Updated: Dec 29, 2019
Hello Soul Sibling!
I’m so glad you are here! I’m sorry you need to be here, because I know it hurts, but I’m so grateful you are looking for answers and I get to talk to you. You are not alone. I want to tell you the good news first.
The good news is that I too asked this question at quite possibly the most painful, lowest, desolate point of my life. I was alone in a new city, in an overwhelming, stressful, demeaning job that I absolutely detested, barely enough money to scrape by, and the “love of my life” who I thought I could count on and who I thought loved me and who promised to be there forever (a.k.a. I completely too for granted and aggressively and passive-aggressively pushed away)…had completely cut me off after yet another terrible, emotionally and verbally abusive fight.
I was about a month in to the worst emotional state of my life and I just wanted to understand why they had absolutely no trouble moving on, felt no pain, didn’t miss me even though I was their "best friend" and there for everything for 4 years, was out having a great time, had no regrets about the way they treated me (hey, they weren't perfect either) while I had constantly shouldered the blame and apologized, was beating myself up and re-hashing and guilt-tripping myself over every argument we ever had, all.the.time. (in all fairness, I had behaved atrociously and abusively, even if I didn't necessarily mean to or know how to stop but I knew I had a problem). It seemed like one of life’s cruelest jokes, and I was the punchline.
I felt like I needed them more than I ever had, and they had chosen that moment to hurt me more than I ever thought possible (or was that my own sense of entitlement and victimhood talking? How could I know?). I felt like a literal walking corpse and wanted to be a real one.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried to show I was just as happy without them as they were without me, it wasn’t that I hadn’t tried to be happy or move on as well, because I had. But you can only keep up an act for so long. I wasn’t okay, I missed them like hell, and I just couldn’t move on any more than I could get them to come back.
Where is the good news? The good news is that at the moment I admitted utter defeat and surrendered to the situation as it was, all I wanted was to understand why.
WHY was this "bastard" so charmed as to feel nothing but joy, while my world had literally fallen apart and I was in more pain than I thought my body could hold? How could they breathe without that weird feeling of being strangled? How could they sleep in peace when my every fitful doze was plagued by dreams of them? Why was their life now perfect and I was doomed? And if I was so awful as to ruin the lives of everyone around me such that they improved instantly and incredibly as soon as I was out of the picture, why didn’t the universe do us all a favor and take me out? WHY? I had to know. So I asked Google.
The first result opened the door to the rest of my life, which was forever changed. (That's the good news).
People say that the universe sends us lessons so that we can grow. So that we can get what we want. That everything is orchestrated to serve us for the highest good. That turned out to be true.
I’m not unique in this way. Our pain is never here to stay, like everything else, it was designed to pass away. The only purpose for our emotional pain is to get us to take the action that we need to. Physical pain exists to alert us that something is wrong with our bodies. It exists so that we will take action to protect and preserve ourselves. Emotional pain similarly exists so that we will take action to protect, preserve, and GROW our self-worth.
As someone who has walked through this hell (both of being abandoned by others inside and outside of relationsh*ts and dealing with my own Borderline Personality Adaptations--the abandoning of myself to cope with a childhood of emotional mindf*ckery) and is finally coming through the other side, I’m starting to see it, even though I didn’t understand before. There were certain things that I really wanted: a good, creative career working for myself that makes me more than enough money to support myself, and get to travel and do all kinds of awesome things, healthy relationships, freedom, etc. This experience was how I was put on the road to those things.
Because I asked this question, I was able to recognize why my relationships had always been wrecks, why nothing anyone did or said to me was enough (and vice-versa), why I was desperately unhappy and disappointed with myself and everyone else, why I always took the fall for things (even things that weren’t all my fault) while the people around me got away with whatever they wanted.
Things that I would never have been allowed to get away with.
Why I was easy to forget and abandon, why I lived in a constant state of dread just waiting for the worst to happen, why I constantly broke promises to myself and others despite my best intentions…
Once I was able to recognize that these problems were not normal AND that there was a way to fix them, I was able to start working on fixing them. And that changed my life completely. It literally saved my life.
