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Astounding amounts of negativity...

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I'm a long time lurker, but joined ENA mostly to add stories to my favorite thread:


Now that I've branched out to other thread and boards, I must say that the amount of negativity and identifying oneself as the victim I see is shocking. Obviously, everyone needs to process their own life and emotions however they see fit, but I believe that advice stemming from this outlook can cause people to develop harmful barriers to relationships with future partners, romantic or otherwise.

To be fair, I don't believe many people even realize they are playing the victim. However, in cases where you are saying "an ex is an ex for a reason," or "reconciliation is impossible because people never change," or even that "someone who loves you never leaves," you are playing the victim because you are viewing the world from the perspective that only your viewpoint and emotions are valid.

To extrapolate: if you see your SO leaving as them inflicting an injury upon you, you are viewing yourself as a victim, with them as the injuring party. In doing so you (1) invalidate their emotions and experience, (2) view your emotions and viewpoint as the only worthwhile perspective on what occurred, (3) believe that they are incapable of autonomy and the ability to decide what's best for themselves.

You are invalidating your ex's emotions and experience because you are effectively saying that they couldn't have a good reason for their choice. I think it's important to understand that everyone's decisions are made based on what they were feeling and what made sense for them at the time. If you don't accept that, you don't accept who they are. Additionally, by treating your take on the break-up and your view of their motives as the only interpretation of events ("she just got bored"; "he got GIGs"; "he's selfish and is a player who doesn't know what he wants"; "he's sending me breadcrumbs") you are missing something fundamental - we are all people, we all do things for "selfish" reason. We all are motivated to do what what makes us happy, makes us feel good, helps us improve. Why are you trying to only remember the negative about your ex? Because you think, in doing so, you will be able to stop the emotional pain you are experiencing. Additionally, in thinking they should have stayed - even if they had their reasons to go - you are basically taking the viewpoint that your happiness is more important than their own. They decided that, at that point in time, their happiness was better served by them not being with you. Why should your needs take precedent over theirs?

Only your ex can know their motive for leaving - and sometimes, just like every human in certain situations, they might not even have the ability to express why they did what they did. Why should someone on the internet who doesn't know them, you, or your relationship be able to understand that motive - much less that leaving you is simply because they're a horrible person? Your ex is someone who you know well and chose to love - try to trust treat your ex's decision with the same compassion as you would treat yourself.

I would also be wary of internet advice telling you that you should never take someone back or that things will never change. Why should you, much less a stranger on the internet, get to decide for your ex that they can never change or improve? I find this incredibly hypocritical, when a major focus of this forum is to take time and NC to improve yourself. Are you the only one capable of growth and change? Is no one else allowed to change their mind or to reflect on what they've done and decide they want to do it better?

The only thing a person has control over is their own actions. It is important to set your boundaries because that helps you have strength in your self-worth and gives you guidelines how to live your life. If you view someone leaving your life an ultimate betrayal that you cannot forgive, you obviously have the option of cutting that person out of your life and never allowing them to return. However, I believe it is important to question whether you are doing this out of a place of fear. You fear the emotional pain caused by someone leaving. You fear that, if you let them back into your life, they will hurt you again. You fear the sense of self-doubt and loss of self-esteem that comes with someone leaving. However - those fears all originate within yourself. Another person does not cause your emotions. Another person has no responsibility for your emotions. Another person has no control over your self-esteem. 

The fear is an insecurity. The fear makes you selfish and allows you to play the victim - you are effectively saying that that you only want to be with someone who puts your emotions above everything else, even their own needs. Truly ask yourself if you want to be with someone who has so little self-respect that they will only do things to make you happy, even if it isn't what's best for them. Ask yourself if you're the type of person who wants to force someone to do that - and doesn't care that asking that of them makes them unhappy.

We can't force another person to act or feel a certain way. However, we can choose to be open and understanding and compassionate. I have taken the stance that it is better to think the best of people, and be open to love, and understand people may sometimes need to leave my life in order to do things for themselves - just as I have sometimes left people's lives because it was important for me to do so at the time. If some of those people choose to come back, I will continue to be open and understanding. If they choose to leave again, I will continue to be open and understanding. Other people are unpredictable and out of our control. There is no certainty for how long anyone (a new partner or an old one) will be able to stay in your life - by choice, or by circumstance. Every person can, and will, change - just as you yourself continuously change. 

Obviously, you also should value yourself and decide what constitutes disrespect and don't allow yourself to be used or treated poorly. But if someone changes and returns showing that they have improved and their actions are loving and respectful, and if reconciliation is something you're interested, why wouldn't you allow them back into your life? 

I do agree that you shouldn't live hoping that someone returns - but that's just because, again, you can't totally control or predict another person will do. They might return, they might not, someone else might enter your life in the meantime. No one can tell you. Not even the person who you hope will return. But if you live your life in a way that is fulfilling to you and you are empathetic and compassionate, the people who are meant to be in your life will be in your life. 



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Thanks for writing this. This is what I needed to hear in my life at this point. 

You can see my post history, but I'm currently going through a breakup and we've been NC for about a month. It's been so hard as this is my first relationship, and I keep swinging between the extremes of vehemently hating him for hurting me so much and putting myself down for making mistakes and not trying harder.

Lots of rumination in the past (if I had done this differently it would've been different, why was this so sudden, why didnt he communicate his issues with the relationship to me), and anxiety about the future (is he thinking about me right now, how much does he miss me, is he going to reach out soon?).  

This post helped me realize that the ideal place to get to would be respect and compassion for the other person's feelings and why they did what they did, while also detaching and healing yourself. Forgiving them for hurting you by understanding what they went through, and forgiving myself as well. 

What is your current situation, and how have you been handling your pain?

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I'm sorry you're going through this, and thank you for asking!

I know this isn't what you want to hear, but (at least in my experience), one month is early in the healing process. However, I hope knowing this allows you to forgive yourself and understand that it's truly not your fault that your emotions are swinging back and forth like this. Honestly - I'm six months in, and my emotions are still not fully settled (though it's finally started to get better).

I have had other relationships and break-ups in the past, but this is definitely the one that has hit me the hardest. I did, and still do, think we had the most amazing relationship and connection. However, my ex had personal issues he needed to sort out (and they were affecting the relationship, though I honestly was not bothered by them) and evidently he decided it was only possible for him to sort those things out without me around. It hurt(s) so unbelievably much - I was shocked that I could feel that depth of emotional pain honestly.

I am the type of person who typically is able to fully control everything around me and I usually don't get stressed or anxious. However, I have felt every strong negative emotion, except anger, during these past six months (anxiety, depression, overwhelming sadness, fear, hopelessness, you name it). It has been hard to deal with it - especially because I do harbor hopes for reconciliation.

The relationship ended amicably (though it was completely one-sided, in that I didn't want it at all) so we have had some contact. We have mostly been in NC though (for months at a time) - not as an agreed-upon rule or anything, but because I think we both need space from each other in order to deal with our own emotions at the moment.

I exercise and walk a lot, and I'm working remotely so have taken the opportunity to travel and work remotely from those new locations. I am very rational and analytical, so I have felt the need to analyze all of my internal thoughts and responses to what's going on so that I can have a narrative and approach to the situation that matches my values and see the world. One of the hardest things to accept is that I can't have control in the situation, but that my belief in compassion and empathy demands that I need to respect and accept other people's choices. I also very firmly believe that no one is responsible for our emotions other than ourselves - that has been a huge driver in me realizing that, if I feel bad, I'm the one who has to take care of it. It's not my ex's responsibility to make me feel better.

Hope this helps in any way! 

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