Struggling with myself, my feelings, and how to do life
January 6, 2015 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm doing everything they say to heal and move on, to get your life together. I try to be as social as I can with good friends who understand the situation and am focusing as much energy into work and school. I'm afraid of burnout though and how to unravel these emotions when I'm lying awake at night and questioning if I did the right thing?

I am in therapy, work full-time and do college part-time. I have had so many changes in the past few months that I am reeling and struggling with whiplash. I can't believe it's been almost a year since my world came crashing down on me. Almost a year ago my ex-SO told me they were having a no-strings sexual relationship of the casual encounters variety with someone that was on-off for the preceding year. We were long-distance for the first half and I guess things were comfortable enough to continue until the moment I was finally told the truth. Because I "deserved to know". A year into our 4 1/2 year relationship I found messages that were sent regarding this same theme of trying to hook up. I was told it was because my SO didn't feel loved, wanted, etc.

I tried my best for the relationship because I was in love, and now Mefi, my question to you is, how do I get over the stinging pain when my SO has always been so hot and cold? So passionate talking about marriage one second, then I get scared of being hurt and waffle and they immediately shut down? The relationship has been rocky and tumultous to say the least. And I should lick my wounds and tend to my broken heart, but it is so painful. I'm doing everything I can and I understand these things take time, but this was my first serious LTR and we lived together and I feel like I've lost my best friend. I feel like the illusion and the dream fantasy life of what I believed could have been ours is ripped from under me and I keep replaying the night 4 years ago when I should have walked away.

I know there are a few things about me personally to work through with my therapist but this is my first time with therapy and I've just started. Any tips on successful sessions are welcome, but mostly, I know going no-contact is the number one rule of thumb and I plan on doing that (couldn't due to financial reasons) within the next few weeks. What else can I do? There is no social media to block, I have already moved out, and for all intents and purposes the relationship could be wiped away. Sadly, that's the only way I can think of to move past this pain. I considered my SO my best friend, I laughed more when we were together than I have my entire life.

I placed my SO on such a high pedestal when we met, to see it come crashing down in flames after betrayals, lies, deception and heartache is incredibly hard to reconcile. I deserve to be treated better, I get that. I know the actuality of change from my ex-SO to have the relationship that is healthy and mutually satisfying is miniscule. But if it's what we both want? If there is no one else in the world we'd rather be with than each other? Are we the One to each other? I'm anxious attachment and they are avoidant, I felt a lot of growth and improvement in communication, then it all stops cold turkey and we're back to square one. Maybe we're just unhealthy for each other? We both struggle with self-esteem and accepting love issues. I have an idea of what a good relationship could be like, but neither of us had good role models in that department and I feel like it's the healthiest decision to go our separate ways. It hurts so much, how do I let go?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: One breath at a time.

You are anxious attachment, your ex-SO is avoidant. There is no planet in the universe in which this relationship would work out. I am so very sorry. I know the pain is fierce and you are trying so hard to think your way to a happier ending.

There is a happier ending but not with your ex.

After our breakup, I did not go no-contract with the guy I was so in love with. I tried to be friends with him and, in the process, dragged out the agony for another full year. He was fine; I was a mess. Don't be like me.

This hurts, but it will hurt more if you let it drag out. Be kind to yourself, be gentle to yourself, watch weepy movies, wallow. Take care of yourself, get help from your therapist and please, learn from my mistake. Do not contact this person every again. It will only make your heartbreak worse.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:05 PM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]

Were these messages you found from your SO to random women asking for booty calls because "my partner doesn't make me feel loved, boo hoo?" Because that is just a classic ploy to get oneself a pity fuck. "My wife doesn't understand me" is a cliche for that reason.

I do not think that you did anything to make your SO feel unloved. He was baiting the hook - he wanted hook-ups, so he pulled the old "she just doesn't understand me!" line so that women would feel sorry for him and sleep with him. You could have been the best partner in the world, and he would still have said that - because it was a ploy, not a statement of fact.

Here is one of the better self-help books on relationships I've found: The Passion Trap by Dean C. Delis. It goes into detail about unbalanced relationships and one partner setting the other up on a pedestal, and what you can do about it.

