Natasha Adamo's Advice on Heartbreak, Grief + Building Self Esteem

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Natasha Adamo is the voice behind Post Male Syndrome, where she opens up the kimono on her past heartbreaks and shares honest advice on relationships and breakups. Whether she’s tackling the question ‘Why am I attracted to jerks?’ or ‘Is he emotionally unavailable?’ she consistently delivers the candor (and humor!) that we so often need to hear. You can follow her on Instagram @natashaadamo.

HER FIRST HEARTBREAK
“The first time I felt heartbreak was when my parents divorced. My parents could not have been more careful and mindful and accommodating of my emotions and anxieties, but at the end of the day, they divorced and they met other people. I felt like I was abandoned and I couldn’t identify with either of the new families they created. I was very young and I remember thinking that if I was better, that it could somehow get fixed. I took it very personally. Divorce forever changes the way you communicate with your parents and as a family and it was hard. I never understood that it had nothing to do with me. I never understood that my parents could love me independently of one another. I was in denial for so long I would tell all my classmates that my parents were together. I couldn’t accept it.”

HER MOST RECENT HEARTBREAK
“I didn’t want to get out of bed. Taking a baby wipe and dry shampoo shower became the equivalent of winning a 25k marathon. It was the first heartbreak that affected me at a cellular level. I didn’t want to do anything but cyberstalk, obsess, cry and ask only the people in my life who I knew would give me the answer I wanted to hear, what their opinion on the situation was. I got sick, I had a bleeding ulcer. I was a mess. It was the ultimate Natasha, you are forgettable, disposal, easy to abandon and never going to be good enough confirmation. I remember driving and thinking that if it didn’t hurt other people, I would have driven into oncoming traffic.”

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IT WAS NEVER ABOUT HIM
“All he said was ‘I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say to you.’ I was trying to extract every ounce of empathy I could hear in his voice and convince myself it was genuine but that night he went out to a bar. You know? At that moment I knew. I knew. And I think the person I called after that was my mother. And I said, ‘look I’ve never really asked much of you. I’ve been a good kid. But I don’t need you as a mom right now. I need to be your patient. I need you as a therapist right now. I need you to help me.’ And she stopped everything, everything, to help me. She went above and beyond in helping me see what was going on and it ended up being nothing more than me dealing with myself. It wasn’t about him. It was never about him. And he taught me that what anyone does, whether it’s good or bad to me, has nothing to do with me. It’s their perception, their reality. I was making everything about me, tying my worth to the actions and inactions my ex, taking everything personally and absorbing all the blame for everything but I refused to turn inward and take care of myself which in a way was kind of like a weird reverse narcissism train that I couldn’t get off.”

HOW SHE MENDED
“In the past it was cyberstalking, looking for another guy to make my ex jealous but still prove that I’ve moved on, looking for validation that I wasn’t what the breakup had made me feel like I was. Basically looking for any and everything I could tie my worth and value to. Anything that could validate me because I was unable to validate myself. Then I just thought, 'Okay I’m going to feel my emotions. I’m just going to feel it.' And when you feel your emotions and stop fighting it, you begin to disempower the feelings.I hadn’t done yoga in years. I got a membership and I was going to class everyday. And I physically felt myself sweat the relationship out. I don’t really like Bikram or anything like that. It’s a 70 degree heated room. I got in the best shape of my life and I always say, when you feel like you can’t emotionally cope, if you amp up your physical strength your emotional strength will follow. It will. So that really helped.”

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WHAT SHE FOUND
“I ended up gaining my self esteem and self love through the worst kind of grief I that wouldn’t inflict upon an enemy. I ended up finding out more about who I was. I started to respect myself and stopped looking to men, friends and possessions for validation. I took some real ownership for once and realized that through my actions, I was translating to him that I needed him to tell me who I was and what I was worth because I unable to tell myself. I sought validation with the unconscious ease of breathing air. Instead of making all of the hurtful things that my ex did about me and my inadequacies, I realized that the only way the relationship would ever work was if I accepted his actions, his behavior and if the relationship was on his terms which wouldn’t ever work for me because his behavior consistently broke my heart and he was unable to empathize. So I knew I was either in for a lifetime of momentary validation, never feeling good enough and misery, or I could just muster up the backbone and stab myself with some pride and say ‘I’m not that pathetic, I’m not that desperate and no one is that important that loving them should mean you’re doing so at the expense of your self-worth.’"

BUILDING SELF ESTEEM
The rejection of his hurtful behavior was the first building block I ever made in instilling my self esteem. That’s how you build your self esteem, by accepting and rejecting behavior. The thing with that is people will take it one way or the other, they’re all about extremes. They’ll snap their fingers in the air and say 'no way F you' and be rude about it, or they will be a doormat and professional pedestal builder like I was, happily placing people upon them. You have to kind of fine tune it a bit, and the best way to do it is through your silence, your actions, in dignity. When I got to that point, I was able to start building all of the self esteem that I had lost back up because I realized that yeah, he may have cheated on me, but really, I’m rejecting him. And once I committed to kindly rejecting hurtful people and behavior that made me feel bad about myself, yeah it was hard at first, but it ended up increasing my self respect because I was finally getting behind myself and starting to validate myself."

CUTTING HIM OFF
“It was the first time in my life I ever made a commitment to do something and followed through with it. A few months after the breakup he would text me, but he didn’t even know I had a heartbeat. I cut him off and I stayed on the whitehorse. It was so hard because I just wanted to call him and tell him to come over and hop back in bed. But the more I progressed, the more I was like, 'Oh... I’ve come so far.' I realized that through my actions, I spoke more to him than my words ever could have. He saw that I was serious and through my silence, I introduced him to the girl that had limits, self respect and healthy boundaries. He was reaching out to be friends. It is a societal truth that if you treated someone poorly in a relationship, they will not want to be friends with you after the relationship is over. So, if I accepted his hand in pseudo friendship, that would translate to him that he wasn’t that bad of a guy and that he could possibly use me as an option down the road. He treated me poorly and as long as I agreed to be friends, he wouldn’t have to view himself or his actions in a negative light."

