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It's been 7 years, why do I keep looking back?!

(22 Posts)
creativepebble Sat 23-Jun-12 23:23:14

This feels like a confession.
Since separating from my ex 7 years ago, I have married and now have 2 kids and everything is fine. Thing is, I seem to have a problem with letting go. It's rediculous; he is now married etc and yet I have found myself checking in to his profile on facebook. I love my dh, but nothing will ever compare to the bond I had with my ex. I feel very guilty but I find it compelling to look. It's dangerous and unhealthy I know. I miss his friendship but also know it would be a huge mistake to contact.
I hate throwing things away and left to my own devices would probably be one of those horders you see on tv. This is all linked, right?
People say 'let go' and 'move on' etc, but no-one ever tells you how. I am focusing on the here and now, but clearly not as much as I should be.
Any suggestions?
Maybe this thread should be posted somewhere else? SO confused.

MaloryMad Sun 24-Jun-12 00:07:09

Oh gosh I very much identify with this. I spent the first 10 years of my marriage feeling this way about an ex. Luckily back then there was no FB..contacting him would have been very difficult to find him etc.
I still think about him now nearly every day and our relationship ended almost 30 years ago! blush

All I can suggest is that you force yourself to stop looking at his Facebook, use distraction techniques when you start thinking of him. eg. picture a big red STOP sign whenever he comes into your head.

There is a connection between your difficulty in letting him go and your difficulty in letting stuff go. Have you considered going to therapy ? CBT may be very helpful for you.

creativepebble Sun 24-Jun-12 00:30:55

Oh thanks Malory, good to know I'm not alone. Yeah, I've had a small amount of therapy after the birth of my first child (these reminiscings were really bad in pregnancy) and it helped a bit. They gave me all the stuff for CBT but it all sort of fizzled out. dh doesn't know, obviously. Did you tell your dh?

Yes, I need to create a stop sign in my head, definitely. And write a list (even only in my head) of the reasons it ended (my fault) and the bad points just to stop dreaming...
The last thing I want to do is change anything now or cause disruptions. Isn't it weird how your brain works? I think it just finds where you were comfortable and sticks there sometimes. The comparisons are so unhealthy with my dh I know (they're almost opposites). I need to exercise a LOT more strength and willpower!

SoSad007 Sun 24-Jun-12 01:21:20

Creative, this is a bit of a stab in the dark, but it appears that logically and intellectually, you have accepted the end of your last relationship. However, your post lacks any description about the emotions you felt at the end of this relationship. How did the end of this relationship make your feel?

Could it be that you haven't completely worked through the emotional aspects of the end of the relationship? Anger, frustration, sadness, grief etc etc? If this is the case, this is were counselling can help you get in touch with these emotions and work through them, rather than just using strength and willpower.

creativepebble Sun 24-Jun-12 09:15:23

Thanks So007 and Malory for taking the time. In RL I don't like to talk about this as my own reaction to it is 'Oh for god's sake get a life' so anyone else's less pissed off approach is really appreciated! It's like an illness or a drug or something.
I think you are right So, there is probably an emotional pot of muddy feelings to sort through and tbh I've been avoiding it for years. Do I really have to see a counselor though, is it not possible in life to just sort it? (I suppose the very fact that I'm still here years later with paranoia and so on has just answered that question...) I'm quite scared though as I don't want this to be even more in my mind than it already is, and the consequences of that could be huge and resounding.

Dprince Sun 24-Jun-12 09:32:51

Can I ask the reason you split? Are you sure you are not just forgetting all the shit bits? And remembering all the best bits?

mattysmum09 Sun 24-Jun-12 09:37:32

I know how you feel aswel, it feels ridiculous but i am stil stuck on someone i split up with 5 years ago. I have since met someone new hae child together another on the way but it seems i just think about him more in pregnancy as i feel he is slipping further away, i know its daft. I also used to well stil do! look at facebook profile and then one day out the blue he contacted me and it was such a crazy feeling and i was over the moon with being in contact again, but i don't honestly think it meant anything to him like it does to me. same with occasional text msg's but i eventually changed his number to dont do it in my phone and stopped myself contacting him. it is hard though because when you have a connection with someone you cant just forget about it. i stil wonder what would happen if we met up, on the plus side i know his long term partner doesn't want kids (and deep down he does) why this makes me feel better i dont know i guess i stil hold out some hope of us getting back together one day!

anotherdayanotherme Sun 24-Jun-12 10:03:08

I think it's more common than we realise and the internet does provide us with ready access to all manner of information to enable snooping which continues to fuel the fire.

