My brain isn't very nice to me.
February 1, 2012 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Why do I still care about how my ex treated me when I don't have any feelings for him? How do I stop caring that he's getting married to his pregnant girlfriend?

It was a long distance relationship and he wasn't that into me. It was always me visiting him, me moving to be with him, etc. He'd told me that he wouldn't be willing to move to be with me, he would complain when I'd ask him to come visit me. He told me if I got pregnant and kept it he'd be there for me emotionally and that's it, so sex was this big thing that might eventually force us to break up if I got pregnant. He didn't want to move in with me and made a big deal over it, and even after I moved down there he didn't really want to spend time with me, etc.

There were some good times, but it all boiled down to he wasn't that into me. We broke up in April 2010.

I found out he was dating someone else some eight months after that and had moved cross-country to be with her. Then he'd moved in with her. That stung, but I eventually got over it. I got over the urge to check his facebook, stopped blaming myself for not being "good enough," etc.

The other day I checked because I was bored and doing the "let's see what my ex's are up to thing." That was a mistake. I found out that she was pregnant and they were excited about it and all they could talk was babies and etc. That really hurt because after two years together he was still in the "if you get pregnant and decide to keep it it's over" camp. I'd chalked up some of his behaviors to not being into me and just not realizing it at first, but the pregnancy scare thing and what he told me about it was just cruel. I don't understand what it is about me that made him want to treat me that way.

I checked again today because I managed to start the "can't stop checking their social networking sites" process over again and found out he'd proposed. Yesterday. After a year. When after two years with me he was still in the "I don't want to marry anyone, it's just a piece of paper." "I sometimes miss being single, I think if we ever break up I want to be single for a long time" camp. And it isn't even like his financial situation has improved enough to be ready for a child. It's worse than it was when he was seeing me. Though I guess the two years might have made him feel emotionally ready for a child, or maybe they had a scare too and he said the same "abortion or it's over" thing but maybe she was OK with an abortion but when it actually happened they were both like "wow, I could never get an abortion!"

I don't understand why any of this bothers me. I asked myself if I could go back in time and be with him, would I? No. If I could magically become her, would I? No. I don't want a life with him, he's not the person I want to be with anymore. I asked myself if I wanted to be pregnant? No, not yet.

I hadn't even really thought about him until I got bored and checked his website. So why does finding all this out hurt so bad? I feel like it would be different if he'd treated me differently, but the fact that he wasn't a good boyfriend to me and the very next person he dated he's being a perfect gentleman to makes me feel like I'm defective in some way.

What adds onto it is that I've been experiencing a lot of bullying in my work place lately that I assumed would be over once I was out of high school. I feel like there's something about me that makes people want to treat me poorly, but I don't know what it is. It's like situations like when I was with him just seem to follow me around. I was bullied in gradeschool, middle school, and high school. Then I was bullied in my job after all that was over. And for some reason my relationships seem to consist of a) meet awesome person b) not be able to tell if awesome person is treating me right or not c) have multiple people tell me that i deserved better.

Ultimately, I'd really like to know how to either not care about what he's doing or to spin it into a positive like "at least he's changed and is happy now."

I know that therapy will probably be suggested, but I can't afford that right now, even on a sliding scale. When my funds improve it's definitely something I'll be doing.
posted by biochemist to Human Relations (31 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You are having a pretty normal feeling. It's just a weird human glitch, and I think you're literally right in your post title that it's at least partially neurochemical. It's a kind of grief, when we don't get what we thought we wanted, complete with stages of grief and repetitive thoughts and inability to concentrate.

Yes, you need to do some work on your perceptiveness with regard to relationships, but this particular feeling is something even very well-adjusted people get a twinge of occasionally. Time will ease it, and sooner than you think. Then you'll reach the point where you realize what a bullet you've dodged.

Give yourself a little leeway for a few days to let the surprise fade, and find something else to do to stay busy. Stop spending your time and energy on following him around the internet. It'll be fine before very long.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:06 PM on February 1, 2012 [10 favorites]

People are generally adverse to loss. Even if they are loosing something that should be gone. Also, it is a loss of control. Someone is taking something away from you, in this case, potential love and a relationship.

Human brians tend to see: losing something = bad, gaining something = good.

Not only that, but there is the tendency to get into the mindset of "He changed his mind about marriage and abortion for her? Why didn't he do that for me? What does she have that I don't?". Even if you would never have wanted to marry him, you can still feel bad that his girlfriend was given relationship options that you were not. Basically, you seem to be taking his future marriage "personally", when it may have nothing at all to do with you.


