04.27.12 Love



BY Bex Olver

I’m doing a Madonna.

By that, I don’t mean that I’ve got freakishly muscly arms or I’m adopting a Malawian orphan. I am reinventing myself. Madge is the QUEEN of reinvention and if it’s good enough for Lady Madonna, it’s good enough for me. So, why am I embarking on this reinvention thing, I hear you ask…?

Nearly two years ago, I went through a pretty crappy breakup with a man I mistakenly identified as my ‘happy ever after’. When we split up, I was actually pretty terrified of being an individual again. I’d had nine years of being part of a couple and I’m ashamed to say that I lost my identity. On my own, I panicked; what was new single me all about? Errr… do you have a question on sport?

It’s only natural to make compromises and share interests with a significant other – and depending on how dedicated you are to that, when you no longer need to do it, a massive ‘WHAT NOW?’ can loom large. A scary thing to have to answer, but the great thing about the answer is that it is completely and absolutely up to you. After my break up, I needed to reconnect with what made me tick. I needed to shake off the girlfriend I had been and move forward.

When I talk about reinvention, I’m talking about improving on the pretty amazing you already in place. I don’t see it as trying to be someone else, as that rarely promotes happiness or contentment. Reinvention means to remake or make over. For me personally, it was about reviving myself.

Although you don’t have to be single to do it, reinvention and break ups go hand in hand and it’s easy to see why. At a time where you feel all hope is lost (it’s not) and that you might never get another human being to date you EVER AGAIN (that’s not the case, I promise), reinvention can take your mind off some of the stuff that will drag you down and make you feel like poop and restore a little hope and excitement back to you when you need it most. It helps fill time and distracts you from your newly acquired single status. It shows you that there is potential for things to get better, that you are a little bit fabulous after everything that’s happened. Nurtured carefully, that fabulousness will bloom and grow and before you know it – BOOM! You’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

But wait! I’ve not even got to the best bit about reinvention. The best bit is that you can do it exactly how you want to, in whatever way you like. There are no rights or wrongs! You can be as out there or as subtle with it as you want! You can overhaul everything in your life or just do something small and see how you get on! If it all goes wrong, you’ve lost nothing and at least you gave it a go, which is more than most people can say.

You can travel! Start a new hobby! Change your career! Get a tattoo! Shave your hair off and go into the woods and chant round a fire! Whatever you want to do, because now it is all about you and what you want out of life.

I threw the subject of reinvention open to my friends and got quite a mixed bag of information. One friend said that after her last relationship the first thing she did was to get her nails done, eyebrows shaped and her hair cut. General Girl Rules (and Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors) dictate that having a haircut after a breakup is a good place to start. Another friend changed the city she lived in, bagged herself a new hobby in photography and is going from strength to strength in the field.

Reinvention is different for everyone. I know women who wouldn’t be scared of trying swimming with sharks in a meat bikini and no cage, whereas others I know could get more than two inches cut off their hair and need to head to the nearest bar for a stiff G & T to recover from the craziness. When used appropriately, it can be a little bit scary and immense fun, but that’s the point. You’re pushing yourself out of that comfort zone and seeing what you can achieve. Some go full steam ahead into it, whereas for some, fresh out of a break up it’s too raw and a bit of time has to go by before they feel ready to embark on the journey. But the point is it’s all waiting for you if you’re willing to give it a go and try it on for size. Apparently life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Oh and just in case you’re thinking I’m all words and no action, my personal reinvention included leaving the scene of the crime. I no longer live in the city where my ex lives. In actual fact, I moved three hundred miles away back to the area I grew up in to be nearer my family. I’ve taken a course in photography and learnt to crochet. I’ve grown my hair and lost a dress size. I became a roller girl called Dan Smackroyd and quickly realised that although I liked roller skating, Roller Derby wasn’t for me. I saved like a demon and then quit my job. I’m unemployed. I’ve moved back in with my parents and am contemplating my next career move. I’m terrified this might be a massive mistake, but I am happier than I have been in ages. It’s going to be hard work, but it’s going to be fun.

Featured image by Amanda de Cadenet

Bex Olver lives in the UK. She doesn’t talk like the Queen. She is very fond of cups of tea, Hello Kitty, Scrabble and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. Indie music makes her happy and you can find her Bringing Sparkle Back at www.bringingsparkleback.tumblr.com 


  • this is so true…i can completely identify with the author. At the end of my first marriage, I’d had six years of being part of a coupleand found that I, too, had lost my identity. I knew how to be a wife, and a mother, a daughter, a sister and a friend…i just didn’t know how to be me, or who i even was anymore.

    • Bex Olver

      Hi Gloria, Thanks for leaving a comment- it’s great to know I’m not alone! 

  • I couldn’t have put this better myself. I think every girl can relate to this at some point in their life. You go girl, sounds like things are pretty much amazing for you now and you have more fun yet to come.

  • I had a reinvention stage. I lost my identity with a boyfriend and once I left him, I’ve never been better! I lost 20 lbs (unfortunately gained it back), made some new friends, excelled at my job which he was discouraging me, returned to drag racing (my hobby since I was 13) and grew in my relationship with God. Now I have a wonderful man who treats me like the individual I am and thinks I’m fantastic and not because I’m his, but because I’m me! I didn’t cut my hair though lol. Great article, sharing this on my Facebook page.

    • Bex Olver

      Hi Shanna, Thanks for the comment (sorry it’s taken me ages to reply too). Great to hear about your reinvention stage and thanks for the share! 🙂

  • Sarah_089

    I’m three months into my first break up, of my first long term relationship. I’m only 22 (nearly 23!) and although I know I’m young and have my whole life ahead of me, the break up really came out of no where and I am incredibly lost. My ex refuses to talk, because he doesn’t want to, and doesn’t realise that I might need to say a few things in order to gain some closure. We’ve spoken just 5 times, a large bulk of those in quick succession in the initial weeks after the break up, and now he has apparently started a new relationship with someone else.
    I think the hardest part is finding out someone can act in a way you could never imagine. And I have realised that the reason I have taken it so badly is because before I met him, I never thought I could have a relationship like we had. My self-growth, gaining self-confidence and sense of self was too tied up in him and what we had, and now I am very much starting from scratch. Doesn’t excuse being dumped on the phone after three and a half years (on my brother’s birthday no less!) and him handling the situation in a very selfish manner. I am annoyed that I have allowed him to have so much control over this scenario, a scenario I never wanted.

    This post has made me realise that we all go through it, that it is just a part of life, and that I will be fine. It has reaffirmed that the small steps I have started to take will help me become a better person and learn from this relationship. I started yoga and meditation classes three weeks ago, of which I was sceptical of initially, but now see the full benefit of. I have also started to see a counsellor, not because of him, but because of the inner issues this situation has highlighted to me – I need to build my self worth to move forward.

    Thank you for this, its really helped.

    • Bex Olver

      Hi Sarah, I’m really sorry that your relationship wasn’t ended in a better way for you. Although it’s a scary and upsetting time, it sounds like you’re making some really positive steps. I’m glad you found the post helpful and although it’s something we all go through, it doesn’t make the process any easier. There are a lot of painful realisations when a relationship ends but the positive stuff is there too. Thanks for your comment and hang in there! Best wishes, Bex 🙂

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