DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend broke up with me right after we celebrated her birthday. We had a nice dinner together, I thought, but then she dumped me. She said she wanted to make sure that we ended on a good note before it was over. That’s why she said that she planned the nice meal.
I am so confused. I didn’t see it coming. We had been getting along, as far as I could tell. Little issues here and there, but nothing major. Then we had this amazing night out, and -- boom -- I’m toast. I want to know why, but she won’t say anything. She told me it’s over and that should be enough for me.
I feel like I deserve an explanation, but she’s not talking. What can I do to get some closure here? I am freaked out by this. -- Bad Ending
DEAR BAD ENDING: Of course it would be kind of your ex-girlfriend to explain why she broke up with you, but you cannot force her to do so. That sucks, I know, but it’s true. She thinks that she handled the breakup in a thoughtful manner. You were doubly confused by her kindness, which seems almost cruel when you realize what she was planning.
As difficult as it is now, the best thing for you to do is to stand down. Since you cannot force her to reveal the underlying reasons for the breakup, the best you can do for yourself is to move on. Yes, it will be difficult. But do your best to occupy your time in other ways. Spend time with friends who were not part of your circle with her. Resist the temptation to talk about her. Consider going to a mental health counselor who can help you process your new reality and come up with tools to support your future. Give yourself time. But stop reaching out to her.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was ill recently, and I spent some time in the hospital. Due to my illness, I have gained about 20 pounds, and my clothes don’t fit the same. I went shopping the other day, but everything made me look fat. I’m so distraught. I’m not feeling my best, and now I look horrible in my clothes. The salesperson assured me that I looked fine. I know her, so I don’t think she would lie, but right now I can’t trust myself. How can I get past this feeling of terror about my body? -- Feeling Fat
DEAR FEELING FAT: Before you do anything else, acknowledge how grateful you are to be alive after your medical ordeal. You are still healing from whatever drove you to the hospital, so take it easy on yourself. You may want to ask your doctor what you can eat to help heal your body completely and lose weight responsibly. If you are allowed to exercise, that may also help ease your discomfort.
Because you are so sensitive to how your body has changed, now is a good time to trust the salesperson to help you select a few wardrobe items to fit your body today.
As your body heals, you may consider getting a therapist to help you navigate this tender time in your life. You can address your physical and mental health concerns in a safe space.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)