He may not have been "ready" for marriage. In that case, you could have been gold plated and had a beer tap comming out of your back and he STILL may not have wanted to marry you. He just had yet to get to that point in his life. Then, one day a light turned on in his head and he decided that it was TIME RIGHT NOW, so he looked at the women surrounding him and picked the one that seemed to be the least crazy and BAM, pregnancy, proposal, etc.

See? there is one possibility among many. It may have nothing at all to do with you.
posted by Shouraku at 3:07 PM on February 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

> he wasn't a good boyfriend to me and the very next person he dated he's being a perfect gentleman to makes me feel like I'm defective in some way.

Nope, all it means is that people are different in different relationships. I've seen this play out any number of times, and it's always upsetting to the person in your position, but really, trust me, it's not about you. Also, it has nothing to do with whatever's going on in your job. I don't think you'll need therapy (about this, anyway) if you can just convince yourself of that. (And, of course, stop checking up on him.)
posted by languagehat at 3:08 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

You will hurt about this for awhile. There is nothing to be done about it. Then one day you won't.

Try to learn what you can about yourself, while this process takes place.

I can't think of anything else to say, except I am really sorry you have to go through this.
posted by Danf at 3:10 PM on February 1, 2012

You need to defriend him. You guys AREN'T friends, and it will help. Right now, it's way easy to obsess over what the internet is telling you about this life. I mean, in all honestly, he's probably NOT going to post, "Well, I'm REALLY UPSET about this baby, you guys." You aren't getting the whole story from social media, but nor is it helping you to feel better about this.

This isn't at all abnormal on your part, but removing your capacity to keep picking at this scab will help you move on. I promise.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:12 PM on February 1, 2012 [16 favorites]

I don't understand why any of this bothers me

Because he treated you like crap, and it *should* bother you to be treated like crap. Finding out there's someone he's not treating like crap currently (although you don't know that for sure. I mean, yeah, the facebook says 'yay! love! babies! weddings!' but he might secretly be beating her or something.....) doesn't really make it hurt any less.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:13 PM on February 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

For me, I think it was the feeling that no matter what I did, it still wasn't good enough to make things work with him. He didn't appreciate the things I did enough; he didn't want to work hard enough to make it work; he didn't put aside his own nitpicky things for me the way that I did for him.

Or at least that's what I felt like when I saw he'd found someone else. "Okay, so SHE'S worth it, but I wasn't?" I was with my now-husband, happier than I'd ever been in my life and certainly not wanting to go back, but it really hurt to see that my ex had FINALLY stepped out of his comfort zone, something I'd encouraged him to do (probably way too much :P) for someone who apparently had found the key more easily than I did. And I hate feeling like I'm not smart enough in my own heart/head.

The feeling that you were somehow not worthy of someone behaving well with you is a really, really tough one. It's not about him. It's about you.
posted by Madamina at 3:15 PM on February 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

the very next person he dated he's being a perfect gentleman to makes me feel like I'm defective in some way

How do you know he's being a "perfect gentleman" and what does that even mean? My first wife and I wore horrible to each other, horrible. But now, we are both happily married to other people. Her new husband is nothing like me and my new wife is nothing like her. The fact is we never should have been married, but we had a kid together and tried to do the "right" thing and get married and stayed married for a few years even though we both knew we were not right for each other.

All that being said, I was still jealous when she first started dating after we split and she was too. It's just human nature.

b) not be able to tell if awesome person is treating me right or not

Here is my litmus test for this: are you happy when your with them and do they respect you? Are they happy when they are with you and do you respect them?

Yes, yes, yes and yes? Then you are all good. If the answer is no to any of those questions, then, IMHO the relationship is doomed and its best to move on rather than drag stuff out.
posted by holdkris99 at 3:17 PM on February 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

Second-guessing yourself is so painful. I have been there so many times myself.

He didn't treat you badly because there's anything wrong with you. You aren't defective. Perhaps his fucked-upnesses and his fiancee's fucked-upnesses mesh perfectly.

Here's what you can change; you can stop following their story.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:20 PM on February 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

It looks to me that he just used you, when it was convenient to him, without much love from his part. Face the reality that you were in a one-sided relationship, and that you were there on sufferance until somebody other came along.

Absolutely it is not your fault if he was not that involved with you. I see his words regarding a possible pregnancy as a warning: you better not pull any accidental pregnancy trick or I'll dump you. It is not your fault that you loved him more and that you trusted him to be careful of your feelings. Remember that it is not the other girl fault, either, and remember to be good and loving to yourself.

