“Are you real?”
That was a very surprising question that I received via e-mail.
That got me thinking.
I thought that I revealed plenty of myself:
My suffering, my recovery, my mission to help people who were in the same position as I have been.
Throughout all of my articles, I have revealed more and more about my past. Hence, why would someone ask the question of whether or not I was a real person?
I refuse to think that my whole story looks like a marketing invention. And yet, maybe I haven't revealed as much about the PERSON Eddie Corbano as I have thought?
That's when I decided to write some more about my personal story and my life.
First, I started to write a “5 things you don't know about me” kind of article, but then again, what would you gain from it? Isn't it more useful to write more details about my experience and how I used it to become a better person?
I know that this will help you in two ways: first, it will make you realize that you are not alone with this problem, others have suffered and overcame it before.
Secondly, it can give you a new angle and incitement on what direction you can take.
I am sure many of you will recognize yourself in my story.
Even if my breakup was very long ago (1998), I still remember everything in detail, especially what kind of person I was before that.
To make clear something from the start:
This break-up was the best thing that ever happened to me. Eventually, it changed my life for the better by forcing me to confront my inner fears and problems.
I had to change or die.
I was raised by a very dominant father, who didn't tolerate many initiatives.
“You have to do what you are told,” not to think for yourself.
Being a very sensitive person, I did what I was told and never rebelled.
As much as I wished I had rebelled against the authority, (for a long time I was sure that this would've saved me), today I accept the fact that I haven't, and that I couldn't.
If you are not encouraged to be independent and to “march to a different drummer” as a child, and if you are additionally a very sensible person by nature, this could lead to two problems:
1. A lack of self-esteem
The combination of these two will most certainly cause an exaggerated, if not pathologic, suffering when a loss occurs in your life.
That was definitely the case with my very first real relationship break up when I was 18 years old.
In the following years, I've made mistakes which are very common among break up survivors with the flaws mentioned above:
I jumped from one relationship into another – break up -> rebound relationship -> break up -> rebound relationship… etc.
The dilemma here is not far to seek:
By not facing your problems, but avoiding and stalling them, they will come back to you eventually with even more force.
I was afraid of being alone, and by avoiding and not working on this issue, I further developed something else very dangerous:
The fear of loss.
Fear of loss makes you vulnerable to many bad things, like infidelity and clinging. Furthermore, you don't see things as they really are – you live in a bitter cloud of hope and assumptions.
You especially tend to overlook things you don't like about your partner or tolerate circumstances even if your needs are not being met – all this out of fear of losing them.
This fear does not permit you to be who you really are but degrades you to acting like a fearful and over-controlling person.
The truth is – fear of loss often drives the partner away.
The fatal thinking behind this is the firm inner belief that you don't deserve this partner – that you are not worthy of their attention. This gives all your power away, and you are entirely dependent on your partner.
They sense that, and it is most often too much for them.
The premise of a stable relationship is that both parties are stable people for themselves.
The Personal Nightmare
It happened in 1998:
When my Ex broke up with me, we were about to get married. It was like the whole world as I knew it collapsed. I couldn't function properly for weeks.
It was as though someone had stolen something crucial for survival from me – something I needed to exist.
I couldn't stand the pain or the thought that she wasn't by my side anymore. I made her the center of my life and now that she was gone, what was there left?
I had no perspective, no joy in life – all the things I once liked to do stopped being attractive. I had no interest in the other sex whatsoever.
In fact, I had no interest in doing anything besides lying around or sleeping. And sleeping lost its benefits due to extremely painful dreams that renewed the initial pain each time I went to sleep. (Check my newsletter for how to deal with such dreams).
Luckily for me, I intuitively felt the necessity for No-Contact – a rule which I broke only once after one month.
Breaking this No-Contact Rule was terrible and extremely painful – to talk to that stranger who was my great love once upon a time.
The pain was much worse after this, and I needed several weeks to reach the level I was at before the No-Contact break.
This existence, if you could call it such, lasted for six months.
