August 29, 2018 12:25 PM   Subscribe

After a break up with yet another emotionally abusive jerk and a falling out with my ex-best friend (who I have to interact with on a daily basis due to working together), how can I manage this all-encompassing anger and hurt I have from past betrayals? The constant negative emotional state is wreaking havoc on my daily life.

I am mostly angry at myself for “letting” these things happen to me. With the ex, I seemed to be sort of blind to all the shit he was putting me through as it was happening. I remember standing up for myself in some situations, and pretty consistently expressed anger with him and his actions. But I kept going back. With the ex, I cannot express my anger directly to him, because I blocked him as soon as I ended things, and I feel that further contact would not help. I even ended things nicely with him, wishing him well and saying I'd miss him. However, the frustrations with the way he treated me pop into my head daily. I think, how did I let him get away with that? Why did I react in that pathetic way? Why couldn’t I stand up for myself? I feel that he smashed my self-esteem into the ground, and what bothers me the most is that I played a part in this by not having boundaries for myself and letting him treat me that way.

It’s been about 3 months since the breakup. I’ve been trying EVERYTHING to move on, but my emotional state doesn’t waver much. All the typical recommended things: going to therapy, sitting and accepting the emotions, daily meditation, constantly dating and meeting new people, going out and doing things, focusing on my job, exercising regularly and vigorously, writing in a journal and writing out nasty texts/emails to get out my frustrations, etc, etc.

With the ex-BFF, I thought we were close friends, but she apparently didn’t agree. I helped her get a job at my company, and learned that she had started flaming me behind my back to other team members. The confrontation wasn’t very successful, and I feel that she knows what she did wrong, but has never apologized to me. I started avoiding her at work, until she moved into my department and now I have to interact with her on a daily basis and not let it affect my work.

Dating new guys and meeting new girlfriends via apps has been a successful, if temporary distraction. I do notice that these negative emotions seemed to return with a vengeance once my recent fling ended.

I am terrified that I will fall into the same situation with a new guy, due to my lack of boundaries. I’m terrified that it’s an easy pattern for me to repeat and that, like with the last guy, I am blinded to things when I’m inside the relationship. I was in a severely emotionally abusive relationship prior to this last relationship, so clearly I tend to repeat toxic patterns.

The worst part is that I feel that my anger is not even contained to this situation. It’s bleeding into an irritation and anger at men in general, at news events, and at day to day situations. I’m just angry at everything and feel so powerless and that everything is wrong. Sometimes it gets to the point where I’m not even sure where the actual source of my anger is. Is it the breakup or maybe something deeper?

I’m looking for hopeful success stories about moving on past hurts and betrayals, where there was unresolved anger that you couldn’t express. How did you get over it and become a fun, positive person again? I just want so badly to get to the state of not caring anymore, to build up my self-esteem again, and to find happiness in my life.
posted by koolaidnovel to Human Relations (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
build up my self-esteem again, and to find happiness in my life.

Get a dog and start volunteering somewhere.

I'm not trying to be glib, this is 100% sincere advice.
posted by phunniemee at 12:31 PM on August 29, 2018 [7 favorites]

II don't think it's weird that you are still feeling pissed off, especially since the ex-friend is someone you're having to interact with every day. You can't move on from her betrayal because she is right there in front of you every day. And being pissed off is okay! Unfortunately, with big feelings, the only way out is through; it sounds like you're already working on getting through in a healthy way. The only thing I'd add is, like, solo dance parties to Alanis Morrisette or something.

What, if anything, does your manager know about the situation with you and your ex-friend?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:58 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

constantly dating and meeting new people

Maybe you're putting too much pressure on yourself. When I think about the last time I was trying to get over someone, dating new people just made me feel more irritated and angry. Once I made a concerted effort to focus on me and me only, I became much more comfortable and even got to the point where I wanted to be alone for a while. YMMV.