Tell yourself everyday that you are a beautiful human being, worthy of love until a new love comes along.
posted by francesca too at 3:23 PM on February 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

I think what helps is finding someone new and better who will love you for you. Put up a profile on OK cupid and get out there. Put all your energy into starting a new life.
posted by bananafish at 3:29 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

he wasn't a good boyfriend to me and the very next person he dated he's being a perfect gentleman to makes me feel like I'm defective in some way.

Another thing to consider here (in addition to the fact that he's in a different relationship, and all relationships are different) is that you don't actually know he's being a perfect gentleman to his girlfriend. You only know that it appears that way on social media, which is a very different thing.

It is hurtful, and you're not wrong to be upset or angry, but it's not about you, it says nothing about you or your value as a person or a partner.

If it helps, there is a nonzero possibility that he learned something from his relationship with you that helped him grow and become someone interested in babies/marriage etc. I mean, you learned some things from your time with him, right? Even if it was just to respect yourself enough not to waste your time with someone who wasn't right for you.

It's hard, and I sympathize (oh, believe me, I sympathize deeply), but there's nothing wrong with you. Be hurt, be angry, be sad-- that's all fine, and it's okay to feel those things, but don't dwell on it, don't check his website, and don't let it consume you.

On of the most useful things my therapist taught me was something she called 'sitting with' feelings-- you don't fight your feelings or try to tell yourself how you should feel, or that you shouldn't feel (however), you just allow yourself to feel (whatever you feel). After a few minutes of not fighting your feelings, you start to be able to feel other things too, beyond just your hurt and anger. Once you get to the point that you can say "I'm angry and hurt, but that's not all I am, I'm also (good at my job/nice to my dog/loyal to my friends/whatever)" the urgency and totality of the thing that was making you feel hurt and angry fades a bit, and you can keep going with your life.

So go ahead and feel what you need to feel, and then put it down and move forward with your life. It stings, but it's not about you. You have a whole future full of possibility, and the chance to find someone who appreciates you.
posted by Kpele at 3:30 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ultimately, I'd really like to know how to either not care about what he's doing or to spin it into a positive like "at least he's changed and is happy now."

This skips right over the possibility of being mad at him. Maybe I'm projecting here because I'm just now dealing with the aftermath of turning-anger-inward-for-25-years and learning how to handle it safely, but sounds like you're perfectly OK getting mad at yourself -- blaming yourself for feeling "defective" -- but not really comfortable with being pissed at him for saying things he might not have really meant (or maybe he did mean them at the time; still, it's extremely reasonable and healthy to feel jerked around under the circumstances, and if you're repressing those feelings because they're not considerate enough, you're going to have a hard time moving on from them and not directing them at some other target, like yourself) and not just breaking up with you.

And sure you can find all kinds of reasons to forgive him, but it won't really get the job done for you if you haven't gone ahead and recognized (and not just recognized, but recognized as fair and legitimate and reasonable) the totally natural, if uncivilized-seeming, feelings of betrayal, anger, etc. you'd be letting go of in order to forgive him. Not just at what he's doing for her that he didn't do for you, but at all the ways he was unkind to you then.

But as for the other stuff: you may well be objectively Better than this person he's with at every single thing there is that can be evaluated and that still wouldn't make you a better match for him and his upbringing/worldview/personal needs (which are not a "norm," just his), or the person who would have changed his mind about living alone when he was younger.

the very next person he dated he's being a perfect gentleman to

No way to tell that from where you are. There are perfectly smart and observant people who don't know that their next-door-neighbors abuse their own spouses. Facebook pages aren't designed to make relationships look problematic. They're for show. Hell, maybe now he's in the same situation you were in.

Speaking of which, do yourself a favor and hide him from your feed. This is a kind concrete thing with no downside that you can do for yourself right now.

Here's one book I found very kind and approachable, not a chore at all, that might be good for helping you notice self-perpetuating Unpleasantness Cycles (not her term) you get into:

There Is Nothing Wrong With You by Cheri Huber
posted by Adventurer at 3:30 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't understand what it is about me that made him want to treat me that way.

Just popping in to say that there's nothing about you that made him want to treat you that way. You never know what goes on behind closed doors in a relationship. It's not impossible that he's treating her just as badly as he treated you.

