unblock me and release me from this hurt cycle

Years ago, I used to wonder how ‘everyone else’ could bounce back. I was doing such a good job of burying my various hurts and distracting myself in more unavailable relationships that I became numb and trapped in a vicious cycle. In the meantime, looking around me, some people were like Teflon and seemed unbothered (not a good thing it turns out) and then others, would go through difficult breakups and experience other losses and difficulties such as losing a loved one through death, professional struggles etc. and would gradually recover over time and come out the other side.

Many people have been in my situation wondering:

Why am I still stuck hurting?

Long-time readers will know that my ‘old way’ of dealing with stuff was basically not dealing with it. I’d will my latest hurt, anger and indignation to the back of my mind and lock it up for a few months with the idea being that when I eventually revisited it, the hurt would have dissipated. A habit learned in childhood where I developed a ‘wonderful’ aptitude for invalidating and/or ignoring my feelings and experiences as a coping mechanism, I still check myself before I wreck myself and make sure that I acknowledge feelings ‘currently’ instead of experiencing an onset of convenient ‘amnesia’.

The last major (or even minor) breakups were different and I was musing on why I’d come out of the other side instead of carrying Yet Another Breakup Suitcase on my back with all my other excess baggage, and it’s because in using my old blog as a place to share anecdotes from my life including some of my angst, I inadvertently dealt with things ‘currently’, didn’t continuously interrupt ‘the process’ of grieving the loss and the hurt and ultimately didn’t run the opposite direction and ‘shut down’ when I came up against something that made me feel ‘vulnerable’.

If you’ve read The No Contact Rule or my NC support email, you’ll know about the importance of working your way through the loss of the relationship and not avoiding your feelings. You’ve got to grieve.

I realised that up until summer 2006, I never grieved or really thought about anything painful to a great extent. Nothing.

Not my parents splitting up just before I was three, the whole hospital saga, moving away, a catalogue of childhood drama, throw on some adult hurts – nothing. It’s not that I didn’t get angry or upset; it’s that I did it randomly, buried it, and felt crappier about myself by blaming myself, so I’d be hurt over a breakup in 2000 but I’d actually be crying and angry over something from 1999 or 1989 even.

And that’s where I recognise where 1) you get ‘stuck’ and 2) why you ‘can’t’ unblock yourself.

You get stuck because one hurt reminds you over another hurt – conflict, ‘rejection’, breaking up can re-open old abandonment wounds and make old hurt and experiences ‘fresh’.

This then becomes like “Well if I deal with my feelings about this breakup, it’ll remind me of another breakup and then remind me of when my father/mother abandoned me when I was 5. Oh and to top it off, if I do start to look at this all a little too closely, I may even see things about myself that I don’t feel like facing right now.”

So of course you’re going to remain stuck when the current hurt is shielding you from the old hurt and the only way of reaching the ‘plunger’ to unblock yourself is to work your way through the hurt first, take action, and face all your feelings and realisations, good, bad, and indifferent.

If you’ve wondered why you keep going back it’s because not only are you trapped in your feelings and seeking validation but if this current hurt is similar to an old hurt, it’s like “Let me avoid dealing with what I need to by trying to control the uncontrollable and attempting to right the wrongs of the past”.

The stages of grief that we go through are part of honouring the good, bad, and indifferent of what we felt, experienced and even hoped for, and are entirely natural and necessary. If you’re stuck, it’s because you get stuck on one particular aspect of it or veer back and forth.

Some people get stuck in denial. Wanting to not believe it is natural and initially it helps you come to terms with what’s happened if you have your feet in reality. It’s ongoing denial that’s dangerous because reality isn’t catching up with the fantasy.

Some progress into anger and stay angry both with themselves and/or with the other party. Anger is actually a great healer if you process and grow out of it but sometimes we can become obsessed with the anger, blaming ourselves too much, being a victim, or feeling like we have to tell them all about themselves or even take revenge.

If you’ve ever gone back and forth to an ex or are still coming up with Plan 179 to ‘win back your ex’ it’s because you’re still bargaining. If you keep playing out the drama in your head, coming up with plans or even trying to act upon them, you might go back to being angry or in denial.

If you can’t move past the depression, it’s because you’ve become stuck in the negative side of accepting that the relationship is over. You may even have gone back to denial or anger. If you’re not expressing it and directing it towards yourself plus it’s aggravating the unresolved hurt from the past, it may feel overwhelming and knock you for six.

I came ‘unstuck’ when I faced the ‘new’ and ‘old hurt’. Initially it was like a dam erupting (or like when my waters broke in labour and seemed to explode like one of those American fire hydrants – choose the image you prefer!) but it was freeing to get rid of the toxic stuff that was eating me up.  

Yes remembering is painful but actually, the power to hurt is quite limited and ridding myself of 28 years of pent up hurt, anger, and frustration gave me clarity and calm. The sky didn’t fall down, my ex skeletons didn’t come back from the unavailable and assclown cemetery to haunt me, and some fresh perspective (support groups, therapy, feelings diaries, unsent letters etc. can be very helpful here) helped me to stop taking ownership of other people’s BS and instead focus on what I knew I could truly be accountable for – my actions and what I chose to be and participate in going forward.

One of the things I’ve realised over the past few years is that things I procrastinate over for oodles of time take a shamefully small amount of time to do/address. Like minutes or hours to do versus weeks or months of putting it on the backburner. Breakups, moving on, dodging old hurt – they’re exactly like this. When I stopped dodging myself, romanticising a ‘bad romance’ and putting myself at the centre of other people’s actions, it took months instead of the many years I’d clocked up treating me like I wasn’t good enough.

You can’t force yourself to get over something but you can help it there with your feet in reality, the BS Diet, not avoiding your feelings, having boundaries, and having a positive commitment to you instead of negative commitment to someone else or to bathing in feeling bad. Treating you well will break the hurt cycle and you will come out the other side.

Your thoughts?

Check out my ebooks the No Contact Rule and Mr Unavailable & The Fallback Girl and more in my bookshop.

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235 Responses to Why You’re Still Stuck On Hurt

  1. Jane says:

    How do you know when you are unstuck, I was happy, content, thinking about me, working on my self esteem and exploring lessons from my break up that will help me not repeat the same mistakes.

    I then saw my ex on the street. I was on the bus and he was walking, he didnt see me and i only saw the back of his head (Possible it wasn’t even him), but the moment i saw him, i started thinking about “whether he missed me?”, “what he was up to, where he was going”. to make things worse, i started imagining him calling me and apologising and declaring he was wrong and wants me back. Despite in that moment knowing all the crappy things he had said and done and knowing his apologies would amount to nothing, I still felt like if he wanted me back and apologised hard enough i would take him back.

    all that from seeing him in passing

    Why??????????????

    • NML says:

      Hi Jane, it’s in difference and failing that, not getting carried away or still having a secret fantasy. There’s been a few occasions when I’ve seen someone that looked like my ex. It’s an odd feeling when quite frankly they’re a bit of a tit or they hurt you. I have no feelings for him – I just don’t like awkward convos. “Oh hi, how’s life? Oh and thanks for providing some inspiration for…”

      I think what you’ve learned out of this isn’t that you’re stuck hurting, it’s that you’re possibly stuck hoping – need to address denial/acceptance and stop bargaining.

      Remember, you’re not a higher power – you cannot change this man.

      • Jane says:

        I have been reading more and more of your blog and you made me realise something. this boy would ignore me when i was speaking, dismiss my feelings, and when i alerted him to the fact that he hurt my feelings he would say he “he didnt see the big deal, it wouldnt bother him if i did the same thing.”

        I would talk myself blue trying to explain how hurt i was and how wrong he was even going as far as saying “would you say/do that to your mother?” his reply always being “my mother would never act like you”.

        but You made me realise that i talked and explained myself so much because I felt as though his changing his behaviour was easier than me walking away and giving up on the relationship. my mentality was ” things would be good and i would be happy if he did x y z” it never occurred to me that things would be good and i would be happy if i walked away.

        I have the same mentality with hoping he apologies because i am still thinking “if HE means it this time and maintains the change we could be happy everything will be good.” I am not really considering the possibility that “even if he means it and I say no and walk away, things will be good, I will be happy.”

        I have given this boy (or the version he could be) a lot of power in determining to what extent i could be happy and things will be good, without even realising it.

        • NML says:

          You’ve given him too much power indeed Jane and your happiness in this relationship is reliant on too many things that are out of your control because they depend on him revolutionising the wheel. The sun doesn’t shine out of his arse – you can and will survive without him. In fact, you’ll thrive.

      • MissE says:

        “It’s an odd feeling when quite frankly they’re a bit of a tit or they hurt you. I have no feelings for him – I just don’t like awkward convos. “Oh hi, how’s life? Oh and thanks for providing some inspiration for…’ ”

        — LOL! I quite agree NML.I think that once you end a relationship on a bad note & realize this person is an ass who has NEVER “righted their wrong”, there will always be an odd feeling surrounding them, especially if you’re to run into them.

        I am “cool” w/ all my exes sans the last one, who was a Heavy Weight Champion Assclown! The others either ended amicably or if they wronged me, they’ve all come back, apologized and the slate was wiped clean and we both moved forward. I have no hang ups about running into them,no anger at what happened and would be able to have a genuinely cordial conversation.

        The AC on the other hand, while I’m over him, have zero desire to be w/ him, haven’t seen or spoken to him in over a year and I no longer produce reality shows in my mind about his life; if I were to see him I would feel very odd and awkward because of how things were left. When I consider seeing him,I wonder how he feels about leaving things so awkwardly, I’m slightly curious about if his story of what happened is anything like mine, does he know it was awkward but is unfazed or does he think everything is fine & would greet me as if nothing wrong ever occurred? LOL! But they’re only passing thoughts.

        I hope never to run into him though, as I would either have to pretend not to know him or suffer some awkward conversation. I would have liked for us to have been able to come to an amicable agreement so that any future run in wouldn’t be awkward but I fully accept that that was not the case. But I’m thankful everyday for how far I’ve come. I’m no longer interested in changing him, rewriting the past, hoping for his return, seeking validation from him, fantasizing about him etc. Although, my friend saw him recently & said he looked quite sad & pathetic, and I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of smugness as I thought, hmmm guess his life isn’t so great after all, karma is a biatch innit??! LOL! But that lasted 2 seconds & if he’s happy or unhappy, thinks of me or doesn’t, I no longer care or use it to judge my worth or allow it to interfere with my own path.

    • jennynic says:

      Funny, I used to think stuff like that about the ex Ac. (its been a little over a year). I would avoid seeing him anywhere so my mind wouldn’t go back to wanting and wishing. I got a text from him…..first communication in a year, this weekend. He said I was the best thing that ever happened to him and that I had taught him so much, he will always love me….and thanks. I thought, ” what?”. The text was sent at 2:30 in the morning. Still out being a bar fly, closing time, no doubt drunk. Same old guy. It made me laugh. I didn’t respond, but if I did, I would say “thanks for tearing apart my self esteem, but you were the best thing too, now I am learning how to flick dog shit like you off. Thanks for the epiphany. Still a drunk? How’s that working out for you? I thought I would never get over this guy, I was such a mess. It’s been a long road, but you do let it go. Just keep working at it. Now when I see him somewhere, its no big deal when a year ago I was terrified of him. Glad he waited until I was over him. : ) The trick for me was blocking every form of communication so he couldn’t contact me….so I was never sitting waiting for him to call, he couldn’t. I was able to focus on myself without the ambush texts and calls. I guess the block expired. I hadn’t even thought about it in quite a long time. Just take care of yourself and make new patterns in your life, which also helped. I went new places, bought new brands of food and tried new recipes, read lots of books to keep my mind from going in circles. Focus on you.

      • Natasha says:

        Wow Jennynic, that is inspiring. I am doing the same now too…though it’s been harder to cut off contact entirely as I have a baby with my ex ac. I have been focusing on me and learning not to react to his continuing criticism. Life has gotten so much better. I now look forward to every day and consider any contact a wonderful challenge. I’ve learned to set boundaries, recognize emotional abuse and manipulation for what it is, and to trust myself. I know my next relationship will be a healthy and happy one, otherwise I won’t be in it for long!

      • Jasmine says:

        jennynic,
        The night before I left to travel for six months, my xAC sent me an email telling me how great I was, how happy he was for me that I was traveling, that I deserve the best, ect, after a year of NC. I only read it once and deleted it immediately, because even if he would never know if I read it or not, it was breaking NC. Unfortunately I thought about him a lot if the following weeks….but it was mostly ANGER! I thought, who does he think he is? How dare he contact me, after the crap he put me through ( that I allowed, I know) and acting as if we were still good friends on good terms, and nothing had ever happened? Trying to minimize the impact his shady behavior had on my life by acting if everything is ” great” now? And obviously by feeling he has the right to contact me whenever he feels the need to feel good about himself by being a good guy and sending me such a patronizing email, he does not recognize that I have the right to have boundaries and no more means no more. For all of his grand talk, he still doesn’t respect me. And feels that even though I spelled it out clearly, “I never want to speak to you again”, he knows better than I what’s best for me.
        I struggle less and less now, but I occasionally waver in my conviction. It’s because a part of me still misses the partner he never was, or I’d like for him to come and validate how important I was to him, or just not feel so damned rejected, which is actually more about things that happened when I was 6. In those times, I have to remind myself what is healthy and what is not, and look into what has triggered my fears of abandonment and rejection at that moment. It may hurt for the moment, but I don’t squash them down anymore, and have convenient amnesia :) I really believe soon I will be able to severe those last threads of unhealthy attachment to my negative belief system. Then running into him won’t be so scary, and I won’t open any more emails. I’m almost over it.

      • NML says:

        I’m glad that you highlighted how you weren’t waiting for a call because you knew you’d blocked it Jennynic. It’s a mindset that highlights the core requirement of NC – not waiting for the call whether it’s because you’ve blocked the means or because you’ve resolved that you’re out. Kudos and glad you didn’t let him derail you.

      • Natasha says:

        I couldn’t agree more! (This is other Natasha, btw. To Natasha with the little one: GREAT NAME GIRL :) ) I had blocked mine on Fbook, email, etc., but I have to say it was blocking him on the phone that made the biggest difference. I would get annoyed all over again whenever he’d text me (oh yes, text, of course) and now that I’ve blocked him, when I hear that little alert..I know it’s someone I WANT to talk to. It finally occurred to me that I had no desire to hear whatever he had to say, because he’d acted like such an ass, there was no apology that I’d ever find believable (not that he was offering one, of course, it was All My Fault). I always say that it’s like Witness Protection from assclowns!

    • Mel says:

      @Jane and others, I can relate, a similar thing happened to me last Friday, it brings things back. I was exiting the gas station, and suddenly noticed ex’s car was leaving just in front of mine, but a woman was driving, with a man in the passenger seat. I couldn’t see their faces but I *think* it was his female ‘best friend’ driving him home, I think he’d lent her his car while he was out of town working all week.

      He’s so invested in ‘being there’ for her. It must make him feel like a real man. That’s a big part of why we broke up. It’s almost as if he’s vicariously living through her. She has her own husband and kids, but he makes sure he’s ‘there for her’ and I’m sure for her kids too. But in doing so he’s *unavailable* to ‘be there’ for a woman of his own! His ‘best friend’ flirts, compliments him, tells him how much better a man he is than her husband, and begs to be taken for a ‘fast ride’ on his motorcycle (she calls the back seat “hers”) ..gag me.

      Gotta be honest, this is harsh but, it really saps my self esteem to know there’s this woman who’s quite challenged in the looks, spells like a second grader, is a lowclass self-absorbed loudmouth, has her own husband and father to help her out. But he felt it’s more important to be there for her than for me. I guess I’m just not important enough. Of course he would’ve been more than happy to use my vagina to get himself off, if I’d let him. But all the respect, care, admiration and devotion, all that went to her.

      And I see for months, him on the dating site I was on. He seems to be logged on multiple times a day. But while we were dating, he couldn’t bother to phone me up during the workweek while he was out of town. And after we broke up he wanted me back, got me on the phone, but then he got tired, had to go to sleep at 7:30, he couldn’t stay awake long enough to convince me to come back. But can stay up regularly til 11 to chat up strange girls on the dating site. He must’ve thought he was a stud when he had me, and now he’s finding his BS, and his close relationship with his ‘best friend’ isn’t cutting it, and not able to land a girlfriend. Serves him right and maybe he should’ve appreciated me when he had a chance.

      Anyway, if that was him at the gas station, then he probably saw me, he just didn’t care. Well, I guess it is just hard to feel good sometimes :-(

      • NML says:

        Hi Mel. Let’s look at this a different way. As a regular reader of this site, you have been supportive and empathetic when you’ve seen others treated badly/hurting post breakup.

        Here’s the thing – that compassion and empathy that we extend to others should be applied to ourselves. You don’t believe that others on this site have been treated as they have because they’re not good enough. What makes you different?

        This isn’t a looks or class or whatever contest. Yeah it sounds like she’s greedy but she’s not the issue. It’s like saying “I’m here, I’m better looking, I love you, I’m single, why *wouldn’t* you choose me?” For a start, that’s not how relationships or love works and two, I’m
        glad he hasn’t ‘chosen’ you. I’d be worried. Being what you feel is rejected by someone who if you’re entirely truthful, is totally unworthy of you, is often very tricky to deal with. It’s like ‘WTF! Even this dipstick that I’m punching below my weight with doesn’t want me? What’s wrong with me?!’

        Stop selling yourself short.

      • Clover says:

        ***MEL!

        can i please please please just say… i am almost in tears my love, because my story is EXACTLY the same. EXACTLY. and the way you described your feelings was an eloquent way of expressing the hurt and confusion that has plagued me since i dumped him.

        oh well our stories aren’t exactly the same, his “best friend” was his FIRST LOVE AND EX GIRLFRIEND, who was single btw and repeatedly gave me the cold shoulder. this of course stung even more.

        i finally knew i had reached my limit when he agreed to tell her that their routine of her cooking him dinner in her apartment 2 evenings a week was not okay now that he was in a relationship and they had to stop.

        he said she was hurt, upset, tried to bad mouth me and then finally concluded with “when WE were together, I NEVER complained about Vicky (his OTHER meddling, destructive, ulterior motived “good friend”) calling you in the middle of the night”

        it was then that i realized not only was the availability of my boyfriend and health of my relationship determined by the severity of her mental state at any given time (she had this guys balls on a leash), i NOW had to play by HER relationship rules, based on his previous relationship with her which failed miserably.

        like you, i also felt much more in need than her at the time. i have no family and lost my friends after a particularly rough time in my life. when i could have used a friend, the man i was sleeping with was driving his ex girlfriend around town, going shopping with her and listening to music and eating her dinner in her apt.

        he also had that other friend riverdancing all over basic lines of respect for our relationship. for example: because he talked about our issues with her and been emotional about it before, one night when she knew he and i were together at his house, she called around 11 at night, knowing i was there, to make sure that he was “okay”. it was disgusting, all i hear (from where he tried to hide with the phone around the corner) is “yeah…yeah.. it’ll be fine. it’s ok. awww, you’re a sweet girl.” i question him about him about what i heard when he comes back and he pulls this wounded face and whines “she was WORRIED about me!!!”

        good lord.

        thankyou so much for your story. i have so many about this particular ass clown and his gang of ass clownettes, who BY THE WAY also could not hold a candle to me in ANY department. they were all awkward social rejects, college dropouts and EXTREMELY homely. looking at that reality, it’s plain to see why someone like me would not fit into his life.

        water always seeks it’s own level ;)

        • Mel says:

          @Natalie (and Clover) Thank you Natalie, I really appreciate it. I know you’re right, you always see things the way they really are! I’m usually pretty good at that too, and I need to stop with this whirlpool thinking. And logically I know it’s not about class or looks, looks are subjective, and by class I don’t mean money, she had a lot more than I, she just has no class.
          And I really couldn’t care less about her anyway, it’s his behavior with her. I don’t believe he loves or is attracted to her. I think he uses her to contrapose with his SO’s, for a position of power. And he’s also using her as a shield, keeping him from being available to commit and devote to a woman of his own. But all of that said, I realize that none of that is even relevant anyway! I guess it’s just me contrasting the ‘why her, not me?’

          I feel this is a vicious cycle for me. The boyfriend before him was very over-devoted to his best friend’s wife. I’ve been told by male friends that men can be ‘turned off’ by a woman’s independence. I do make an effort not to come across as ‘too self sufficient’ with guys I’m dating so not to scare them off. But no matter, they see that I provide for myself, they feel unneeded, and value some whiney flake above me, who already has ten other men helping her.

          So if I’m overlooked for taking care of myself then what else can I do – stop taking care of myself? It’s a cycle. I tell myself, I don’t want a guy like that anyway. But after a certain age, a lot of men have become deeply entrenched into the role of being loyally devoted to some taken women, and they expect their girlfriends to take backseat!

          On the other hand maybe it has nothing to do with my self sufficiency. Maybe it’s just that these men have a need to pit their partner against someone. Maybe they’re just EUMs and this business about being overly-devoted to women who are not available/not appropriate and in whom they’re not actually even interested, is all just to ensure they stay EU.

          I know you wrote a lot about this issue in your EXCELLENT post about the female friends/harems. I probably need to go back and read that one again. But yeah I know it’s pathetic, and maybe I just need to continue to weed out/avoid guys like that like the plague. But sometimes I just wish it would be my turn to be the one the guy is devoted to above all others.

          • Minky says:

            Mel – having to change yourself for someone means that they are totally the wrong person for you.

            Rather than trying to act less self-sufficient, use that as an indicator that the guy is a write-off if he doesn’t like that about you. That’s the best way to find someone worthy of you. If a guy is ‘put off’ by self sufficience and independence, is that really someone you want to be involved with? I sure as hell don’t!

            I think these types of guys have the florence nightingale syndrome. They need to be needed. They need the validation, they don’t have enough self esteem if they’re not looking after someone. It could also be a control issue – the power of knowing what someone is doing etc and that they can’t survive without you.

            Wouldn’t you rather have a man who celebrates your strength and independence? Why are you hiding your light under a bushel? You rock! :)

          • EllyB says:

            @Mel: I bet they are accusing those other women of being too “needy” and not being able to survive on their own. They probably tell them to be forever grateful for all the “support” they are getting.

            I guess many of those women are just as miserable as you are, if not more. They just don’t seem to complain as much because they think they don’t have a choice.

            You have, because you are independent. You can just leave. That’s what pisses those guys off (lol).

            I know it’s difficult. There are many decent guys out there, but we just haven’t learned to notice them yet (I’m working on that too).