Also, I have never been able to "hurry" myself into getting through difficult situations. In other words, stuff just sucked until it didn't suck anymore. Good luck to you.
posted by strelitzia at 1:16 PM on August 29, 2018 [7 favorites]

Well okay, I used to have tons of crappy boyfriends (each one was better than the one before though- I have to say!) and I am now happily married. I also used to have a a lot of best girl friends- I don’t have those anymore. At various points I let certain very close girl friendships go and I haven’t replaced them with new ones. I have new friends and old friends but none of them are intense and full of bonding and deep sharing. I think sometimes when you’re younger you need those relationships to grow (all the talking and sharing of dreams and encouraging each other) but at a certain point I stopped needing that and I stopped wanting to give it and there weren’t enough boundaries with those women. So there is one view point- sometimes I miss crying and laughing with my besties- but....... not that much.
posted by catspajammies at 1:17 PM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

How did you get over it and become a fun, positive person again?

I am a slow learner with boundaries and self-esteem and appropriately directed anger/emotions and all that, so I purposely took several years between relationships to do the work of learning boundaries and developing self-esteem and appropriately directing my anger/emotions and generally filling a toolbox with the skills that I should've learned as a child but didn't (thanks mom -- see there's that simmering resentment again!).

It’s been about 3 months since the breakup. I’ve been trying EVERYTHING to move on, but my emotional state doesn’t waver much. All the typical recommended things: going to therapy, sitting and accepting the emotions, daily meditation, constantly dating and meeting new people, going out and doing things, focusing on my job, exercising regularly and vigorously, writing in a journal and writing out nasty texts/emails to get out my frustrations, etc, etc.

You don't need to be a hermit for several years, but it's only been three months! Be patient with yourself. And you can't do all these things simultaneously. Do the ones that help build *you* up (going to therapy, sitting and accepting the emotions, daily meditation, exercising regularly and vigorously, writing in a journal), and set the others aside for now.
posted by headnsouth at 1:30 PM on August 29, 2018 [7 favorites]

Sometimes emotions take awhile to exhaust themselves. I think if you keep up with the working out, journaling, meditating, etc., it will help. (And I agree that, wow, that's a lot to do regularly. For me, exercise is the best one, but do whatever helps you most.)
posted by salvia at 2:00 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

With future guys, just have a very low tolerance threshold.
“Fun” joke but I kind of felt bad? Dump.
Late for dates? Dump.
Sorta kinda put down my experience? Dump.
Inconsistent text message replies? Dump.
And so on.

The time for extending understanding is after a relationship is established, and a person has demonstrated themselves to be decent, not at the beginning. At the beginning we eliminate with extreme prejudice.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:21 PM on August 29, 2018 [16 favorites]

Oh and to get over it, sounds like you need a symbolic act to own back your power. You need to enact the thing you were denied - enforcing boundaries, being honestly yourself.

Say no to a pressuring sales person (those gawd awful Dead Sea scrub sales people at the mall!)
Say your honest truth (outside of work...) and let the chips fall
Ask for the things you need in plain unequivocating language.
When people give you that thing, take it freely and pitch any guilt into the sea.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:28 PM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

Lots of great advice here, my contribution is this: I suggest that you do a Big Different Thing, preferably some kind of adventure.

Why? Cause you clearly need to shake things up a bit. Your solution to having a "lack of boundaries" and being in what sounds like at least two bad and/or abusive relationships in a row, is to look for another one. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of dating someone to get over someone else (it works!) but I don't think that's right for you with the above in mind, and you say yourself it isn't working. Also with the friend thing - what a horrible and claustrophobic situation for you to be in.

What I would suggest is that you do something that reminds you the world is much, MUCH bigger than the drama in your life right now. Here are my suggestions, these are all tried and tested by me:

- Go on holiday by yourself: pick somewhere safe to travel as a lone woman, and spend a week there just exploring, reading, eating nice food and talking to the locals.

- Go on a weekend adventure: hike, bike, or take a train ride to a place or city you haven't been to. Spend one night there. Have a vague plan but play most of it by ear and see what you end up doing/seeing.

- Visit a friend who lives far away who you haven't seen for a while.

- Start a new volunteer gig

If you want more suggestions, let me know! I've found doing the above to be beyond helpful when in situations similar to yours.

Also one final thing:

It’s been about 3 months since the breakup. I’ve been trying EVERYTHING to move on

Three months isn't enough, in my experience, for some of the things you mention to really help, particularly therapy which needs more time than that to make a real difference. Hang in there.
posted by greenish at 4:18 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Betrayal is a heavy word. How your guy treated you is probably how he would have treated any woman. It's hard and it sounds flip but I would try not to take it personally. When you say he betrayed ME, look what they did to ME, you remain a victim and you stay angry. You also contributed to the relationship and while you shouldn't blame yourself (we're all trying our best with what we have), I wouldn't create a heavy story where someone betrayed you.