Even if he's not, I don't think you'd wish that on her -- he treated you like dirt. It made you feel like dirt. It's ok to still be really mad that he treated you so poorly. He was not good to you, and what he said and did to you hurt you, and you're understandably really unhappy about it, still.
posted by k8lin at 3:37 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

He was using you. He wasn't a good person. You are not defective.

He's found someone, somewhere, that has made him change in some way. This doesn't change the past, and in the past he used you and manipulated you.

Nthing the quiet defriending.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:51 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

In your position I'd remind myself of all those negative qualities about him and work on pitying the woman, because now she's going to be tied to that d-bag the rest of her life. You don't have to wish them well.
posted by lizbunny at 4:00 PM on February 1, 2012

These situations keep following you around because you're not leaving them yourself - if someone is not treating you right, no matter where you are and what the relationship is - you have the right to walk away.

And you have no idea what they're relationship is actually like but you do have experience with what he's like - and you're better off not being tied to that for the rest of your life, aren't you?
posted by mleigh at 4:06 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

How can you see all this stuff in Facebook? I hope you're not still friendsters with him. If so...stop that.
posted by rhizome at 4:13 PM on February 1, 2012

Also remember that what people put on Facebook is only their public face. If they're going through problems in their relationship, those are pretty unlikely to show up in social networking.

He wasn't the right guy for you -- be glad you're not still with him. His new girlfriend might be the right girl for him. Good for them. Maybe she isn't, and they won't end up happy. Sucks for them AND the kid. I'd focus on hoping they really are happy together for the sake of their future kid.

And defriend, please. I sometimes wonder what my exes are up to. I never actually want to know.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:14 PM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

biochemist, remember that most people don't update to FB every time they have a fight, or their partner makes them feel like shit, or they're lying awake in the middle of the night thinking about how fucked their life is. I mean some people do that, but most don't. People don't take pictures to upload to FB when they're in the middle of a fight, crying, etc.

People put on FB what they want to present that to the world. The image that they want to present to people. What people want to present to the world about their lives is usually a fraction of the reality. Remember that.
posted by cairdeas at 4:17 PM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

"if you get pregnant and decide to keep it it's over"
"I sometimes miss being single, I think if we ever break up I want to be single for a long time"
"I don't want to marry anyone, it's just a piece of paper."
"abortion or it's over"

Wow. He said those things, and yet, you stayed with him. You're wondering why what he's doing now matters so much to you, a year and a half after your relationship ended. The answer is simple: You're not over being in a relationship with him. He was a bad boyfriend, but he filled a need for you. I suspect it was a sense of belonging. Find a way to replace him in that specific regard - in a healthy way - and you'll be better off. A healthy group activity, perhaps.

"I hadn't even really thought about him until I got bored and checked his website. So why does finding all this out hurt so bad?"

It hurts because you probably have low self confidence, which also explains why people are bullying you at work. They are wrong to treat you badly, I want to be clear about that, but you need to understand something important: There seems to be a pattern where you surround yourself with people who treat you badly. Again, they're wrong to treat you badly, but you need to find a way to gain self confidence in order to break the pattern of surrounding yourself with people who treat you poorly. Until you do, the pattern will continue, and that would be terrible.

Try taking self defense classes or maybe something like kickboxing. Maybe build a social circle around a hobby. Find ways of finding better people, people who like you for YOU, and find ways of empowering yourself.

Yes, you need to unfriend him immediately, but it's even more important that you get to the root of your lack of self confidence. And give yourself a foundation on which to build self confidence.

Best of luck!
posted by 2oh1 at 4:21 PM on February 1, 2012 [7 favorites]

What adds onto it is that I've been experiencing a lot of bullying in my work place lately that I assumed would be over once I was out of high school. I feel like there's something about me that makes people want to treat me poorly, but I don't know what it is.

Honestly, I think it may be that you are really thoughtful and nice. I think bullies go for those who they think can't or won't hurt them. As strange as it is to say, it's not personal. One of the most bizarre things I ever learned about bullying is that often bullies don't actually hate their targets. They might even be fond of them. The bullying is just kind of entertainment for them, or may serve a purpose, etc., but they don't have any kind of animosity towards the target.

Overall, here on the internet, you have come off as a very intelligent, thoughtful, and pleasant person. There is nothing, to my perspective, that is wrong with you and nothing you do to deserve poor treatment.
posted by cairdeas at 4:23 PM on February 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm (kind of) you. Three years of a relationship and we weren't any closer to getting married than we had been in the first year. We had issues, we broke up, we both moved on. We stayed in touch, and there were no romantic feelings on either side... and suddenly, gleefully, he let me know that he was getting married and they were expecting a child together. It felt like I had been sucker punched as I was both shocked and a little hurt. Even though I was no longer even attracted to him physically, it felt like this new chick was having the life I was supposed to have with the guy I was supposed to be having it with. I felt like a failure - and it didn't help I had recently broken up with a guy who was his total opposite and yet also managed to hurt and disappoint me.