HOW SHE STAYED STRONG
"I realized that him reaching out had nothing to do with missing me, feeling remorseful or feeling bad about what he did. It had more to do with his need for control because he felt out of control of the dynamic since being cut off. I stayed strong by knowing that this guy had consistently proven to me that he lacked empathy and was emotionally unavailable, so the only way I could get him to have one iota of a feeling of what he put me through would be by hitting him in the only place it would ever hurt- his ego. I found strength in the knowingness that by cutting him off and letting my actions speak, I had ceased becoming the rabbit boiling psycho ex. I became the one that got away and the one that had run out of fucks to give."

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WHAT SHE FINDS SEXY NOW
“I’ve had so many attractive, intelligent, successful, powerful, talented ex-boyfriends because I used to equate having a great degree, a winning personality or being able to perform surgery or throw a ball at a professional level with having having character. I learned the hard way that while all of those things are amazing, they’re nothing without character. I was so drawn to these guys because I was not only void of character myself, I didn’t know who I was. So I figured that if I could date a guy with a particular talent or power or an admirable accomplishment, it would mean that I had some value too. Character is when your words and your actions match. It’s not how much money you have in the bank, it’s not how many deals you’ve closed, it’s not how many movies you’ve made or how many points you’ve scored. It’s the ability to seamlessly, without intention and without effort, match your words with your actions. What turns me on now? A good heart. Someone that shows up for themselves and for me both emotionally and physically. Someone whose values and actions match their words. Of course there has to be physical attraction and of course there are things that I prefer and like, but it no longer dictates my selection, my ovulation and my libido."

START WITH YOURSELF
“I read every ‘don’t jump’ book. I was a walking ‘don’t jump’ billboard, but at the end of the day it did nothing. It was like trying to put paint on a home you haven’t built. I needed to build the home. There are always great things out there, but the best source is yourself. If you can’t turn inward, Mend isn’t going to mend. Post Male Syndrome isn’t going to help. I had to really turn inward and it was super scary. I said in my blog, it’s like you’re this beautiful home in Beverly Hills and you’re on prime property. You have the edge pool with Venetian marble and all this, and you keep going on about how valuable you are and that you’re upset because you can’t attract a quality buyer. But when anyone goes in the home, they can’t stay in there for more than two seconds because it’s a disaster. My house was a disaster. I needed to see my patterns. It was the first relationship where he definitely broke my heart. But I realized that the most problematic issue was that I was consistently attracted to someone like that. If I felt better about me, I wouldn’t be mourning the loss of it - not to the extent that I was.”

THE HARDEST LESSON
“The most significant relationship you’ll ever have, the one person that you can’t live without, the one person that you'll need with you through everything - is not your ex, it’s you. That’s the one person that you have to worry about pleasing so much. The hardest lesson was that I was unable to give an echo of the understanding, the leeway, the compassion, the love and the respect to myself that I was giving to family members, friends, men and coworkers. To be honest with you, years ago I couldn’t share this chocolate cake with you right now and talk about the breakup because I couldn’t eat and talk about it. I couldn’t talk about it without sweating and shaking because it just affected me so much. The reason breakups were so impossible for me to deal with was because I tied my reason for being to this person, to the relationship. Without them I couldn’t exist because I didn’t know how.”

WHAT SHE WOULD TELL HER YOUNGER SELF
“I’d say keep hurting. Stay in pain right now. Because it is in pain that you really grow the most. If you actually deal, it’s one of the best things ever. I wouldn’t say it’s going to be okay because you won’t believe it right now. But I do know that you need to feel your pain as long as it’s there. The second you feel it, you can deal with it. You’re at a point to say, I feel it enough and I’m ready to talk about it. And then, I’m ready to do the next thing. You can get angry. Anger is great too. I’ve done some of my best work in anger. So many people just try to repress it or seek this magical answer to get rid of the depression, the hopelessness and the anger. But I say feel it. And get the right advice, advice that’s going to hold you accountable. What is it about you that’s still mourning the loss of trash? What is it about you that makes you sad because the shit in the toilet will inevitably need to be flushed? It’s not useful to you. Flush.”

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MUSIC THAT MENDS
“I love the sad phase because I only listen to music that makes me wallow in it, which I actually in a twisted way enjoy. Taylor Swift, Last Kiss. James Taylor goes with everything. I love Kesha, Thinking of You. Hard core hip lifted me out. Mike Jones, Back Then. Drake 0 to 100. Big Sean, I Don’t Fuck With You is my ultimate. It would get me in a phase where I would feel like I could feel again.”

HER MANTRA: SECURITY
“Security in my health, in my wealth, in myself as a woman. Security in my younger self as a girl who never felt accepted. Security in my friendships. Security in my relationships. Security in my family dynamic. Security in my job. Security in my ability to give and accept love. I want security. That’s what my intention is in every yoga practice. I never ask for anything more. There are so many specific things I want in life, but I’d like to have all of those things because I believe they will lead to the feeling of security. I want to feel it within, that’s what I’m after. And I don’t for one minute think that I’m smart enough to I know what’s exactly right for me. I know the universe knows. It’s a feeling I’m after. I’m not after anything else.”

Photographs provided by Natasha Adamo.

There’s no better moment to start moving on than right now. Download Mend in the App Store and start your free 7-Day Heartbreak Cleanse. We will teach you how to move on, step-by-step.

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