Therapy is terrific; no-contact is a must. Do as much fun stuff with your friends, or by yourself, as you can. Go to movies, go out to eat, go walk in nature. One foot in front of the other.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:30 PM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Hi,

sorry this cruddy thing is happening to you.

i know it doesn't feel like it, but this breakup is a gift to your soul.

we are all growing and failing and growing again at different rates. you fell into something with someone in a different place in the cycle and that can be ok for a little bit... fun even.

but then people really fuck up and go off the rails, and all that drama becomes a revelation. we aren't here to be pulled down by other people's psychic baggage.

tomorrow you can wake up and be anybody, do anything and feel anything you want.

don't do the old stuff because you aren't the old you, do new stuff the new you might like.

we are rooting for you.
posted by bobdow at 7:56 PM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: You did the right thing. You "waffled" sometimes because your gut was telling you something isn't right. It hurts like the worst thing ever now, but I guarantee in the future you will look back on this and know you did the right thing. Now you wished you would have let go years ago, but you finally did! You saved yourself from wasting more time on this person, and will now open yourself up to much more fulfilling life and love.

Maybe one of the hardest things about breaking up is losing the dreams you had of a life together. Does it seem like a waste to let go of your dreams and your years together? Google and read up on "sunk cost fallacy". You learned a lot in your time with them, so it wasn't a waste. But it would be if you got back with them now- you know better now.

Block them on social media asap- for your own sake and sanity (it really helps).
Read this post to understand why it's hard when you're missing the love/attention from your ex.
In fact, when you're feeling alone and upset reading past similar questions on Ask Mefi may help a lot. So many wise and good people here have been through similar experiences.

There is no "the One". There are many people in the world who will be a better fit, or perhaps a super awesome amazing fit with you. It's up to you to choose a healthy partnership, one that is worth working on together. You know that the relationship with your ex was not healthy for either of you, and it's better for both of you to walk away. They need to sort out their cheating issues and you should be with someone who can give you the love you deserve.

"Nothing ever ends poetically. It ends & we turn it into poetry. All that blood was never once beautiful. It was just red."
posted by koakuma at 8:05 PM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm unclear how long it's been since the breakup, you said you found out a year ago but there's been changes in the last few months, and you're still in contact with him? The thing that will help most is to go no contact. Assuming you're not going to starve or lose your home, it may be worth walking away from some of the financial entanglements just to preserve your mental health. Or hire a lawyer to talk to him for you.

Losing a relationship is like experiencing the death of someone close to you and should be treated as such. Grief is very understandable under the circumstances and you need to allow yourself to feel it. Keeping in contact with him doesn't allow you to really experience the grief so you can move on. Cry into your pillow. When I get angry I like to go for walks. Speed walking, "get out of my way" type walking. (I pick walking because driving while angry is not safe.) You really have to feel your emotions and resist the urge to keep picking at that scab by being in contact.

So many people told me that time is the only thing that heals, and I did not believe them, but it is true. You just have to give it time and take care of yourself while you heal. There are no real shortcuts. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat right, don't self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Take care of your physical needs and the mental will follow. You will be okay. It gets better, I promise.
posted by desjardins at 8:31 PM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

I placed my SO on such a high pedestal when we met

Next time, don't do that. First and foremost, your SO needs to be your traveling companion through life and your peer, not your object of worship. Do not abase yourself at the foot of a pedestal. It's undignified.

If there is no one else in the world we'd rather be with than each other?

Unless you've been with everybody in the world, you can't possibly know that.

Are we the One to each other?

posted by flabdablet at 3:31 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hi there. Gosh, it sucks that you're right in the middle of all this. That's the part when none of it makes sense, or even seems sensible. I hope you can take a small bit of that awareness with you while you're moving forward, the awareness that other people who've gone through this process are gently telling you that the way you're feeling now is not only temporary but also totally within the realm of how humans seem to react to this sort of thing.

I'd also tell you from my experience that I would not be the person I am today without having gone through this (more than once). Truth be told, I even went through it--twice--with my husband before we got through our issues (after about 6 years of being together). The crises have been invaluable proving grounds for my character, my fortitude, and have illuminate parts of my inner personality that I'd otherwise not been very aware of. I'm more me for having gained this knowledge. And knowing myself better has translated into both handling crises better, but also knowing more clearly what I want in a partner.

Aside from all the heavy stuff, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" came out two days after my very first huge split. I must have watched it every day for a week in the theater and was that guy in the back row silently bawling his eyes out each time. But it was so, so cathartic. It shepherded me through all the stages of grief, or whatever those are more properly called, and I still think that watching it was my poor man's therapist. It has a good message that the heartbroken can recognize but not try to rationalize out of: people are weird and complicated and what we do is try.

Big ol' hug from out west.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

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