Many times I read posts and emails from people who, hurt and upset, turn their wrath on the soon-to-be-ex and say things like, “Our relationship never meant anything to you.” or “I just wasted x years of my life with this.” or “How could you do this after saying you loved me..” etc etc etc. or they become obsessed, OBSESSED, with “How can one person say this one day and then the next day it’s over?” These are themes we’ve gone over before on here.
We either want to lash out or demand answers to questions that have no answers. It’s a way of saying “ I’m hurt and I want you to feel how much..” or “ Here’s my hurt. FEEL IT.”
We want to make sense out of something that doesn’t makes sense TO US.
We want to shoot verbal arrows hoping to penetrate the armour.
We want to find the one place where the ex still holds some tender thoughts and feelings for us and we want to make it hurt the way we hurt.
We want to make them flinch and we want to let them know we are down but not out.
It’s like a contest. Us versus the feelings they say they don’t have. And we know we win when we reveal the feelings we know they do have. But what have we won? Not a lot of anything. We’ve won an acknowledgment from someone who once had ENORMOUS feelings for us that they stil have a little feeling for us. We’ve won an acknowledgment that it might not yet be over. We’ve also bought a little bit of time for a relationship that is truly in its death throes. Keeping it on life support is not going to change the inevitable truth: its about to or already has died.
It’s very hard to take an emotional beating and say “ Thanks, it’s been great. Have a nice life.” We are wounded and we want to lash out and say nasty things. Or maybe nasty things are being said to us. Uncalled for things. Sure, break my heart and blame me for it.
We can’t be saints and just sit there and take it…so we lash out.
I’ve written on here about the time I ended a relationship because we each had come to a point in our personal journeys where the relationship no longer worked.
Together and alone, we each had done a lot of personal improvement, had worked out kinks in the relationship, used the relationship to figure out what needed healing and healed it, loved each other and had built a nice life together.
For the most part we ended things with dignity and grace. But a few times, and once it happened in a restaurant, I became upset and started crying and/or yelling at him.
My intellectual self understood that the end was necessary, and my “getting better” self really didn’t want someone who couldn’t seem to tend to his emotional problems inside a relationship without blowing it up. I knew that if we went on at this point it was going to be detrimental to both of us. I really didn’t have what it would take to get us through his inner searching. My insecurities had already been rearing their ugly heads and I was feeling less and less important as the weeks wore on. The situation was becoming very difficult and I just hurt and I wanted to stop hurting.
But tearing our world apart, and having to explain this to my kids who were quite close to him, would get to me sometimes. And the emotional part of me would just lash out every now and again.
Why did it have to be like this?
What was wrong with the way things had been?
Actually there was nothing terribly wrong with how anything had been. Our life had been working well. We were happy. The kids were happy. Our pets were happy. We had a nice house, a good life, fine friends. We traveled, we each had hobbies and outside interests. We both went to therapy and made self-improvement a priority.
But something was not sitting right inside of him and he had to go find out what that was. He wasn’t “finished” and until he was a finished product, he couldn’t continue the commitment that our relationship demanded.
And on most levels, I didn’t want him to but on a deeper, more childish “I want what I want when I want it” level, I was having a temper tantrum about where we were.
We had promised each other that if the time came when we hit a wall, we would go to counseling. I reminded him of this promise. He knew he was reneging but it wasn’t couples counseling he needed. It was something else. I was powerless to do a damn thing about that. And that made me angry.
It was hard on both of us, on the kids, on our pets, on our friends. But it was at the end. It was over. And there was nothing that anyone could do about it.
Sometimes there is no explaining how we, the once mighty WE, the once invincible US, the love story that no one thought would ever quit, happened to have gotten here.
Sometimes relationships just take a wrong turn and there is no turning back from that wrong turn. Sometimes endings just happen. Sometimes people do wake up one morning and think, “I want to do something else.” or “I want to be with someone else.” or, in our case, “There’s more work I need to do before I can truly commit to anyone.”
And it hurts and it’s hard.NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.
And sometimes we want to take all of our anger and all of our pain and throw it at them. That or a lamp.
Even when we know what we need to do: write about it, talk about it, feel our feelings and move on…we don’t WANT to do that.
We have moments in our moving on where we don’t want to talk to our friends, we don’t want to curl up in bed and cry, we don’t want to go on a date with someone new, we don’t want to work out, we don’t want to find new friends, new interest and new goals. We don’t want to do the stupid relationship inventory or life inventory or goodbye letter. We just want to shriek at the ex and say things like “How COULD you?”
And if the ex does not happen to be around we just turn the questions with no answers around and around in our head. And that is what we want to do. And that’s ALL we want to do. Even when we know we are living in the wrong questions, the ones without answers, the ones that are going to keep us stuck and miserable, we go there anyway. And we stay there…and there is no good for us.
Being angry or stuck in the question continues the relationship and keeps it continuing…and we need for it to END.
Most of us start having “relationships” in middle school. We then have a series of relationships through high school and early adult hood.
What most of these relationships have in common is that we have them, we leave them and hurt or get angry or do nothing until another one comes along.
What we don’t do, officially, is close them. We drag them with us, through the next relationship and the next and the next and the next.
So our life becomes a string of relationships that are not quite over because they’re unsettled and unfinished in some way. And we keep taking them with us.
If we get stuck in the “anger at the other person” or endless questions about the hows and whys and did we matter and do they think of us and what is going on NOW (months after it has ended), we don’t get to close it…we don’t get to TAKE CHARGE of the ending.
Because the REAL ending happens when it ends within us. When we take charge of the ending and point ourselves in the direction of our future, not our past.
When our recovery becomes about us and not about them. When our questions are about what were WE doing in the relationship and what have we learned and what are we going to do next, NOT what are they thinking and do they think about us and did we ever really matter and what did he or she mean when he or she said x, y, or z.
Instead of being swept along by the questions that come up at random when we’re feeling down or bored or lonely….we take charge by deciding what the questions are, we take charge of the ending. WE decide how it ends for us. We become the person who decides when it ends and how it ends. We don’t let the ending happen to us, we take charge of it and of our own lives.
Our bored or restless brains might be swept up in the questions about what they meant and how they meant it or or what happened and how it happened and what are they doing now and are they thinking of us and do they hate us or want us or trying to make us jealous and does he or she really like that person they seem to be dating/screwing/marrying?
But we can say STOP and IT DOESN’T MATTER.. Remember: it doesn’t matter what he or she is thinking or feeling or doing. So long as we are stuck over there in those questions, we never never never get to move on. We do the Relationship Inventory and the Life Inventory to see, REALLY SEE, what was going on with the ex, with ourselves, with our lives. We answer the questions to the best of our ability for us to learn something about US, not to figure out Mr. or Ms. Screwy Brain. We have to keep the focus on us because that is the only thing we can do anything about.
When we are sick and tired of wallowing in the anger AT someone else, the hurt BY someone else and the questions that only someone who is not here can answer, it is time to turn the questions back to us. What did we think? What were WE doing? What are we feeling? What are we hoping for from here on in.
And in taking charge of it of it, we honor it, and in honoring it, we close it.
Once and for all.
And next time we get to start anew and start fresh and not be dragging the unfinished business and unanswered questions and unsettled feelings into our next relationship.
And that will allow us to have healthier relationships with better, more finished, people.