I've just started to date someone and he has spoken a lot about his ex wife. So much so that I thought the break was new. When I asked him how long since they had broken up, he told me it was in 2002. He speaks of quite recent stuff in her life and reading this thread is making me realise that I would be in the position of your DH's not being able to match the intensity of the past relationships. Oh dear, doesn't look like this one is going to be for me! I already woke this morning before reading this thread feeling uncomfortable at how frequently her name has been mentioned. :-(

SoSad007 Sun 24-Jun-12 10:38:05

Hi there Creative, can you tell us a bit more about the previous relationship, what it was like and how it ended? I am also a bit concerned that you've said:

"I'm quite scared though as I don't want this to be even more in my mind than it already is, and the consequences of that could be huge and resounding."

What consequences? What does that mean exactly? Can you elaborate?

And I am conscious that you have said you don't really like to talk about this sort of stuff in RL, but denying your emotions about this past relationship is going to get you nowhere (as you've already alluded to). I have found that putting your emotions out on the internet (assuming you are suitably anonymous), can be a really cathartic experience, especially if there is noone in RL that you can talk to this stuff about. If you feel comfortable enough to share with us the above information, there may be more help provided.

creativepebble Sun 24-Jun-12 10:42:07

Thing is anotherday, it could be that he is exorcising her memory and that has been his last significant relationship until you. Better he talks than doesn't!
Dprince - we split after a few years of him trying to trust me again after I met someone travelling years before when we were together and had a relationship. For him, he could never get over it so it was better to cut our losses than just keep trying. Totally my fault. I do remember the shit bits, but the gentleness of him as a person and his kindness I've not had since so it feels like the good outweighs the bad in retrospect. It's so over, but not in my head IYSWIM. I find myself wondering if he misses me and our friendship too. Probably my own insecurity.
mattysmum - it was really bad for me in pregnancy. Both times. Everything is heightened, really difficult.

MaloryMad Sun 24-Jun-12 10:46:37

I think that So is definitely onto something here.
One thing I did that helped, was I wrote a really long letter to him (I had no intention of posting it), talking through my feelings about the loss of the relationship etc etc. I burned it after I'd finished. It did help a bit.
As I said, I still think about him perhaps each day, but it's just a passing thought. I often wonder how he is, how his life turned out etc. I still hear music that reminds me of our days together. Sometimes I hear a song on the radio and wonder if he's listening to the radio at that moment, does he think of me? (He probably doesn't even remember me at all!). Oh and yes, I have tried to find him on Facebook. I'd never actually contact him as I have every reason to believe that he's happily married with adult DC by now, but just out of curiosity. Luckily both his first name and his surname are very common names..kinda John Smith type thing...so after I looked through the first few search results I gave up.
But it feels ok now, I'm not concerned by it, just very nostalgic about the best days of my life.....

creativepebble Sun 24-Jun-12 11:08:47

Oh Malory I feel sad reading this. Surely the best days of our lives are always to come? Somehow I know exactly what you mean though and that makes me sad. I can totally empathise with the songs on the radio etc. Do blokes do this too generally? Or is it just us?
I shall write a letter soon, as soon as I can find the words anyway. It's a good idea, thanks.
I contacted his parents recently and went round, they were so lovely, like I'd never stopped going round. Made me promise to keep in touch, but how can I?! (I had some stuff of his that even after all this time I hung on to and didn't feel like it was my place to throw so wanted to return it.) I was hoping it would be closure of some sort without having this stuff stored under my bed. dh knew about this bit...
We are really putting ourselves through it, but if we could, we would stop right?

creativepebble Sun 24-Jun-12 11:14:26

So The relationship was long, we lived together etc having known each other from aged 18. He was a brilliant listener and great fun. It was a very honest relationship and I suppose I have never quite 'given' that much since. True what they say about the first cut being the deepest...

"I'm quite scared though as I don't want this to be even more in my mind than it already is, and the consequences of that could be huge and resounding."

I suppose I mean that (oh god) I don't trust myself not to meddle and I mustn't. I also don't want to come to the conclusion that I've married the wrong person etc because deep down I know if I had my life again it would be different and of course I regret stuff.

ebbandflow Sun 24-Jun-12 11:40:32

It sounds like you grew up with him, are you sure it is not more about missing being young now that you have the responsibilities of children?

Solo Sun 24-Jun-12 11:46:49

Ok, I've gone through this too.
My first exh was an all round big abuser toward me and after 6 long years of 'marriage' I found the courage to leave him. Unfortunately, he never ever left my head.
It lessened for a lot of years, but he was always there at the back of my thoughts, my memories and music was so very linked to it all. If a song from the 80's came onto the radio, I was back there instantly ...back in my old house, back with him etc.

He contacted me on fb and whilst I contemplated a suitable reply he committed suicide. I was hoping he was going to apologise to me for all the crap and hurt he'd caused and done to me, but it never arrived sad talk about bad timing. Anyway, I wrote a letter (so I could have the last word for a change) to him, telling him that I forgave him, asked the funeral directors (details were on his fb account) to put it into his coffin and thought that that would end it all for me. It didn't. I even went to his funeral to try to close it all, but all I found out there was how he still loved me, would still have had me back etc. I then found that he was all around me All the time I was going crazy with it and got counselling over 6 months which has just finished. It has helped so much I cannot tell you and I'd recommend it.

