ‘busy’ or needed by their work that it’s out of their hands.

      There is a difference between being a workaholic or working a lot and not being available emotionally for the relationship plus if they’re working very hard they become physically unavailable.

      “emotional autonomy” What the what now? When people talk in that sort of lingo, you know that they feel constrained by another persons emotions and expectations – commitment and intimacy issues.

      Here’s what I do know: for about 2/3 of this relationship, you have been experiencing anxiety about this relationship, his actions, what you may or may not be thinking or doing. He sounds like a nice enough guy and you had a good times, but you weren’t happy.

      You weren’t happy Elle.

      Now I’m sure that you will get to the heart of what is behind this, but top line, you weren’t happy. Or should I say you weren’t comfortable.

      I suspect that this is a mix of the past and him. His emotional ambivalence only cements that. Yeah he’s not being an asshole but as many can attest to, whatever way unavailable arrives in your life, it can bring out much of the same feelings.

      Part of the issue is that he puts his work first, but when you get down to it, he’s unavailable and you want different things.

      That’s ok – at least you know where you stand. Your ex will discover that unless a woman has shag all needs, or is a workaholic herself that puts him lower on her list of priorities…

      Hugs. You will be fine. In fact, you will be great.

    • Magnolia says:

      Dear Elle,

      Sending you hugs. Whether it’s workaholism or not, someone who says they will put work first is giving you a huge message. I know people who were coming out of the elite college that I was at, heading into high-octane positions, or being offered high-octane positions, who nonetheless made decisions based on being able to be with their partner. You can be highly career driven and still have your relationship inform most, if not all, of your decisions.

      My experience with my last guy was confusing that way in that he made lots of time for us, though he would always apologize in public to other people that he didn’t see me enough. He did see me enough. But he came from a culture, or kept up an attitude, where he was the serious professional and I was the gf, and he was being big, or generous, or family-oriented, to ‘make’ so much time for me. The fact that I wanted more was seen as natural because I was the woman. I felt like one of his direct reports who he was carving out time for, so that I would be there when he wanted me to be.

      I wanted someone who wanted to be with me and to call me and talk to me as much as I wanted to talk to them. Even if someone is making the time, if it’s not quality time that reflects your shared enthusiasm, it won’t feel right. On the flipside, if one person doesn’t have tons of time, but her/his partner feels deeply appreciated, the relationship can work. My sister is about to marry a guy who is quite successful and busy and has to take lots of time away, but communicates every day. She has been very happy for two years – that wasn’t what we’ve been hearing from you.

      Natalie’s response is wise. You weren’t happy: that’s you telling you the most important message of all.

      Big hugs; good for you for making a decision instead of sticking around for years. You’ll get through.

      • Elle says:

        Cripes, you’re such wonderful people. Really. I am so fortunate. This is all so truthful and helpful. Thank you. You’re right, I was not happy or not happy enough. Happy when conditions were ideal (when he had time off or wasn’t snippy or tense about me calling when he was working), but felt rebuffed (and sometimes bored and frustrated) a good part of the rest of the time. Nat, you’re right about me thinking that because he is a good-hearted, conscientious guy, that somehow his unavailability (what he called emotional autonomy) could be managed or mitigated; that it somehow would not cause destruction. I was also trying (too) hard to make sure warning signs weren’t AC-triggers, and that held me up.

        I can’t really do much with someone saying, as he did, that he resented me for not leaving him alone to work during the week. You’re right Mags and others, it’s all about communication and confidence in being wanted by the other person. I too like to go underground and obsess about work from time to time (a Phd is hardly a piss-about), and I’ve played support to various boyfriends in big-time pursuits, but there was this sense with them that there was a relationship, steady and central, that we were leaving alone for some time. It did not feel like it did with new man, that the relationship dissolved because we weren’t physically together.

        You always know these things. I said to my mother in response to her asking me a month ago why I was sad when new man had just given me gifts, and I said that I was upset because I knew he was giving them to me so things looked right, so he was doing the right thing, more than from a place of love and openness (and, besides, I would prefer a burger and a bike ride or bowling over flash gifts, and he made a joke about how he was throwing money at the problem, which was clearly not that ironic). I just got the sense that he didn’t really want me around, but wanted to say sorry somehow or buy time with me or something similar. I knew then that I had to act on it, though, for practical reasons, it took a few weeks.