          • Outergirl says:

            May I ask or point out, if all these ac’s are on such terrific terms w/ex gf’s, wives, female bf’s, then why are they all ‘exes’ and why are the best friends ‘just friends’. I hope to keep asking myself that question whenever I start to wonder ‘why?’ or when the grass seems greener on their side.

          • NML says:

            “But sometimes I just wish it would be my turn to be the one the guy is devoted to above all others.”

            And there’s the rub. Mel, relationships aren’t about being in a default position of second best and then fighting for pole position. Only men who want to use their swarm to shield them from a proper relationship with intimacy etc have a harem of ‘others’.

            Life isn’t about queuing up in an orderly fashion to get attention from people.

            We all have parents, friends, work colleagues – it’s time to ask yourself – if normal people can have friends, exes, a past and manage to forge a mutual relationship, why can’t he?

            Because he doesn’t want to.

            The issue is not the harem although they are an issue; the issue is him. You also have to stop participating in these clamouring situations and be involved with available men. They don’t have human or emotional shields.

          • Mel says:

            ***First I want to say Happy Birthday to Dear Natalie, Fabulous Woman! I think I may be a bit late but I hope it’s a good one you certainly deserve the very best!!***

            @Natalie, “…and be involved with available men. They don’t have human or emotional shields.”

            Yes, and that’s the key to the whole thing right there! Whether it’s their career, their dogs (yes I’ve had men use pets as a shield), their mother, their neighbor, ex gf, in-law, best friend, cousin, the list goes on… When they place anything or anyone else between us and them as a shield and excuse to keep them from fully committing and devoting to us, then that’s got to be the deal breaker. The “Ok, well I guess we have nothing left to talk about.”

            My ex, when we he told me how ultra-important his best friend was. I replied I thought he was set in his ways and we didn’t have anything left to talk about. But then he backpedaled, he said no, he wanted me to become his new best friend. I fell for it.

            But it’s crazy. I shouldn’t have to compete in the first place. He’s *very arrogant* to think I would. I knew it was wrong, it felt wrong to date him, after he done told me how ultra-important and emotionally close this other woman was to him. But I did it anyway, and that feeling never went away.

            I always felt when I was with him, that I was his second choice, and wondered, why was I devaluing myself that way? I felt I was disrespecting myself by allowing him to have my time and attention, when he’d already told me some other woman was ‘best’ in his life. Even though he backpedaled on his declaration about her, he still had said it, and I couldn’t forget what he said. Ultimately, right from the point he told me how he valued her more than me, anything else after that was doomed and there was no point in going on.

            But all is not lost, I do feel proud that in spite that I did like things about him, I was able to resist the temptation to go on any longer with him and just cut him loose. Next time a man puts up shields making him unavailable to put me first then I hope I see it even sooner, even clearer than before. Thanks for all the support it is invaluable.

            Coming to Baggage Reclaim is a bit like stepping out of The Twilight Zone and into a land where people use common sense and deal with truth and reality.

        • Magnolia says:

          Clover, Mel:
          I’ve detailed my ex’s harem of exes before on this site, so will spare you, but suffice to say, these dudes are all pulling the same shit! As are the messed up women that should not be calling them and should read Natalie’s article about how to break up with guys they aren’t even in a sexual relationship with. Your stories reminded me of old times. So glad I’m not that woman anymore!

          • EllyB says:

            Sorry to put it bluntly, but those guys are playing games all the time. I guess they picked attractive, educated, accomplished women like you exactly because they wanted to impress the rest of their “harem”. They probably tried to intimidate those other, less attractive women, and I guess it worked well. They became even more anxious to please them (as your experience shows).

            The guys never intended to chose between the two (or three, or four) of you. They liked it exactly that way, with all the women being anxious to not end up as the “loser”. To you, it might have seemed as if those women controlled him, but I doubt it.

            Don’t allow those guys to put you down! This has nothing to do with you. If you buy into their lies, they have already won.

        • Mel says:

          @Clover, and all, I can relate, and that story about the girl ‘worried’ about him, he must’ve said something bad about you to make her ‘worry’ (please!). And why is it any of her business one iota what you two are doing within YOUR (ie NOT hers!) relationship. And that other girl cooking him dinner who was debating with him about YOUR relationship expectations. Geez I’m glad you dumped him!

          It sounds like he was certainly pulling the ‘Pitting Against’ or ‘Contrapositioning’ tactic on you the same my ex boyfriend did to me. A girl he dated before me called while we were on a date, next time he talked to her he told her he couldn’t see her the next weekend because he was changing my oil. Well I felt it wasn’t any of her business to be apprised of what WE were doing. Another girl texted him while we were at a show, he actually texted her back. Why allow her to barge in on our date? That one was the final straw for me. And these are just some of his female ‘friends’. Then there’s the sainted ‘Best Friend’ since childhood, there’s also the first girlfriend who he still did favors for years after… Why can’t they just wish these girls well, go on with their lives, and leave it at that?

          And you and I both know to an extent it’s fine to have friends of the opposite sex. But we know the difference in the *nature* of the friendship and whether they’re crossing lines into our relationship. We know instinctively when something’s not right.

          I never felt comfortable opening up to him, flirting with him, confiding in him (I told him this too!). Why? Because I knew it was a matter of time before he would be ‘sharing’ our conversations or our activities with his female ‘friends’. He tried to blame the women for causing him problems in his relationships! I turned it right back around on him, and told him “Don’t blame them, the blame lies solely with you! YOU’RE the one who invited them in to interfere.”

          I want a man who has a special connection with ME, who isn’t letting a whole group of other women have a say, and a backstage pass into our relationship. It should just be between him and me. I love what you had to say about water seeking its own level. And (logically) I know, like you, that I didn’t belong there. Maybe we should just be grateful we’re out of it, and let them all get back to their mess.

      • raven says:

        Hi Mel,

        I had one of those situations too. My bf (a while ago now) had this same relationship with his ex-wife who lived across the road with her own husband. They’d been divorced for 12 years but he regarded her as his ‘best friend’ and she dominated his life. She played happy for him meeting me – but gradually I realised that actually her revenge for him leaving her for another woman (not me!!) was to keep him on an emotional leash so he could never get truly intimate with anyone else ever again. The crunch for me came when she got a puppy and he had to go on a walk with her every evening. My nickname for her was ‘spiderwoman’ as she had him completely trapped in her emotional web.

        Mel – NML is right – you need to stop saying bad things about yourself. Treat yourself kindly – these realisations you are having are happening because you are being brave and facing the reality of what’s been happening so you can learn and choose better in the future. We’re all on this site because we’ve done the same or similar – it’s just being human, not bad. If you want someone else to treat you well you got to start doing it to yourself first or you’ll overlook the genuinely nice men who are out there or you’ll have fuzzy boundaries. When you love yourself properly it’s really easy to spot the ACs because you can FEEL the boundary transgression and you just won’t put up with it. Think of it like you would a slap (I’m hoping you wouldn’t ever see that as acceptable). If a guy slapped you, you would immediately know it wasn’t ok and say something and walk away. When you love yourself, more subtle transgressions become obvious in the same way. Loving yourself the best protection against toxic men.

        • Mel says:

          @Raven, also Natalie, Clover, Magnolia, thank you!

          Raven, “The crunch for me came when she got a puppy and he had to go on a walk with her every evening.” Ahhh. Yep, I can see it happening. It’s absurd but somehow it doesn’t even surprise me. I’ve seen this type of behavior, with So. Many. Men. Whether it’s a ‘best friend’, a neighbor, an EX girlfriend, an in-law, or other. Who wants a half-man that’s tied up to some other woman?

          And this “My nickname for her was ‘spiderwoman’ as she had him completely trapped in her emotional web.” That is superb! You know you and Magnolia are right. I’ve been laying the blame *solely* on the men who behave this way. And I think if he’s in a relationship with me, then yes, he’s the one who I should hold responsible. But really, the ‘Spiderwomen’, they’re responsible too!

          I am always very cognizant of other people’s relationships and not interfering with boundaries. I also don’t get enmeshed with my male friends, due to all the reasons above.

          But these women, they don’t care, they want it all and don’t care who gets hurt. They’re just as complicit in all of it. Not to say the men aren’t responsible for their own choices, but just saying, yes I agree the women who take part in these bizarre set-ups, they’re selfish, reckless, and self-absorbed, and it’s a pretty hard position for me to respect.

          • EllyB says:

            Those women are certainly messed up. Plus, if they are involved with someone else and hang around with your ex anyway, they are to blame for disrespecting their partners.

            However, don’t shift the blame away from your ex. He has allowed those women to hang around and interfere with your relationship. If he wants to be in a relationship with you, he ought to cut them off or at the very least limit contact. It does not matter whether they are “complicit” or not.

            By the way, it’s the exactly the same with “clingy” mothers who always seem to stand between you and your partner. No matter how awful/”needy”/abusive a guy’s mother might be, it’s still him who fails to set boundaries with her. He’s an adult who controls his own life. He is not a four-year-old without a choice.

      • Jennifer says:

        Mel, you need to keep in mind that women who keep male “friends” on a leash are deeply troubled. Do not waste your time wondering why some guy would “choose” her and not you. Both of them are seeking ego strokes from messed up and unavailable people. Just be glad you’re no longer involved.

        It is for some reason the norm in our society for nobody to bat an eyelash when somebody is in an absurdly flirtatious “friendship” with a member of the opposite sex. But don’t buy into this messaging. It’s not normal and is the domain of unavailable, messed up people.

      • Mel says:

        Ladies, thank you so much for all the help and validation! It helps me and us all out a lot to look at this issue and say NO to the bad behavior!

        I think for me I have stayed ‘stuck’ in hurt for so long over the last EU/harem/texter-dude, because of this: He was a relative of some friends of my brother and I. My brother, as he historically does, took an immediate shine to the EUM (we’d both just met EUM), really kissing his butt, even though I’d said hold back, that I was unsure of the EUM and that I felt he needed to either straighten up or ship out.

        So first my bro interfered by sending a message to EUM that he didn’t really need to straighten out for my brother to think he was (more than!) good enough to date his sister. Then after I dumped EUM, my mutual friend didn’t acknowledge me at all, and my brother seemed soo sad that he couldn’t be friends with EUM anymore. My brother halfway sympathized with me, but he actually defended the EUM to me, saying maybe I had expected too much too soon, and EUM’s behavior was natural or because of his youth. Please, I was reasonable, I just wanted basic respect and appreciation, and I don’t know of any woman who would be thrilled about ex EUM’s behaviors, and that’s regardless of if it is within the first two months.

        Borrowing Raven’s analogy, it’s like I dated EUM, he slapped me, I dumped him, and my bro and my friends said “What’s your problem? We like him. So he felt like slapping you. And? It’s a bit too soon for you to be expecting him not to slap you isn’t it? And he’s young, so he will tend to slap people. So you can’t really blame him.”

        Again thank you all so much for your help, insights, support, and validation. If I had gotten *just a little bit* of this from people who were supposed to be friends in the first place, I’m sure it would have helped, now I feel like an empty well that can’t be validated enough (pathetic I know). My being stuck has less to do with what happened with EUM, and more to do with the invalidating messages from friends and family. But I’m sure I’ve probably learned some valuable, though painful, lessons nonetheless. I guess this is why Natalie tells us that we must learn to self-validate. The women here are the friends I wish I had in real life, people with common sense and not trying to invalidate me or throw me under the bus for their own motives.

        • EllyB says:

          @Mel: I’m sorry to say so, but maybe you need to gain some distance from your brother. I don’t know how your relationship is like in general, but in this particular situation, your brother certainly wasn’t very helpful. He almost sabotaged you. In any case, he and his friends have treated you badly, and you don’t deserve that! I hope he simply wasn’t aware of what he was doing, but even if you tell him so, he might not get your point.

          After I got away from an AC (some months ago), I broke up with my “best friend” of many years too. She had pretended not to understand what was so wrong with this guy’s behavior, because she had been treating her BFs and lovers excatly the same way for many years! Plus, she used to control me with crazy temper tantrums, and she had set me up with several guys who were very bad for me, and then expected me to be super grateful! I certainly didn’t deserve any of this, but I failed to realize it back then.

          I know it’s difficult with family. You certainly don’t want to break up with your own brother, and I hope you won’t have to. I hope you will come to a better understanding with your brother at some point in the future. But first and foremost, you need to act on your own truth and not on his!

          • Mel says:

            Hi EllyB, Thanks for the advice. Yes this is exactly what happened. I dumped my bro. It’s sad because I do love my bro. But he’s done this several times in the past. But this time, I actually pointed out his pattern and specifically warned him against it, beforehand. But he went and did it anyway.

            After all was over, I let my bro have it, and told him in no uncertain terms I was not pleased with him about it. More recently I dumped the mutual ‘friend’. Then I told my bro he could stay friends with that clan or with me, not both. Well he seems to have chosen them.

            Here’s the thing I think my bro learned this behavior of treating me like a worthless fool because he watched our mother do it our whole lives.

            Changing subjects, Elly about your friend who sets you up with inappropriate men. That’s what my friends do to. They always try to shove these guys on me who have qualities/lifestyles that they already know I won’t date! They try to set me up with guys who are not a match for me, by things I’ve already told the friends I wouldn’t date a man with certain characteristics. But they needlessly bother both me and the man, giving him false hope and pestering me about something I’m not interested in. Then pretend to be ‘surprised’ when I decline something they already knew I didn’t want.

            I hear we should ask friends and acquaintances to set us up with someone, but this has never worked for me. And they do know men who I would be interested in, but they are only interested in pushing these men on me that they already know I don’t want. And if I am interested in a guy they have no interest in helping that along. My friends don’t seem to have my interests in mind at all nor respect my wishes.

  2. RC Colored Glasses Off says:

    Ok Natalie, now I KNOW you have psychic or mind reading skills LOL. I was driving to work this morning and was going to email you a similar question. Crazy! I so needed this post. I’m dealing with anger but it’s more like a ball of fire seething inside until I lash out at someone (anyone if they get on my nerves enough). I’ve already been angry at him, at me…now it’s like “I’m just angry”! So yes, I believe there are some hurts and grieving that need to be addressed. I’m working on them. Thanks :-)

    • NML says:

      Just roll with it RC – it’s totally OK to be angry and maybe use a feelings diary to work out what you’re angry about/triggers or do an unsent letter.

      Hehe re being psychic – I predict that this too (your anger) shall pass. Validate it, own your part, heed your lessons, vent etc

  3. Ali says:

    Spot on again Natalie! You have helped me more than you know. Thank you x

  4. Natasha says:

    “You get stuck because one hurt reminds you over another hurt – conflict, ‘rejection’, breaking up can re-open old abandonment wounds and make old hurt and experiences ‘fresh’.”
    You said it right there Nat! I’m still having those kinds of moments at times and I’m doing my best to push through them. I could not for the life of me understand why, after 7+ months NC, I was still so hurt over what happened with my ex-AC. Finally, I had to get real with myself (that can be such a b*tch) and I realized that it was bringing up stuff about the way some other jerk treated me 3-6-10 years ago (highly depressing, but I’m learning what to do with it!). It makes me sad to finally acknowledge all of it, but that’s okay, because it’s better to be sad than have my head firmly planted in the sand!

    • NML says:

      Natasha, I think that it would be difficult not to be affected by what happened. I think in particular, when people say stuff about what you are unable to change, it’s quite a mind screw. Combined with how you felt about yourself as a teen, this was all yanking your chain. Often with physical changes, while they address some immediate insecurities you struggle with and give a confidence boost, if you’re still feeling like the ‘old you’ within, you may feel conflicted. One of the things that really comes across to me is you have an incredibly generous spirit and you damn funny and clever. You have people around you that champion you like your friends and family, but I sense that you’re only really starting to champion yourself. Believe you’re great.

      • Natasha says:

        Nat,
        Thank you so much for your kindness and for all that you’ve done for me and the other ladies. I wouldn’t have realized how badly I needed to champion myself (despite my friends, family and, of course, my irascible, flatulent little furry ball of love, Winston The Bulldog being all, “GIRL. You need to like yourself more.”) without this blog.
        In Jewish culture, when we raise a glass to someone that we admire and want to celebrate we say, “L’chayim!”, which in Hebrew means, “To a long, healthy and beautiful life!” L’chayim Nat and a very, very happy birthday! :)

      • Spinster says:

        “Often with physical changes, while they address some immediate insecurities you struggle with and give a confidence boost, if you’re still feeling like the ‘old you’ within, you may feel conflicted.”

        Yeah… that and feeling like shit as a teen? Wouldn’t know anything about that at all. :-|

        :-/

        Maybe one day…..

        • Natasha says:

          Girl, I hear you! Teenage stuff can have very long lasting affects. I haven’t been a teenager in 10 years and if you look at what my “type” as an adult was, they were basically the grown-up verion of the loudmouth jocks that didn’t think I was pretty enough in high schcool. This is not to say that athletic, attractive men are all jerk-offs, I was just going for the ones that hadn’t had any emotional growth since they were Prom King. I didn’t even know I was doing it, but once I did some serious thinking about why I was so intent on validating myself off of certain men, it was as clear as day. The best advice I can come up with for both of us is, “Let it go!” *Hugs*

  5. MaryC says:

    That was me “stuck in denial” for a very long time. Wouldn’t couldn’t accept what happend and my life was lived in fantasyland, it was so much less painful. But as you know sooner or later reality does rear its ugly head usually in physical symptoms and for me I finally got tired of those symptoms and wanted to feel better. Once I took better care of myself the heart started to heal too.

    I still feel I’m a work in progress, I too have heard from my ex recently (only a text – lazy communication) and while I did feel like I had a small set back its better now because luckily I have a different perspective on things that comes from this site. Thanks Nat….

    • NML says:

      Your ex is a real piece of work Maryc. I still remember when you first posted a comment. So much time has passed and your spirit has grown and soared – we’re all works in progress. This man and his rinky dink BS doesn’t define you. Out of his assholery has come great growth although there’s no need to thank him for giving you the opportunity to love yourself and flush the crap out of your life!

  6. FeistyWoman says:

    This hits very close to home. I went through a lot as a child and I learned to manifest my pain in shame- I was ashamed to cry in front of people and I would hide (run away) because my parents ridiculed me for being emotional. Yeah, I’m playing a bit of a “victim” here but I can honestly say that I could not “process” being hurt without feeling ashamed of myself. For me it was very traumatic.

    A lot of the memories came flooding back years later as an adult and I finally learned to cope with my feelings luckily, in having a wonderful, supportive husband to help me cope. There they were… flashbacks, one after another. I’d relive each unfinished moment and become emotionally unglued until finally I’d processed it, each memory and emotion literally completely unresolved at a standstill so many years later.

    For years I didn’t have supportive people around to help me deal with my struggles. I didn’t have an outlet- a release. No one to help me grieve or help me understand what I was going through. That’s why I struggled with being emotionally void in my earlier years- I was taught that emotions were for sniveling crybabies and I was made to feel ashamed at any indication of losing control.

    But it’s impossible not to feel, no matter how hard we try to fight it.

    • NML says:

      Hi FeistyWoman – I don’t think that’s playing victim. It’s just a statement of how things were. I understand where you’re coming from. The additional support is great and welcomed if you have access to it but what you are learning is to take care of you and do what you need to do *anyway*.

  7. Claire says:

    Again, oh so true. I find/found myself doing all of the above, but now I hope to find the ‘inner strenght and realisation’ to break through…I long for that day, with the help of my therapist, and my own insight, freedom from ‘old crap and patterns’ is what I yearn for the most…

  8. Movedup says:

    Right on Nat! That old hurt crap can stay buried for years but it does stay… its doesn’t leave until you deal with it. Experienced that over my son’s college graduation. Put together a DVD of pictures of his life to music as a memento. That meant going through all of the photo albums and every picture has a thousand memories. Wow stuff I thought I had dealt with came flying at me… a week and a couple of bottles of wine later I resurfaced. The anxiety of going to the graduation and staying in the same hotel with the Ex was horrible. But in the end it all worked out well – I forgave him – we hugged took pictures with our son. All that crap (28 years of it) is now gone. So now when I get mad at him the past does not come surging up – it just the simple fact that he is and always be an ass but I don’t have to deal with him or carry him around with me anymore. Its good to come out the other side and alot lighter too.

  9. Michelle says:

    Thanks for reminding me of what I know and was tempted to ignore. I just had contact, breaking months of NC, and I had some of those old feelings–good, bad, would it be worth a one-nighter? In my case he’s the one who has wanted an intense relationship and I’m always pushing back. Even if I could handle a one-nighter without getting re-hooked, I know what the pattern would look like: we “just” have sex, he pursues, drives me nuts, I get mad because he won’t respect my boundary – the boundary that I blew out of the water…and I would have brought it all on myself.

    So, today is progress. I’m not completely unstuck I’m out of the mire and into the mud.

  10. Janis says:

    Natalie, once again you’ve read my mind!

    I just found out on Saturday that the ex-FWB who I’ve stayed “friends” with has a new girlfriend. And he seems to really like her. I hadn’t realized how strong my feelings for him still were, until this little bit of news had me crying hysterically for the rest of the weekend and most of Monday.

    What’s really weird is that I was just saying to a friend that this felt almost exactly like when I went through my divorce a few years ago. Totally triggered my fear of abandonment.

    I know that by trying to stay friends with this guy, I’m avoiding the truth. I’m trying to avoid what I think would be permanent abandonment. WHY is this so difficult??? Why does it hurt so much?

  11. colororange says:

    There are some things in my past and even recently that still bring up anger or hurt when I think about them. A lot of that comes from not having had any boundaries and letting someone do XYZ to me. Some of that was out of my control because of the madness going on at home and I was stuck there. Is it a part of the “process” to keep experiencing those emotions over some traumatic events in your life? Because I still have moments when I get ticked that I have/had shit for a father that can not stay sober and a line of douchebag boyfriends and relationships behind me. It’s like there is this mountain of hurt and/or anger that seems to never fully go away.

    • NML says:

      Colororange, it’s a process and I think that you’re gradually making progress. Your feelings are valid. Your experiences were real but I want to say something here:

      I have a father that doesn’t do sober and have a long line in shady exes, poor choices etc. Fact is, what my father does or doesn’t do, or did or didn’t do and my various relationship experiences is only as relevant to my choices as I make it. It’s difficult near impossible to be in control as a child – you can be in control as an adult.

      Your father isn’t sober and hasn’t been because he uses alcohol to ‘fix’ and numb his internal problems. The feeling of being drunk feels better than being sober. Not being sober in the first place is down to problems that existed independently of you. Yes it would be nice if parents had kids and the love and responsibility transformed them out of their issues – alcoholism is self harm but also harms all those that love and need them. It’s very hurtful because the priority love becomes that feeling created by the substance – that’s a rejection right then and there.

