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In a rebound relationship, it pays to remember you're 'nuts'

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Just knowing you're 'nuts' makes all the difference

Cleveland: My husband of eight years announced that he wanted out — shocking me and our closest folks. After months of horrible pain, I have started feeling like myself. I expected to be single for a long time while becoming less damaged and twisty.

Now I've met someone and am head-over-heels. My head says, "Isn't there a warning about rebounds?" while the rest of me floats around in a haze of kind, sweet, sexy attention and conversation. Is this nuts? Doomed? It feels better than any relationship I've ever started.

Carolyn: Great! Enjoy. Just treat it like a high — don't operate heavy machinery, etc. — until you have reason to believe it's the stuff of an enduring connection. The most reliable measure of endurance is, well, endurance; you just have to wait before drawing conclusions. If you're still feeling this happy after a couple of years together, then the rebound warnings no longer apply.

The warnings do apply early, though: After a relationship ends, your emotions can feel deadened, from shock or pain-avoidance, even from disuse if the relationship had been dying for a while. When that happens, all those dormant nerve endings can be shocked awake by the first wow that saunters by — and your feelings return in the form of more emotion than you can contain.

It can be awkward and overwhelming, but it's not necessarily a terrible thing, to have feelings that burn hot and then burn out. The real risk is when you invest in them as if they're going to last.

As long as you remain skeptical enough not to do that, and remain patient in judging the value of what you have — in other words, as long as you know you're "nuts" — then it's okay to see it as part of the getting-well process.

Health news is distressing but need not dominate visit

Health Stress: I'm going to see my family for the first time all year. This past week I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, and told only my parents. While I know I can't keep health things a secret, I don't want everyone to keep asking if I'm okay, or if I can eat this or that.

I got the results four days ago and keep asking myself, why me? Nobody in my family is diabetic. I don't have to have shots but really need to keep everything else in check. How am I going to make it through the trip with everyone asking? Last thing I want to do is break down in tears since I'm embarrassed, scared, angry, etc.

Carolyn: When it's happening to you, a serious health issue is a staggering development, and so it makes sense that you're staggered.

Now think of yourself as not the recipient of serious health news, but a member of the inner, middle or even outer circle of someone who has received serious health news. It's worrisome, of course, but also part of life. Everyone is dealing with something.

So I would suggest, as you head into this family gathering, replacing your "Why me?" with an "Everyone is dealing with something" mantra. Regard yourself as a community member of equal standing, not the center of community concern. Address the natural concern and curiosity — with or without tears, since it's family — then set an example of life going on.

In a rebound relationship, it pays to remember you're 'nuts' 01/21/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 6:32pm]
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