        Thank you again – your thoughts will help me stop heading down any unnecessary paths. I am so grateful to be a year on, with the wisdom of this site. I can back myself far more this time round, and know that this was my decision, and that I don’t have to go back to try to prove to him (in my mind or reality) that I am capable of loving and being loved.

  55. Mango says:

    Like many of us, I, too battle with migraines and major depression. And weight gain. And insomnia. Good times.

    I’m in a bit of a spiral at the moment, so not much to post. Though, I do want to offer this realistic, yet also, amusing and comic post about depression, with the hopes that it may resonate and inspire:

    And for you dog lovers out there, if you haven’t already been turned on to her two dog posts (check out her “Best of”); you’re in for a side-splitting treat.

    Hugs to all from Mango.

    • Spinster says:

      Mango: I kid you not, before I knew that you even posted that link, I posted it on Facebook this morning. Wow. 1st time reading it and may subscribe to it in my reader.

      • Mango says:

        Ha, great minds, eh?! She has the gift being of both poignant and funny at the same time. And her doggie drawings simply crack me up! Enjoy.

    • Natasha says:

      Mango, I loved that blog – especially the dog posts :) I totally understand about having the occasional spiral – everytime I find out that I’m donning Yet Another Bridesmaid Dress and the bride goes on and on about how they have someone to set me up with “in case you don’t have a date”, I have an approximately 35 minute- long meltdown after hanging up the phone. I hope you feel better soon and big hugs to you too!!

      • Mango says:

        Ah, the bridesmaid 27 dress syndrome. Sigh. It’s the “in case you don’t have a date” that really irks my mojo. Ya, because how could I possibly have an enjoyable time without an EUM or AC super glued to my arm?! Good grief.

        I wish these spirals were occasional, yet, it’s been a chronic condition since about my teens. Since just before my parents divorce, actually. Heh, how ’bout that? Then it just never subsided and actually got progressively worse, due to a huge lack of coping skills and my abysmal self-esteem.

        Ha, I had a hunch you were familiar with the dog posts on that blog! The one about moving, and the pics…sad (poor doggies), yet also so funny!

        If anyone is curious as to the correlation between dogs and depression, for me, dogs are my prozac. There was a time when I would not have gotten out of bed if it weren’t for my dog pal. I realize how pathetic and indulgent that may seem to some, yet that’s how insidious the depression manifested in my world. He’s no longer here (cancer), yet now I gratefully have canine friends in my ‘hood to scoop up and take out for a spin when the blues start to strike.

        Natasha, thank you for your well wishes. It actually does mean a lot, not ‘alot’…hahaha! Big hugs to you, and give yer pup a good ‘ole fashioned belly rub from me! xx

        • Tulipa says:


          Thank you for the link it made me laugh and cry at the same time.

          If anyone is curious as to the correlation between dogs and depression, for me, dogs are my prozac. There was a time when I would not have gotten out of bed if it weren’t for my dog pal. I realize how pathetic and indulgent that may seem to some,
          Mango, the hardest time I lived through was my teen years, I was depressed, suicidal and it was so dark and black in my life I didn’t think I’d ever find the way out. Sometime in my teens a stray dog wondered into our house and we kept it, that dog was a literally a life saver to me so it is not pathethic or self indulgent at all. God alone knows how many times having a dog got me out of bed too. There is also a lot of evidence of how much good dogs do visiting people in hospital and nursing homes. Even recently for a short while I was dog minding I loved it (except poop scooping)
          I hope you are doing okay, Mango.

          • Mango says:

            Aw, Tulipa, big hugs to you. Thank you for sharing your experience.

            “I didn’t think I’d ever find the way out”. This moved me to tears. I’m so sorry to hear what you went through, and am glad you found a way out. I completely relate to how dark it gets. I’m glad you’re here and doing well.

            Amazing, yet not surprising, how a seemingly innocuous occurrence as a random stray dog, was an impetus in saving your life! Rescues rock! My boy was a rescue too, and was one of the therapy dogs you talked about. Ha, I agree with you on the poop scooping!

            Yes, I am okay. Thank you for your concern. I am more than okay. There are the despondent spirals and the deep dark night of the soul spirals. This is thankfully the latter. I believe, hopefully, on the precipice of some new changes, thanks in great part to the stress and anxiety alleviated by staying in NC for almost 5 months now.