You are in distress because maybe you betrayed yourself. You wanted to say you treated me poorly instead of I wish you well and I'll miss you. Your statements go against your sense of self and when we aren't true it creates anxiety.

You're probably on the right path that your anger is something deeper than the recent boyfriend and friend. Ask yourself how you contributed to relationships, positively and negatively. Take others out of the story. Understand that the way people behave has little to do with you.

How to create self-esteem: Be true to yourself. Don't gossip about ex-friend. Don't gossip at all. Don't expect or depend on an apology for your happiness. Don't seek out evidence on how others are talking trash -- that's your ego trying to find fuel to keep the anger fires burning. The ego loves to blame others. Allow what is. You don't have to participate, agree, or like it, but your happiness shouldn't depend on how others behave.
posted by loveandhappiness at 4:57 AM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

My best advice about how to heal and move on is: find every opportunity you can to be kind and loving to yourself. It makes sense that you're angry at yourself, but when your insides are full of stones and razor blades, it's hard to get better. You're hurt, you're angry. You have plenty of reason to be! How would you take care of a hurt and angry child? How can you make your handling of yourself and your feelings more gentle and loving and kind?
posted by spindrifter at 5:37 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Anger like this is usually rooted in something deeper than present circumstances. Not to be a total cliche but: therapy. Therapy will also help you address the fallout from dysfunctional or abusive relationships as well.

Did you hear out your ex-BFF? To me this sounds like something that could be worked out, depending on how bad the badmouthing was. People gossip and say thoughtless things all the time. I wouldn't necessarily see that as a betrayal -- unless, obviously, it was some kind of baseless accusation that threatened your career. Not apologizing is kind of low though, since most good friends would.

Other, "softer" feelings tend to be lurking beneath anger: things like hurt, fear, sadness, vulnerability. I would explore those feelings in your journaling rather than the anger itself-- that'll get you to the bottom of it faster re: what's really going on with your emotions.
posted by coffeeand at 6:36 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding salvia that sometimes emotions take time to run themselves out.

I went through a horrid break up 6 months ago where I also felt betrayed and which lead to a lot of anger. With all due respect to *loveandhappiness* - yes, betrayal is a heavy word but sometimes that is exactly what someone does to you - a person promises to love you and care for you, but then betrays you instead. I felt extreme rage, and the only thing that has really helped is time, tlc and the biggie for me, focusing on lots of energy on a couple of creative projects that are important to me. Oh and lots of exercise/starting to be healthy again.

The rage and betrayal I felt also took up an alarming amount of head space which has really only abated recently in the sixth month. I still feel that way, but the intensity has lessened considerably. I am now working on letting go, because I realised that part of my anger was really about the fact I wanted to feel something towards him, because I wasn't ready to let go, and because I could no longer love him, all the complexities in the melting pot led directly to >> Anger.

Also agree with the advice above: I've visited a far away friend, I'm about to take a solo trip for a few days and I've been lucky enough to live near some green spaces that have helped my mental health massively. In a short time, I've went from feeling blinding raging about the fact my ex's new girlfriend is the person who has taken my place as a partner + cringing about being single and alone to feeling genuinely happy to be spending time getting to know myself again and enjoying the breathing space. YMMV, but I've got into mindfulness again and this has helped me a lot.

Three months is not long at all, I went on one date also and am still 100% not ready. Sounds like you've been through a lot and you just need to slowww way down. Be kind to yourself. You've taken enough of a beating and you don't need to take another one from yourself.
posted by Willow251 at 5:11 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

One last thing. coffeeandsaid "Other, "softer" feelings tend to be lurking beneath anger: things like hurt, fear, sadness, vulnerability."

Agreed. My anger came from the fact I was desperately sad. Little by little, I let myself feel the depths of that sorrow. I also accept that those moments may still appear when I least expect, but it's ok, because its all part of the catharsis of eking all of those emotions out.
posted by Willow251 at 5:14 PM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another thing to try: Be the Queen. All this crap is beneath you. Rise above. Be polite but distant. These people are not worthy of your emotion. Also - do as the others have said, and get away as often as possible given your finances.
posted by Enid Lareg at 6:08 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

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