The counselling helped me discover that I'd had a lot of abandonment issues with the men in my life. The only one that hadn't abandoned me was my Dad.
Each relationship either abused me or abandoned me.

OP, I hope you can sort this out because it wont necessarily disappear on its own. 7 years is nothing. I married in 1984, left him in 90 and he died in 09. It's a long time and it festers. Please sort it out now, not when you have to in 10/20 years time because it's driving you to the edge.

I think it's about grief. I think it's about the loss of the life you feel you should've had that never was...It certainly was that for me anyway.

SoSad007 Sun 24-Jun-12 11:55:46

OK Creative now we get to the crux of the matter. So in a nutshell, you cheated on your parter, and he eventually left the relationship..... I am not judging you on what happened in your past - these things happen, but you are right in that having these little 'dreamy' thoughts of 'what could have been' are not healthy for you. And so since this little tape keeps on playing in your head, its no wonder that you haven't been able to move on sad. And yes it would be far healthier for you to find a way to move past these thoughts you are currently having.

The thing about emotions is that not many families (or society for that matter) teach their children how to deal with their emotions in a healthy way - as humans, we are designed to feel, however families and society are bent on making us not feel, push it aside, bury it. Does that sound familiar?

Creative, I think that you need to find some self-acceptance in your part in the break up of the relationship. This means that you will have to get in touch with the guilt that you feel over the break up of this relationship. It sounds like you may have pushed the guilt aside and only remember the good stuff. If you are having trouble accepting the guilt, then accept that you are having trouble accepting the guilt. But also accept that one day you will feel differntly.

Once you have accepted the guilt, then you have to work through the emotions, just like you work through any intellectual problem. I can only imagine how I would feel if I were in your position, but I would be castigating myself, I would be furious with myself, but at the same time, I would remind myself that I am only human, and that I can forgive myself, and do better in the future, with my present husband. Feel the feelings for as long as you need to, until a little voice in you says "Right, I don't need to feel this any more". And so you move on.....

A word of caution - Creative, you are quite right that contacting you ex will be of no use to you. That is not what you need in this situation. Remember that accepting and experiencing your feelings does not mean that these emotions have any say in what you do. You can fully experience your emotions and go about your daily business.

While I have only learnt to do this myself recently, I can assure you that I am using this method to move on from some past hurts which have to do with my family and it works. I hope this helps you to find the peace that you are looking for.

SoSad007 Sun 24-Jun-12 12:01:23

BTW, if any of what I wrote doesn't ring true, do feel free to add more. Others may have insights which I don't have in this situation.

creativepebble Sun 24-Jun-12 15:52:29

Reading these last few posts almost in tears. Bloody hell. Can't reply right now as Dh and kids around and i need space to write properly, but thank you so much... I'll be back in a fee hours. Never thought of it as grief and guilt all together mixed with getting old and mourning youth too. All sounds very complicated and I have lots to think about. Thanks solo for sharing story, and so for more wisdom. On phone, got to dash back later

creativepebble Sun 24-Jun-12 20:52:56

Solo your story has given me a real push into sorting this out; thank you for taking the time to explain it and I'm so pleased that the counselling has helped.
I feel so green and emotionally immature where this is concerned and you are right So we are not taught how to deal with emotions healthily and I know I am at a loss as to how to teach this to my own children sadly.

I am completely blown away that strangers can see the situation so clearly and express it in such an erudite and succinct way when in my own head it all seems like a puddle of crap. I hope that I can be as helpful to others as you fellow MNers have been to me now. Thank you... I shall read and re-read this thread for a while to move on to the next stage; to mourn and sort through 'the loss of the life I feel I should've had that never was'. I shall have to fight the self-indulgent feel and urge to yell 'get a grip' to myself and be more grown up, realising this is something that needs to be done. So you have given me some really helpful pointers, thank you. x

thanks thanks

SoSad007 Mon 25-Jun-12 00:32:18

Aww Creative, I am glad that you can 'see the light' as it were. Yes, dealing with emotions in a healthy manner is something that is not taught at all in some families or by society. I am glad that you have found some useful information in the above, and I wish you all the best with sorting through the emotions to reach a peaceful ending. x

Solo Tue 26-Jun-12 00:12:04

Glad to help. Good luck.

karispirit Sun 14-Jun-15 20:14:38

Just wondering whether those of you who were thinking about past ex's still have that problem or whether you have moved on emotionally and mentally now? I'm going through a similar thing and noticed how kind the replies were. I appreciate this is an old thread but just wondered considering so much time has passed now since you first posted about it.

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