Because I asked this question, because I went through the pain that I went through, I found my bliss: the nebulous idea of the career that I wanted finally had a real destination with a clear pathway to get there. I found that I wanted to help inspire others, people who are also looking for answers. I want to help people who are where I have been, to heal and live their best life, because I know what that’s like.
So you can see that the pain has a pay-off. Pain inherently has a pay-off because that is why it exists. That’s the good news.
BUT WHY ARE MY EXES (parents, lovers, friends, anyone who matters to you) ABLE TO MOVE ON LIKE I NEVER EVEN HAPPENED AND I’M IN THE EMOTIONAL FETAL POSITION NURSING THE PULVERIZED REMAINS OF MY INNERMOST BEING?
1.) Because we were emotionally malformed with a warped, unhealthy sense of self. This is happens in childhood, and then we look for healing in all the wrong places because like attracts like. We want to be unconditionally loved, please others, be constantly validated as enough, and we have a terror of abandonment. The people who find that attractive are people also broken, so broken that they need constant love, admiration, and praise to such a degree that it is a impersonal commodity. When they are ready to "shop" elsewhere, it's nothing to them because they are so selfish. They know you care deeply, however. Your fears and attachment are perfect for them to use; the way they get back into your love at a discount, get more attention, and keep you as an option. Maybe they really do care! But it's conditional and tainted.
You think it is good-bye forever, good-bye to your last chance at happiness forever, and they love that scarcity mindset. They know they will be back someday when they need your consolation/praise/affection/admiration/validation, and you will be so "grateful" (still be feeling so worthless) that you will give it all away! Why would they be sad when they get a shopping spree the moment they are good and ready?!
If one of you has a healthy sense of self, neither of you could stand the other, and you wouldn’t have even started the relationship, much less let it go on for this long (obviously with parents and close relatives this starts in childhood when you have no options). You know there were enough warning signs that even an ambulance-chasing lawyer would have no case. One MUST love/value/forgive/appreciate/esteem/care about/be grateful for/validate oneself before one can truly do these things for anyone else, or know how to healthily interact intimately. I’m not the first person to say this, and I’m not going to be the last, but maybe it needs to be said again.
Here’s the thing: If you don’t give these things to yourself first, you are going to live in a contradiction, which is going to make you miserable. On one side, you will constantly need these things from other people, but no matter how much they give you, it will never be enough because you DON’T BELIEVE THEM. In fact, despite needing these things from others, you will look down on them for believing these things about you because you are so sure that they are not true.
See how crazy that is? It’s a contradiction within a contradiction! It’s exhausting and it is a battle no one will win. You will literally burn out everyone who ever tries to prove to you that they care. I say “try” because they will never convince you. YOU MUST CONVINCE YOU FIRST that you are lovable and valuable.
On the other side of the contradiction is the fact that you will try to vicariously love yourself by “loving” other people—people for whom nothing will ever be enough either.
You will work your heart to death moving MOUNTAINS to try to convince them that they are worthy and wonderful so that they will change for you, to convince you that you are worthy. People who, like you, will not be grateful and will react with disdain that you see something in them that they can not accept.
YOU CAN NOT LOVE YOURSELF VICARIOUSLY THROUGH SOMEONE ELSE.
I know people who had children solely for the purpose of having someone to patch the hole of self-insufficiency. Guess what? Those children end up messed up, and the parents end up worse hurt and don’t understand what went wrong. Same with romantic partners, friends, buying things you can’t afford, addictions, living on the run, all of it.
And loving/appreciating/valuing yourself isn’t just about saying “I love you” into a mirror (although that doesn’t hurt), it’s about PROVING YOUR OWN LOVE TO YOURSELF, wooing yourself as it were.
***Being the person you wish someone else would be for you. YOU. ARE. THAT. PERSON.:
**The person who defends you from toxic types by getting you away from them (physically and/or emotionally).
**The person who constantly tries to grow and improve and keeps working on things to get where they want to be in life, the kind of person who deserves praise.
**The kind of person who is fun to be around and finds fun wherever they can.
**The person who takes care of their body and makes an effort to look good and feel good (it does take effort).
Self-Love is rooted in these ACTIONS, NOT MORE EMPTY PROMISES TO YOURSELF. Self-Love is about having everything you need in abundance inside of yourself, not desperately seeking to sucker it out of someone else like a beggar on the sidewalk. This is the root of everything positive being able to happen in your life.
