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Looking for ways to power through it.

By March 9, 2010 - 2:36pm
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I just found out that my boyfriend of 2 years cheated on me multiple times. He was my first, and I loved him deeply. I really wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. Or maybe that was my young naive self believing that it could be possible for your first to be your only in life and love. It doesn't matter now anyways.

Bad timing to find out now since I'm still in school full-time. It's been a tough semester already, and I was already having a hard time with my courses prior to finding out about his unfaithfulness. I detest them, and I guess that has contributed to my poor marks right now. And I was always one to get high marks. These courses just weren't clicking with me.

What are some ways to power through this? Tips to motivation? Ways to cope? I wish it could be 2 months from now but until then, I have papers to write and finals to study for. I don't think professors will excuse a person's performance on the fact their boyfriend/girlfriend cheated on him/her, nor should that be a legitimate excuse to do poorly.

I just want to fly away to somewhere far from here. Or maybe just sleep until this pain goes away. But I can't. I HAVE to do well, or at least try to do the best I can, in these courses. It's crunch time.

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Alison gave you some really good suggestions. I've got one more for you: Just put one foot in front of the other.

That seems simple, I know. But you have to rally during the end of this semester even though you don't like your classes and even though you've had this bad news about your boyfriend. (I'm really sorry about that, too. It's awful.)

Some practical suggestions for getting the work done:

1. Decide your goal. Is it to pass? Is it to do better than that?

2. How far are you away from that goal?

3. Divide that answer into increments. If you need to get your grade up a level in two months, that means you need to get it up half a level each month. That's not hard to do.

4. Each week, make a list of what you must do, with deadlines. Make priorities for each day. You may have to let some personal things go in order to make your larger goal of getting through the semester. That's ok. This is temporary.

5. Work on one thing at a time. And when you're working on it, be a champion horse wearing blinders on the track: Don't focus on anything but that one paper, or studying for that one test. All you can do is one thing at a time. But you must do it.

6. Never work on anything that's not in the Top 5 of your priority list. (Some people say Top 3, but I can never keep myself just to the Top 3).

7. Count it down. It's easier to manage if you have a constantly decreasing number. How many class days until you get to the end of the semester? At the end of each day you can cross another one off.

8. Think of a reward that you will give yourself at the end of the semester JUST FOR SURVIVING. Something you really want to do, see or buy for yourself. You will have earned it.

9. Think about speaking to any teacher in whose class you're really struggling. Don't give them details of what's going on, but just say "I've had some personal issues this semester and I'm not doing anywhere near my best work. But I wanted you to know that I'm trying." (Note: I teach a college course myself. If any of my students came to me and said this, I would immediately ask if there's anything I can do (you would say "No, but thank you for offering") and then I would thank them for letting me know. Would it make me more lenient in their grades? Probably, if I saw that indeed they did seem to be working harder.

10. And remember that you aren't crazy. You're overwhelmed, and that can make us feel crazy. But you aren't. You just have to manage the overwhelm. And we do that one day at a time, one step at a time, one page at a time. You can do it, Anon. You can.

March 10, 2010 - 9:31am

I am so sorry...this really does sound like a painful situation, but I'm glad you found us. Honestly, there really is no "good" time to find out a boyfriend has cheated, as there always seems to be something else going on in life that causes us to not be able to go through the grief process as much as we'd like. Hopefully we can help with some suggestions, however.

Two thoughts for you:
1. You are essentially asking for some good coping techniques, and I'm sure you already have some. Think back to other stressful or sad times in your life, and can you remember what you did to cope with those situations? There are so many different ways that people cope, and here are just a few of them:
- Vent/talk with trusted friends or family
- Journal
- Take extra-good care of yourself by eating well and exercising
- Take a few more naps, or sleep in
- Give yourself permission and time to cry
- Listen to really loud music in the car (don't drive!)
- Try relaxation techniques: deep breathing, yoga, massage
- Have fun! Go out with friends, go to parties or other get-togethers that you may not have otherwise. Meet new people. Join a new club (I understand this is exam time for you, but can be something you look forward to).
- Try something new (join a sport, activity...even wear something different)
- Talk with a school counselor
- Positive affirmations (in case you are being difficult on yourself, you can remind yourself every day what qualities you love about yourself, what great friends and family you have...just remember all of the good that surrounds you)
- Distraction. Going to the movies, watching a positive and uplifting movie or TV show can work wonders. Laugh at jokes, see a comedian...these can really help you feel better in the short-term, so you can focus on studying
- Give yourself permission to feel the emotional pain. If you are trying to study and the anger/pain builds up, try not to feel anxious or blame him for doing this to you. Be sure not to get into that victim role...just know that someone was very unkind to you, you are strong and will work through it, and go for a walk for 15 minutes before studying again. Try to study for 30-45 minutes at a time, to really focus, then allow yourself to feel the pain again (or relax or do something fun).

2. Know the Stages of Grief
- I'm sure you've heard about the stages of grief, and it can be helpful to some people to know that what they are feeling is normal, and part of a longer process that they can actively and productively move through as their grief is not as strong.
- Just knowing that "time is the best healer" and that you will go through periods of anger, resentment, depression, acceptance...these will all be feelings you will have, and instead of trying to suppress them, it's OK to feel them and acknowledge them. They have their place, and then you can also give yourself the space to laugh, read, study, learn and enjoy some simple pleasures that surround you.

I hope some of this helps!

March 9, 2010 - 3:20pm
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