So I dwelt on it for a while. But instead of thinking about him, I thought about myself - how I had changed and grown (without him), what I wanted from a relationship (not him), and where my life was going (without him) and how much happier I was (without him). I stopped focusing on where I might have gone wrong and started really focusing on where I had gone right, and how I would keep going.

Also: you/I know nothing about this new chick, or their relationship, and speculating is pointless. Maybe her standards are lower, maybe like-attracts-like, maybe his standards are lower, maybe he's changed. Don't "fairytale-ize" it, is my strongest advice.
posted by sm1tten at 4:41 PM on February 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

Here's what you can change; you can stop following their story.

I would take this a step further (and believe me, I'm feelin' ya, big time, like 3 years of feelin' ya). You can stop making his story part of your story. The first step is absolutely NO view on his life. Shut. it. down. Make tracks from everything that reminds you of him (this is why women went on transcontinental voyages back in the olden days) and create your own damn story. It's soo hard but you can do it. Oh, and what you are feeling is crazy-normal. I don't think it's a therapy thing, I think it's a human condition thing.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:01 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

At some level you're still convinced his behavior was about you. It wasn't. Your being with a jerk might have been about you --given your long history of finding your way into enclaves of jerks-- but him being a jerk? Nope, all him.

So maybe he's grown up a little. Gotten to a place where he can be nice to people special to him. Learned a little more about how to be a big boy & roll with what life gives him. Perhaps discovered his better self enough to be able to conceptualize how raising a little him might be a positive thing.

But what you see when you look in on that? You see something you wanted badly, held by a man who told you point blank that he didn't want it with you.

It's time, biology, and personal development you are witnessing in these snippets of his life. Probably cleaned & polished a bit, too, in the telling. But it's not some other woman succeeding where you failed, so let go of that idea. He wasn't right for anyone when your paths crossed. It wasn't your fault.

A little jealous, ok. Jealousy is natural & normal. Recognize it and move on. And when your brain bitches that he wasn't that for you, gently remind it that fixing him wasn't within your power.
posted by Ys at 5:13 PM on February 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

He wasn't that into you? What a peach of a guy. Imagine you'd gotten pregnant and he'd felt obliged to marry you. Can you imagine how miserably things might have turned out, for you and the child? Yes, you dodged a bullet there. And as others have pointed out, you have no idea of the reality behind that Facebook facade.

I kind of hesitate ever to recommend counseling, but it sounds like in your case it could help to talk to someone about how you've been bullied and taken advantage of, someone who could help you come up with defensive strategies.
posted by tully_monster at 6:25 PM on February 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Honey, this guy sounds like a piece of shit and I GUARANF$CKINGTEE you he is NOT being lovely towards her.

It's an act. Other folks on FB might be falling for it, but you know what it's like to be intimate with this guy - he's controlling and emotionally withholding.

The fact is, abusive people don't change that quickly and without effort. It's an act. He's acting.

Pause for a moment to feel bad for her, and move on with your life.

Celebrate! You can heal, and improve, find someone worthy of you, someone who is truly lovely and loving.

You're very very lucky. You dodged quite the bullet. I think you're upset because this has shown you how truly at risk you were while you were with this guy.

You DO NOT have to put up with a lifetime of abuse and bullying! HOORAY!!

Yes. There is probably a lot about you that currently invites the abuse. Google "re-victimization." A lot of studies focus on sexual abuse victims, but the dynamic holds for folks who have experienced abuse in other ways. Seek emotional healing and well-being to find your way out of destructive patterns and dynamics you've been programmed to accept. You're not powerless over yourself. You're in control of your life. You are.

PS - Defriend & block this person, and also everyone else like him, from your social media. Remember, you're in control!
posted by jbenben at 12:03 AM on February 2, 2012 [12 favorites]

You wouldn't even know this information if you hadn't gone looking for it. You seek out the company of someone who hurt you and then wonder why you get hurt. Being "bored" is not a good reason to do something like this.

You also don't know what's happening in his life. You only know what he's saying about it.

And I must agree with this: "And you have no idea what they're relationship is actually like but you do have experience with what he's like." I hope he's grown up and is treating the mother of his child well, but you know more about him than he's telling the world all the same.
posted by tel3path at 12:06 AM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Absolutely nthing all the comments about you having no idea what his relationship is actually like.