Recovery Finally Started
Then suddenly it got better. I clearly felt an improvement in my overall state.
I made a decision.
Standing at a crossroads, I made the decision whether to go left or right.
Turning left meant to continue with this pathetic existence without joy and perspective – an existence that equals death. Turning right meant to change, and eventually, head towards a new and better life.
I consciously took that step into change. I decided that I couldn't go on like this.
All of that meant: accepting the fact that it was over and letting go.
Man, that felt good! I felt an instant release.
Yes, it meant accepting that she would never come back.
Yes, it meant saying goodbye to that golden future together that I had painted so well in my mind.
Yes, it meant standing up and taking back what was mine – even if it meant that I had to kick myself every day.
While this day marked a milestone in my recovery journey, the way that followed was still a long, rocky road.
The Painful Road Ahead
I had to go through all the painful phases – through the depression, the missing, the anger, the lonely nights where I wondered if she slept alone, the guilt, the endless times I checked emails, mailboxes, picked up the phone and hung up again.
It was like two steps forward, one step back.
The next few months were tough.
I had one especially bad problem: I was constantly rethinking and reliving the past, and every time I tried to block my thoughts, I would feel guilty.
As if NOT thinking about her was a betrayal.
It was impossible to let go while I kept her alive in my mind.
So I decided to approach this problem a different way.
The Secret Of Mental Control
I remember that I visited some friends, (the first time I had gone out to meet someone), and I forced myself to NOT think about her for one hour.
Only for one hour.
What now seems almost laughable was nearly impossible to carry out back then.
I committed not to beat myself up or feel guilty if I didn't make it the hour.
But it worked. I made it – one hour without thinking about my Ex.
This was a real victory.
With time I expanded the time frame more and more. Additionally, I learned some mental control techniques, like meditation and yoga.
The less I was thinking about her, the more I was able to let go.
Step by step, I learned to function again, to find myself again. The more I concentrated on myself and not on the outside, the more I learned who I really was.
I found out many things about myself back then, things I didn't know before: what kind of a person I was and why I'd become like that.
For a few months, I focused very intently on this task: to learn who I was.
I worked with counselors, (a very good friend who is a psychotherapist helped me tremendously to reach my personal goals), and educated myself in different categories of self-improvement.
It was all about self-improvement. Find out who you are and become a better person.
I learned more in 2 months about myself and how to improve my circumstances than in my entire life until then.
And you know what happened? As I got to know myself, I started to like myself for the first time in my adult life.
After that came a period where I wanted to give back what I had learned.
I decided to help others because I honestly believed, (and still do believe), that this is one major secret to overcoming a breakup.
I joined a breakup helpline, run by a non-profit-making organization. I had to take a counseling course for a few months first before they would let me take calls from real people.
The experience was overwhelming.
I learned so much about breakup recovery and what people are mostly suffering from.
I learned what helped them and what didn't.
I learned that I wasn't alone, that nearly every caller had the exact same problem that I had.
Additionally, I did surveys with family, friends and other people on how they overcame their breakups.
I was determined to find an applicable method to shorten the recovery time of a breakup, and at the same time to improve themselves as a person.
My next personal hurdle was something I was terribly afraid of: to face my Ex again.
I maintained No-Contact for almost two years and didn't know what to expect.
The result after I saw her again for the first time was very surprising: I was completely indifferent about my feelings toward her, and it felt like I was meeting an old friend.
That was the proof for me that I was over her.
I finally did it.
A New Man
What happened after that?
Well, my life took a very fortunate turn after that.
I had been able to resolve most of my issues, became stronger and confident, and understood the main pillars of a fulfilling relationship.
Like a phoenix, I rose from the ashes and became a new person, a better me.
I've learned even more about effective break-up recovery, and together with my friend the psychoanalyst, I developed a 7-step coaching program which has helped many people to get over their breakups in record time.
So, what would you say – am I real?
Man, you won't believe how real I am.
Your friend and coach,