WHEN YOUR HEART IS BROKEN AND HAUNTED BY YOUR EX- AND RELATIONSHIPS PAST


Just in time for the Christmas and Winter Holidays Season, a post about that other ghost, the one that Charles Dickens didn't mention in A Christmas Carol...


You’ve been abandoned by the one person who you were never supposed to have to say good-bye to, but as alone as you feel, they aren’t exactly gone. Everywhere you look, there they are, haunting every moment. EVERYTHING calls them to mind. It’s all you can do not to think of your ex- every second, and even then...no, it’s impossible.


You’re doing your best to pretend to be happy and “back to normal” and dance care-free through no-contact and the steps of how to get your ex- back, but the truth is that “Absence is the Highest form of Presence” works both ways (thanks James Joyce).


It’s almost oppressive, how strong their absence-presence is, be it at work, school, at home, in the store, in your sleep, even through all the distractions Wikihow recommended that you’re attempting to dutifully engage in because you would do *anything* to forget, even for a second and no one will be able to say you didn’t try. But there’s literally no escape.


There they are, in your mind and heart...and of course they are like they were in the beginning, better and more magical than ever...and is that the specter of the new love interest too?! THAT shouldn't be there! But of course, they are.


Why are you being haunted and TORMENTED like this? Isn’t the heartbreak alone bad enough, without it being all-consuming in every thought, experience, location, song, smell, and food (that you can’t even choke down)? You feel like you must have done something truly terrible in a past life (and you don’t even believe in reincarnation but it’s the only explanation). You wish to heaven that you had been born at that merciful time in the future when affordable mind-wipes on demand will be available to the general public.


The first thing to understand is that this happens; it’s normal and it’s the way the mind is trying to make sense of something that has been incredibly traumatic. Post-traumatic stress is real, and your brain is working overtime to process it all as best as it can, not to mention that so much negativity throughout the course of the relationship has been stored throughout your organs and tissues (as bodies are wont to do). This is one reason you’ll see me extol the awesomeness of Emotional Freedom Technique and Trauma Release Exercises throughout my blog posts. These techniques get your conscious mind and your muscles to work with your subconscious and help it out. So if you really would do “anything” to help this phase pass, those are good (and free and easy) ways to start.


Understanding that this happens to everyone post-break-up, and is normal, to be expected, and part of the healing process means that you don’t have to be fighting fighting FIGHTING day in, day out, and all night for good measure. Stop. Relax. Breathe.


Talk to yourself: a haunted moment of your ex- is what it is: A MOMENT of nothing more than your brain doing its thing. You are okay, safe, supported, loved, understood, and not alone, especially here in the safe space of this blog, or on a peer-to-peer website like 7cups.com. If you free yourself from the idea that you have to FIGHT, you free yourself from having to “tackle the problem head-on” (and do something desperate like call your ex- and beg; fill everyone’s ears with your tales of woe; or hermetically seal yourself away from the world in an attempt to never be triggered again from the comfort of your depression-soaked bed).


It doesn’t need to be like that at all.


This was me: somewhere along the line I started playing a version of “The Game” but with my ex- instead. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, The Game is always going on, and everyone is a player whether they realize it or not. There is only one way to lose at The Game, and that is to think about The Game.


When I first remember reading about The Game, something in the back of my young, insecure, overeager-to-please-and-achieve mind (paired with my disciplinary religious upbringing) went into hyperdrive to “win” The Game. And of course, I found myself thinking about (and then beating myself up constantly for thinking about) The Game all.the.time, at random moments and at the most most inconvenient times (when I already felt low). It got so distressing and I felt so defeated that I had to *surrender* to the fact that I wasn’t perfect, that I lost (often), and stop caring.


You know how often I thought about The Game after that? About as often as I share it with someone else as a cheap and convenient exercise to demonstrate how our silly brainzones work with forbidden thoughts you obsess about not obsessing about. In conclusion, stop attaching so much importance to the idea that you are self-harming or "losing" by being “haunted” by your ex- and that you MUST STOP THINKING ABOUT THEM RIGHT NOW. Because unfortunately, if you focus your energy on NOT thinking about them, you are still focusing your energy on thinking about them. It feels counter-intuitive, but really, it takes so much less energy and care to let go and stop worrying; know that at the end of the day, your ex- is really about as relevant to your daily life as The Game you’ve been playing all your life but never heard of until just now. Breathe and release. Be care-free and easy with yourself.


Which brings us to the next point, which is that IF you take the shadows of your ex- flittering across your vision as the signs they are (healing, NOT a sign that they were so amazing and you are so connected that you need to reach out immediately and try to “fix” everything by trading your dignity and self-worth for the indignity and cruelty you’ve consistently gotten), you can act on that knowingness by becoming self-aware, re-building self-love, raising your standards (by embodying them yourself), acting on your values, improving your quality of life, growing as a person, enjoying yourself as much as possible, and staying active, and your attention WILL shift and these hauntings will fade and become less and less frequent or intense. When happiness has become unnatural to us, it’s natural to feel ill-at-ease when we do indeed start feeling better and notice those memories and triggers losing their hold.


FEELING GOOD IS OUR JOB.


Don’t freak out, go with it! That is acceptance finally making its way into your heart to put some peace in place. I remember recoiling and panicking and fighting this feeling because I didn’t want to lose my last “connection” to my ex- and I was scared that it was the calm before an even WORSE storm (if that was possible). But there was no need for all that drama and self-sabotage; it was just me putting superglue into the locks of the doors trying to open to me in life. You might be afraid, or sad, but don’t vandalize the opening mechanism on the doors to opportunity and good things coming.


Don’t tell the Universe, “Come back maybe later, I’m still choosing bondage to the idea of being broken, abandoned, distraught, alone, "unlucky", and unworthy because the ghost of the memory of who my ex- pretended to be is better than the life, love, reality, and self I’ve always truly wanted.” Trust in this precious present and stop the resistance to letting go. Remember all those days that you spent waiting, praying, and crying for this day.


Choose gratitude. Name and *feel* things that you are grateful for (even if they are past experiences with your ex-...or the fact that your ex- isn’t there to ill-treat you anymore). Stop worrying about when you’ll stop being haunted and get your heart and life ready for the inevitable day that you indeed will (“a watched pot never boils” as they say). You don’t need to forget about your ex-, so you can stop trying so hard (and draining yourself in the process). In fact, you probably never will completely forget your ex-, and that’s a blessing to count too (whether you feel like it is or not yet). Feel that pain and give it the purpose to power you to be a better, more confident, more aware, and definitely more prosperous, happy person. The kind of person who understands, is there for, and helps others in the same situation.


Keep shining.


Those are the best gifts you could possibly give.


You are incredible and I’m so grateful for the fabulous, generous gift of *you*.


All My Love,


Ranyoi


P. S. Please leave a a little note with your story and some encouragement for someone else in the comments below! You’re the best!


Image Credit: Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

https://unsplash.com/photos/Yh4P5gdbXME

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