            Take good care and hugs to you.

        • Natasha says:

          Mango, I burst out laughing at “27 dress syndrome”! Oh, so true…so true. You are entirely correct that it’s much better to have gone solo than superglued to any of my exes (I would have had to literally superglue myself to them, or I’d have probably discovered them in a closet having a threesome with the waitstaff).

          One of my girlfriends had a really hard time with her parents’ divorce (they split when she was 15) – it took her some time to deal with it fully as an adult, so I totally get how this stuff can ‘hang around’. What I do know is this: You are a lovely, very intelligent and caring lady. You deserve all the happiness in the world and, with all the work you’re doing, I am confident that you’ll get it! Especially with canine buddies in tow. It is so true about doggies being the best antidepressant around! They love you and they depend on you, so it does get a sister out of bed when the going gets rough. I find that mine is very sensitive to my moods too, so if I was feeling down I made a real effort to feel better, or I’d feel like an unfit mother. Winston is sending a big “Thank you Mango!!” for the belly rub :) xoxo

          • Mango says:

            Omg Natasha, “probably discovered them in a closet having a threesome with the waitstaff”……bwahahaha! You crack me up :-)

            Thank you for such kind words. I think you’re pretty awesome too. Kind, uber smart, and mega funny. Heh, sometimes after reading your posts I think, sister better not be replying to his texts….he doesn’t deserve you! You deserve all the happiness in the world too, friend, I hope you know that. Sounds as though you have taken great strides in that direction. You are an inspiration.

            As tough and painfully eye opening this work is, I do think it’s all beginning to seep into a wee slip of a crack in my brain. This latest downward spiral is not entirely EUM related; other life stuff. Momma’s long-term illness, my health issues, financial, blahblahblah. But it’s all connected, I believe, as this post talks about so well. And becoming aware, as we are, and bringing it all back to self-care and self-love.

            Sounds as though you’ve got a sensitive guy there in Winston. That’s very sweet. I’m tickled to hear he looks out for you. And I SO get wanting to be a good dogmom 😉

            Big squeezy hugs to you, and a cuddle for Sir Winston! xoxo

  56. Lessie says:

    Hello All,

    And once more, how very much I can relate to this!

    I am feeling such an inner illumination from reading these posts and am “connecting the dots” to my own physical/emotional/mental health issues.

    To wit: over the course of my life, I have had an eating disorder, self mutilation episodes, panic/anxiety attacks, depression AND sore throat/sinus issues that have impacted my quality of life greatly.

    During the last six months, I have: divorced, moved, suffered a drastic reduction in income and been broken up with by a separated EU MM. This in turn led to a summer of repeated antibiotics, off and on, continuous colds, digestive problems, headaches, extreme dizziness, etc.

    When I think back, both with other relationships and my own marriage, I can see SO many “strange” maladies that at the time seemed to be just one more thing to have to deal with: a strange rash on my calves that seemingly appeared out of nowhere after months of intense emotional crisis (thankfully, it went away), ovarian cysts, a benign breast cyst, lower back and hip problems…and in almost every instance, I can remember either a particular person or situation that preceded these things.

    I think Natalie is absolutely spot on when she says that if you take care of your physical health, the emotional/mental will follow. I am very familiar with Louise Hay and put a lot of stock in what she says; there is a very distinct connection between our inner and outer, they are intimately entwined and I am starting to feel, as a result of setting (and sticking to) very firm boundaries with both family and friends, myself SLOWLY perhaps, hopefully maybe, *fingers crossed* beginning to heal.

    But it is an ongoing process, to be sure. One thing that is very important to me now, being in my 40’s is that, in preparation for midlife I certainly do NOT want to be having negative people and situations in my life. I just will not do it anymore, and if that means certain people are no longer part of my life as a result then, sad as that may be, so be it. It is what it is.

    This time, I am choosing ME. Simple as that.

    Hugs to all :)

  57. Arlena says:

    The dominant impression my father left on me were his unpredictable choleric outbursts that trained me to live on edge and in constant danger. As teen I began to show signs of tear and wear, I felt like a nervous wreck, anxious, very tensed up, confused and hurt.

