Just because you’ve made a commitment to change your life and make things work better and leave some of your grieving behind, not every effort is successful. Sometimes you find that you think you have found something, a place, a group of friends, a new interest, a hobby or some other thing that removes you from your grief for a while and refreshes your soul. 

Other times you try something and know immediately that it was the wrong thing to do.  The “thing” is making you feel worse instead of better.  If there is a chance to leave that situation as soon as you figure it out, you have two choices:   a) stay and see if things will change or b) run away as fast as you can.  For most of us we want to run.   We’re sick of grieving our old life where we didn’t have to “try” new things and we’re sick of trying to make the new life work when it’s not.  We’re not picking the right people or the right things to do and we’re not feeling like anyone who newly comes into our world really gives a damn about who we are or what we’ve been through.

That is sometimes more difficult to deal with than just not trying.  There are times I tell my clients to get out and try things and be okay if you come home feeling worse than before you left.  That’s much easier said than done and I’m being flippant when I say that trying new things and sometimes thinking, “This is it!” one minute and then “This sucks” the next minute is a fun ride especially all you have been through.  It’s a tough spot to be in.

Grieving is a process that many times takes a long time.  Many times it’s much easier to do nothing than to make changes and expect those changes will be the right ones and you will have made the right choices and life will be great again and then you fall flat on your face.

The feeling is something akin to why bother or why ever go anywhere or do anything or try anything as it’s not working.

I always suggest a reprieve in either doing what you’re doing or if you’re doing it, then just hang back for a bit.  Take some time, figure it out and you can even do that while you are doing the thing you’re not sure you should be doing.

A woman who was in a seminar of mine and then a bootcamp had a difficult time because she and her ex did all of their hobbies together.  They belonged to the same bowling league and a film buff group and a few other things.  After the breakup, she felt uncomfortable going to those things since he had joined many of those groups first.

So we talked and I asked her about interests and hobbies, no matter how big or small they seemed.  She always wanted to do pottery and started to take classes.  In the first class she met a group of women who had been taking different “adult education” courses at the college where she was taking this course.  They seemed genuine and reached out to her and she felt good the first few times she went to the class. 
Then one night she showed up late and had forgotten some of her tools.  She asked one of the women, who had been very friendly toward her, if she could borrow one thing and the woman made a remark to the effect that getting to class on time and being prepared was important.  She felt scolded like a child.  She apologized and even apologized after class to the group but no one seemed to be reassuring her that it was okay.  There had been some history there with people throughout the years (the years she wasn’t there) of people coming and going throughout the group and not taking things seriously and not having the correct tools or instruments or whatever the class required.  Apparently there were a few and at one point they decided, after losing tools and other expensive items to people who had “borrowed” them, that they weren’t going to be so generous anymore or at all.

She had apparently broken a rule she didn’t know about and though she got through the class, the next class the chill in the air was palatable. I said t her, “This is stupid.  You may have done something wrong in their eyes, but you didn’t know it and you were scolded like a little child.”

She started to cry, thinking that as hard as it was to push herself out to this class and to feel as good as she felt for a few weeks, thinking she had found a new group of friends, it was not really her “group” or her “pod.”  (or as Dr. Estes says “your pack”).

It’s tough.  It truly is.  I suggested she continue to go to the class but not to be cloying or sweet or try to make up to these people for something she hadn’t done (as was her tendency). I said just go and hang back.  It didn’t have an effect on them but it did help her a bit to realize that if one night of classes or one night of borrowing some tools could lead to this “lock out,” then it wasn’t her pack.

It’s disappointing when things happen that way.  After the class ended, they had been in touch via email but most of her emails went unanswered so she dropped it, felt horrible for a while, and then got back out there.  After about the 3rd or 4th try, she found a class, a writing class. She almost left after the first class because she realized that most of the people in the class already knew each other from other writer’s groups or places. But they all seemed friendly and nice, but she worried that they were already a clique and perhaps there were already rules she didn’t know about and she didn’t want to worry about breaking them.

But throughout the class they continued to stay nice and friendly and invited her out to coffee after class a time or two.

Several were going to do a writer’s blog after the class ended and they invited her to be one of the contributors. After the blog started and was up and running, she was listed as a Founding Member even though she hadn’t done much at all. They went out to dinner a lot and shared ideas about writing, blogging and how to get it recognized and to invite other writers to contribute. She realized she was considered more than just a contributor even though she had come late to the party.

So in one incident, she was late and the people made it into a huge deal and in the other she

Sometime you feel you’ve lost enough and here you are making a gargantuan effort to be out there living life again and it’s failing.  You get pulled back to your grief.  You miss your old life where you didn’t have to start over or be with people who didn’t like you.  Or even deal with anything that had to do with anyone not liking you.

Clients of mine have made many attempts over the years…failed attempts sometimes…and when the attempt is supposed to be part of your healing and not something that hurts MORE, it can really throw you for a loop.

My advice is to regroup and don’t give up.   You don’t have to go join another group immediately, but you don’t have to hide under the blankets either.  Some of us (myself included) become too comfortable in our solitude.  But then we really make the effort to go out an do things and make our lives different and it fails and we are not quite sure what to do.

It hurts and it’s hard and it does cause recycling a lot of the time.  But it’s another sucky part of the process.  Don’t give up on trying to find your pack or your group.  Don’t give up on trying new things or finding new friends.  It can work and you will find new friends.  Sometimes it takes longer than others and sometimes the act of thinking you have a new friend or group and then finding you don’t, really really hurts.

But keep at it.  Take a break if you must, but try to get out there and try new things.  Like I’ve said before, you never know what’s not yet in front of you.  But if you’re in your bedroom under the covers crying or in your living room vegging out in front of the computer or TV, chances are nothing is in front of you.

You’ve been through a lot.  But many times these new groups you want so much to belong with or to be your pack, don’t know that.  And they don’t want to hear your sob story right out of the gate. Sometimes  people make that mistake too.  (I’ve done that more than once).

So if you find that your trying to change your life is making you feel worse instead of better, welcome to the club. It happens to all of us.  But keep trying.   Your pack is out there.

(Published on both Rope Burns and Getting Past Your Breakup).