When everything on the surface seems healed and healthy after a breakup, how do you quash obsessive thoughts and anger about an abusive ex- two years on?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Two years ago I went through a doozy of a breakup.
The guy was verbally abusive, an alcoholic, and yeah, I had been supporting him financially during the last year of a six year relationship, after he was laid off from his job. At the same time, my career (in the same industry) was taking off. It was a bad recipe for his self-esteem, which plummeted. Everything got much worse — his drinking, his depression, his yelling and belittling. But I was in the throes of codependency and kept pushing to make things work (therapy, al-anon, helping him with his career). Throughout all of this, I was asking about the things I wanted: a future, commitment, children. After six years, I thought I'd earned that conversation. But he frequently told me, "if you aren't happy with the way things are you can just leave."
So, I left. I packed up for a week away and told him, if you can't make any commitment to me and working on our issues, I need to pursue other things in my life and will need to end the relationship. But I left the door open to talking. We had days of long, teary talks, at the end of which he promised me a lifetime commitment. Kids, too. I came home cautious but optimistic. We had a few wonderful weeks.
And then, he spent the next month getting a job, finding a new girlfriend, and dumped me one night after dinner. It was a 20 minute conversation. He walked out the next morning and took up immediately with her. I haven't spoken to him or really seen him since.
Since then, I did everything by the book. No Contact immediately. Kept going to therapy. I changed my routines. I worked out. Focused on myself. Made new friendships. Got a huge promotion in my career. Dated casually. Then, after about a year and three months passed decided to date seriously.
I looked for guys who were stable, kind and generous — the opposite of everything my horrible ex was. And I found a gem: a wonderful, sweet, strong, stable, caring man who is the very definition of emotional health, who loves me very much, works hard at our relationship, and talks readily about a loving future together.
Things were going pretty well but then this week I learned my ex- lost another job and is moving away from the city where we live, with his tail between his legs, seemingly dependent on yet another girlfriend to pay the bills.
All our friends say that I have "won," etc., but honestly I still feel like I lost.
I am still filled with rage and hatred about what happened and despite writing dozens of angry letters I haven't sent, therapy, working out, and now time — almost two years — the wound is still as raw and piercing as it was a week after he walked out. What's worse is that I was using some of that rage and anger as motivating feelings to do better at work, in my personal life. Now that he's moving away, I am losing some of that competitive motivation and feeling rudderless. I am not even sure I want to be in the same industry anymore.
I feel successful, but lost. I want to clear out all these bad feelings so I can develop deeper ties to my new boyfriend and figure out what my goals are now that my ex is really, truly out of my life. But I am just stuck on this wave of rage.
Help, mefites! How do I get rid of the rage and obsessive thinking about the ex? Looking for things to try besides therapy and angry-letter-writing. How do I get back in touch with what I want out of life, when I've accomplished everything I focused on post-breakup already? Is it worth it to actually send the ex a scathing, final communication? I believe he thinks he didn't do very much wrong vis-a-vis our relationship, and that grinds at my heart.
- After a terrible breakup I did all the "right" things to move on — got therapy, worked out, focused on myself, made new friends, got a promotion. I am happy!
- I learned from my bad relationship to find a wonderful new man who is everything I could want, and loves me deeply.
- I am content in the rest of my life, but still can't discharge my rage at the abusive ex.
- Now that my ex is moving away, I have lost some competitive motivation to do well at work, and personally. I don't feel like I know what my values are anymore.
- How do I lose the anger and find my new values/purpose?