    By reading post after post I realized with shock that one of my first long-term relationships had been with an EUM who had also choleric traits while I thought he was “quite decent” (well, compared with my Dad he sort of was). Though quick in noticing red flags I was unable to speak a language of confidence. I contributed all to me being basically wrong and flawed and he the light figure. In the years with this EUM I developed rising anxiety levels which one day culminated in terrible panic attacks. Still I couldn’t connect the dots.

    When I finally left that EUM and after other break-ups I didn’t feel relieved. My grieve was so out of proportion. It was all about getting validation, I thought without that I can’t survive. Beside that I was used to “pet projecting” in other people’s problems (which I learned with my Mum as I wanted to make her change from doormat to standing up for herself and taking action towards my Dad so that she could mother me properly) that I was not really “at home”, disgusted by my “weak body” to panic so easily. To those who have experienced a panic attack I don’t need to describe the inner hell – so I was just keen to flee from myself. Though I did the right thing and rid myself of EUMs, I never really felt a “reward” and doubted my actions.

    I failed to bring back the focus on me – who would like to return into a messed up house with rooms filled with anger and hurt to clean up, when it just needed ONE MAN to love it all away! 😉 Okay, I slowly get a sense of what it means to love, care, trust, respect and commit to MYSELF, feeling my feelings, not resisting but acknowledging them, heeding their information – that way my body perhaps don’t need to go full panic throttle for me marble head to finally get it.

    Listening to myself – coming home like a prodigal daughter I owe myself a great apology. – A heartfelt thank you, NML, for giving straight input, this enables me to correct all the false information I bought into and untwist the definitions I was given by my parents to begin with. If I were allowed to wish for posts it would be about the language of assertiveness.

    • Fearless says:

      “If I were allowed to wish for posts it would be about the language of assertiveness.”

      Yes. I feel more assertive now than I ever have before, and I owe this change to Natalie. I see that *I* count – just the same as everyone else; that I am entitled just the same as everyone else. I have one or two relationships with family members that look to be going down the tubes – my sister, who I do love, I am finding more and more unable to ‘communicate’well with because I am on a bullshit diet – And she’s not! It’s quite distressing though, thinking that my reltionship with her is hitting some serious rocks. Yet I often wonder if my ‘assertiveness’ is just intolerance (I know it’spobably viewed that way by those who would prefer me to ‘go along’ with whatever they think is okay (but I don’t) – or maybe how to assert myself without feeling ‘guilty’… all that stuff… it’s a difficult one.

    • Mango says:

      “Listening to myself – coming home like a prodigal daughter I owe myself a great apology.”

      Beautifully and simply stated. Thank you.

      All the best to you on your journey.

  58. Fearless says:

    Just before things came to a head with the long term EUM a year ago in August, I’m in bed trying to sleep one night and I hear the bagpipes playing in the distance (not entirely unusual since I live in Scotland). I’m thinking maybe there’s some ‘do’ going on at the golf club or the church nearby – eventually I fall asleep to the distant sound of a piper.

    Next night same thing. Bagpipes playing somehwere nearby. I’m thinking, that’s weird – two nights in a row.

    Next night. EUM is staying over (things are getting pretty fraught with him at this point). The pipes again. I ask him if he can hear those bagpipes playing. Nope. He doesn’t hear any pipes. So the pipes keep me awake, then he snores, drowning out the pipes – and he keeps me awake instead.

    After some pipe playing going on for a number of nights on the trot, it dawns on me that, for all the world what sounds like the bagpipes, is actually in my own head. I go to the doctor. Tell him I have tinnitus – the bagpipes! – and please can he help as I can’t bear to be listening to the bagpipes every night of my life (I do like the pipes, but in the right context!) He gives me some silly pills which I have no faith in.

    I go NC with EUM – I find BR. Arouund this time the bagpipes evolve into a whining high pitched noise – less musical! – for a while then stops altogether. I’m not taking the silly pills at this point. All seems well for a long time. No high pitched whining in my ear, no pipes, no EUM, no snoring. Great.

    But this past few weeks the high pitched whine has returned… it’s becoming quite annoying. I hear it now as I type this, as it’s very quiet. I only hear it when there’s no other distracing noise.