      None of us can get our childhoods back. That’s a sad reality for those of us who had difficult experiences and were let down or failed by parents and also learned some poor and powerful messages about ourselves. Living with an ingrained sense of regret about something you absolutely cannot control removes your power. It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt at times and doesn’t mean you can’t have regret, but it’s time to ask yourself what you as an adult will be doing to make your life better because I can assure you, if you’re waiting for a golden moment from a parent that’s made it through a lifetime of fucking up and disappointing to come and make it all better, they won’t. Grieve the loss of what wasn’t and should have been, be angry, be everything you need to be but don’t remain stuck in the past.

    • grace says:

      Color
      Short of amnesia it doesn’t go away completely, but you can certainly learn from it and move on. Good things can come out of it – it makes you more sensitive, more understanding of other people.
      I think you do have to acknowledge the past. Lots of people advocate just forgetting it. That may work for some, but if you’ve tried that and it failed (denial, depression) then the next step is the fairly daunting one of counselling and talking through the whole saga – what happened, how it affected you and what to do next.
      And if the only thing I got from counselling was letting go of the dream that my parents might actually throw me a bone, then it was worth it.
      It was interesting to have gone through the process and talk about it with my siblings. They’d realised what my parents were about long before I did. For a long time, I had hope, I thought I could do something to change them and that they weren’t that bad … sounds familiar doesn’t it?

      • Used says:

        Are you the eldest?

        I have found all children in a family younger than the eldest learn from the eldest’s mistakes and life.

        • grace says:

          Used
          Yes, I’m the eldest. I think being the eldest can make a child feel more responsible. I felt like I should have been able to do something, but of course I couldn’t. But we all had it bad, I can’t say otherwise.

          • Used says:

            My situation exatly, however, I wasthe only one who “had no breaks” and thus had it bad.

  12. runnergirl says:

    Hi Natalie, thank you for this insight. My current hurt is shielding me from my past hurt. I’ve been working on connecting the dots between childhood injuries (a ton) and trying to right the wrongs of my past in my adult relationships which has created more injury. I see my hurt cycle. However, I couldn’t figure out why I just couldn’t “get over this current hurt and move on” like I’ve done in the past based on my conditioning from childhood as well. I think the last slip off the NC wagon was because I was stuck in bargaining and denial, coming up with plan 200.5(a) to make it work.

    This break-up is triggering childhood abandonment issues which I thought I had dealt with but, I guess, not completely. I don’t think I’ve truly allowed myself to grieve over any of my past childhood or adulthood losses. It is like I get started upacking one suitcase, run across things I don’t want to deal with, the fire hydrant starts to explode, and I get scared and stuff everything back in that suitcase. Then I figure I’ll deal with another suitcase full of past injuries and the same thing happens. Nothing ends up unpacked and I am still stuck. Your article helped me see that it’s not just “getting over” this current hurt but that there is an interconnectedness between the current loss and my past losses. I’ve still got to face my past hurt. I didn’t think of myself as a procrastinator but that is exactly what I have been doing. Thank you. This has helped me a lot. It is good to hear from you and all the others that have gone through the grieving process that the world doesn’t come to an end. That’s reassuring.

    • NML says:

      You’re welcome Runnergirl. “It is like I get started upacking one suitcase, run across things I don’t want to deal with, the fire hydrant starts to explode, and I get scared and stuff everything back in that suitcase. ” totally resonated with me. That’s exactly what I went through. That childhood abandonment is tough. There tends to be a lot tangled in there. What was literally instantly mind shifting for me was after my kinesiologist told me that my parents were not infallible but they surely had effed up – I was carrying blame and shame for stuff that wasn’t mine to carry. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t you either. The odd thing is that most of our worst fears of abandonment don’t get realised but we do do stuff that’s the equivalent of abandoning ourselves.

      • runnergirl says:

        That’s it Natalie…the sins of our fathers (and mothers) are their sins not ours. I didn’t realize I was carrying my fathers baggage around until I read this post and the insightful comments. First thing I’m going to do is unpack that bag completely this time, explosions notwithstanding, and stop participating in relationships and behaviors that result in me abandoning myself.

        This post and the comments have really helped me get some clarity. Thank you.

  13. J says:

    Not only do I need to process hurt and things that have happened in my life, which I am beginning to do right now (and it’s a downer), but I have loved reading these blogs and need to process all I’ve learned and had to face about myself as well! I feel so overwhelmed and I know I’ve taken in some good lessons/growth from my experiences, but I’m waiting for all to be organized within me, as everything is still very much a big confusing mess inside right now. I can’t wait for things to fall into place and to feel normal again, but stronger. I really depleted myself with my last 2 relationships.

    • NML says:

      You’re welcome J – just keep rolling with it and taking it in. Your thoughts and feelings will gradually organise themselves.

    • Spinster says:

      Me too J. For me, it’s not so much to do with romantic relationships as it is with past & present stuff that’ll likely affect any romantic (or non-romantic) relationships in the future (IF I bother myself with any). And just when I think I’ve tackled an issue….. :-| And then I read stuff on here and it’s like a big rubberband ball all over again, and sometimes I can’t organize it either. Usually what’ll happen, for me, is that I’ll have a light bulb moment….. and then it (whatever “it” is) makes sense. I hope that all of this confusing shit decreases so that I can have even more light bulb moments. Those moments come a HELL of a lot more now than 5 years ago, so that’s a good thing. (trying to be positive :-| )

  14. miskwa says:

    I am going through this very thing this summer. I caught someone whom I really cared about and respected cheating. He also has an active profile online. I am feeling what needs to be felt, am keeping very active. I too came from a background that included abandonment, physical and emotional abuse, and neglect. There are two things that upset me: one, that we are the ones that get to hurt, they get away with it unscathed. In broken family and personal relationships, the “bad guys” never have to atone or even recognize what they did was not OK. As a young woman I worked through my
    past and understood it was not my fault. In this non-relationship, I
    think a lot of my hurt stems from a combination of betrayal, the loss of a friend as well as a relationship, and that a serious lack of both like minded friends (I live in a very downtrodden and conservative mountain town) as well as men capable of a healthy relationship, I am probably going to feel this loss for a long time. He gets to keep on as is.

    • NML says:

      Hi Misskwa. I hear your frustration and it probably feels like a dual pronged hurt – friendship and relationship loss. I won’t lie – charming people that use and abuse tend to land on their feet. Then they get caught out and press the reset button elsewhere. Their actions catch up with them eventually, just not always on your beat. Betrayal is painful. Grieve the loss. Right now hope seems dim but you’re hurt and distrusting. It will get better.

      • miskwa says:

        Natalie:
        Miigwetch (thanks) for your words. Yep, betrayal and loss of friends is hard because I am operating with no family or support network. Right after this incident occurred, I also had to cut ties with a male friend of 4 years who was not treating me with respect and a woman friend who turned out to mentally ill and may be on drugs Every loss, though it will probably be a good thing in the end, is major and not easily replaced. Also, before I had to come out West for the job, I had a wonderful relationship of 12 years so I know how being treated with love and respect as well as having community should feel. It isn’t that I want those who cause harm to suffer for what they did, but I want them to have insight about their actions and the effects of these actions on those around them. However, I realize that a lack of insight is a characteristic of both EUM types and damaged parents. The only thing we leave behind us in this life are our actions. I am grieving but also working hard, running my small farm at 10,000 feet, getting ready for a 20 mile pack burro race, and tending to my animals.

  15. Elle says:

    Thanks again for the insightful and generous post, Natalie. I still learn so much from this site. Actually, only a couple of days ago, the new man texted, instead of called, to say he would have to speak to me the following day because he was going to be home too late (from a pre-arranged work function where he could not chat). My goodness! Those horrible chemicals shot through me – straight from the AC’s sudden email-dumping, my first boyfriend who cheated many times while he was out alone, my last real boyfriend – an EU (gentle and lovely, but extremely selfish, as artists can be!), and all sorts of other traumatic events from childhood and young adulthood (deaths, emotional abuse, physical and sexual stuff, other weird moments where I had to deal with things way beyond my maturity level etc). Of course, I had enough of a clue not to lose it or react in any way other than very normal – simple and even sweet, but, honestly, it made me think: shit, I just can’t do this! Even though, he’d obviously gone out of his way to make sure I wasn’t left waiting for a call, I just felt like I couldn’t deal with the fear and risk of it all. The worry only lasted an hour (or less), and then new man called anyway, on his way home. Still. I definitely have a trauma-reminder sensor that could do with some dimming! (Any practical ideas on what people have done in this regard would be appreciated! Will read Nat’s post again. x)

    • NML says:

      Hi Elle – had a very similar incident with the boyf early on. To be honest, it’s the internal fear vs external fear thing. Basically insecurity doesn’t just disappear in a blink so you have to be conscious and emotionally honest enough to know your current ‘sore spots’. The insecurity is separate to him as there is no real external evidence to support it. If the two start to merge, then you need to worry. Fear means it’s not happening yet. If it was, you’d handle it.

      I killed my whole saga off within an hour. Don’t get carried away and *listen* to yourself and have a rational conversation with a positive, rational tone instead of negative. Make sure that if you ever say/do something in these situation, it’s you, not the insecurity speaking/acting.

  16. Magnolia says:

    I thought because I spent 15 years talking about, crying over, being depressed over romantic episodes, that it was the old hurt about them – the ones who assaulted, etc – that was interfering with new relationships with males. I’ve always bitched drily about my dad. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who didn’t think about their hurt. If anything, I was steeped in it and constantly crying and just wanted to dry up, already!

    But there is one part of my early life that I’ve always been able to say as if it meant nothing: We went bankrupt when I was eight.

    And – I swear it feels like I’m confessing I was raped to say this – my folks asked me to hand over the money in my piggy bank. It was terrifying, frankly. Of course I handed everything over. It still did not prevent us from losing the house.

    Wow. I’ve never really gone into this.

    I haven’t really allowed myself to – ever – revisit the terror of losing the house and feeling like I lost even my own little savings and couldn’t do anything to stop it. I consider myself pretty financially conscious and have tried to ensure no one else is put at risk by my choice of career, but I still chose relationships that ended up forcing me to relive scenarios of abrupt financial loss, or abrupt finally admitting that someone was taking advantage financially.

    LTR 1: replay of male artist milking me as female pink collar worker. LTR 2: sweet man with addictions/gambling issues tries to hide money leaking from his side like a sieve, I end up leaving and being forced to take a secretarial job, find a new apartment, pay off his debts, and start over. And most recent exAC: Magnolia tries to believe in the fairy tale of millionaire finds beautiful girl, tries to live it, ends up leaving – feeling absolutely beat up by the sharp financial loss (even if it was just the future fake of financial abundance), a decline in lifestyle and the shame of thinking that I have been obtuse as my father to think that anyone should ever have put up with my artist-poverty.

    Holy shit. Really, I’ve never lined it up quite like this!

    This is all coming to a head now because of this week’s surprise oops-you-don’t-have-a-job. When I deal, even just a little more even just a little more, with the feelings that went with the bankruptcy, will I finally choose a job, and a partner, that don’t leave me feeling as though at any moment I could lose everything? Stay tuned.

    • NML says:

      Wow Magnolia – it’s comments like yours that take the subject, apply the message, and then share to provide an illuminating moment that remind me why I love my work and fill me with awe.

      You are connecting the dots and now you can address your incredibly painful experience and take the steps to stop reliving it and being tangled in your fears.

      You will triumph over your current financial situation. I have every faith in you.

      • Magnolia says:

        Thanks Natalie! I get a kick out of being a keener student, and your blog takes all that keener energy and directs it toward the stuff I never had a textbook for.

        I’m even starting to feel my own ‘coldness’, and where I shut down and just don’t care. It’s probably as hard for the people who need me as my Pop’s numbness has been for me.

        Onward!!

        By the way, just this afternoon the department found me a slot, so I will have a little income now. But I will not, as if I’d gotten crumbs from an AC, allow this to numb me to the larger situation of me in this tenuous career track. I simply have a bit more space to keep pushing toward my next step.

        I’m so feeling the BR love today!

        • NML says:

          That’s great news! The wonderful thing is that you can seize control so that you are never at their mercy again. What your parents did is actually quite devastating to a child’s faith. It impacts your relationship not just with yourself and others, but also with money and how much you will push yourself. Even if you had been rich beyond your wildest dreams, you’d likely have behaved as if you were poor or like you didn’t deserve it. These experiences make you afraid of achieving and afraid of failing – this can put you in no man’s land.

          A reader I used to speak with experienced bankruptcy when she was 8. Father out chasing skirt and being drunk, mother had to step up and hold the family together. She became an overachiever in adult life but was very angry until a couple of years ago about the experience and the shame which she carried with her until she let go of it and put those feelings on the right people and situations and also embraced her own intelligence, achievements, and capabilities. She’s now running a fantastic business that reflects her passions and talents. Her remaining family are still bonkers but she’s living life on her terms instead of in the shadows of them and her childhood fears and experiences.

          One of the things that will stand you in good stead Magnolia – while you’re a thinker, you’re becoming an ‘applyer’ and you don’t run from your truths any longer even if you have to take a breather from them. I always sense that even though you have bad days (we all do) you actually *really* want to evolve past your past and be your best you. You’re already on your way x

        • runnergirl says:

          Wow Magnolia, what a powerful post. I cannot imagine what it would have been like through a child’s eyes to have a piggy bank raided by your parents. That must have been terrifying. I can see how your concerns regarding your current financial situation and aspects of former relationships would be connnected to your childhood. Great job connecting the dots and for sharing.

          It’s wonderful that your department found a postition for you. Congratulations. I’m with Natalie, you will triumph over your current financial situation.

          Love it: “I’m so feeling the BR love today!” I read your post this morning and felt the BR love all day. Thank you and thank you Natalie for BR. I went the way of the woman you spoke about below and became the high functioning overachiever after watching my mother (and five kids) stay with my cheating father because she was economically dependent (among other things). No education, no work experience and five kids. Nicely stated: “Her remaining family are still bonkers but she’s living life on her terms instead of in the shadows of them and her childhood fears and experiences.”

    • grace says:

      Aw Mag
      You thought your piggy bank money could save the day – that brought a tear to my eye.
      Like you said, the worst part of it isn’t the actual bankruptcy, or the physical abuse, or even sexual abuse – it’s the shame. And for as long as we carry that around we’re somewhat handicapped in our relationships and careers. But we are dealing with it. Onwards and upwards!

      • Magnolia says:

        NML, runner, grace, all –

        Thank you for sharing a *moment* with me! Seeing my own experience written in your words gives me a big lurch in my gut and the tears come. Lurch that the story means so much to me, and that other people would find my little story important, and that I know you’ve been here for the past nine/ten months and the experience of genuinely sharing (as in, you felt it WITH me) a pain, and feeling validated around its significance, is very healing.

        So, after the thrill of the aha moment, the next bit of work begins – Grace, you brought it back to the shame. The shame of poverty, feeling ashamed of my parents, ashamed of myself, the way all that opened me up to more public/social forms of shame, phew!!

        In my private thoughts I’m always shaming my father. You should be ashamed! I think. Interacting with him still triggers that. Last night it occurred to me: he is as deserving of shame for his shortcomings as I am. So I must get off the internal shaming crack; the brief hit of whatever that comes from ranting at him in my head.

        I think this is what my 12-step group means about being addicted to particular emotions: shame feels like if you just grind him/yourself down enough, he/I will ‘get it’ and change. It’s a drug. It’s an emotional place – an EU lifestyle choice? – I’ve come to visit 24/7 like it was the self-righteousness corner store.

        New mantra: I don’t do shame. Not at others, not at him, not at myself. I can be peeved about whatever I want, and the fears I can deal with separately, but: I don’t do shame.

        And if I am on a zero-tolerance policy toward the crack of daddy-shame, or shaming-irresponsible-guys, then EUs/ACs start looking a lot more like invitations to keep going back to the shame store. No thanks.

        Even if my family is like: What, miss uppity? Shame is good enough for us, it should be good enough for you.

        Time to find new places to do my emotional business!

        • runnergirl says:

          Magnolia and Grace,

          You have both helped me connect my dots. I’ve been stuck in the shame cycle for years and it is like crack. Like you Magnolia, I would like to grind my father/myself until he/I “get it” and change. I visit my shame supplier routinely. He is/was everywhere. “It’s an emotional place – an EU lifestyle choice?” Oh yes. It has been for me. I could never get why I kept revisiting the same AC, EUM, and then MM’s. I knew they were versions of daddy but now I get what Natalie says about seeking relationships that validate internal beliefs. I’m having an aha moment, albeit through tears as well. I’ve been so ashamed of my father’s cheating that I’ve validated the shame I felt as a kid by engaging in the exact same behavior as an adult. Thus, I can continue the cycle of shame by going to the MM store. Good grief.

          Natalie, I think I may be finally getting one of your most simple and complex concepts, this is sooooo NOT about him.

          Thank you all doesn’t cover it. The piggy bank will be with me for a long time Magnolia. It trigges a flood of tears. Hugs to you.

  17. Karina says:

    Nat…this reminds me of what you told me when you came to NYC! i am so stuck on the hurt my ex Assclown and his new gf are causing me, that J am forgetti g that when I found out I was dating an ex EUM who was putting me through the same thing the assclown did! I think what is eating at me is that after him I ha en’t had luck with men/dating and he’s givi g the new gf everything I wanted from him (according to her blog). I think I need to really look at my dating history and finally face my demons if I want to stop comparing relationships and feeling like crap because she has my ex now. I think I am in the denial/depression stage and I need to move through it, not over it, in order to gain my self esteem and self love back! Once again…thank you!!!

    • NML says:

      And now you’re getting to the ‘nub’ of things. Focusing on the ex jackass is helping you avoid latter relationships but at the same time is adding up to a feeling of inadequacy and like you’re not good enough. It’s like “How the f can this jackass have landed on his feet with my ex friend and here I am hearing about him and I’m with an assclown by another name in a different package?”

      I bet you think it *must* be you that was the problem.

      It’s not like that. He treated you badly and no doubt you were angry with yourself and feeling a sense of helplessness when it all became too much. What he did is probably a cover for a hurt before that.

      When you’re hurt, angry and struggling with how you feel about you, Mr Unavailable and in some instances, an AC seems like a safe bet.

      You’ve got to get all the hurt on the table and address it. You can’t keep taking it with you. You will come out of the other side of this but don’t continue investing in putting salt on the wound.

  18. Happy Girl says:

    Good stuff. I have a pretty great relationship with my sister, and we recently had a conversation about how I’ll snap every once in a while and withdrawal at something that seems small, and it’s because it reminds of something negative in the past that I didn’t properly deal with. I know that the only way to stop this cycle is to express my hurt or anger or dissapointment at the time or shortly after, and allow an open dialogue about it-something that used to terrify me. I, too, would just stifle it and wait until it was buried deep enough, and then carry on like nothing had happened. But that’s not the road to balanced relationships with anyone, so it’s time for me to man up and let other people learn how to deal with the “negative” aspect of my personality, too. They’ll either take it in stride as I do with them, or we’ll both move on.

    • NML says:

      “But that’s not the road to balanced relationships with anyone, so it’s time for me to man up and let other people learn how to deal with the “negative” aspect of my personality, too. They’ll either take it in stride as I do with them, or we’ll both move on.” Brilliantly put Happy Girl. The sky won’t fall in, the world will still keep turning and you won’t feel like a pressure cooker.

  19. Tiamat says:

    Natalie, I stand in awe of your knowledge. You are a genius. A frickin Genius! The things you are saying, the wisdom you are offering, I firmly believe its sent from God. And like so many others on this board, I agree – you are also psychic. Its as if you know exactly what I need on to hear on the very day I need to hear it. I swear, 2 hours before I read this post I was wondering to myself “How am I ever going to get past being hurt by this AC?” And there you were for me, like always.
    This is how I know that your philosophy, your understanding of human psychology… what you are telling us is Truth with a capital T. I am sustained in my determination to love myself by your blogs and emails. I will never be able to thank you enough for helping me learn how to become a whole person. I appreciate you deeply and I wish all the best in life for you and the people you love.

  20. Trinity says:

    I think maybe this has really been the 1st time I have gone through the grieving cycle, properly. It helped having this site to understand what I was going through, the stages and so forth. Its odd i was feeling pretty good but when my x finally left this office i started feeling odd, some of it started with anticipation of whether he was going to be knob before he left or just leave and not say a word. He left without saying a word which is fine as i chose not to be his friend and it was the lesser of two evils. But i started to feel off, i realised that even though we had been apart for two years, i still had to practically live with this guy 5 days a week. So in turn we were still intertwined even if it was because I was trying to make sure he was nowhere near me or avoid him. It meant i was still engaged in some way.
    I went back to being really angry and feeling plain off. I felt angry that he got to move on to a better job, like he got to reek all the rewards, I started to even feel bitter. Then finally I had a dam good cry over a weekend and slowly started to feel good again. It’s great not having him here, like a weight lifted.
    Right now sometimes I wonder if the only thing I need to do is to forgive myself for being with someone like him, then maybe I could move on even more so.

    • IdiotIam says:

      Trinity-
      You responded to me a while back and we shared the same office situation. There was a chance that my AC would leave, but then he stayed and got a better job within the company. For the longest time I felt that I couldn’t move on even if I tried, because he was always around. But then I started to unravel from his grip by ignoring him and focusing on myself. Lo and behold, I met an amazing man four months ago and we both fell for each other hard. There is no BS, no hot and cold…. no ass clownery. This time, it is the happiest relationship I’ve ever known as we share common backgrounds, values and goals. We are in our midthirties and have both been through enough to recognize something good when we see it. What helped me to get there was to fully grieve all the hurts of my past and then remind myself of my own strength. Now with this guy gone from your life in every capacity, you are free to redefine your world- at work and at home. Good luck. God bless. x

      • Trinity says:

        Thank you darling :) Im almost there, it’s like a 90% thing but there does seem to be some last part blocking me ever so slightly. However each week that he is gone i do feel stronger, more positive and happier. Your last line rings true to me, it’s definitely about redefining myself and that’s what I have been focusing on for about two weeks and it seems to be working in my favour ?

    • NML says:

      Trinity, that’s totally what you need to do – forgive yourself. Stop punishing yourself. Extend the generosity you afforded him…back to you. Give yourself a tax rebate – forgive yourself. You’re human, you loved, you wanted to be loved and sometimes you make mistakes. Everyone does it. Stop being so hard on yourself.

