Can't See the Light

Hello Dr. Turndorf,

This is my situation. I just moved to the east coast after my live-in boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me. We both lived in the west coast, where he's from.

The last 9 months were very hard because I had separated from the military and couldn't find a good job right away, adding strain to our lives. But we were dealing with things and things were starting to get better in the last 2 months, we had plans and we were 'happy'. . . Or so I thought. This man was ALWAYS the sweetest thing to me, he took good care of me, told me he loved me and that I was the woman he had been looking for all his life, etc. . .

I'm also a 'giver' so I did the best I could to be the pest partner to him (in every way). We respected each other very much and had lots of comunication, and lots of laughs, as well! But, from one week to the next, he changed. Not in a mean way, but just looked stressed and dejected. I would ask him what was wrong and he'd always say he was just stressed from work.

Then one day I foud a letter of his to a friend, I read it cause I thought it was for me since it was not hidden or anything and he never kept things from me. This letter said that he was cofused, tired, needed a break from'us' and didn't know how to break it to me because he knew that would hurt me and that was the last thing he wanted to do.

I asked him about that letter and he broke down crying telling me all these things I didn't have a clue about. He never told me the way he felt and when I found out it was too late. . . He wanted to break up with me. I didn't have any money or family I could stay with after the break up so we had to share the appt. we lived in till I saved up some $ to leave. I had to stay there, for a whole month, with this guy that didn't want me anymore and that was the hardest thing I'd ever gone through! I was so in-love still and I was so cofused, because he said it had nothing to do with me.

That I was 'always wonderful' and still his 'best friend'; it was issues (parental relationship, commitment and other baggage from the past I didn't know he still had) and he needed to be alone. He said he was sorry a million times but he had to do this for him and for me too, in the long run. That some day I would'thank him for this '. .

At the begining of the break- up we treated each other as friends, then we went into 'just cordial' mode, but when time started passing by he started getting colder and colder till he turned into a complete ASSHOLE!(So sorry, but there's no other word for it). He just turned into a complete stranger, a person I never knew he could be; soul-less. . .

I finally left without saying good-bye, what for? Just left one morning after he left for work. I figure, he couldn't wait till I got out of there, so why put myself through THAT drama! Everything was said already, it was juts time to start the 'moving on' process. Now, I'm starting a new job (flight attendant), I'm finally relocating to NYC, where I wanted to live for a long time, and 'my life' is moving on (something I'm proud of!). . . But my 'feelings' are NOT moving on along with the rest of me.

We have to keep in touch because of some bills and stuff still pending, but when I talk to him I'm quite'dry', ' because I'm still so angry and hurt that he just ' discarded' me like that without me having a 'say ' about it. I never got a REAL explanation of what I had to do with everything and why was I the loser here. What happened to all'the love' that he said he felt for me? He said he still cared, but at the end, he was't showing it AT ALL!

-So Doctor, what do YOU see in my behavior AND his? Why am I so angry and hurt? Why do I feel like I'll never get over this? I feel like I wasted 3 years OF MY LOVE. Sometimes I feel like I'll lose my mind, I'm tired of crying, and of feeling almost HATE toward this person because I feel he damaged something in me, and he took all the things I loved away from me. I can't see the light, it feels like it keeps getting darker and time doesn't heal anything, it just makes me feel worse. I need help. . .

This has been quite long, but thank you so much for reading on.

Answer: 

Your letter broke my heart. You have been discarded and all your feelings of hurt, anger, and even hate are normal. You are right that time won't heal your wounds. The first step in your healing process is to drain off the poison that has been deposited inside you. The only way to do this is by talking and talking.

The biggest wrong that has been done to you is that he didn't communicate his doubts until he was ready to end the relationship. Then he dropped the bomb on your head, after he had already made up his mind!

One of the hardest things to deal with in life is feeling out-of-control over your fate. When you are placed in such a position, the natural reaction is to feel damaged, victimized, and filled with impotent rage. I think that you are feeling worse instead of better because you aren't in touch with your rage. The buried rage is literally eating you alive.

In order to heal, you must give adequate air time to your feelings of anger and hate. Don't force yourself to turn the other cheek or forgive and forget before you are truly ready to do so. Allow the rage to run its full course. That may mean that you feel like a bitch-on-wheels, 24/7, which is fine. Just honor your feelings. When you own the rage, your feeling of hopelessness and despair will lessen. Then, you can move to the next stage in the letting go process: examine the relationship from start to finish.

The purpose of this examination is to learn and grow from what you discover. This understanding is what will give you the courage to start another relationship. Without this understanding, you will find it hard to trust and love again. I know everything seemed good to you. Looking back over the relationship, were there any warning signs that you may have overlooked? I know you said that he spoke about everything--or so you thought. Were there signs that he wasn't talking about all his feelings? Was he sitting on his negative feelings?

Many people bury their feelings of anger, and let them fester until they feel the need to end relationship. Meanwhile, the partner who is left never knew that there was a single problem, let alone that the end was coming. What you want to do is learn from this experience so that you will be better able to protect yourself next time around. If, for example, you realize that your boyfriend never voiced his negative feelings, you will be aware of the dangers of buried anger in future relationships.

Because many people are unable to voice their negative or mixed feelings, this puts the burden on you to check in with your partner in order to make sure that you are hearing what you need to know before it's too late. In an ideal world, your partner would be healthy enough to clue you in on his own. But, we don't live in an ideal world. Make no mistake. You aren't responsible for what your boyfriend did. It wasn't your job to scan his communications and draw out his negative or mixed feelings. He didn't clue you in until it was too late, and that was his problem.

I just want you to learn from this disaster so that next time around the other person's problem doesn't become yours all over again. I know that you feel that you will never be able to trust another person, let alone love again. But, I know that you will. You have too much love to give not to love again. As you learn more about what went wrong, you will also teach yourself to be more aware of relationship danger zones (such as a partner who doesn't voice angry feelings).

There is another thing you are going to be more mindful of in the future: how a person's childhood baggage can render him/her unready for a relationship. Next time around, you will be armed to make a better choice of mate. When you find your next potential partner, use my Ready for Love? test, which will help you determine whether that person has too much baggage to be able to form a relationship with you. Keep in touch and let me know how you progress in your healing process.

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