    Am I still not listening to myself, I wonder? Or do I just have plain old tinnitus and need to go back to the doc? I don’t think there’s much can be done about tinnitus really, is there? Many years ago a boyfriend’s mother suffered from it and had some device put into her ear that created another noise to merely mask the sound of the tinnitus. I hope it goes away again, it’s a pest.

  59. Emily says:

    Thank you for writing this post! I discovered Hay’s book about a year ago, and it’s given me a crazy amount of insight into my many physical issues. Most of them – allergies, back pain, TMJ, skin problems, etc – manifested during periods of stress, and I did recognise that, but her book has been a fantastic tool for clarifying exactly what each one was about. There was one specific incident last year, though, that made it clear not only how literally my body took on what was happening in my life, but how it was screaming for me to listen to it! I dated a total douchebag Mr Unavailable for a few months, and he stood me up on NYE. I was confused, hurt, and angry, and whilst I was curling my hair to go out that night, I dropped the curling iron on my shoulder. Ouch. And, lo and behold, I was left with a blistering burn in the shape of a heart. (Yes, I’m serious – I was literally burned by love!) If that’s not a message, I don’t know what is.

    And you know, I didn’t quite get it then (following a long pattern, I forgave all when I heard from him later – of course!), but when he really screwed me over a few months later and things ended for good, I decided to take significant time off from all men and work on myself. 8 months later, it was the best – though certainly not the easiest – decision I have ever made. I’ve pledged to listen very carefully to my body (and my gut feelings) from now on. And I’m glad I can now feel confident he was the very last in a long line of EUMs in my life!

  60. Issue girl says:

    I lose weight every time my boyfriend and I fight. Well, ex, now. I still can’t get over how awful he was to me yesterday when he called to talk, and then basically just told me how everything I do is wrong, and when I tried to tell him what doesn’t work for me, he got angry at me for being negative, told me he won’t stand for it. I would be fine with all that, if only it didn’t just ruin my appetite, my general well-being. I tried to talk to him today, and he never picked up his phone, never responded to my text messages. I feel so disrespected that I hate myself for allowing him to do that to me. I didn’t realize that this could be related to my body aches and upset stomach, so thank you for this post. But how do I stop this? How can I stop the actual empty feeling? Please help me. I can’t stop crying.

  61. Steffi says:

    Hello Natalie,
    I read your post eagerly. I was in a relationship with a very nice man, at least I still think that, but right from the beginning, I had something I would call panic attacks or maybe rather a feeling of strong dread at various occasions, sometimes before I met with him, sometimes just when I thought of him. Eventually I figured out that I didn’t love him, at least I think so, and when I broke up, the feeling stopped. On the other hand, I also regularly had stomach aches after eating; I felt so full that I thought I might throw up. This feeling, however, subsisted and still arises when I think about my ex and in other situations when I feel uncomfortable. I am also in therapy, it has been more than two years now, but I can’t figure out what is causing this strong feeling of physical discomfort. I am grateful for any comment on this that could be related… Thank you.

  62. Katya says:

    Dear NML,
    The body falling apart from the kind of stress you describe is something I’m all too familiar with. After seeing numerous doctors, having endless tests, I was finally diagnosed (years later) with myofascial pain syndrome. I found an amazing book that has helped me: The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair and Amber Davies (father/daughter team). It’s an effective self-treatment guide for a broad range of pain and physical stress (including odd sensations such as tingling, numbness, TMJ) and provides a clear approach for eliminating trigger points (small contraction knots in the muscles that are responsible for pain symptoms). Apparently, trigger points are the primary cause for about 75 percent of chronic pain cases. The book is based on the famous system for trigger point treatment by Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons (see: Here it is on (note the many laudatory reviews). Sadly, most doctors are unfamiliar with this therapy (many have never even heard of trigger points although its a well established phenomenon), and those who know about it generally treat symptoms with drugs (which mute the symptoms, but don’t address the underlying problem) or send you to a clueless physical therapist. There isn’t much money in treating trigger points, and of course, it’s not sanctioned by the pharmaceutical industry since the most effective treatment is a drug free approach. I hope this might be of help to you and some of your readers.
    Kindest regards,

    • NML says:

      Hi Katya, I’ll certainly check it out. I’m much better now but certainly worthwhile checking out as a reference source for readers.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.

30-Day Project: Dealing With Tricky Family Members

Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.