  21. On-the-road-again says:

    Once again Nat, I needed every word of this blog. I grew up trying to be the “perfect daughter”. Of course, I could NEVER meet the mark (in their eyes). From growing up in such an environment I learned to be a people-pleaser. I put my needs on the back burner. I gave everything to make all around me happy – except ME. In mid-life, I have FINALLY got to the place where I will speak my mind, say what I want, what I feel, and screw it if others don’t like my feelings or opinions.

    For the first time in my life I feel good about myself. I am no longer the one that can be walked over. It has taken me so many years of hurt, being walked over, manipulated, played, etc to get to this point. I don’t need any other to validate me. I don’t need any one else in my life. I don’t want to be with someone just to be with another. I will no longer be disappointed because only I can disappoint me from now on. I am going to live my life. Do what I need to do. Do what I want to do. And I don’t have to answer to any one. If I get disappointed, it will be because I disappointed myself.

    I have had enough. I got to my breaking point. I was afraid of my future, and being “alone”. I no longer see it like that. I see it as a fresh start. To set goals (finally) and obtain them. Me, myself, and I! No man needed to move forward. I sat idle waiting for a man for 5 damn years!

    I loved your reply when you said, “I think what you’ve learned out of this isn’t that you’re stuck hurting, it’s that you’re possibly stuck hoping – need to address denial/acceptance and stop bargaining.

    Remember, you’re not a higher power – you cannot change this man.”

    BRAVO! THAT spoke directly to me and my situation as well. Your words are powerful! They are dead on, and always on time.

    Thank YOU Natalie for all you do, the help you give, the way you build [us] up, the hope you give us with each write up you do. You my dear are empowering, uplifting, and a gift to all who read your words of wisdom. THANK YOU!!

    • NML says:

      @on-the-road-again”If I get disappointed, it will be because I disappointed myself.

      I have had enough. I got to my breaking point. I was afraid of my future, and being “alone”. I no longer see it like that. I see it as a fresh start. To set goals (finally) and obtain them. Me, myself, and I! No man needed to move forward. I sat idle waiting for a man for 5 damn years! ” Powerful, refreshing and inspiring words!

  22. debra says:

    “You get stuck because one hurt reminds you over another hurt – conflict, ‘rejection’, breaking up can re-open old abandonment wounds and make old hurt and experiences ‘fresh’”

    Wow, did I need this today. For the past 7 months, I have been trying to sell my house after quitting my job to get away from the abusive narc/AC. Three sales have fallen through, just shy of contract. I was running out of time and desperately needed this last sale to work. The people buying it began ACing around about week three but, like I did in relationships, I went straight into denial and believed it would work out. After 11 weeks and when I was completely out of time (my visa to stay in the country was up when I quit my job), they pulled some real assclown stuff. I responded badly, screaming at my estate agent and getting so locked in anger I couldn’t see past it. 24 hours later and in serious trouble, I can now look at it and see that my anger wasn’t about that, although I certainly had the right to be frustrated and annoyed. I was still raging at the AC who had made me feel so powerless, who had denied me what I thought I wanted and who had treated me with such disrespect. I had simply taken all those feelings and dumped them on the people who had made me feel the same way, albeit to a much lesser extent.

    I have spent this year post AC trying my damnest to work through things, and I have learned that this stuff goes deep and there is a lot of it. Every time I think I have made some headway, something like this comes up and derails me. I completely own up to the fact that I have spent my life trying to make other people responsible for my feelings – they hurt me, they disappoint me, they are to blame – and I am trying so hard to over come that. It’s not that I feel stuck, it’s that it doesn’t go away over night. I had used denial for so long that, now that it is gone, I have to find new coping mechanisms and learn from each new experience.

    Being a grown up sucks. I now see why denial is SOOOOO popular. Thank you for another great lesson.

    • NML says:

      Hey Debra (((hugs))) You’ve come so
      far and I’m sorry to hear about the sales falling through – happened to a friend and the 4th sale, she made them
      sign a contract. I can find out what it was if you like?

      Hurt doesn’t disappear overnight but feeling your feelings does move them on plus the helplessness passes to give way to addressing what you can do (if needed). In time, the recovery period will get shorter.

  23. Gina says:

    Natalie,

    Once again, this is an excellent post as it pretty much sums up where I’m at, emotionally, six months after breaking things off with my EUM/FF and going NC. I’ve been asking myself why is it that six months later, although I don’t feel hurt like I did in the beginning, I continue to feel ANGRY at both him and myself. Then it dawned on me that the reason why I feel this way is because I still love him and I hate that. So I’m acknowledging my feelings and following my late mom’s advice: “Gina, just like it takes time to fall in love with someone, it also takes time to fall out of love with them.” Reading your post has given me the clarity that I need in order to accept my feelings and not be so hard on myself.

  24. susie sunflower says:

    I find it interesting at the way we feel when after a long NC we may come across them somewhere.

    After over a year of our break up because of his lying, cheating, deceit, manipulatinon and generally treating me like poo after 3 years together,particularly when confrontd by the OW i never knew about, i often wondered how he was getting on, but because we live in different areas it has made things easier.

    I used to imagine him still taking this OW out and how he might be treating her etc. I think this is probably par for the course of getting over him and, of course, your imagination runs riot still thinking of the good times (and there were some good times) of when you were together and forget all the crap he put you through, and if you had stayed with him and accepted his cheating would things be different now , if he misses you etc.

    Then just recently i found a photo online of him as he belongs to a society we were both involved in quite by chance while searching for their news sheet and i was totally shocked. He looks a lot older, thinner, haggard even, so much so that i had to read his name twice to ensure it really was him. So now i feel validated that he has obviously suffered also since the break up. In a funny kind of way, if anyone can relate to this, i feel happy that he does look this way as he hurt me so much. Why should he get off scot free when the break up was because of his shady lifestyle in the first place! As for me in the past year, i have lost weight, (well he weighed 16 stone), got a new hairstyle and have been happily dating once more which has helped my self-esteem tremendously. Life is good once more.

    • NML says:

      “i have lost weight, (well he weighed 16 stone)” Thank you for making me howl with laughter on the train!

    • Outergirl says:

      Hi Susie S.
      “In a funny kind of way, if anyone can relate to this, i feel happy that he does look this way as he hurt me so much. Why should he get off scot free when the break up was because of his shady lifestyle in the first place!”
      Yes! I can relate.. a few mos. back my eum/mm ‘popped up’ at an event I was at [through that blinkard FB!] because he wanted to see me. Not apologize, make amends, find out if I was ok with it. He just wanted his ‘fix’. Well at first I did not realize who it was who sidled up to me [he really did just appear]. I thought ‘who’s the creepy guy’. He looked disheveled at best, like he just threw something on and left his house. There was an almost palpable stench of ‘loser’ to him. Here I was out w/ my friends and here he was all alone, hoping I’d notice him. Enjoy the satisfaction

  25. Minky says:

    Wow – this is exactly what i needed today! I realise that my current insecurities are really influenced by the troubles in my past. The thing about one hurt reminding you of other hurts has really hit home and made me realise that, even though i have made a lot of progress, i still have a lot more work to do.

    I have realised too that, even though the boyfriend is a very attentive, expressive and decent guy, i still have fears, i still panick, i am still irrational sometimes. I fear rejection and this fear is not coming from red flags because there aren’t any. It is linked to my childhood and being ignored by parents who were very responsible, but too busy to spend time with my brother and i. Who put too much reponsibility on me at an early age, who were not expressive or affectionate, who were far too critical. I realise, having spoken to my mother, that this was how she was raised and that the way she treated me has nothing to do with me as a person, but i still haven’t thought about this and really processed it.

    I have realised that if you have unaddressed insecurities, even if you do have someone wonderful jumping up and down telling you how wonderful you are 24/7, it is still not enough. It will never be enough, because these are things you have to REALLY believe for yourself. If you don’t truly believe that you deserve to be loved, i mean deep down believe it, if you don’t address your negative beliefs and believe that it wasn’t your fault, then no amount of external validation is going to compensate.

    I still have a lot of work to do!

    • Elle says:

      Me too, Minky. I have just read Nat’s kind words above (thank you and happy birthday, Natalie!), and I will look at them again. But I am not having a good few days with the new man – very little to do with him, I don’t think (it could be, but I can’t quite tell), but just this pattern where I will, say, want a hug from him, or want him to do or say something (even silly things), and then, I catch him out for not doing it (catch him out in my mind, that is, though I am sure he feels my sudden change in mood). I don’t consciously see myself as a victim, and I am, in most aspects of life, incredibly forthright, independent and conscientious, but, there’s such a strong impulse within me to end things with him so that I don’t have to feel like this needy cow. Actually, it’s probably a slightly more benign (splitting hairs here) form of AC-behaviour: my ex-AC used to watch me and set me up for all sorts of tests. I can’t entirely tell what this is about. Maybe new man has some red flags (he does work a lot and get ultra-immersed/panicky about it). Anyway, I don’t want to whig myself out, but I have so much crap in the way. I often sometimes think I’d be better off alone. Sorry this is so whiny. I am actually pretty good at being sweeter to myself and getting on with things in a cheerful way. But Mags’s piggy bank story reminded me of when I heard my parents, at around age 7, talking about money troubles, and I offered all my savings to my Dad, and he yelled at me and twisted my arm and sent me to bed for being obnoxious and getting involved in business I should not have. That injustice really stuck with me. My mother recently told me that he got rid of his work anxieties by making me, in particular, feel bad (throughout my childhood and young adulthood). Never known why I was singled out. I am a really generous, attentive, outgoing, and caring person, but this sh*t is like a fuk*ng boom gate sometimes.

      • Elle says:

        Please excuse – “often sometimes” and whig, not wig! Am super tired and not entirely sure of my thoughts. Fear yes. Clarity no.

      • Minky says:

        @Elle – i get that sometimes too, even now, with the boyfriend! It has been 8 months. I still worry over silly things, i fear the vulnerability and think it might be better if i was alone, but i then tell myself these are cowardly thoughts and the easy option.

        I really have to rationalise everything and look at things logically. As Nat says – internal vs external fear. Jedi mind tricks, etc. My bloke works a lot too and is in a band and does graphic design on the side. I get exhausted just watching him! :) But he always makes time for me – sometimes it isn’t much time, if there is a gig coming up or something and that inevitably freaks me out. What i focus on is if his words match his actions. He always does what he says he will, he has care and concern and respect for me, always. These are the important things and the reason i stop acting like a bleedin’ lunatic is by reminding myself of this. I remind myself, also, that the ex EUM did a lot worse than perhaps not answering a text as quickly as i’d like, or not hugging me as much as i’d want, but back then that was all totally forgiven as soon as i’d see him.

        We will get there. We just need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves, as someone said somewhere else in the comments :).

        • Elle says:

          Thanks Minks. I really appreciate hearing about your man/experiences – and the distinctions you made. It struck me after I posted last night that I am actually not very good at this type of relationship. I have had either guys who loved me unquestioningly, sometimes in a remote way (as if they simply liked having me around), sometimes in an idealising way (like I am perfection embodied), but, in both cases, the fundamental was that I knew I would never be hurt by them, even if both didn’t really know me in a certain way, and I wasn’t as generous with them (to some extent – still loving and attentive, but much more about my emotional needs!). Then there are the guys who have abused me – belittled, cheated, criticised, acted-out all sorts of crap, made me scared – and these relationships have been, while draining, quite easy for me in other ways (because I had to focus on them, and their needs and therefore could hide from my own unresolved stuff, and, quite frankly, because I am quite used to bully-type men!) Anyway, I think you’re right about it being an easy option to pull-out. This is a relationship that is asking me to relate to someone and be related to in a real way, where I can’t get all my needs met all the time (but I never get them ignored or ridiculed either – he’s only been reliable and considerate when he could not meet reasonable expectations). It’s still only early days, and there may well be genuine incompatibilities there (that were not apparent in early weeks because we were on our best behaviour ; )), but you’re right: check before wreck! (I suspect I am still on high alert – so when he doesn’t do a small thing, I think I have to brace in preparation for AC-tsunami!)

          • Minky says:

            Haha – yes, bracing for AC tsunami indeed! :) I feel like that – though less so these days. I think it’s a result of finding this site and asserting boundaries etc. You do kind of get a bit trigger happy. In the early weeks i did sit there with my hand over the eject button, constantly. My friend who has good relationship habits had to actually tell me to chill out. She was the one who used to tell me that i was too chilled out with men previously! I think there is a definite danger of going to the other extreme once better realtionship habits are in place. Also a lack of trust in humanity and in oneself have me constantly on edge sometimes.

            So far i’ve been able to maintain my sanity outwardly. I am still working on my self esteem and trusting myself and not letting old hurts dictate my reaction to things. Every time his and my agendas conflict (which happens in every relationship or friendship) i have to tell myself that i’m not being rejected, or ignored or undervalued, as i was in my childhood. It is so hard to be vulnerable and to lose something of real value. In that way losing an EUM or AC is easy, because in some ways you’re better off. Losing out on a decent guy, i think, is harder.

          • Elle says:

            Replying to your second comment, Minky. Yes, to losing guys of real value – easier, I think, than ACs and EUMs in the short-term, far harder in the long. (Actually, one of my biggest, true hurts is leaving a guy who was a goodie – still affects me now, in the small ways where it’s clear I don’t think I deserve another nice guy or feel bad that I didn’t fulfill some implicit promise to him…but that’s a whole other set of concerns!) Thanks again for your thoughts – esp re being trigger happy. It cheers me up to know that it’s all a process and that these hurts from our romantic life don’t have to mean that much – they don’t have to relate to all those childhood zig-zaggy chemicals! I am also feeling far less fearful, even very blissed out today – going with it…(which reminds me again that interpersonal relationships are not the main gig! They never are!)

  26. EvaLe says:

    “You get stuck because one hurt reminds you over another hurt – conflict, ‘rejection’, breaking up can re-open old abandonment wounds and make old hurt and experiences ‘fresh’.”
    True. I never took time to process my grief !!!
    I was stuck in this “march” relationship pattern. I always met my ex EUMs/ACs in march and for two months I would live in a fantasy land. They would pursue me hard and I would ignore all the red flags and gut feelings because I enjoyed their company. Usually around Labor Day (May), they would start to show their real colors by inconsistent behavior. My summers would be miserable because I would pray/hope to get any signs of interest from them. Every text from them I would consider as a proof that they care. Every suggestion to hang out I interpreted as spending time together/ bonding. Around my birthday (September) I usually got really depressed, there was no “special man” to take me out for dinner… and it was around my birthday when I cut the contact and started to move on… but my old version of NC was very different since I would cut the contact but stalk them on facebook, drive by their house or obsessing about what they are doing….I would rage with anger towards them but mostly towards myself. Well, come New Years and I was full of optimism for the year to come and then in march I would meet this exciting new guy who seemed so different that the my last EUM…. Only to realize that it is the same type of guy, just different package!!
    Beware the ides of march!!!

  27. Lisa says:

    Just realized today, that I’m making things worse with my hurt. Only dated this guy for a month, but he made promises and talked of the future and really had me believing he cared for me. Then the 5th week decided I was not what he wanted to spend his life with. So, went 3 days no contact and I texted asking could we be friends. Well, he said said yes but all the texting and calling was initiated by me first. He would always respond, but deep in my heart I know it’s over. Called last night left a voice mail. Didn’t hear back. Finally this morning left him a v/m saying I’m sorry I bothered him and I wish him the best. I thought we could be friends but it’s only me doing the friendship thing, so I hurt myself by putting myself through this last week. I should have left well enough alone. This is is how all my relationships end. What the heck is wrong with me?

    • SaraK says:

      @Lisa:
      You don’t have the skills that you need, that’s all. There is nothing wrong with you. By reading here, you will learn of your classic (read common) situation: Having been Fast-Forwarded, Future Faked, Blown Hot&Cold, and probably more. Then you tried NC, without understanding what it means (Goodbye, Forever) and got thrown into Cheap Communication and the set-up for upcoming FWB (wait for it!)
      So, a little studying at BR will cure all that: He sounds like one to Flush! immediately. You have a short investment to walk away from and a long life of happiness ahead. Now get to studying BR, and you go girlfriend!

      • Lisa says:

        Sara the last relationship I was in I swore that I would never be used again. So I was prepared this time. The guy just came on so strong and we knew mutual relatives and I guess that’s what made me let my guard down. We never had sex, so that was not a factor. In fact, he didn’t want to. Said that would cloud the relationship. Treated me like a queen and then just out of the blue, totally changed. He said he could not love me the way I deserved to be loved and that he couldn’t see spending the rest of his life with me. Even though the weekend before we had went out and had a great time. People always thought we were married. Said we looked like we belonged together and I believed it. I miss the him that I first knew, not the him that was the last week. I’m sad and think I will never have a real relationship.

        • Natasha says:

          Lisa, my dear, don’t beat yourself up – sometimes, when we’re not at our peak self esteem-wise, we just plain old get it wong with who we pick and how we enable them. I also know quite a few ladies with great self esteem who have been taken in by the EUM/FF/AC – the difference being that they fly the coop sooner rather than later and don’t blame themselves for other people’s behavior! You know what you were dealing with now and how to avoid it in the future, now you just have to like yourself enough to believe that it doesn’t have to end this way and that there is better out there for you. Don’t reach out to this jerk again and stop blaming yourself. As my mother would say, “Put it in your Lessons Learned file and let it go.” Obviously, this guy is quite f*cked up (pardon the language, it was the best clinical term I could think of) and he isn’t like that because of anything you did/didn’t do – it’s just how he is. I know, believe you me, how hurtful this stuff is, but continuing to pummel yourself with blame will not help. I did the same thing and it dragged out the healing waaaaaaaay longer! *Hugs*

  28. EllyB says:

    When I was about 4 years old, at the end of a stay in a vacation home, my mother told me I had to leave one of my toys there. She told me our landlords claimed this little toy belonged to their grandchildren. I have no clue what really happened, because I never talked to the landlords myself, and I never met their grandchildren either.

    Anyway, I got very upset and told my mother that I KNEW exactly this was my toy and not theirs. She replied: “Yes, maybe. But the point is that you are just a little child and nobody is ever going to believe you. Your memories are absolutely useless in this argument with our landlords. So just shut up now. This is an important lesson for you.”

    I now think something inside myself died that day.

    I’ve remembered this incident many times throughout my life, and I always got very angry about it. I used to beat myself up for this anger, telling myself: “Seems as if I’ve still failed to learn THE LESSON!”

    Well… What was this “IMPORTANT LESSON” meant to be? That my mother could abuse me as much as she liked, because nobody would ever believe me? That I should not expect fair treatment from anybody in the world, ever? That nothing was ever safe for me?

    I tried to learn that LESSON for all my life. That’s why I hated myself for leaving AC. I told myself I either had to put up with their abuse or become a much better person that I was, so that I didn’t deserve to be abused anymore.

    Now I say: My mother was a very, very bad person. That’s the only reason why she did that to me back then. People who claim all mothers are good and “loving” are just telling lies (or they don’t know better).

    ACs are very, very bad people too. And I deserve to be treated decently, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with me

    • Magnolia says:

      Elly, what a scary thing to be told, especially at that age. Reminds me of the story of a man who told his little daughter to jump off a high ledge and he would catch her, then she jumped and he let her fall. He meant to ‘teach her a lesson’ that people can’t be trusted. It may have been his truth but what a tragic way to try to pass that on. It is sad to think your mother may have thought you needed to ‘learn’ about the indifference the world can show.

      The world itself can teach you that; from our families we hope to learn that there is also attentiveness, care, trust, love and respect. Too bad not all our parents know how to teach us that.

      Hugs.

      • EllyB says:

        Magnolia, thanks! This story of the man and his daughter is so cruel.

        As I’ve said, I have no clue what really happened. The grandchildren weren’t even present. Apparently, it was only their grandparents who believed it was their toy.

        One the other hand, my mother seemed to know fairly well I was right. I guess she did not fight at all for me, and she didn’t offer to replace this (probably very cheap!) little toy for me either. I mean, it’s so awful to “teach” a little girl how powerless she is and how everybody can shortchange her at will! My mother had the power to do something to reduce my frustration, but she simply refused to do so. In my book, that’s incredibly cruel, even if a little toy doesn’t seem important to an adult. For a 4 year old, it’s almost the world.

        My mother was generally incredibly stingy, although she was quite wealthy (she got most of her money from her dad and some from my father, she never worked herself) and expected to be worshipped for her wealth! Most of the time, I played with old packaging and similar stuff, I didn’t get any allowance and had to wear the ugliest and cheapest clothing she could find. Even worse, at school, I had to claim I wanted all this myself (because otherwise, I would be “scapegoating” her, as she said)!

        I think the fact that she was so obsessed with her own possessions made my experience described above even worse. Apparently, she didn’t care about my things at all, only about hers.

        Therefore, I can relate to your fear of losing everything and ending up poor, even if my own family was quite well off (and my schoolmates even bullied me for being a “spoiled” rich kid because my mother loved to brag about her money, imagine!). To me, it always felt as if I didn’t deserve any money or things.

        On the other hand, I actually believed I “had it so easy” because my parents had money. Ridiculous. All the money I own I earned myself. I got some allowance for college/grad school (because they had to support me by law), but I also worked part-time, and my education was fairly cheap. Other kids from poorer families got much, much more support. I think it’s time to give myself credit for all I’ve achieved. It is so much. Especially if I compare myself to my mother (who really was a spoiled rich kid)!!

        I guess I’m still not over all this. Sigh.

      • EllyB says:

        Addendum: Magnolia, you seem to imply my mother somehow had “my own good” in her mind. Frankly, I don’t believe that anymore, and getting rid of that illusion feels like dropping off a lot of baggage.

        This woman had only one person’s interest in mind: Her own. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have threatened to kill me (with a smile) every time I annoyed her. She wouldn’t have said and done all those other outrageous things either.

        She was a monster (momster). She was the kind of person who gave inspiration for all those evil stepmothers and wicked witches in the fairy tales. There is a reason why those stories exist. It’s not because such people are rare and easy to detect, but because they can appear as mundane as a Christian stay-at-home mum.

        • Magnolia says:

          Hi again Elly,
          My mistake if my reading assumed better intentions than you know were there. Sorry about that. You experienced your mother’s behaviour, which sounds awful, even indicative of mental illness. You know what you experienced.

  29. AngelFace says:

    Hah, Hah!!! Seeing the PLUNGER first thing this morning is so funny! (I’m in USA & it is 8am when I see this on my email…) Natalie, you brighten my day with your humor…. and now I will get serious, and read the article :)

    ok, I just read the article & this is all some very real and helpful info. The cycles of grief; the stages & how we can get stuck in them. I’m not sure what stage I’m in… I think it is acceptance and moving-on stage.

