Getting Over Your Ex
Shortly after a breakup most of us are quick to say we’ll never take our ex back. We want to project outwardly that we are “over it.” We’re not falling apart…we’re thriving.
Maybe we know consciously that we have to move on, but love doesn’t die that easily, and codependence and trauma bonds are a bitch. In most of us, a sliver of hope remains that some miracle will occur and suddenly all that’s wrong will be made right again.
I’m here to lovingly crush your fantasies, my friend, because that dream is keeping you stuck in a nightmare, and I don’t want you to pretend you’re thriving, I want you to actually thrive.
Here are five things you must stop doing right now:
Expecting an apology
You’re angry. You’re hurt. You’re confused. How could he treat you this way? How could he throw away what you had? How could he leave you for someone else like you were nothing?
If he could just say he’s sorry that would fix so much. It would bring so much healing, right?
You’re either never going to get that apology or you’re going to get an apology so half-baked Ben and Jerry wouldn’t eat it.
You don’t have to forgive until you’re damned good and ready, but holding out for an apology can keep you stuck in anger and keep you from focusing on you.
You have to let it go. Think about why you want an apology. What would an apology do for you? How would it make you feel? See if you can get yourself to feel that way without an apology.
Which is better? Getting an apology or not needing one? When you hold out for an apology, you’re still allowing him to control how you feel based on his words and actions. You’re still in his clutches and I want you to be in control of how you feel. That is your path to freedom.
Expecting him to “See the light”
Who among us hasn’t been dumped and felt like our partner was suddenly possessed by a crazy demon making him act like some jerk we’ve never met?
We think maybe he done lost his damned mind. It must be a mid-life crisis. Can’t he just go buy a red convertible like a normal husband? Is he really going to throw our marriage away for some 19-year-old ass?
We think in a day, or a week, or a month, he’ll snap out of it. He’ll wake up, or a priest will splash him with holy water and in flash, the man we knew will be back like he never left and we can both forget this ever happened.
It isn’t going to happen.
You must accept reality. This is the man you married or dated and he is responsible for his behavior. You must let your fantasy of him die and see him for who he really is, and do you actually want to be with this person?
Wanting him (and everyone else) to understand how badly he hurt you
I could fill books with the texts and emails I wrote my ex trying to explain how much he hurt me and why it was so painful. Maybe if I say it this way this time he’ll finally get it.
More than likely you’ll spend a lot of time pleading your case and provoke them to defend themself, gaining no ground in getting them to actually understand you. If one essay-length email wasn’t enough, the next twenty aren’t going to do it either.
But let's talk about your need to be understood.
You have the right to explain yourself. You have the right to defend yourself, and you have the right to be grief-stricken, and I encourage you to feel that grief when it’s present.
But your pain and your defense of your pain are two separate things. Pain is a normal reaction to a painful circumstance, defense of the pain is an attitude or behavior that keeps you stuck in the pain.
You have the right to hurt, but you have just as much right to feel good. What happened to you was unfair, but it doesn’t take away your right to thrive. What would it be like to defend your right to feel good today? To argue in favor of your well-being?
Which is better?
“I’m hurting and I’m going to wallow to all of my coworkers so they’ll understand why I’m a soppy mess today and give me a little space.”
“I’m hurting but I deserve to feel better and dammit I’m going to have a great fucking day and not give any of my attention to anything that would stop me. I’m going to take care of myself, consciously seek out people and things that make me feel good, and anybody that would get in my way can piss right off!”
Trying to be his friend
I know, I know. You just wish you could be friends again, but I promise you this will delay your healing. The more toxic the relationship was, the more imperative it is that you don’t have frequent contact, and if it was abusive you may need to go entirely no-contact.
Why do you want to be friends anyway? Are you chasing old feelings? Are you secretly clinging to hope that it could still work out? Do you have a need to show him how well you’re doing without him?
Worse yet, is he pressuring you to remain friends to assuage his own guilt over dumping you or otherwise hurting you? Are you trying to remain friends to protect him from having to face how badly he hurt you, or are you afraid demanding separation will make you look immature to him?
You may not need to cut him out forever, but you’re not ready for a friendship yet. He’ll be just fine without you and you need to learn how to be just fine without him. Set boundaries, demand space, and take the time to get to know and love who you are without him.
You don’t have to forgive him until you’re good and ready, but the time to forgive yourself is right fucking now.
You made mistakes? Cool. Said things you regret? We all did. We all could write volumes about things we could have done differently, but if he’s gone, what’s the point in punishing yourself?
If you’re feeling remorse, you don’t need blame, you need healing and it starts with forgiving yourself.
When my marriage ended, I thought the conscientious thing to do was to take inventory of everything that ever went wrong, figure out how it was all my fault, and then apologize profusely. Yes, I apologized multiple times to the man who dumped me twice for the same guy. Don’t be like me. Don’t take responsibility for a bunch of garbage that was never yours.
If you are genuinely remorseful and making amends with your ex is part of what you need to do to be at peace with yourself, take one shot and make it count. Be Sincere, speak from the depths of your soul, and then be done. No self-pity, no expectation that they will graciously accept your apology, and no tolerating any attempts to use your apology as ammunition or leverage against you.
If you have expressed your heartfelt regret, you don’t need anybody else’s approval to move on. The way we really apologize, whether the person we hurt will ever know about it or not, is to heal the part of us that caused us to be unkind and do better next time.
I suspect you really don’t have that much to be sorry for anyway. I suspect you’re being way too hard on yourself because, well, that’s just what you do. No more of that. It’s time to look forward.
Notice how all five of these behaviors keep you looking back. They keep you in the past. Notice how all five behaviors have to do with something you need from your ex. When you can let go, when you no longer need anything from your ex, you are finally free of him.