This simple concept is what changed my life. And I want to mention that it is something that all of us will work on for the rest of our lives. It’s a series of decisions and day-by-day choices.
If you are still utterly devastated by the loss of exes who treated you badly, demeaned you, made you feel hard to love and easy to forget…you don’t love yourself yet. It may always hurt (because we're all human here), but it shouldn't mean your life is over for you. You built yourself, your emotional well-being on someone else. You are going to have to reclaim yourself, your power, your emotional “house”. You are going to have to rebuild on yourself. And just like physically rebuilding a home while you are homeless, emotionally rebuilding your home while you are emotionally homeless will be a process. But I promise that it’s worth it. It will take longer than you like, but it will happen sooner than you expect.
2.) WHILE YOU WERE COMPLETELY INVESTED, THEY’VE BEEN PREPARING:
“If you’re the one leaving, you ain’t the one grieving.”
That isn’t *always* true, but it’s a lot-of-the-time true.
If you’ve been strung along by an emotionally unavailable or narcissistic person, you’ve been fed the hope that if you just try harder/bend over backwards/eliminate your own needs/make everything 1,000% on their terms/were just (fill in the blank) enough, things would work out.
And since you have been ignoring warning signs from the very beginning like you are getting paid in cash to do so, you are already in denial. Level: expert.
MEANWHILE, HOWEVER, the object of your affection has been moving goal posts they know (consciously or subconsciously) no human being could possibly score through.
Your dedication has probably both surprised them and disgusted them. No one, not even an abuser, actually likes to see someone allow themselves to be treated poorly. No one can truly respect a Doormat. Just by trying to be an appeaser, you have made yourself unattractive, no matter how beautiful, fun, interesting, funny, enjoyable, or popular you are.
This is the sad truth.
Being a Doormat negates all other attractive qualities. I am so sorry. Why? Because your actions are screaming "I am not special! I have no value other than the use you get out of me! Free junk! Please take at your convenience!"
So while you were convinced that this would work out because love and your hard work and commitment would find a way, they have been planning their escape. They’ve been picturing themselves with other people, planning their new living arrangements, talking bad about you behind your back, talking bad about you to your face, getting excited about all the things that they will do once you are out of the picture, etc. They have emotionally steeled themselves. They have literally been making a marketing campaign to sell themselves to the next poor sucker, and smear you out of their circle.
Oh, and chances are, they have a large circle of friends but have made sure to isolate you from your support system.
And usually they wait for you to get to a truly low, helpless point before they make their move.
It’s easiest to abuse/abandon the vulnerable because they look their worst so their smear campaigns start to look more legitimate; and the victim usually begs, cries, and acts irrationally because they aren't on their A-game, which is a ego boost. It's cheap, but it works.
The point is, getting to make the decision to leave someone or something is by definition empowering. Remember, you’ve been blind-sided and isolated, they haven’t.
Flip the tables. Picture yourself with other people. Find ways to improve your current living situation, be positive, talk well about others (behind their backs and to their faces), get excited about things you can do because your ex- is out of the picture and isn’t there to tell you “No, don't do that”.
3.) THEY WEREN’T INVESTED IN THE FIRST PLACE:
I’m not saying they never felt affection for you, I’m not saying they never had a good time with you, I’m not saying they never gave you a compliment that they actually meant because of course they did (although they may claim they never did on the way out the door because they are vicious, unhappy as*wipes).
You are so wonderful, they couldn’t help but feel those things.
But those are feelings. Whims. They are not investment.
Emotionally unavailable people BY DEFINITION CAN *NOT* BE EMOTIONALLY INVESTED. Not really.
They get hurt, yes.
They can miss people, yes.
They can feel affection, happiness, sadness, etc.
It isn’t that emotionally unavailable people are flesh-covered automatons, it’s that they remain detached from othersp emotionally because they can't even bear to face their own emotional trauma, imperfections, or true self. They are so selfish and fragile that the damage they do isn't real to them; it doesn't register. Or they think you should have to pay this price for not being perfect in the presence of their awesomeness. Or they just want what they want when they want it, and you can be blessed with the pleasure of fellating their ego when they bestow that honor (need something) later. Or they think their "superiority" inherently sets them apart and above.