    When thoughts of him come to my mind I just say my new mantra (“I will not pay for your sins” through my sorrow or efforts), and then I intentionally think of my plans for the current day/evening, and sometimes I sing a little song, or say aloud what I’m thankful for. I’m keeping very busy and seeing friends, and also getting quality sleep time, & work-out at the gym at 5:30am every day before work…… Best Wishes & Peace.

    • louise says:

      This post couldn’t of come at a better time for me. I have been superglued with both feet to the hurt that was caused to me by my ex. All his stinging comments, deceit, cheating and lies had welded themselves to my self esteem when he left me for another woman. 6 months down the line they are getting married and i was piling hurt on top of hurt due to my shame at giving this A/C a second chance. I now realise that i have to let all this go. I have been clinging to this hurt with regards to this man for 6 years on and off as it is aheavy burden to carry. It has took me so many wasted years to realise he is toxic, narcassistic, a serial cheater and an A/C. As my friends said i have dodged a bullet. Why oh why then do i feel he has moved on and is happy whilst i am still hurting?

      • NML says:

        Louise, I think when our self-esteem is low enough to get involved with a man like what you described, it’s almost a natural next step to go into fantasy mode and decide he’s turned into Mr Fantastic and deliriously happy. This is like a form of punishment. No matter what you’ve said about him, an element of you must think his personality is on ‘special’ for you. Truth is, a man who pulls that amount of bullshit has always been happy as he’s been doing what he wanted on his terms. It’s not like he’s been miserable – that’s you. But remember – he’s not your problem. Short of him being struck by lightening, having a lobotomy, or having something traumatic happen that triggers an epiphany, rest assured that he’s somebody else’s jackass now.

  30. fitnessfreak says:

    Natalie off topic….but can’t you reply to the FWB article in today Daily Mail ??? Those women need BR …to be free of those numpties !!! As do a much wider audience !!! It would be awesome to see BR wisdom in response !!!

    • NML says:

      I had to approve this as it made me laugh. Thank you! I refuse to have anything to do with the Daily Fail after they tried to stitch me up and I took them to the PCC for writing an article that included 27 inaccuracies about me. I think when people post links to their articles on Twitter etc, they should be tagged with a warning so that you don’t end up giving them traffic by accident. Nothing in the DF is with a view to educating or empowering women and some stuff that’s written is downright insane – the articles on Stephen Gately, Amy Winehouse’s passing, and women in general but to name a few!

  31. fitnessfreak says:

    @ Evale
    I believe you have misspelt….shouldn’t that read beware the IDIOTS of March ?

  32. fitnessfreak says:

    Daily Fail ..love it …my feeble excuse is that I picked it up in the doctors surgery …where I was signed off all my meds …anti anxiety..depression ..and beta blockers ( for high blood pressure ) ….all physical ailments induced by my toxic time with mega AC !!!! Yes he made me ill !!! What a waste of my health and time !!!
    No more pills for me….I must be healing :) Yeh for me , and yey for BR ….without which I know I would still be wading around in pig shit !! I feel like pouring champagne !!

    • NML says:

      The hurt is leaving you FitnessFreak. I’m glad you’re feeling so much better. You’ve been through a lot. I’ll pretend you didn’t read the Daily Fail although I find myself unable to not pick it up if it’s somewhere so you have my full sympathies ;)

      • Magnolia says:

        This Daily Fail thread made me laugh.

        Congrats, fitness, on getting off the meds! That must feel empowering.

        • runnergirl says:

          Ditto Fittness. Good for you. It must have taken a great deal of work and a giant plunger! I don’t know what the Daily Fail is but I promise to never read it. LOL.

  33. Miriam says:

    Nat!
    I’ve been thinking of this a whole lot because it’s almost a full year of NC, and I still feel like I would like closure. I know I gave myself closure a long time ago when I finally realized (painfully) that nothing would happen between me and the EUM- I’ve moved on, re-created my life, yet in down times, I think of him. I do still vaguely wish he’d try to call me, but it’s never happened in a year and doubt it ever will.

    I guess I feel I still love him.

    I’m trying to forget him completely, it’s not easy! I’ve never been this hung up! I’ll keep trying to get off hurt- to let go!

    • NML says:

      Hi Miriam, it doesn’t mean you still love him; it means you’re possibly still carrying some hurt or the perceived rejection of him not calling you in a year. That’s ego more than love talking. It’ll click into place in time but trust me when I say that you don’t need an ex that didn’t treat you well to call you up and validate your existence. Everyone thinks of their ex from time to time – the more you fill up your life and move forward, the few and far between that is and even when you do think of him, it’s just a memory not a trigger for assuming you still love him.

      • Learning From My Mistakes says:

        Miriam: I can so relate to those feelings of vaugely wishing he would call, but then realizing that isn’t what I would truly want as he has not been and will not go back to being the guy he was in those delightful first six weeks (calls almost daily, seeing me twice a week). It took me a year to realize that if I would continue to put up with what became his true pattern (calling or texting less than once a week and seeing me only once every three weeks) that is what I would continue to get. I am trying to not be too hard on myself that it took me this long, and to be glad that at least it didn’t go on longer! I am in NC and it has been the best tool to learn how to properly use to give myself peace of mind and clarity about what type of non relationship I was really in. It does hurt to realize that what I had hoped for is not what will ever be, but it has gotten better with time, and as I continue to work on myself and put the focus on me, I do have confidence that he will just be a distant memory, but one that I will be sure to learn the lessons from. I appreciated Natalie’s comments to you: the more you fill up your life and move forward, the few and far between that is and even when you do think of him, it’s just a memory not a trigger for assuming you still love him.
        I can feel the truth of these words even as I am healing and moving forward. Hang in there!

  34. jennynic says:

    I had a very vivid dream this weekend that symbolically highlighted a recurrent issue in my life. I was going to a restaurant with a man and a woman. When we got there, the waiter seated the other two and left me standing at the side of the table, no chair. I thought to myself, this is unfair and noted that no one even noticed this crappy treatment but me but just went about reading the menu. I stated to the woman at the table that the waiter was very rude for not getting me a chair and she told me to stop being bitchy and acted like I was being unreasonable, while sitting in HER chair. She then started getting all in my face shaking her finger at me, I touched her shoulder and she accused me of trying to injure her unborn child and called the cops on me. Then she threw stuff at me while the cops weren’t looking.— Okay, it’s a weird dream but the meaning was clear to me. I feel disrespected. I have felt like this my whole life. When I try to stick up for myself or enforce my boundaries, I get ridiculed and criminalized for it. The more I try to explain myself, the more I get disrespected, yet they protect their boundaries like a pit bull. I am very sensitive to this and probably try to enforce my boundaries in an over emotional way. This dream made me realize that I carry around leftover hurts from the disrespect that have resulted from me being a ‘yes’ girl and from being in bad relationships ( romantic and platonic). I need to address my reaction and learning how to be firm with my boundaries without getting upset. If they react bad, walk away, instead of trying to reason out why I feel disrespected. I think I have also tended to gravitate towards ‘lesser’ people and men because I have felt that people with integrity are going to see through me and not like me. I have felt like a misfit and have ended up with them in return. Then I get upset when the misfit isn’t treating me properly. When I say misfit, I mean narcs, AC’s, EU’s and people who aren’t very evolved emotionally. I aim low instead of high, then am surprised at the results. This is my hurt I carry around……and instead of adjusting who I hang out with, date, and fall in love with, I get mad at the misfit and internalize it. This runs deep and I do it without even realizing it most of the time, until I am beating myself up over the latest go around.

    • NML says:

      This is deep Jennynic but illuminating. Someone else posted about a powerful dream on the Broken Windows post as well. It’s like your dream has captured hurt, disrespect, self-love, shady relationships, second best syndrome and so much more. You know what you need to be and do and you’re trying to guide yourself and make it conscious. You are making so much progress!

      Like you, I learned the hard way that explaining yourself to people who don’t respect you is a waste of air and energy – walking/distancing/creating consequences speaks volumes. I’ve also found that statement of stuff rather than questioning can be handy too. Never apologise for having feelings, for flagging up disrespect, or for basically being yourself.

    • Mel says:

      @ Jennynic, “When I try to stick up for myself or enforce my boundaries, I get ridiculed and criminalized for it. The more I try to explain myself, the more I get disrespected, yet they protect their boundaries like a pit bull.”

      This dream and you realizations are so poignant. I personally can relate exactly to your feelings as I’ve struggled with the same things myself. Some fairly recently with the exEUM’s mutual friends. I managed to extract without bothering to explain/defend/counterattack etc.

      I do feel wronged, but I’m glad I didn’t waste any more time on those people explaining, as the whole clan is clearly not dealing with reality. In fact they all remind me of the book ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ :) I guess the Emperor would be exEUM, and his ‘Clothes’ would be his ‘female friends’/harem.

      And actually what you were describing about having some other woman taking your seat and yelling at you for having expectations, this reminds me so much of the topics that keep coming up for so many of us about men who already have some female ‘best friend’ or ex in the picture, then expect us to take all the leftovers while the ‘friend’ gets treated like a princess.

      I’ve found sometimes when you have such a representative dream as yours, sometimes it is a good thing, can mean the beginning of changes. Maybe this is good that you had the dream, you’re processing these dynamics. Maybe you will have more dreams like it. Good luck!

    • Spinster says:

      “…..the meaning was clear to me. I feel disrespected. I have felt like this my whole life. When I try to stick up for myself or enforce my boundaries, I get ridiculed and criminalized for it. The more I try to explain myself, the more I get disrespected, yet they protect their boundaries like a pit bull. I am very sensitive to this and probably try to enforce my boundaries in an over emotional way.”

      And do you get to a point every once in a while where you just become infuriated and blow up, then that’s when people will sometimes take you seriously?

      And have you been on the phone with customer service, and the representative is speaking in a condescending manner even though you’re doing exactly what the representative is telling you to do, and then you start getting annoyed because the representative must think that you’re stupid, and then you feel yourself getting angry and your body feels the anger and your voice gets louder, and then it reminds you of all of the people in the past (and possibly present) who invalidated & abandoned & rejected you and didn’t take you seriously, and then you become angry with the possibility of throwing a temper tantrum or catching a case?

      Yeah. Me (n)either.

  35. Magdalena says:

    Thanks for this.

    I thought I had dealt admirably with my break up with the ex-EUM from last year until my counselor asked me if I had grieved.
    “What?” I heard myself say. “Well, I mean, I guess so.”
    She fixed me with a look. “No, I mean have you GRIEVED?”
    I looked at the floor and mumbled something incoherent.
    “Your job,” she said clearly, “is to give yourself permission to feel all of your feelings and grieve and remember to love and care for yourself unconditionally at the same time.”

    It was shortly after this conversation that I found myself in real, actual , nearly overwhelming grief for the first time in my entire life while I grieved my awful relationship with the ex-EUM and a whole bunch of old relationships. At times I was convinced that emotional pain was coming out of my pores. I tried very hard to not try to avoid any of the feelings or make them go away, but just to feel them completely and allow myself to grieve. There were many moments when I was convinced that it would never end.

    Six weeks later, I started to be able to feel a new sense of acceptance of the situation and peace.

    I look back on it now and can feel grateful for the grieving process, as it healed me more than anything else and helped me to move on.

    Cheers.

    • NML says:

      Magdalena, great comment and thanks for sharing. This is another example of how great it is when readers build on the topic and provide valuable insight. Isn’t amazing how when you give yourself permission to feel and acknowledge the hurt, it just spring forth? Oddly it comes from a simple, straightforward remark but it sometimes takes an outsider to our pain to say it. My kinesiologist said something similar to your therapist at my first session. I had a very similar reaction to you and then it became like floodgates opening. So pleased for you – you felt the pain, grieved the losses, you’re still standing and you’re at peace.

  36. fitnessfreak says:

    Thanks Nat …yep I have been through a lot ..but reading this post made me hope I’m in the stage of acceptance ?? …I know a lot of my old posts were full of the anger !! ..which I know now is part of the process !!

    Acceptance is a.calmer phase but there are still sad days…but not like it used to be …wanting the good times back ..and that forever misplaced hope on betting on potential ..I accept now I made an error of judgement ..based on charm , humour chemistry ( ahem ) , and I accept my part in the catastrophe that was our relationshit ( I was EU too being newly divorced ) , I accept that he was a sack of shit ..all talk ..no action …I accept I was duped …and a little bit stupid , I accept I was blinded by great sex ..mistaking that for anything more than a penis ! That had no feelings / respect/ caring attached to the end of it …just a.jackasse that actually cared less about me than what he was gonna have for dinner that evening ( oops slipping back to anger phase !!)
    I accept I was wrong
    And I am no longer in denial about what could.have been , should have been blah blah blah.I have actually stopped wasting my energy !
    We live in a small town ..and is.inevitable I will bump into him / see his.car..damn it I can see his house from where I work !! …I used to obsess about the greeting when we bump into each other …what !!! ..would it be stone faced you hurt me ..or blank him …it my full on magnetic smile ???
    Well not that it matters but it will be full watt mega smile ..see ya ..wouldn’t want to be.ya
    As an aside I once posted that this.was my first experience of EUM/ arsehole …in retrospect I was so wrong !!! …MANY relationships early doors had all the hallmarks of BR ..but in my 20′s didn’t recognise it as such !! I was young and hot ..so.it was ” next.”…..
    Now post divorce ..and 40 ..not so hot !! I think I see EUM / AC more clearly now …there had been lots …but now.I was feeling in the last chance saloon I put zu much more of me.into the ex EUM /AC ….and ultimately lost myself …hope this makes sense ladies ….I can feel my pain about to.resurface as I type..maybe the champagne should go on ice !!!!

  37. josie says:

    Nat thanks so much for this post it has helped me a lot, I am now starting to understand how long I have been stuck in the hurt, as the relationship with my AC ended many years ago and he kept coming and going future faking and me allowing it for years after, I had the hope of change I believed he could change but then I found your website and now I have done NC stopping the lazy communication text, he has now got the hint gone away at last as before he would always come back and try again after a few weeks this has all stopped and now Im feeling that abandonment I felt as a child it makes me feel physically weak and depressed, but its better to feel it whatever it is as Ive blocked it for so many years but when will I feel better Im trying so hard, I get those feelings others have talked about that he must miss me but of course you cannot change these men, my AC was bad news from the beginning but because of my fantasies and romanticising I didn’t see him clearly, he lied, cheated, played with my emotions and took what he needed and then left over and over until now at last I have kicked his ass to hell! yeah that feels good saying that good luck to us all!

  38. SM says:

    I just found this website a week ago and am so grateful for it. Believe it or not it makes me feel normal or at least some amount of hope that I can change my crazy ways. What I want to know is after you’ve figured out that you are attracted to eum’s, have gone and graduated from therapy for it, attended a 13 week group session with others like you and then when you felt ready, went out into the dating world to ‘try your hand’, do you actually stop dating these people. This is me, the discovery and working it out through therapy ended 2 years ago. I have had two short relationships with eums, the last just ended in no contact last week. I’ve worked through the past hurts and pain from childhood in therapy so I know I dont have that lingering around. By the way, I took 18 months off from dating when I discovered it was me, not them. I also dont jump from man to man and try to give myself grieving time in between. So when am I going to get it?

    • NML says:

      Hi SM – well done on everything you have worked so hard at. Truthfully, being emotionally healthy doesn’t mean you will never encounter an unavailable man again – it means that as soon as you see the signs, you get out. Some you’ll recognise before anything starts, others will reveal themselves within days/weeks and possibly months. As long as your fundamental beliefs about relationships, love and yourself have changed, you will recognise a healthier partner and relationship and you know you can handle dating and walking away from what doesn’t work for you. I dated two more Mr Unavailables and met plenty more before I met the boyf. I was out in weeks instead of months/years.

      • Mel says:

        Thank you for that clarification Natalie. That’s my take on it too. I’ve always tried to learn lessons from experiences. I still meet AC’s and EU’s but whereas in the past I had a lot smaller wealth of experience to work with, I truly didn’t know what I was dealing with. Now I know better. With the last EUM after about two months I was able to recognize what was happening out. Hopefully if I meet another EUM I’ll be able to use the experiences from the last one and recognize things even sooner yet.

        And there are some guys I dated and pined for 15-20 years ago, but if I had met them today, I would take one look at them and automatically write them off as ‘undateable’, simply because now I have more experience, more lessons learned.

  39. Cheeky says:

    “Check myself before I wreck myself” … lol…I think I might have to use that as a mantra!!

  40. SM says:

    Thanks for the encouragement NML. You’re right, I have been able to notice eum behavior immediately in some, and then it took a little longer in others. This last one really hit home though and I discovered I needed NC with him before I found your website but it has really pushed me along and made me see that no matter what my issues are they are never an excuse to accept being treated poorly by anyone. I especially love where you say to be kind to ourselves, since we’ve been giving a pass to these ac’s who dont even deserve it, we ought to be able to forgive ourselves of our mistakes.

  41. MaryC says:

    Nat a friend of mine has been going through a breakup and he’s been having a very hard time of it so I sent him to this post because I thought he could use another perspective. I found that sometimes even good friends aren’t far enough away from the situation to be objective.

    Anyway after about 2hours he called me crying yes crying he said it was like you were in his house listening to his pain/hurt/anger/sadness and offering a shoulder to cry on. He told me he was going to spend this comming weekend reading everything on your site.

    Made me realize that even the guys, the good guys, need support too.

    • NML says:

      Send your friend a big hug. I have a lot of male readers and hear from many by email and some on Facebook. These issues really do affect both sexes!

  42. Nikki says:

    You must have ESP, because I was just thinking about and have been working through this very topic in counseling lately in regards to my most recent breakup! I’ve been reading a number of books on healing old and new traumas. This was so absolutely timely, I almost chocked on my drink when I saw the title of this recent post. Thank you NML for always posting so much great info. This has been one of the most healing posts for me.

  43. Aura says:

    @ Fitness freak.
    Good on you for staying nc and getting off the medication. It just shows how some people are literally bad for your health and you need to protect your health.
    It’s a great example to some women here, who make allowances for eum’s behaviour as to how important it is, that the men you ALLOW into
    your life are quality and have your best interests at heart otherwise they can really affect your mental health.
    your life can really affect you.

  44. Gina says:

    Miskwa, I faced very similiar dynamics in my childhood, lo and behold similiar outside circumstances. Betrayal from boyfriend cheating, men still active online, etc… And for a while I thought “look what they get away with, this isnt fair”, then once I went through the process of letting go, I realized my present self would never want to be with those morons anyway, the power they had, was the power I gave to them to hurt me. The truth is they arent getting away with anything because although they may or may not have a conscious, the best gift someone can have is being authentic and experiencing true intimacy, something they may never experience.

  45. Sushi says:

    This post made me cry. It made me connect so many dots, stuff that`s been rattling around my brain in bits. It seems so much clearer now. My first memories are of the painful feeling of being second best to my brother, my grandmother and aunties always made so much fuss of him, he even got presents on my birthday so he didn`t feel left out, of course I didn`t, because I would understand. I must have learnt then to be second best,a people pleaser, always tried so hard to be loved and accepted too, but no matter what I did it I was never good enough, I could always do better, there was always a “but”……Then there was the sexual abuse by my grandfather I think about the age of 5. I remember the unspeakable terror and shame and secrecy and this horrible unsafe feeling. All this in super strict, traditional, religious family, where children were to be seen and not heard, father was a rubbernecking shameless flirt and a shouting tyrant, and mother just took it all I guess for the good of her family. I must have learnt all about denial then to survive. Fast forward to relationships, there is the collection of EUMs who said they loved me ( I had no trouble flushing the ones who were honest with their not so great intentions); the cheater, the married womaniser, the porn addict, the one that lived and breathed his fetish and used me financially, the one with aspergers and a liking for 13 year old girls and an alcoholic. Every single one of them controlling to extreme. With all of them, I progressively saw red flags and felt the old terror and anxiety , and just like when i was 5, my gut was screaming RUN!!!! and I stayed and tried to show them how much I love them and how much I had to give, and they never changed. The hurt of being rejected with actions and the feeling that I just don`t deserve to be loved. I left all of them in the end, but the doubt whether I “feel” right and that power of them convincing me I was wrong, and my inability to trust myself was always overwhelming. How do I go forward and get that security and trust in myself, I just feel chaos and pain There just seems so much to cope with now that it`s falling into place. Thank you Nat.

    • grace says:

      Sushi
      This is a helpful site for those who’ve suffered abuse as children, especially sexual abuse and especially (not exclusively) for those with a christian background:

      http://www.intothelight.org.uk/

      • Sushi says:

        Grace, thank you.
        I read it through, it is very insiteful. I had councelling last year to deal with the issue. My councellor was happy with the results and said I just need to really believe in myself now and my judgement, and how strong and well adjusted I am. I started another relationship a few months later and did not feel I was EU, not my fault about what happened in childhood, dealt with it I thought ready to be happy. I wanted a good relationship for the right reasons and with the right attitude. Ended up the same as the ones before, different package. I saw the signs, I morphed into a doormat, I was dealing with an alcoholic and I did`t know ( they lie so well). Turns out, dealing with your issues intelectually is not the same as really “feeling” it. Anyway…ended up doing NC and then found BR, looking for answers. I have been reading Natalie`s posts for about four months now and everyones comments, and I find them way more helpful than my councellor. Reading this post yesterday was like the dots finally connected, everything just mounted up and broke the dam, I cried all day, and thought about it all day and like Natalie said, you just have to feel the pain first. I need to believe that having those issues way back then will not stop me from having a good relationship ever. When will I know I`m ready? When will I really get over the collective hurt? I just want to start living instead of feeling I have to put my life on hold till I get over everything. Because if I don`t I`ll be just be like them , an EU, and I wouldn`t want inflict that on anyone. So, not allowed, not good enough. I`m going in circles.

        • grace says:

          Sushi
          It takes time. When a person has been betrayed as deeply as you have, it can takes years to undo but those years aren’t wasted. As my brother said, it’s good to have light and shade. And you’re at the end of those years, not at the beginning. You’re nearly there.
          And it’s okay to never be completely over it. It’s a disservice to the seriousness of our experience to just forget it. It’s not so much for my benefit but to honour those who have been through the same or are going through the same. We KNOW what it’s like and that really does help others.

