I must first offer my story.
The time frame is April 2010 until February 2011. We met through mutual friends. She flirted heavily with me, but then started dating another guy and flaunted him all over Facebook. When things would go wrong, she would lead me to believe they would break up and she would come back to me. Whenever it seemed like she would do it, she would go back to him and dedicate herself entirely to him. She would never hear my side of the story or acknowledge my feelings. Many times, I was the one apologizing.
They eventually broke up. Thinking she had matured during her relationship, I asked her out three months later. Things went well for the first couple of dates. It seemed like we were going somewhere until she disappeared without warning or explanation. She wouldn’t respond to any communication attempts, but would add friends and applications on Facebook, update her page, and comment on her friends. She even ignored her (at the time) best friend; we were the only two she ignored. After about two weeks, we reestablished contact. She told me everything was fine and we would hang out again soon. However, she seemed distant.
"Remove all channels of communication and never look back."
One day, while I was at work, one of her friends texted me and told me to leave her alone. When I got home, another one Facebooked me and said the same thing. When I asked her, she responded with the most hurtful things anyone has ever said to me, the worst among them being "you are nothing I want in a man and you never will be." To this day, I still don’t know what I did wrong.
I use the term “bad” generically to include manipulation, cheating, physical abuse, sexual use, or anything identifying a bad situation. There are things to consider: the type and severity of the mistreatment, the length of the relationship, and how dedicated you were. Also consider your personality, your temperament, and support from family and friends.
Some of you have experienced worse than I have; compared to those, what I went though wasn’t that bad. However, I still know what it’s like to feel used and broken. I figured out how to bounce back and would be remiss if I didn’t at least offer my methods. I do not promise you the same outcome as mine. This is what worked for me. I have absolute confidence in it and urge you to try.
1. As with any problem-solving process, the first step is to identify the problem.
In this case, your relationship is over and you are devastated. Cut all contact with your ex. If you knew them, cut off their friends and their family as well. Remove all channels of communication and never look back. Most importantly, do not apologize to them.
2. Don’t dwell on how bad they were to you even though you were good to them.
You will only drive yourself crazy.
3. Don’t try to understand them.
Knowing how poison works doesn’t make it any less deadly. Don’t defend them. “They were such a good parent/lover when they weren’t angry or drunk!” You still lived in fear. Don’t sympathize with them. “They had a bad background!” What right does that give them to hurt you? You are not their therapist. If you try to be, you will hurt yourself more and you will drag your family and friends down with you.
4. Desire recovery.
You must want to heal so you can love and be loved again. You cannot carry these burdens with you into a new relationship, let alone the rest of your life. A friend of mine once said “bury it or be buried with it”. It’s morbid, but true.
5. Get angry.
I want to be happy, but sometimes, I think negative emotions get a bad rap. Every emotion we feel is the product of human experience. They were not invented by one gender, religion, political party, or race over another. They are our natural reactions to the world around us. When controlled, anger can do more good than given credit for. Use it to create emotional distance from your ex. Elevate yourself; “I’m too good for him/her”, but lower them as well; “He/she is not good enough for me”. Don’t stay angry, though. Once it has served it’s purpose, let it go.
6. Listen to empowering music.
All art forms have their own way of affecting us, but music seems to have the most powerful. Pick a song that has a rebellious sound and makes your spine tingle a little bit. Mine was Creed - Overcome. Every aspect of the song reflected me. The lyrics perfectly described how I felt. The clean guitars and angry vocals during the verses animated the conflicting emotions before going into the heavy, distorted chorus. The guitar solo added a “screw you” type of vibe by combining blues, shredding, and legato runs.
Have a whole playlist if you want. Don’t stop with just one song. Avoid songs with lyrics about hurt and loneliness as the dominant themes, even if the music itself expresses anger, i.e., Stricken (Disturbed) or How You Remind Me (Nickelback). Pick songs like Fireproof (Pillar) or Bully (Shinedown). Include one that’s not heavy, but still tells someone off, i.e., I’ll Take You Back (Brad Paisley).
7. When you are finally ready to let it go, hand write everything out on paper, even if you repeat yourself.
Write everything you’ve wanted to say, everything you contributed to the relationship, and all the ways they hurt you. I’d vocally expressed every bit of anger, confusion, and sadness to my friends and even typed everything out, but nothing helped. One friend suggested writing it by hand. I blew it off at first, but finally gave it a try. The next day, I felt no more anger. I only recently understood that when you write it by hand, you can see the emotion on the paper in front of you. Mindset is important, though. Everything is on paper, so it should no longer be on your mind or your heart.
"Write everything you’ve wanted to say, everything you contributed to the relationship, and all the ways they hurt you. Everything is on paper, so it should no longer be on your mind or your heart."8. The final step: Dispose of the papers in a symbolic way.
Don’t just throw them in the trash. Bury them. If you live near an ocean or river, put them in a small box and release it. Being of religious persuasion, I recommend burning them, along with your favorite picture of your ex; burn it last. If you had a good support system, have them witness the event and even participate. I invited my friend to burn one of my several pages when I performed this step in his backyard.
You must allow some time to pass so the smoke can clear, though. It took me eleven months, from February 2011 to January 2012; I didn’t know what to do. Hopefully, it won’t take as long for you. My test wasn’t long after Step 7. We walked right by each other at the mall and even made eye contact. I felt a brief surge of anger, but by the time I got to work, I had forgotten about it completely.
I don’t have all the answers. If you face problems more serious than what I have offered solutions for, I urge you to see a minister or professional counselor. If your ex stalks you and you believe your health is at risk, speak with the authorities.
I recommend two of my other articles as well. Shyness and Confidence: Knowing the Difference. Coming soon: Shyness and Confidence II! because the classic "Do girls like shy guys?" question brought me to GAG. I am shy and seriously lacked confidence until the end of last year, especially after her.
I may take heat for it, but I believe in it too strongly not to recommend Sex and Marriage. When we are willing to share that much of ourselves with someone, we risk being taken advantage of. We think someone will love us if we are sexually pleasing to them, such as Will he love me more if I give him great blow jobs? We question if someone really loves us or just wants sex, or we become fearful of loving again, as in this question: Scared of having sex.
There is no excuse for mistreating someone. It saddens me to have to write this, but it must be done. Know that you deserve much better than what you’ve had. Do not be bound by past pain. Why should you hide from love for fear of hurting again? Why allow some low-life to hurt you even after the relationship is over? Your life awaits you. Live it!