I have a unique perspective that might help you understand: in my own 8-year relationship, many of the same things were said to me by my now-ex, the gut-kicker being his final marriage proposal to me at the end (it was the end because I knew I couldn't spend another hour with him after this): "I was talking with some married guys at work and they said it's great! Women throw themselves at married men! So, I guess I'm finally ready to make that decision. I'll get to sleep around and it will be better than single life." I was so shocked and disgusted that the only thing I could say was biting sarcasm (he didn't recognize it as such, but his reaction was telling): "So what you're saying is I can sleep around too?" His response: "Ahahahaha!!! Like men would even be interested in you! Of course not."

To this day I wonder how I restrained myself from shouting the apartment down. But I digress.

I stayed with my ex for so long because I loved his family. Still love them. It's been 15 years since we first met, and his mother and I are still in touch. Six weeks after I broke up with him, my ex started dating one of his office's secretaries. Like others here have said, "ouch" is a normal reaction – I felt it too, even though, wow, did I ever have reason not to care. A few months later, his girlfriend got pregnant and moved in with him. "WHOA ouch," he'd refused kids for years with me. Everything seemed happy and warm between them. Their daughter was born. A couple years passed.

Then my ex-mother-not-quite-in-law started bringing up how her son and his gf never visited. Not even for Christmas or birthdays. She only saw her granddaughter when she made the 5-hour trip to their place. Things got progressively worse: as their daughter grew, she began to show tell-tale behavioral signs of abuse (they watch this at preschools and schools in France). My ex-MIL was told, outright, that she was forbidden from visiting her granddaughter now, "because she made things difficult". My ex-MIL is one of the least "difficult" people I know... except when she knows something wrong, and her judgement has always been good, she's careful not to jump to conclusions or accuse quickly.

The seemingly happy couple now has a primary-school-aged daughter who has a school-assiged personal therapist who even makes house visits. My ex-MIL is panicky; she hasn't seen the girl in over a year now. Even phone calls have been forbidden. I feel sick to my stomach about the whole thing, but all I can do is reassure my ex-MIL. (She and I both have firm boundaries about me getting involved. Ex doesn't know I know. I do want to support my ex-MIL, since I'm the only other person who knew her son when he started going off the rails.)

TL;DR, you really have no idea what's going on. Breathe a sigh of relief, mourn your relationship with him as you feel you need. The school and office stuff – seconding cairdeas, it's probably because you're kind. I know it's easier said than done (oh goodness do I ever know), but realize it's really not about you. Kind people have the right to be kind. Bullies are nitwits, insecure, any myriad thing, it's not your responsibility – shrug your shoulders, ignore their barbs, love yourself as you are.
posted by fraula at 1:39 AM on February 2, 2012 [11 favorites]

woops: "except when she knows something IS wrong"
posted by fraula at 1:44 AM on February 2, 2012

Based on a look at your previous posts, I think you are searching, as many people with depression and anxiety do, for answers to unanswerable questions. The urge to "talk it out" and consult on these specific issues is possibly only leading you further down the rabbit hole. The issues with your ex are a red herring; no advice on how to "not care" is going to work because the issue is not you caring or not, it's that you have unresolved depression and anxiety issues. That's why you answer your own question with a really insightful set of call-response: I don't understand why any of this bothers me. I asked myself if I could go back in time and be with him, would I? No. If I could magically become her, would I? No. I don't want a life with him, he's not the person I want to be with anymore. I asked myself if I wanted to be pregnant? No, not yet.

Your focus on him/his new life is a symptom. Redirect your energy on the actual solution: making yourself healthy and getting to a point where you value yourself.

I think the saying "depression is outward anger turned inwards" is particularly true in your case. It seems like you know in your heart that you are angry at this guy because he's a dick. It's an easier, well-worn path for you to turn that anger towards yourself. Just the same, you're hurt by your co-workers bullying and turn it on yourself, wondering what is wrong with you. Try to recognize when you do this to yourself. I get the feeling that you're not in any real position to stick up for yourself (whether because of workplace politics or that you're not in a state of mind to be confrontational). until you are, (and I know this sounds hopelessly cheesy) but when you feel yourself dwelling on all the times people have treated you poorly, think of a time when someone was kind or tender or generous to you. And if you can't think of any, think of us here on metafilter who wrote all these responses because we care about helping you.
posted by Katine at 10:39 AM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

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