          • Sushi says:

            Grace,
            you really are right, it does help, it`s all starting to sink in differently, I think with emotional conviction now, that`s a new thing for me. Thank you

  46. Fedup says:

    Thanks for this post.
    I realise that I’ve been stuck in the anger phase, at my AC ex. I still can’t understand how someone can just pretend everythings ok and then dump you by text and leave you completely high and dry. Then somehow call you the nutjob? How do you get over the anger and move on.

    • Allison says:

      Fed Up,

      You let it go because it’s the healthiest thing you can for yourself. What is gained by holding on?

      Once you decide to let go of the anger and decide you want to put the focus on you, it all starts to come together.

      These people are so not worth the energy, look at you, and only you, and you will on to a better place.

      Time to take responsibility for your choices!

      And yes, you’re ex is a creep and has zero class! Another reason to recognize he has no value!

  47. annied says:

    Natalie, after reading this post I re-read the post on self-esteem. It all goes back to my parents, of course. My mother was and still is emotionally unavailable. She would actually cringe when any of her children tried to climb in her lap and get close. My older brother remembered her saying, “you kids … get off of me!” She never told us she loved us. Never told us we were pretty or smart – that she was proud of us … she was just there. I remember when she told me good-night, rarely, she would call me “Sweetie” and the thrill I felt in my heart!!

    So today when the AC walked past me in the hall at work and said “Hey Pretty Girl” – the feeling was sickeningly familiar. That jump in my heart followed by the reality soon afterwards that it really meant nothing.

    While my mother ignored me, my father made me (and still does today) feel like a failure. He is mean, insulting, arrogant and thoughtless. So, no wonder I have little self-esteem. I woke up every day shouting to the world, HEY! I’m not good enough!

    I know it’s not true. But I am stuck on hurt 100%. I am depressed today.

    • Eternal Summer says:

      @annied-

      I’m with you girl! hey, do we have the same parents? :)

      my dad never said anything sweet or made me feel special :(
      as a result, i’m really starved for affection i realize. a few well placed compliments and i’m in fantasyland with some guy, giving them my all despite red flags & actions not matching words. working unpacking the bags i’m carrying around full of issues with my parents (even though i want to keep focusing on my latest eum)

      • annied says:

        Eternal Summer – oh yeah! I feel like a dried up sponge sometimes and the littlest of what feels like “love” and I soaked it up … but not anymore.

        One one hand, I’m proud that I’m actually trying to work on my lack of self-love and refusal to be a doormat. On the other hand, I’m afraid I will end up like my mother! :(

        Throw in even the slightest contact with the ex AC and I’m all twisted in knots. It makes me angry that even he seems to have power over me! I don’t like it! Will I end up alone? An angry, bitter old woman? Nooooooooo

  48. Agatha says:

    I used to bury my feelings and forget my pain. I started writing about it and it helped me acknowledge the pain. Although I don’t cry over things, it made me feel better of myself.

  49. nathan says:

    I think it’s very important to both grieve and work through old relationships, but also to give up the role of being the victim. A few years ago, after a particularly challenging break up, I realized that the narratives I had around my Ex’s all had a tinge of victimhood in them. That no matter what I had done in the relationship, that it was some set of decisions or behaviors on the Ex-girlfriend’s part that ultimately led to the end. I could own the mistakes I had made during the relationship, but the endings always seemed to be on their end, even if I was the break up initiator.

    It really wasn’t until I stopped blaming either myself or my Ex’s for the end of the relationship, that I learned how to move forward on my own two feet and be fully ready and open for something new.

  50. Carrie says:

    I just started therapy on Monday to help me get let go… of my ex, of my past, of whatever else is holding me back. I figured if I want to go into counseling myself, I should probably deal with my own issues first. I was literally like a dam bursting at my first session…. my therapist said I had a lot to “purge”. I guess I needed someone on the outside to tell me that it’s okay to not try to deal with it all on my own. I’ve already made some pretty heavy connections and although now I’m worried that I gave her the wrong impression of my personality, I guess I’ll deal with that next week. She questioned whether I was depressed or had anxiety and I’m like don’t you know? I’m Miss Silver Lining! Although I will allow anxiety a bit, though not to the extent to need prescription meds. I will always prefer to try natural methods or supplements first. But of course she doesn’t know that.. all she knows is the crying mess on her couch telling her all about my childhood drama and trauma.

  51. Low-La says:

    i am really struggling with what it means to “grieve.” i seriously don’t know what it means to “feel all the feelings and really grieve.” Aside from being horribly depressed and crying all the time, what does it mean?
    thank you for the help.

    • Magdalena says:

      Hey Low-la,

      I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but from what I understand, grieving is a highly individual process and different for everyone. Some people might be depressed and crying all the time. Some people might feel numb. Some people might experience it as intense anxiety. Some other people might feel grief as a heavy, physical sensation that they just can’t shake. I don’t think there’s any one “right” or “wrong” way to do it, but I think its important to honor however *you* happen to experience it and know that whatever and however you’re feeling it is totally okay and completely acceptable.

      If you have grief, I hope that you can let yourself go through the whole process and remember to love and care for yourself all the way through it. Have faith that you’ll get through it and you will.

      Cheers.

    • EllyB says:

      @Low-La: Did you try constructive approaches to process your grief, maybe with the help of a counselor? Maybe you are also suppressing a lot of anger that needs to be dealt with too.

      For me, drawing (and other ways of visualizing) seems to be the best approach to deal with my feelings. Oddly enough, writing didn’t do it for me, although I’m generally more of a writer. However, other people seem to do well with journaling and the like.

      At times, like you, I feel like I can’t stop crying. It can be very painful. My counselor told me to not dwell over my (horrible) childhood memories too much, because it seems to retraumatize me. I think she’s right.

      Whenever bad memories come up, I try to acknowledge the fact that I had a very, very sad childhood, and that I was a very unhappy little girl, but then I quickly remind myself that all this is over. Now I’m in control of my life, and I do have the power to make myself happy.

      But again, I needed a drawing pad and a brand new box of colored pencils in order to get to that point. For you, it might be something else. Maybe you should get professional help (if you haven’t tried this yet). Good luck!

    • grace says:

      Low-la
      I heard or read somewhere that depression is anger turned inwards. In my experience that’s true. Anger can be a very uncomfortable emotion for women, especially towards someone you love/loved/should love.
      Depression is less about feeling than it is about avoiding feeling in my experience. I am much more emotional than I used to be when I was depressed. The feelings come and go, I know what I’m feeling and it passes. Otherwise it all becomes a fog.
      That’s how we get stuck on hurt – we’re not experiencing the full grieving, only part of it. Until it’s dealt with, it keeps coming back.
      May not be the case for you, but worth considering.

    • J says:

      Hi Low-la,

      I think what Magdalena wrote is very true. I only recently learned how to grieve, it was quite a shock. I was someone who pushed all the hurts way down deep into my back pocket, if you will, because I couldn’t (or wouldn’t, probably a better word) deal with it. For me, grief is feeling each and every emotion I experienced as a result of a situation, respecting those feelings, understanding them, and then finally realizing that only I can control my reaction to those feelings, nobody else. It’s like owning my pain and then letting it go. It was very tough for me, as it opened a tremendous amount of wounds I never dealt with. I am grateful for the experience though, as tough as it was (and still is).

  52. Cinn says:

    Great post Natalie – happy birthday wishes.

    Talking of birthdays, I’m not hurting from my ex control freak from 20 years ago, but I am *stuck*

    Most years I cannot seem to get through ‘his’ day without remembering it is *his* birthday. It’s not a special date in the year ie memorable like chrimbo/New Year. Yet most years I can’t seem to get through that day without remembering it when I don’t wanna.

    Why when he’s nothing to me ? Confuzzled.

  53. Kay says:

    There are times when I come on here to post comments and I feel full of positive energy which I like to share but this post about hurt and being stuck really applies to my current mood.

    I feel as if I’m going around in circles. I’ve faced my past,done my therapy,applied the knowledge,dotted all the i’s,crossed the bloody t’s and yet,not a whole lot has changed really.I’m still pretty much alone in the world apart from an elderly mother with whom I have a fairly brittle relationship.I still find it near impossible to develop relationships beyond hobby buddies or work buddies and every man I meet turns out to be beyond useless! It’s just one disappointment after another and you’d want to have the hide of an elephant not to be affected by it. I honestly don’t think it’s a case of still being attracted to EUMs, I think it’s a case of an almost non existent dating pool in my age group in a fairly rural area. The rubbish I come across is just so depressing as is what I hear about from the readers on here.And I really and truly don’t mean that in a patronising way.I certainly don’t have it all sussed and I’m certainly not god’s gift but my heart sinks at the fact that the overwhelming majority of single “available” men that I meet just seem to be rocking on,all baggage on board, from one bad relationship to the next, blissfully blaming all the casualties they leave in their wake and totally denying responsibility because, you see, the poor things “just haven’t met the right one”. Give me patience!!! I’ve often commented about how much more enlightened we are here on this site.It’s like going from proper adult company into a creche.Unfortunately the creche is the real world that we have to live in.

    But it helps to vent frustrations. I’m down tonight,I’ll be ok again tomorrow. And I’m so grateful for all the sharing and wisdom on this site.

    • NML says:

      You’re feelings are valid Kay. I personally know a few people in similar situations with small town thing and shady dates. Even though I also know a lot of people who say similar about NY, London and LA, it’s indisputable that it’s much trickier to date in a rural place.

      Truth is, this is one of those situations where you have to weigh up your options. Much like the person that emails me and says there’s only a few hundred people in their town, short of taking part in a population drive, you have to go further afield and yes, go to greater lengths to meet people. It’s getting hide of rhino and dating online, travelling, going to events in bigger cities/towns, going on courses, dinner date clubs, having friends introduce you, joining meetup.com and the list goes on. There is an element of this where you can think it’s a pain in the tits and who knows how long you’ll be doing these things for, but it’s just how it is. That’s why I say to people to fill up their life doing stuff that they want to do so it doesn’t feel like you’re breaking your neck hunting down dates. The possibility of meeting someone increases the more you’re out.

      It would be nice if you could just meet people as a by product of your day to day, but that’s not possible for everyone or even most.

      It’s either that or keeping your ear close to the ground to hear about the latest relationship collapse in your town but you don’t want to be an ambulance chaser.

      Or moving, which some people do for a major change of scenery.

      I hear you and yes, it’s a pain in the bum but the trick is not to paint yourself into a corner and to ensure you’re entirely out of your comfort zone. Most tend to go down the path of least resistance and extract results out of their existing resources.

      What I’m hearing loud and clear is that you want a relationship and it’s a priority. That is natural but in acknowledging your need and priority, you’ll have to keep making effort to make that priority a reality just as much as you need to recognise the frustrations that come with it being a priority.

      My friend is trying for a baby. She thought she’d start now when it didn’t feel like a burning priority but it would be nice if it happens. Six months in, she’s pissed off, frustrated and wondering what’s wrong which of course all the anxiety doesn’t help matters.

      Turns out that this is more of a priority than she had acknowledged to herself. Sometimes we think things will be or should be easier because we think we’ve done x/y/z or we’re not as bothered about it. Life doesn’t work that way.

      • Kay says:

        Thanks a mil for the support,Nat.You really are an angel.Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You’ve really got that great Leo personality.

        Yes,you’re right in everything you say.I’ve woken up today still on a downer and have moped around all morning.A blue sky and some sunshine would help but that’s as scarce round here as decent men! I’ve just logged a fine,long entry into my feelings diary and that helps, so enough of the moping now,gotta get busy with other stuff.

        There really is no other way in any situation only to cry the tears,then dry them and then start all over again. Onwards and hopefully,eventually,upwards.

        Have a great day.xx

        • NML says:

          Ah thanks Kay! Birthday was yesterday!

          It’s natural to have days like this. Understanding why let’s you be more in control of recognising the triggers. It’s always good to remember that you spent a lifetime with different habits and mentality. It doesn’t take anywhere near as long to change, but it does mean you shouldn’t be so tough on yourself.

      • EllyB says:

        It’s a little bit besides the topic, but I’ve just realized what scared me most in the dating world: The idea that I might have to reject somebody. I could somehow live with being rejected (after all, this only confirmed my belief I was worthless!), but I couldn’t stand the idea of saying “no” to any guy who wanted me. I felt like a very bad and evil girl whenever I did this.

        Of course, it’s okay to say “no”. I’m a person and not a piece of bubblegum everybody can chew on (although my parents have certainly done that)!

        Good luck for you, Kay. If your world seems too small for you, then try to make it bigger! Don’t “settle” for something unhealthy only because it seems as if you have no choice.

        • Kay says:

          Thanks EllyB and you know,I also used to have big problems saying no or get lost.In one of my very dysfunctional lives, I used to pick rows and piss them off so much that they’d dump me and I’d get to play victim which suited me.I still find it hard to do the dumping but I’m getting better at it.Years of conditioning from the females in my life that you must hang on to a man at any price! Such crap!

          But what bugs me now is having to sift through the rubbish,the debris,the rejects of life’s car crashes and finding constant write offs.Again I’m not trying to put myself on a pedestal,god knows I’m as big a car crash as any of them,but I’ve had all the bits and parts reconditioned and though far from new,am still quite roadworthy. And that’s because I’ve done the work on myself and have stopped playing victim and blaming life.

          So it really bugs me when I hear people, male or female staying stuck on their victim status. The amount of guys I meet who launch into ex bashing: Such was a “psycho”,such was “too clingy”,”I just haven’t met the right one”. I’ll strangle the next idiot who trots out that line! The last guy was 56,very obviously EU and he didn’t bat an eye lid, so convinced he was that he was blameless. Such a donkey!

          That’s why I get large dollops of sanity and common sense when I come on here. Hugs to all.x

  54. maria says:

    Grieve..its a death you go through every emotion in the human emotion vocabulary…seek therapy…if you have ever given ur heart to an unavailable…learn from it read this blog and learn to love you…in every way…life is amazing…45 is the best age…in the best shape..been through a lot and enough to know I would rather be by myself for the rest of my life…then hook up again with someone who doesn’t respect me and all my wonderfully ness…it took a year but yeah ….where use to be a pin hole of light is 10 more steps into the beautifully sun light. .many blessings Natalie…I owe you a big huge dinner restaurant of choice in Boston if your around and we have cornered the market I unavailables

  55. cavewoman says:

    Hi Natalie.

    I’m here to write a comment about the fact that I don’t have the kind of comment like the amazing breakthroughs and confessions before me. I mean, I read your post and I’ve read everyone else’s experiences and it’s all really moving, I deeply feel for everyone for the experiences you’re describing. I’m sad and happy for all you, plus the logic of dealing with past hurts seems perfectly logical, too…

    Only I’m coming up empty on this one. I don’t know what I could possibly be missing, but there is no neglect, abuse, maltreatment, loss, or tragedy of any kind from my childhood I can think of. I was always a dreamy child, in my own imaginary world… always longing for admiration from a distance… still am. Then, although we were romantically involved, I got married pretty much for convenience. But I got it into my head to get my husband to act like my Mr Right starting a perfect little family with me. He played along until he wouldn’t play along any more. It really really messed with his head, too: I messed with his head. I think I owe him an apology of sorts, maybe an unsent letter of apology. He probably thought he should feel lucky because I looked pretty darn good on paper. I don’t know why he couldn’t figure out how to say no, but he didn’t and while he’s responsible for that, it’s time for me to own my part, too.

    And then my rebound EU during/post divorce, same story. He made it pretty clear after a certain point that he’s not available, that he isn’t capable or willing, and cannot have those feelings, etc. but I decided to cling to my fantasy that I would eventually prove myself and convince him that it’s safe to love me, etc… I owe him too an unsent letter of apology, for professing not to be available for a relationship although my hidden agenda was to be in a relationship with him of all people. That’s not playing it cool. That’s dishonest. If he saw through it, then he’s a user; maybe he did, maybe he didn’t — either way, I still have to own my part in that situation as well.

    I just have a very tenuous relationship with facts, you know?

    But, back to the past hurts issue, I see this is a heck of a pattern of avoidance, but I cannot say what past pain I’m trying to avoid.

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Cavewoman,

      In part this post addresses people who still have a lot of anger or pain they are carrying around. I wouldn’t be inclined to go making up old traumas you’ve never had. If for you there isn’t anything bad that happened that you should have cried over and didn’t, or any old hard feelings that have gone unexpressed, that’s great!

      You mentioned dreaminess and a tenuous relationship with facts. I’m no psychologist, but isn’t that kind of avoidance often about not facing and overcoming a fear, rather than not facing a hurt (which can still be a scary thing)?

      It can be a scary thing to face your old hurts, and many of us have avoided that. But there are other things in life we might be afraid of, and avoiding, even after we’ve cleared up the hurt; so maybe you’re at that place.

    • NML says:

      Hi Cavewoman,

      I want to emphasise first of all that the post isn’t about long ago traumas. It is for some people, but it’s not for everyone. If someone you love dies tomorrow, you will grieve the loss. That may be all you need to grieve. If years go by and you were still struggling to come to terms with the loss, it may be because you’re just totally avoiding your feelings and the reality of the loss. It could be that the loss resurrects a previous loss so there may be double pain and double avoidance.

      The post is about grieving and getting out of being ‘stuck’. Coming back to your situation, the reason why you’re stuck is because you haven’t grieved the loss of the fantasy and reconciled reality with the fantasy and also truly accepted the mistakes that get made when you live in fantasy and denial. You’re still treating being dreamy as if that’s a normal reality – fact is, it’s not.

      Your issue is not about avoiding a past hurt – you avoid reality. Living in a fantasy = avoiding genuine intimacy = unavailable

      Like you said – admiration at a distance.

      If you start to let in reality, it’s going to hurt. The reason why you’re coming up blank is because you’re still a fully paid up resident in La La Land. But there isn’t blank – there is a whole life that has taken place while your mind has been elsewhere. Instead of looking at what you would have liked or hoped to have happened and how *you* saw things, why not look at the results of your life, the experiences sans the candy floss and Rose tinted glasses?

      • cavewoman says:

        yes Natalie, I am freaked out because I see avoidance everywhere. And it does hurt and frankly I’m so ashamed of all this silliness I’d rather get distracted. I guess your post gave me pause because I found myself wondering if maybe a childhood trauma story would be more convenient because I could feel like there is a cause, a reason, or a trigger, beyond my own weirdness.

        It’s just not relationships. I am not quite present wherever I happen to be… it’s the same at work. My mind is half elsewhere (for instance, on my fantasy relationship) and of course that means I’m putting in less attention, energy, creativity, or even plain old effort. I am smart enough to still get by, but I am considered absent-minded . Just like I used to be smart enough to still get by at school without trying, and I remember knowing this about myself all my life, too. I remember from preschool already – look over here, stay on task, don’t forget, join the group, blah blah blah.
        (No, none of my crew of therapists over the years diagnosed me with ADD. We covered that.)
        Maybe it’s as simple as breaking one ginormous habit. Maybe -no, definitely- analyzing the emotional unavailability of the men I got involved with is just enabling and perpetuating this habit. (Sure, they must be odd if they are drawn to miss Checked Out. EUA was obviously addicted to listening to my fantasies every night on the phone.) Analyzing their unavailability and even mine is just more thinking, and less here-and-now. See how easy it is for me to write an essay about how I should keep both feet on the ground? And in the end all I have is one more essay but not much more of a connection to the nuts and bolts of my everyday life.
        Shoot me!

        • grace says:

          cavewoman
          could be fear of failure . lack of concentration, procrastination, fantasy life – these things seem easier than really passionately putting yourself into something (work, sport, relationships) and then … failing.
          Trouble is, few of us succeed without taking a risk, even if it’s just the small risk of re-organising your filing system!

          • runnergirl says:

            Cavewoman, I’ve thought about your posts all day. I totally identify with the avoidance thing. I think for me Natalie captured it in her response to you “…the reason why you’re stuck is because you haven’t grieved the loss of the fantasy and reconciled reality with the fantasy and also truly accepted the mistakes that get made when you live in fantasy and denial.” It doesn’t necessarily harken back to a childhood trauma, although my dysfunction could be traced back, although I’m not justifying, too old to justify.

            Here’s how my avoidance goes and it stems from I can’t go out and play until my homework is done: Got to prepare lectures for class, got to grade essays, got to prepare tests, got to grade tests, got to do laundry, got to clean the house, including every toilet, vacuum, sweep, and mop..assuming that could all get done, then I get to do something for me? That’s my childhood baggage. Now if I had a large family depending on me today, the foregoing may be okay. Presently, it is just me. I’m still, however, operating as though everyone on the planet is depending on whether all the toilets are clean and the grass is watered. I so hear your avoidance. I’m doing it too. Shoot me too! My three expensive therapists thought I was “healed” too.

        • Magnolia says:

          Cavewoman, I so relate. Instead of doing so many other things: I come here! In the middle of the workday, and write long posts! Natalie’s response to you really spoke to me.

          Re absent minded: I just racked up $250 of library fines last week for forgetting to renew, and when I wrote to the library to ask them to reduce it, I knew what they would say: we’re only giving you x reduction, because you have done this so many times before. Each time I promise myself I’ll stay on top of it, and each time I just “forget.”

          Major source of shame for me. Except I don’t do shame anymore. Now it’s just a problem I have to figure out how to shrug off or solve.

          Anyway, I’m with you. Here in the real world!

          • cavewoman says:

            Magnolia, LOL! I’ve seen much much worse than $250! Funny story, couple days ago I worked with a guy who as a postdoc got his account blocked for over$1300 in fines. Now got hired on a permanent job here and he had to somehow settle the fines to get a new library account… He’s been back a few times, we established a bit of a rapport… it occurred to me, maybe he’s single, he’s not at all unattractive… but $1300 in fines is a red flag! He seemed to be fishing for my sympathy that it was really the university’s screw-up. But then I checked his account, it’s a pattern all the way back to 2009. He’s so full of it. Fast-talking responsibility dodger. Flush, even if he was never going ask me out! :)

    • izzybell says:

      Hi Cavewoman,

      I really relate to your posts, and appreciate your honesty. It’s powerful reading someone else’s words about their inner life and feel so nailed by them.

      Something that has helped me with the avoidance/fantasy/absentmindedness immensely is mindfulness meditation. Pema Chodron and Cheri Huber have also been very useful guides pointing the way to accepting reality as it is. I’ve been reading their books, going to dharma talks, and meditating daily and am noticing that I’m spending less and less time living in the unreal parallel universe of “what could be, if only…”.