They do not use their emotions to connect with others in a deep, meaningful, lasting way. They spend their energy attempting to prove that they are perfect and entitled and not disposable like the hoy-paloy they use or look down on. They are so deeply and secretly ashamed, they are so convinced of their worthlessness that they demand non-stop proof of the opposite: that they are so perfect that anyone and anything must bow before them. They are so convinced of their significance that they imagine their flaws (that they know they have, deny it is as they may), are unforgivable; they won't get out of their own way, accept their humanity, and try to be a good person despite being imperfect. This is called a lack of whole-objects relations, or being objective.
They always have excuses and a way out at the ready when things don’t go their way. They are very good at using emotion to manipulate and get what they want. They can see how emotions work. But they are not mature enough or do not care enough to use those emotions to CONSISTENTLY BE THERE for others’ emotional needs.
They lack empathy.
They feel entitled to always being “right”, “first”, “best”.
They selectively “go along to get along”.
Once they have you, you will never catch them laughing at your lame joke just to make you feel good, or apologizing just to keep the peace. Or encouraging your work. Or washing a dish. Especially if you spend time trying to explain how much that would mean to you. Pushback City.
Those are expectations for you, “the common folk”.
Or maybe they DO do all those things...but expect you to pay them back tit-for-tat, or treat you so passive-aggressively and miserably most of the time that it just sucks and you feel like you are dying. NOTHING is free or easy or joyful, it's all a miserable game of "not enough".
Here’s the thing: you can see that they have a problem.
The relationships that are supposed to be the deepest and longest always seem to end in tatters. They are petty and judgmental about everyone while claiming not to be. They might refuse to stick with any line of work because they quit the instant they feel slighted.
Listen: It’s NEVER personal. I know well because I have been both on the giving end and on the recieving end many many times.
But if you can’t believe me, look, really look into their past and present, and you’ll see a litany of evidence that avoidance, immaturity, non-commitment, and disrespect is their lifestyle.
It doesn’t matter if they do good deeds or have accomplished impressive feats.
Those things don’t mean they know how to bond with others or treat them right on an intimate, long-term, mutual level.
Because they are insecure and unhappy people, but they can’t admit this and work on themselves because that would shatter their own illusion of grandiosity and perfection, which their insecurity can’t handle.
So instead of facing themselves and their inner “demons”, they look around for “greener” grass. Except grass is greener where you water and feed it, which they don’t think they need to do. So they move on again…and again…and blame everything but themselves for their inner misery.
Because wherever they go, there they are.
I hope this helped you understand why things have been so disparate.
I hope it has brought you some comfort.
I just want to leave you with a couple closing thoughts:
At the point I started to understand and accept the things I just told you, I was seized by a terrible, fierce NEED for my exes to understand what hell they had put me through. Even if they never took me back or changed, it was vital to me that they KNOW.
I wanted the apology I so richly deserved, I wanted them to have a glimpse into the depths of my torment.
I’ll give you the quote that snapped me out of that delusion:
“When our abandonment issues get triggered, we immediately want to try and find a way around the wave in the form of validation seeking. We also answer-seek and try to attain closure at the expense of our dignity, from the offending party.”
Don’t seek this form of cheap validation. Walk away and be okay. Nothing is more powerful or validating than that. Remember: "Absence is the highest form of presence." I saw a snapshot of a text conversation. One person texted, “I just miss him so much” and the friend replied, “He doesn’t give a f*ck about you.” Keep that in mind. Because if they did, they would be there, and they would treat you well. That is my second closing thought:
If he hasn’t gotten in touch, that doesn’t mean he’s over you or that he doesn’t care. He could still very well be hurting and missing you. He cares, but by not reaching out it’s clear that he doesn’t care the way that you deserve.
If they don’t reach out, it’s generally because they can’t be accountable and don’t want to have to “answer for” anything.
This doesn’t have anything to do with you or your value and if they try to make you feel like it does, that’s just because they’re banking on the hope that you’re still broken enough to think that the shortcomings of a grown man are an indication of your lack of value.”
And really, that’s about all there is to it. But if you still need more help (and you probably do because this healing business is a long process), definitely check out this blog post:
Walk Away And Be Okay. We’re all in this together.
All my love,