I have a good friend who is very insightful and she has done it again. She has inspired this week’s post.
We hadn’t talked in awhile and we started talking about how we are each doing in life. She has Lupus – a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs and I have an ex. Now it wasn’t me that made this connection, she did. She said “Renee, your ex is like a chronic disease you have no control over. Just like a disease that flares up unexpectedly in life, so does your ex.”
He has recently “flared up” as she so succinctly put it.
Another friend noted that ex flare ups tend to happen around stressful times of the year, birthdays, Christmas… yup, right again.
I especially liked the part where she said I have no control over it, just like she has no control over when her Lupus hits.
Now, some people might object to this comparison because after all I made the choice of marrying my ex and it really is only my perception that he is flaring up. It’s simply a matter of opinion that something he has said or done is stressful to me. That is the difference here. It is mostly my reaction to my ex that causes me stress and pain whereas with my friend, her lupus is a concrete disease that she has to deal with.
That said, she has noticed that if she modifies her diet and tries to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it helps decrease the severity of her Lupus flare ups. I too have implemented strategies that prevent severe reactions to ex flare ups.
I have cut back on coffee (sigh), I exercise (well, not lately, but that’s my goal) and I have built my ex flare up response system.
My ex flare ups come on suddenly. Out of nowhere. They are infrequent but severe. I don’t see them coming. They just hit.
Now I don’t know what my friend does when a severe Lupus flare up occurs, but I have learned what to do when an extreme ex flare up hits as even though I don’t know when it is coming, I have lived through enough that I have had to develop a strategy.
The first thing I do is dump my first knee jerk emotional response into an email (making sure I remove his address first). I put in everything that is upsetting me at that very moment. I go for it. Then I hit SEND and send it to my dummy email account. I’m not sure how it works, but it calms me down.
Then I give myself time. I don’t run off to my support network to scream about the latest outrage being perpetrated by the ex (well, not for a few days anyway as I guess this blog post did come out of talking, ahem, ranting, to my network).
I take deep breaths, I meditate and I practice gratitude and remind myself that the future never turns out the way I imagine and certainly not the worst case scenario that I tend to gravitate towards in my thoughts.
Now, all these strategies don’t make the flare up go away but they do alleviate some of the symptoms such as lack of sleep and extreme grumpiness.
These strategies also get me to the best mood for dealing with my ex. Before managing myself, I would tend to fight or avoid my ex, but after time I get back to understanding I need to collaborate with my ex.
Because fighting it just exacerbates the flare up and avoiding it, well, that just puts me in into a waiting and apprehensive state.
So I sent my ex and email and proposed we talk in person with some collaborative ground rules set in place.
After a series of meetings and conversations, the flare up has subsided. We have settled back into a good routine and I will continue to work on strategies to decrease the frequency of ex flare ups in the future.