      • cavewoman says:

        Izzy, yes!! I know! I was on the right track with Eckhart Tolle and then I fell into the trap of being content with knowing the theory and just fell out of practice.
        Runner, yes, me too, this is amazing. Duties first. Then nothing left for me. Just hours before I got to your post, I was remembering how my dad used to make me do my homework first thing home from school. He was there most afternoons too because he had his study and did a lot of lecture prep and grading at home.
        The only experience that was REALLY mine for years was what went on in my head. Teaching, grad school, baby care, toddler chasing, grade school homework, playing, cleaning, cooking, laundry, library job, bills, husband not helping, I learned to take care of everything but I completely lost myself. We had no money for sitters so I had no time for leisure, books, movies, good adult company, but my mind was always handy.
        The times when I was free, I found myself staring into a terrifying void. I literally did not know what to do with myself! And it got filled up with the most dysfunctional mental crap. I would get worried sick about my husband getting killed in a car accident on his way home from his outings to NYC without me. No, I wasn’t worried about the REAL fact of him going to concerts, museums, and parties without me while I was stuck at home with the kids. I opted for panic attacks about the hypothetical car crash instead. Well, of course he just met an OW at a party I didn’t attend. Then, the EUA. His hours long phone calls felt like pampering after complete neglect from the ex. I got to wait and wait for him to wanna see me, and fantasized about what we’d do, and fantasized about the things we’d talk about when he calls. All day, I was narrating my own day to him in my head. I could be having a precious moment with my kids, but I wasn’t just having a precious moment with my kids, I was also filing away conversation material for after I put them to bed and wait for the call. And then I got to fill up my head with the dread of him not calling, because I felt as if I couldn’t even function without all that. Same with work. I met him on my job at the library, and I saw him in person more often at the library than anywhere else, it all reminds me of it.

        • runnergirl says:

          Sad stories Cavewoman. Your response reminded me that while the MM was hanging with me, his wife was home doing all that you were doing for your family. Although I’m on a shame diet, I do want to be accountable and get beyond the hurt I caused her and his children. Screw him.

          Another sad story: I probably passed the homework first/duties first on to my daughter. When she was growing up, we lived in a nice area with tons of kids. After school, I would always make her do her homework before she could play. One day she asked why the boys get to play before their homework was completed and the girls couldn’t. I started noticing and she was right. The boys in the neighborhood were allowed to “blow off steam” after school. The girls weren’t. Maybe it was just our area. Your description of your husband going to concerts, museums, and parties while you were stuck at home with the kids reminded me of my young daughter’s observation. It also reminded me of my childhood, the eldest of five. And reminded me of grocery shopping, cleaning, and cooking for the MM so that when he got here after a political event everything would be perfect. Geez, this stuff runs deep!

          Were you the eldest?

          Presently, I’m staring into the void but avoiding filling the void with yet another dysfunctional male and a myraid of self imposed “duties”, although I do need to get back to grading! Finally, I think I’m sitting still and beginning to grieve. It is slow going because I keep feeling like I have to complete a duty first. In the few moments I allow myself to grieve, what is coming up is not the grief of the loss of the “relationship” with the MM, it is the loss of my childhood.

          Rarely does one of Natalie’s posts not apply! What a tremdously insightful, brilliant woman.

          • cavewoman says:

            Runner, you did not cause the hurt… and it the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t about you. No, no, please, don’t think you forced him with all your cooking and cleaning to have an affair with you! I have no hard feelings for the OW in my situation. Not even for my ex-husband. The truth is, he and I should have been talking about how wrong things were between us, or that there was nothing between us–either way, it should have been addressed years before she came onto the scene. My guess is this goes for most scenarios… we just didn’t know better until we knew better.

  56. poisonivy says:

    Very interesting and helpful article. I recently dated a guy whom I really liked and he acted like he was really into me. But it turned out that he lied about living with and having a baby with his girlfriend. When I untangled the web of lies and ended things with him, I felt that I had been the victim of a cruel joke. I kept having flashbacks to an almost forgotten incident from when I was about 12 years old. A cute guy came over to talk to me and I was somewhat flattered. Then I noticed a group of “mean girls” laughing at me and realized that they had put the guy up to flirting with me as a joke. The message to me was that I better not think that I was good enough to attract someone or I would be punished and humiliated. You are so right that these horrible experiences can force us to re-experience trauma from the past.

    Thanks also for pointing out that the grief/anger process may keep recycling. I have wondered why it has been taking so long to feel only a bit better about this. Much to think about here.

    • NML says:

      Hi Poisonivy, what a painful childhood memory that shows how these experiences can stick with and influence our future reactions.

      The sting of the ‘Mean Girls’ though is not the same as Mr Duplicity although at face value it can seem like it and I imagine as part of your work moving forward, it’s about making some clear differentiations between feelings and situations.

      Those Mean Girls used immaturity, enjoyment of discomfort, power wielding and jealousy to motivate a decision like that.

      Mr Duplicity is a liar. His goal was not to embarrass and humiliate you – it was to lead a double life. Cheating is about being dishonest in order to gain an advantage.

      You didn’t make these girls behave as they did no more than you brought about his deceit.

      Yes the situation is embarrassing (like when my friend dated a guy and it turned out he had 4 kids and was still married) because as women, we have a serious cringe fest when guys pull shit like this and think it’s a reflection on us like we’re beaming a red light invitation to assholes.

      He lied. Short of bugging him News of the World style and tapping all his calls, you could not know of his con. You’re doing the equivalent of saying that a thief who conned you has set out to embarrass you – no, he’s set out to con you.

    • brokenhearted in LA says:

      Thanks, poisonivy. Your post made a lightbulb go off for me, I too had an extremely painful situation in 1st grade where some mean girls pretended to want to invite me to play with them, only to ridicule and humiliate me.
      Somewhat similar with my experience of losing my virginity at 14 to my then boyfriend who was actually only interested in getting in my pants and immediately dump me – felt completely duped and deeply ashamed for believing they were interested in me.
      These experiences robbed me of my most tender innocence, a very deep pain I still carry around.
      As an adult, I seek validation in people I perceive as “cool” (like my EUMs) because I still believe myself “uncool”, not good enough for the “cool” people to want to choose me… but that I still choose!
      I still want to “belong with the cool kids”!!
      I very recently broke up with my EUM. A huge reason I’m hung up on him is because he’s “cool” (and has a lot of great qualities, but unfortunately they don’t outweigh his sex addiction, lying and cheating). I’m so afraid of it taking forever to get over him and NOT GO BACK (I’ve been going back to him for 7 years!)… I need to believe I CAN GET OVER HIM AND NOT GO BACK, and HAVE A DIFFERENCE EXPERIENCE with someone healthy and available.
      It seems incredible that after so many years of therapies of all sorts this trauma still lingers on and keeps ruining my life.
      I’m hanging tight this time by cultivating my self-love with discipline in no contact, letting myself feel the feelings, but sometimes I worry that I’m still hanging on to him and I don’t know how not to think about him and be tempted to contact him. One day at a time I haven’t, and I intend to keep it thsat way.
      Thank you all, this place is so helpful.

  57. Jane says:

    Part of the reason why I chose NC is because even after my ex broke up with me the first time, when I next saw him again, i reverted back into trying to show him how fun, smart and kind i am and overcompensated for his rejecting me. I tried so hard to not make it awkward for him and everyone else and to show him how cool i am and act like he didn’t hurt me and we are still bffs which downplayed the hurt he caused me, left me vulnerable and gave him an opening for round two.

    I am stuck in the sense that I am afraid that if I see him again this time even if its a social gathering I will revert back to acting like the sun shines out of his behind and trying to show him how cool I am, playing down my intelligence and acting like he didn’t break my heart and nothing happened. I feel like all the progress I make will take a step back because any time I am around him I will go back to needing him to validate me.

    is that normal?
    does that ever go away?

    I can’t imagine not being that girl when I am around him. Putting my own feelings aside to make him feel more at ease although he doesn’t have the same problem as he will openly show how much he isnt comfortable and how he would prefer not to be around me, which makes me feel like trying harder to show everything fine.

    this basically means that when he eventually decides to contact me, I reply because i feel like it would look silly for me to act normal when forced to be around him in a social situation then ignore him then act normal then ignore him :(

    So now im stuck in NC because I am trying to get myself together but also because i am afraid I will never be able to handle contact of any form.

    • Magnolia says:

      Hi Jane –
      How you will feel when you are around him: that is exactly what NC is about. An AC puts you in a position where normal, kind interaction with them doesn’t make sense anymore because they’ve abused the privilege of interacting with you in the first place. Have you read many of Natalie’s articles? You’re not ‘stuck’ in NC; NC is you closing the door on his world and locking it behind you, turning around and embracing your freedom. Even if he’s not an AC, NC is about you making sure you don’t put yourself in environments that make you regress.

    • Rawan says:

      I agree with Mangolia, Jane I hear you your situation seems exactly like mine, I too put on my happy face with him act as if nothing happened and as if everything’s okay, I used to do that because everytime I showed him how hurt I was he’d run away, and I thought it was really my fault I had no right to be hurt and that I’m just plain needy and I had to control that..

      I’d say just don’t interact with him, if it makes you uncomfortable then don’t do it, no one is forcing you to face people who disrespected you, they’re not worth you even talking to them..
      Stick to NC, even if those fears and anxiety about meeting him never went away for a long long time stay NC even if it’s forever, don’t do anything you feel uncomfortable about

    • NML says:

      Jane, let me give you a piece of advice that will keep you out of much trouble and pain:

      Stop being a Transformer and be Y.O.U.R.S.E.L.F.

      You are being completely inauthentic and that is neither attractive, sustainable, or conducive to having a healthy relationship.

      Who gives a shit what he thinks? It’s about time you twigged that if you have to dampen yourself and marginalise yourself into a one dimensional you that will hopefully appease him, something is seriously wrong.

      This man is not king of the world. Take him off his pedestal and stop trying to please him and stop worrying about pissing him off or ruffling his busted feathers and start worrying about what you think, want and need and who you are.

      You’re not showing him how fun, clever etc you are – none of what you’re doing says that. Instead you’re showing him that you try too hard and that you’re willing to be a doormat. He’s just not that special. In fact, he’s a dickhead. It is appalling what we do to ourselves – stop the madness Jane. This ain’t love.

    • 407 says:

      “i reverted back into trying to show him how fun, smart and kind i am and overcompensated for his rejecting me.”

      I’ve done this too. It’s like the quiet campaign to win them back, the dicounted/free cake giveaway just to keep them around.

      I was hopeful so I held on when I should have let go. Sadly, any prospect of a proper relationship with me had already left the building or wasn’t actually there to begin with in the first place.

    • msblue says:

      What I get from reading your post is that you are not being authentic. NC is a time of reflection – you need that distance to sort things out. Best of luck- you can do it.

    • cavewoman says:

      Jane, you don’t have to force yourself to handle any contact. You’re not ready, if you’re wondering. When I see my ex EU it’s like a panic attack. I used to mistake the feeling for a rush of excitement, but I do recognize it as fright, now that I’m paying attention. I’m frightened by how much he isn’t what I was hoping, it’s scary that I’m still clinging to that hope even though I know better. So when he’s around I’m just uncomfortable, and I don’t try not to seem uncomfortable. I go with the real tongue-tied, nervous, resentful, embarrassed, disappointed me. It does act as a repellent, so far it’s kept him at a respectful distance.

  58. 407 says:

    - Just your mind whirring around like it could never stop
    - Having conversations with them in your mind
    - Thinking what you would say to them

    Things like that. Grieving is effectively when you feel the weight of what happened…

  59. Magnolia says:

    Happy Birthday, Natalie!

  60. shattered says:

    I’ve been NC for several weeks and thought I was OK. But now I’m stuck and don’t know how to move on. The AC is merrily living his life with someone new and I’ve realised that I was essentially a 2 yaer booty call with the odd outing thrown in to keep me happy. I feel humiliated and upset that he doesn’t care a jot about me. I was just convenient when it suited him, while he makes time to see his new love regularly, buys here gifts (which he didn’t with me) and has a couple of others on the side, which I didn’t know about. I miss what I thought I had with him. I’m trying to keep busy but I’m not sleeping or eating properly and cry when I think he never cared about me at all. I know I deserve better, but I’m just stuck wondering why I wasn’t good enough. I’m not young (nor is he) and feeling lonely. I’m reluctant to try a dating site but yet don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone. I guess I just want to feel I matter to someone and at the moment I don’t; even the AC doesn’t want me after 2 years. I suppose I was vulnerable when I met him – I’m a widow and he’s never been married (lots of relationships though) and I thought we were so good together. How do I come to terms with this and move on?

    • NML says:

      Shattered, this is a tricky one and I’m sorry that you’re going through this and also sorry for your previous loss. When I say ‘tricky’, I don’t mean that the situation is complicated (it’s not) but that all of the moving on is about you, and you are focused on him.

      Truth is Shattered, I can only imagine after being widowed that you were devastated. The pain can be so overwhelming, it can seem easier to take refuge with a distraction. Fact is, if you allowed yourself to be a booty call for two years, you had to have had something waaaaaaaaaaaaay bigger and more painful that seemed like an undesirable alternative. I know some readers who feel crippled by an arrangement like this after days/weeks/months!

      The price of avoiding your grief, avoiding being alone and some pseudo company isn’t worth it Shattered. Now you have to grieve your previous loss, this loss, and your part in these two years.

      Be compassionate to yourself and recognise this: we all want someone to love us and we all want someone to care. Our relationships illuminate where we are at within ourselves – this relationship leaves me in no doubt that *you* don’t love and care about *you*. If you did, you wouldn’t be putting yourself through the oxymoron mindset of wondering why someone you call an AC doesn’t care about you after treating you like a booty call for two years – it’s because he’s the type of person that on seeing that you have been widowed and are vulnerable, he exploits that and adds to your pain.

      Please stop focusing on this tit of a man and focus positively on you. And remember for next time – if you want a relationship and to be cared about, never sign up and continue to participate in a casual relationship.

      He’s just not that special and you’re not that desperate. This new woman is welcome to him.

    • 407 says:

      “I miss what I thought I had with him.”

      What I thought… I miss that too. The dreams, the idiosyncracities and mannerisms and “he would do this in this situation”.. But I realise today that I already have the answer, the conclusion. So it starts to feel a bit strange thinking about shoulda woulda coulda. Why recalculate the equation when the answer is already known?

      I tend to internalise other people’s actions… but once you have a name to that and can identify that then it becomes easier to realise that no, not everything someone does is about you.

  61. Rawan says:

    Natalie that is absolutely true! This article is flawless.. It’s the reason why I kept going back to my ex, and why I tried so hard to keep him, if he went away then it meant that I would have to deal with all the previous hurt he caused me and I would have to deal with my feelings, keeping him was like putting a bandage on the wound, keeping him meant that all the hurt he put me through was going to go away because he’s going to make it up for me, and keeping him meant that now he’s going to fix me.. It’s a twisted way of thinking, I should have left and went and fixed MYSELF instead of hoping that he would..
    I read this saying somewhere “mature love is needing somone because you love them, immature love is loving someone because you need them” I don’t think what I had for him was pure love, it was an addiction it ws like I had no choice I NEEDED him, he had to be there or I’ll have to deal with my feelings.. I’m glad I finally saw that

    • 407 says:

      I think there is a danger period when one subconsciously knows that ‘it’s over’ and you go into denial or bargaining mode while you are still with them.

      I think that’s why people ‘go weird’ towards the end. Or they can hear the words but can’t listen because the feelings cloud up the understanding.

  62. shattered says:

    Thank you Natalie. I know I have to come terms with everything that’s happened. At the time with the AC I thought it was a relationship – asked me to marry him- then changed his mind; said he wanted a relationship – then changed his mind again. I just felt bewildered until I found this website. I’ve done ‘suck it and see’ – twice and nothing changed. He was always changing his mind and plans. Maybe his new person is different. I don’t know how long he’s been seeing her, but certainly that explains his disappearances. Perhaps I got relegated to his harem of women ‘friends’ and didn’t realise at the time. Its a slap in the face that I was just another notch on his bedpost and I can’t believe how I allowed myself to become ‘that woman’ and I do feel used and duped. I tell myself I’ve done the right thing in going NC, but that doesn’t ease the hurt I feel, especially as he’s not bothered. As you said in an earlier posting its -’ if you don’t like the way I roll, you know what you can do’. I will get past this – I have to and I’ll try and love and respect myself,( even though he didn’t) It’s just hard to feel that way about myself just now.

    • NML says:

      Ah Shattered (((hugs)))

      You may not realise it now, or even tomorrow or even for a while, but NC is respect, care, trust and love of yourself. Forcibly removing yourself out of harms way.

      Suck It and See is a one time thing. If someone has lied and bailed several times, I wouldn’t ever give them the chance to do it again. Same goes for rejection. Two times at a push and then it’s time to give ‘em the push. If someone can reject you directly or passively more than twice, they get the message that they’re free to do it again.

      You have no choice *but* to respect yourself because fact is, you have no right to ask someone to do for you what you cannot or are unwilling to do for yourself.

      It’s not about whether this woman is better than you or whether he’s changed. Fact is, he may be doing act one, scene 6 right now for all you know and she may be currently showing unwilling to participate in anything with a whiff of booty call about it. It doesn’t mean he’s changed; it means he’s out of control and intrigued by the challenge and may claim to be and do more than he’s capable of.

      That doesn’t make her better than you but she may have better standards but still has shit taste, after all, she’s just exercising standards with a man with a poor track record.

  63. anari says:

    I think that sometimes the hurt is greater in NC because y0u have an opportunity to reflect on what happened through examining a different perspective. It’s a good healthy hurt though. When I think about how I put up with the hot and cold and how despite very few phone or f2f conversations I kept hanging on because everytime I’d voice I was moving on he’d charge faster…only to leave me on a bed of ice..I’m embarrased.

    I’m embarrassed I threw myself at him, I’m embarassed I was played a fool and I’m embarrassed that despite being educated, successful, and a pretty attractive girl with alot goin on for her i was suckered into the trap. I really have noone else to blame but myself… noone put a gun to my head to stay … I stayed because I couldn’t phanthom that there were people out there in this world that stooped at such levels to have a complete disregard to how someone feels.

    How can a person call you up for valentines day and stand you up the next weekend for your date, how can someone make plans with you at 9 and at 11 state that it was a misunderstanding and he wasn’t going out ( more like he got a better offer) how can someone make plans with you on christmas day and say they will be there in an hour to pick you up and not call you till mid-night…expecting you to pick up …cuz it would be okay.

    We were never physical so this wasn’t a booty call….just a plain disregard for tact, and diplomacy. Everytime I’d ask where I stood…every answer was so vague. Would a little honesty kill him? But as Natalie states in several other posts- “people who care show you they care by there actions”. I even gave him a choice – to choose in or out. And when I didn’t hear from him i respectfully walked away thinking he chose out. But a month later when I heard from him I assumed he was in. More like poking a dead carcass to see if it’s still breathing. His phone disconencted so many times and he’d jsut disappear. It took me 9 dissapointments to finally stand my ground and walk away.

    I’m angry at myself for staying..I’m embarrassed I did for so long. And what sucks more is that he is in love and an absolute darling with his new love. NC is the way.

    You heal, you move on and you grow. You don’t completely forget what happened, and you don’t hurt less…but that scorching pain..the pain that feels like your heart was ripped… goes away. One day at a time.

  64. MaryC says:

    Just received another stupid text from the ex. The first one a week or so ago I ignored but this time I asked what he wanted and of course he said to be friends. I asked him why and does his girlfriend (the one he left me for) know he wants to be friends. Still waiting for his reply.

  65. Jane says:

    I saw this and it made me think of this post. It is so true http://oneverglow.tumblr.com/post/6598103915

  66. George says:

    Yep.

    Overcoming the feeling of loneliness and heart ache can take awhile. The best advice I can give anyone is to: keep positive, and get out there in the world ASAP.

  67. Lauren says:

    Great writing as always!! I’m recommending this post to a friend of mine. I can safely say I’m now married and glad to not experience this again – biut I wish I’d read thus 5 years ago!!

    Hope you are well, definitely long time no read :)

    Ametyl xxx

  68. runnergirl says:

    I would like to thank the commenter(s) that have recommended Meetup.com and thank you Natalie for your “dating” posts and for your response to Cavewoman. While I’m slowly getting out of stuck and working on letting go of the hurt, fantasies, and shame, I decided I’d better get a start on starting my new life otherwise I was going to procrastinate myself into my 70′s while exceeding the word limit in my journal. I forced myself to google meetup.com, rvsp for an event last night, and then actually show up. Of course, I tried to find every excuse in the book not to actually go. Since my house is clean, including all the toilets, and my school work is mostly caught up, I couldn’t justify not going. So I went. What a lovely evening it was. The propect of meeting perfect strangers was terribly scary though. However, I met some wonderful people and we had a great time listening to jazz. There was a seemingly nice (SINGLE) guy at our table with GSOH. We all exchanged numbers and he texted me on my way home that it was nice to meet me. I know that is lazy communication but under the circumstances, I wasn’t ready for a phone call and a text was fine. It was nice to be out among folks and much less stressful than dating. There is another event next weekend so we’ll see. I also joined two local hiking meetup groups. Getting out of stuck and hurt feels much better. Thank you all and good luck to you.

    • Mel says:

      @runnergirl “I forced myself to google meetup.com, rvsp for an event last night, and then actually show up. Of course, I tried to find every excuse in the book not to actually go. Since my house is clean, including all the toilets, and my school work is mostly caught up, I couldn’t justify not going. So I went.”

      Haha that sounds familiar! I joined meetup.com, and that’s pretty much how it goes for me too! It is hard to push our boundaries, sometimes it’s hard to show up. I’ve showed up for about 4 or 5 events so far, and so far for the most part I have had a good time. We might attend events or go to a coffee shop and talk about our common interest. It’s fun because there’s not a lot of pressure to impress anyone, and can talk to people who actually have the same interests as you.

  69. j d says:

    Am I still stuck on hurt?

    Six months after the breakup with my ex-EUW I still think of her sometimes, but I don’t contact her. I no longer even have the urge, though in the beginning I broke NC a couple times, and regretted it.

    I have gone out on quite a few dates; first dates only and never felt any chemistry. I don’t remember most of their names or specifics of the dates; not a good sign. I was going through the motions, not knowing what else to do. I will probably keep dating (first dates only, never leading someone on)until it doesn’t feel like going through the motions.

    Do I expect the ex to contact me? No, I don’t expect or want that any more.

    If she did contact me would I try again? I don’t know, I hope not. She isn’t the person I hoped she was and that won’t change.

    Overall I would say I am somewhat hurt, but not stuck.

    • Jane says:

      I don’t know I have a lot of mutual friends with the ex AC so my aim from the NC is a happier me and also indifference, I hope I can get to a point where inevitably seeing my ex may be an awkward inconvenience but it is not an “event” that I spend more than a minute thinking about afterwards.

      Right now I think I would spend a huge amount of time, days even weeks rehashing the past or being angry or sad so I know its for the best to avoid those social gatherings for now.

  70. Fedup says:

    I did a stupid thing and snooped on an ex AC’s facebook. The guy blew hot and cold, came on too strong, stood me up and then gave me the “I’m not ready for a relationship, I just want to be single” line. Even though a couple of montsh ago me asked me to be his girlfriend. And got angry when he tried to fast forward things and wanted to meet my parents etc.

    Now I go on facebook and he’s happy and looks in love with this new girl. He never put me on facebook. I just wanted to puke. Will he pull the same crap with her too? I hope she wises up and treats him like garbage. I can only hope.

  71. Bewildered says:

    I am soooo stuck on hurt its not funny. Maybe I am still in the anger stage and if that’s true…we have a very long road ahead of us. Although I know its not healthy, half is self induced because if I don’t keep reminding myself and my husband about what he did to us (his yet to be determined at the very least emotional affair with Sarah) I am afraid things will slip back to where they were before my discovery. That is me thinking everything was great and him saying everything was great but having the need for Sarah on the side. The other half is a mixture of humiliation, disbelief and pride. I question this womans effect on my entire 18 years of marriage.

    I could sooo easily slip back to the way it was before but a wonderful voice inside my head keeps reminding me that nobody deserves to be treated this way by anyone, let alone your husband. Do I deserve someone that will worship the ground I walk on instead of completely taking me for granted and letting me raise the kids and manage the household while he took time daily to converse with Sarah? Darn right…its working threw the hurt and muster every ounch of self esteem I have to walk away from him after his probation period is over because after all narsissists are not capable of real love of intimacy. A couple recent classic statements by him: to the marriage counselor….”we need to get on with our lives, she keeps dwelling on this, we have real jobs and a real family we need to get back to” and he comes downstairs after taking a shower and says “I smell really good don’t I?”

    Love this: “mature love is needing somone because you love them, immature love is loving someone because you need them”

    • runnergirl says:

      Bewildered, I am so sorry for your hurt, anger, pain, betrayal, disbelief, and humiliation. I’m wondering if his statements to the marriage counselor are an attempt to hit the reset button? Let’s just move on? I’d be wondering “how” too.

      Again, I am sorry your husband of 18 years has betrayed you. Your posts keep me grounded in the reality that I participated in betraying another woman, his wife of 27 years. Your posts keep me firmly grounded in NC and never participating in such deception. I wish I could pass this website on to her. My best to you.

      Hmmm, I mean this in the nicest way, I wouldn’t want to smell him either.

  72. Clay Andrews says:

    Thank you for this heart-felt post.

    I completely agree that allowing yourself to feel those suppressed emotions is really the only way to move past them. Otherwise you just end up carrying more baggage that keeps you feeling closed and unable to feel the love you really crave.

    Even though it may be difficult to look “under the rug” at all those unpleasant feelings we’d rather not experience, once you let yourself cry and grieve, there will come and end to the tears. On the other side, you’ll find a freedom and an openness that only seemed impossible before.

    -Clay

  73. fitnessfreak says:

    Looks like I’m not so stuck in hurt as I thought !
    The shark is back in the water…Que 3 heartfelt , romantic texts Saturday night ( ?? Beer o clock )
    Text one : ” are we ever gonna fuck again ” ( sweet ..bless him for the kind thought )
    Text two ” ok you not answering …why don’t you pop over in the morning for a f***y lick ”
    Text three ” ok ..you win ..we can now see each other again ”

    Thanks BR …I am still laughing :) ..thanks Nat ..no need to reply thanks to you :- )

    There is no sensible response !! ..who are you the king of Gitsville ? ..now wench ..over on the bed and spread your legs ..

    Thanks top AC …but no thanks mwah ha ha ha ..go find yourself another wench …this one found her self respect .

    • Elle says:

      That is just so ridiculous! He looks so silly, and a bit twisted – because you’ve won the power game, he can see you again – talk about having his own brand of susceptibility to the old hot-and-cold game! He’s up for games only. Glad you get to have this opportunity to exercise a clear and clean boundary. All the best!

    • Magnolia says:

      fitness! … how unbelievably rude. Bless him for giving you an extra dose of clarity if you didn’t already have it before, which you did anyway. It’s telling that you not answering means, to him, “you win.” It’s too bad these guys see getting us to respond as a matter of getting us to play by their rules and “winning,” but in this case he’s right.

      You’re in NC. You see him for what he is. You win!

    • Spinster says:

      HELL No. What a vulgar asinine jerk. Good for you for not answering this dick-wad.

  74. Maggie says:

    I stumbled upon this blog by complete accident a week ago, and I’ve been reading it consistently ever since. It’s made a lot of my thoughts and feelings about my last relationship just click for me, like you’re all articulating what I’ve been feeling but have been unable to make sense of. My last relationship was my first experience with an assclown (I didn’t even know this ‘type’ of guy existed! I just thought my ex was a complete head case) , and it really did a number on me. By the end of it, my confidence and self-esteem was destroyed and I was miserable. I just couldn’t understand how somebody who had talked about marriage and a future with me could drop off face of the earth for three weeks with flimsy excuses, how he could find time for his buddies but was always too busy for me, and how even though I told him he was hurting me he could knowingly do so over and over again. I just didn’t understand why he was doing the things he was doing when he was supposed to love me, and why he didn’t just end things when I gave him every opportunity to do so. Anyway, long story short, I broke up with him and have stuck with NC 100% for the past seven months. No calls, texts, emails. Nothing. But I’ve had such a hard time forgetting him and moving on, and I have a habit of ruminating and rethinking our entire relationship and what went wrong. This blog has helped me see what kind of a man he really was. It’s made sense of everything that I knew all along, but couldn’t understand, so thank you everybody for putting your experiences out there for people like me to come across. I’m finally starting to let go of that toxic relationship and all of the pain that came with ending it, and I can now see him for the selfish, disrespectful, inconsiderate, thoughtless assclown he is.

  75. Enelra says:

    I am not going to lie, I know that I’m still stuck on the hurt, and I am not ashamed. What I went through has taken a lot, and I used to worse than before but it depends on the relationship and the healing process…

    5 years ago, I met a guy. We started out as friends, but as time went, our feeling grew. But, ( and here’s the but) everytime I get close, he would reject me, then string me along…. Now, this wasn’t my first relationship, I had dated before, but never loved before. He was my first love and I experience this at 33.
    Our relationship was psuedo , then it went mentally and psychologically abusive. But I stayed.
    Well, the abuse got worst and I couldn’t handle it anymore, but at the same time he was my best friend. After 5 years, the last fight, I couldn’t take the abuse anymore and I took a break… Well, this is where it became a nightmare. (Trust me, the whole thing was a nightmare.)
    In 3 weeks of the break, he met a new woman, and a year later, he married her. For me, I am still hurting, not for my love for him, but the reasons why? Well when majority of relationships ends, couples stop talking to another. He didn’t. While he was dating her, got engaged, and got married to her, he pretty much ran my name and character to all of our former friends, my family (and his), job, school, and the home church and churches we use to attend together. For over 2 months, he told my mother that I was abusing him and robbing him (my own mother wanted nothing to do with me because of him). He would call and leave abusive messages about how beautiful and young his new girlfriend is, how he’s going to marry her, and I’ll never meet anyone else after him, and other heinous things. There are other things, but it’s too abusive to mention. He also invited me to his wedding, and put on the invitation that I was his sister. I didn’t go.
    A year ago, I couldn’t breathe, and I didn’t know what to do. With the abuse and everything that entitled with that, I had a nervous breakdown. I had loved him so much (and wanted to marry him) and he did every vicious thing he could he do, and he did it. Now, in the present, I have come a long way from the initial hurt and pain. I have slowly started dating again, but I know I’m still hurting. I don’t love him anymore. So, I am not ashamed to say that I’m still hurting. It takes time…

  76. Rosegirl says:

    I ended a relationship about a month ago that was quite abusive … it’s only now however that I am beginning to see it for what it was. He told me he loved me within a week of meeting for the first time, within two weeks I had met his parents and within three he was asking me to move abroad with him (he was moving away for work). We had already established a connection online before meeting. He seemed decent … popular, well regarded, attractive and from a decent family. I was flattered and completely swept away by him. I come from an extremely dysfunctional background, I was abused frequently as a child and suffer from PTSD. I made him aware of this pretty early on my admission seemed to make him like me more. He was amazed that I had survived through so much.
    However there were a number of things that happened that made me call him into question. He began pressuring me for sex pretty much right away … he would playfully try to take my clothes off despite the fact that I had made it abundantly clear to him that I wanted to keep them on. He frequently made jokes at my expense would make fun of my appearance, my smell, my intellect, my mental health …. calling my crazy, mental etc …. however these were all jokes and he assured me when I seemed upset that if he ever thought any of these things that he would never say it. He was often very controlling. At a party with his gay friends he tried to pull down my top to show them the bruises he had accidentally put there the night before by being too rough (they were pretty severe) … he blurted out ‘do you wanna see my gf’s boobs?’ and proceeded to try and get my top down while I was holding onto it for dear life asking him politely to stop. He stopped eventually but his friends payed no notice … he seemed so ok with it … I let it pass. Another time we were walking down a secluded street when he proceeded to pull my top down. When I tried to pull it back up he kept it forced down … he’s a lot stronger than me and said ‘Where’s the fun adventurous girl you said you were? Be a bit wild.’ I felt that perhaps I was being prudish and let him keep my top town but I felt humiliated and manipulated. He eventually let me pull my top up when some cars began approaching. He did and said a lot of questionable things but the very good behavior was mixed in with the bad I often felt confused and because…

    • NML says:

      Rosegirl, your story sent shivers through me. Let me give you a piece of advice for future reference – Never, ever, ever, ever, ever share information about your past to an uninvestigated and as yet to earn your trust party especially if what you share is like a heads up warning and a partial ‘Please don’t hurt me because of what I’ve been through’. Trust me when I say this from my own experiences of those and many others. It is better to continue working on these issues but not use them to shape your interactions because this man has taken what you have shared and exploited it. He’s a disgusting little pissant and he himself is abusing you.

      This is also why I caution about Fast Forwarding. If you don’t hear alarm bells ringing when someone says they love you on week one, introduces you to their parents on week 2 and asks you to move abroad on week 3, they will assume that anything they ask of you is acceptable – ie the sleeping with him. Trying to make you show your BRUISES and your BREASTS – abominable behaviour.

      Rosegirl, please arrange to see a professional today. Those were not accidental bruises nor accidental roughness. He has bruised you and roughed you up on purpose. He’s not playful – he’s an abuser cloaking his actions as love and affection and making you out to be awkward. Most women are not comfortable with a man pulling their top down when they’re out/in weird circumstances. It’s not prudish – it’s boundaries. Normal, respectful, decent human beings do not behave as he has. Fact is, it is because of your childhood experiences that you don’t recognise how wrong his behaviour is but it IS wrong and he also sounds dangerous.

      • Rosegirl says:

        He seemed so normal, so fun … when he goes out he’s the centre of attention, well regarded and liked. The way he was when those incidents happened .. he acted as it it was perfectly normal behaviour. I remember saying to myself ‘this isn’t right’ but sometimes for me it’s just hard to know … with past history of abuse it becomes hard to distinguish between abnormal and normal behaviour … and for me I found it even harder he was a young, popular, well brought up man. I was the dysfunctional one in my view. He called me crazy and mental so many friggin times I began to believe it. Plus he’d act so loving and affectionate and nice most of the time but then he mixed in with this other stuff … ‘jokes’, this pure selfishness and lack of consideration and those ridiculous incidents … you just become confused and it starts to change you.
        Now I’m away from it a substantial amount of time I can see things a lot clearer and now he’s off, we have no contact. I can’t even let him know I know these things now. It’s hard to let go of that hurt without a resolution and also with the fear that his behaviour will escalate some day and someone else will have to go through what I did or worse.

    • Magnolia says:

      Rosegirl,

      There is no question that man had no love for you, no matter what he said, or he would never have treated you that way. GOOD FOR YOU that you broke up with such a dangerous person.

      I’m not sure how you were going to end your post, but I assume you might be making the link between what you were forced to take in your past and what you have accepted in the present.

      Do listen to Natalie and act as soon as you can on your own behalf to see a counsellor. And if you can try to get a reference from a trusted source.

      As someone who is still on my own journey in healing from childhood violence, and from opening up to and trusting the wrong men in my search for protection, I know it is scary as heck to think that revealing your need for gentleness (which in the right situation makes total sense) is something that must be done only after trust has been established.

      When I read your story it brought me back to memories of more than one guy who seemed to turn calculating and dominant, rather than empathetic, when I told them of my history of abuse. It’s awful to realize it, but there are lots of screwed up men out there just waiting to hear that you’ve been beaten, because they know it will be easier to get you to submit to them.

      I’ve learned so much from this site. Welcome, read lots, and know there are lots of women here who have been through a shitload and can support you. Hugs.

  77. Rosegirl says:

    Hey I got cut off.

    The story ended with …

    Well I stayed with him for some time after that. His interest began to rapidly dip and as it began to fade I became really really depressed and started to drink pretty heavily. He would tell me that he loved me and that there was no better girl than me and he would be very very nice sometimes but then he would just do things that would put it into question. He was quite critical and nitpicky … once at his work I used the bathroom after he had cleaned it and later he confronted me and said ‘for future reference if you see I’m after cleaning the bathroom don’t use it my boss would’ve made me clean it again’ … just ridiculous things.
    I began to realize that he was going to destroy me if I stayed with him. I didn’t trust him and I knew I was never going to. So I finished with him and began no contact after a short explanation … I’m not sure if this was appropriate he seemed very hurt and angry but I just felt for my own health I best cut him out. I’ve cracked twice in contacting him briefly.

    Now a month later I am still hurt and finding it hard to let go. I’m over him and over my need for his approval but it’s only just dawning on me how badly he treated me at times and as a result how bad I began to treat myself and him. I’m so angry I just want to go up to him and say ‘hey scum, you practically assaulted me!!!!’ but I know there’s no point … he’d probably deny it or call me a drama queen or psycho.

    A lot of this has brought up a lot of past hurt … feelings of rejection, shame but most of all hurt!

    I don’t know how to let go of it I feel in this situation if I let go of the hurt … I let him get away with what he did even though he’s skipped off on his merry way, is having fun … and I’m left holding the pieces and coming to these realizations that he DID exploit my weaknesses and take advantage.

    Anyhow yes, it’s easy to get stuck on hurt especially when the reason for your hurt, the person who caused it … hasn’t a care in the world or seems that way at least.

    • Magnolia says:

      “I’m over him and over my need for his approval but it’s only just dawning on me how badly he treated me” …

      I hear a lot of confidence and self-esteem in your assessment of the situation, realizing that for your own health you best cut him out, and your decision to go NC. After an experience like yours it is totally normal to go through the aftershocks of anger – healthy, even.

      Natalie writes in one of her posts about how with her last breakups she managed to come out “on the other side” without hanging on to a bunch of hurt, and that it was because she processed the feelings “as they happened” through her blog and friends etc. She felt the feelings.

      Sounds like you’re in the anger stage, mainly, and more power to you. It’s only been a month and rather than sounding stuck, you sound like you’re processing and feeling the legitimate feelings that come from having had your boundaries crossed.

      • runnergirl says:

        Rosegirl, I can’t add much more that what Natalie and Magnolia have provided. I want you to know that I have walked in your shoes and you are not alone. The “joking” insults and putdowns are classic forms of verbal abuse. They are NOT jokes. He is sick and deliberately is demeaning you. I lived this too. They verbally abuse us, then justify it by saying we are “crazy” for not getting the “joke”. We are left wondering whether he was right and we were wrong. Bottom line, HE IS WRONG. The bruises you describe are very serious and in the US would be classified as physical abuse and a felony. He didn’t “practically assault you”. He did assualt you on many levels based on your description.

        Regarding him skipping off on his merry way: He isn’t. He may find another victim to verbally and physically abuse. And after that he may find another and another after that. You can’t save them. You aren’t that person anymore. I hear you on how hard it is to let go becuase he seemed to be such a cool guy, so normal, so liked. Both of my verbal and physical abusers were very cool, and admired by everyone and we had really great times, except when we didn’t. I was dumbfounded to discover their very dark, sick side. Nobody would believe me because they were so cool and so smart. It is is really difficult to focus on the experiences of the abuse. It is much easier to focus on the good times. Don’t.

        The only way I escaped my physical and verbal abusers was through counseling. I wish you the best. As Mag said, he doesn’t love you. As Natalie said, love doesn’t hurt like this.

        Love isn’t physical bruises which must be shown to his friends. I’m so sorry.

        • Rosegirl says:

          He completely manipulated me into thinking that these things were ‘affectionate’ and ‘playful’ … trying to get off my clothes playfully even though I made it clear I wanted them to stay on, restraining me during ‘playfights’ ignoring me and laughing when I’d say ‘seriously stop it’, making jokes about the way I dressed or looked or ‘I’m the better looking one/more popular one in the relationship’ etc, etc, etc … but of course he never meant them when I asked him did he?? … he’d say that I have to stop being so insecure and be more confident and take a joke, that he didn’t mean them.
          He would be complimentary also and proud to have me around his friends and family and his people would come up to me and tell me how great he is and how lucky I am.
          Because I was the ‘crazy’ one I often questioned myself … was I blowing things out of proportion? So I stayed a lot longer than I should have.
          I’ve learnt some valuable lessons here but it’s going to take some time to get rid of the hurt, to get unstuck. I see a councillor already and that’s beneficial.

          • EllyB says:

            @Rosegirl: Sorry to put it bluntly, but this guy was such an a…hole, such an incredible a…hole! I’m so glad you got rid of him. I hope you’ll get better soon. I’m sure you will!

            However, I can guess where you come from. I’ve put up with similar treatment, probably because my mother did the same to me. She overstepped my boundaries whenever she could, she ridiculed me, she made pervert remarks, she encouraged my father to humiliate and sexually molest me… My own mother!!!

            People like that are bad, bad, bad news. It’s very painful to face the fact that someone like a parent has done such things to you, but it’s necessary, because otherwise you’re bound to repeat this experience over and over again. Unfortunately, there are too many AC out there who take advantage of that.

            Good luck for you!

          • Rosegirl says:

            I think as well when you have been through worse in your life it can be very easy to disregard and overlook things that most people would be horrified at.

  78. Spinster says:

    Whoa. This is a tough one. Gonna need a moment.

  79. jennifer says:

    My problem isn’t facing the pain. Well, sometimes it is. I think we are all in denial about our relationships at some time or another. For me, once I plunge into the pain of a break up, I stay there for much, much longer than I should. I mourned over my last boyfriend for 2 years. And only then did i slowly emerge from the fog. I guess my question is, how do you effectively deal with the pain, feelings of a huge loss, feeling lost, lonely and scared…..without it completely derailing ur life?

    • Rosegirl says:

      I’m usually of the inclination that success is the best form of revenge … if you focus on bettering yourself and keep in your head that you are not going to let it, whatever it may be .. defeat you …
      easier said than done though.

  80. TnLinda says:

    Just noticed your bd is July 28 right? My bd is July 28 as well!! Enjoy reading your blog and getting the needed kick in the pants on occassion. Thanks for your wisdom and support. Happy bd to us!!!

  81. Sabrina says:

    I will always remember this last Corpus Christi as the worst time of my life. Ever.

    I kept buried inside me YEARS of pain: my sister who died at the age of 23 due to a heart attack, 7 months later it was my ex-brother-in-law who died at the age of 30, then my ex-husband who became hypocondriac and started to show his assholness, then we moved to another country, then I had a miscarriage, then I split up with my ex, then I got slapped in the face, then he tried to commit suicide, then I got divorced. In the meantime I started my love story (?) with Mr. Unavailable. Oh, here’s the cherry of my pie: all my family and closest friends live in Brazil, my home country, while I live in Austria. :-)

    So, while having a therapy session, my doc warned me about an emotional tsunami I was going to deal with. At the beginning I tried to force it, trying to get drunk to let myself run free while riding the pain. Finally it hit me, thanks to Mr. Unavailable, who gave me a damn rain check on a very important celebration: my first Austrian permit of stay after getting divorced. It hit me so bad that I cried for 4 days and a half, no kidding.

    And the funniest was I started crying because of his being jerk; when I least expected I was truly mourning my late daughter and all the sorrow because of her loss came to the surface, as all the other pain that was buried somewhere inside my heart.

    Now that the liaison (?) with Mr. Unavailable is over (at least for me; he’s starting to heat again), the grieving is somehow easier to cope with. It damn hurts, of course, since I do love that jackass, but it sort of empowering to realize that is not a shame to *feel* our feelings and deal with them. It feels like the real healing is just behind the corner.

  82. Resigned says:

    Natalie, thanks for putting all of this out there. I’m sitting here thinking, I can identify and understand what I’m angry and why, I can articulate all of the “reasons,” etc., but I know that, no matter how much “understanding” or perspective I have, the truth is that I will get hurt again.

    Sometimes it will be because I didn’t see something coming; other times, I can see it coming, I can do everything I can to avoid it, and it’s going to hurt again. People are human, and they do thoughtless, sometimes meanspirited things. I can’t control that. I can choose to not get hurt again by isolating myself from people, which sucks, or I can put myself in the position of getting hurt again, but I can’t stop people from being thoughtless or meanspirited.

    The ones that I can “catch in the act” so to speak will still do it, but they’ll get better at not getting caught, or they’ll apologize until they (or I) realize that the apologies are hollow. They won’t learn to treat me better if they don’t know how to be better, or if they don’t choose to be better. They’ll just move on to someone else.

    And no matter how good I get at seeing what’s happening, I’ll just meet different people doing different sh*tty things to the people that get close to them. That’s all. And probably, in the process, I will be doing my own thoughtless or mean things to people that I don’t value as highly as I value other people. I’ll just be higher up the hill down which sh*t rolls.

  83. Mel Ting says:

    Natalie,
    You are brilliant. I too am in the 10 days “No Contact” post break up grieving place. Wish it was as simple as pushing the ERASE button and the pain is instantly gone and BOOM, I’m healed. Fortunately I discovered your articles and website which have been TREMENDOUSLY helpful in helping me sort things out. Your perspective on relationships has given me invaluable insight. I know grieving is a process you can’t rush through but with a support forum like yours, it makes it more bearable. Preach on, Sista!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!

My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!