Letting go of the past

Is hard to do. I am on holiday with Steve and I find my thoughts swirl around Darrell, that he is with someone else, that he does not love me anymore, that I will never find someone to love me the way he loved me, and that I am forgotten. After several days of abstinence, I looked at social media and saw the picture of Darrell and his girlfriend happy and smiling. There it all is. Sad but true.

This is addiction.

A few thoughts have been occupying my mind these past few days:

Do I contact Darrell when I am in Korea?
I want to. I really do. But I don’t want to hurt myself more. I know, on some level anyway, that my sadness over Darrell masks a deeper sadness I have in myself and is not the “next right thing” for me to do. The next right thing is to resolve my relationship with Steve. I started reading Getting Past Your Breakupand all of the bs excuses for wanting to contact your ex are there–I want to say one last thing to him, I want him to know I’ve moved on, I want to leave the door open, so he doesn’t forget me. All of it. I am not so unique in my thoughts, and I guess it is reassuring to know others before me have felt the same; though I feel sad to know others have struggled with not feeling like they are enough and looking for happiness in someone else.

So for now, I am putting this thought out of my mind. I have been paying attention to my body to learn where thoughts manifest, and thoughts of contacting Darrell feel like tightness in my chest, so I don’t believe this is right for me now. I don’t have his love or our relationship anymore, but I still have my self respect (though I would trade it for love), and in time, I will have peace. I believe that. I have been here before.

When thoughts of Darrell come up, I am working on reframing to:

What is the next, right thing for me to do?
It is to face my relationship with Steve. I am trying so hard to be present with Steve these days together on holiday, and I feel so bad for not being more in the moment with him. Steve deserves more than me and more than I have given him. This precious man, so sweet and sincere, who has done all of this planning for us to take this trip together, I am having trouble with being present with him. Why? I feel an unresolved conflict between us, and it is hard for me to be in the moment knowing this question is there. I recognize on some level that thinking about Darrell is a distraction, and when I have focused on Steve and been honest with him, that addicty distraction goes away.

But I don’t see Steve bringing up our physical relationship. He hasn’t yet in the past month, and I won’t bring it up here on this holiday, but I will write a letter when I get home this week and be an adult finally and “rip off the band-aid” to use a Steve-ism. The thought of being without Steve is scary. Sad. But I also feel such guilt at giving him less than he deserves, and I want very much to be romantically entwined with my man.

Being here in Quebec has been hard, with this sense of loss over Darrell and this unresolved question with Steve. I am hyper aware of couples and people around me. Everyone seems coupled, with children, holding their sweethearts. What is wrong with me that I cannot commit? That I have pushed away a great relationship with someone who loved me and held me and cherished me in that way? (I am thinking of Darrell again. I will reframe this thought into: our relationship taught me that I want physical affection in a relationship.)

Unresolved grief
I have been thinking that each of my relationships has been better than the last, and that is reassuring. Being with Steve was so different and better than being with Tula, in that Steve showed me I can be with a man who is smart, sensitive, kind, and way into me. Then being with Darrell was an eye opener, because I realized I can have all of this and the physical satisfaction of being with someone I am attracted to and who is attracted to me as well. On the one hand, I have hope for the future because I have learned from each of my serious relationships, and each one has been better than the previous. On the other hand, each breakup has been more painful, and I don’t know if I ever want to go through this pain again.

The Breakup book says if you’ve never dealt with grief in your life, each loss will compound previous griefs. I wonder.

I met Steve a few months after being separated from Tula. And I met Darrell just after breaking up with Steve. And I went back to Steve, or broke up with Darrell to go back to Steve. This sounds so crazy to say out loud. But it is possible I never dealt with grief over the end of my relationships and just moved on to the next one to heal my pain. There is something there for sure.

And writing gives me hope in knowing this pain is not all about Darrell. I loved him, yes–I am not only a love addict, I am a loving human being too–but this loss, a lot of it, probably predates Darrell. I know I have been here before, missing Steve, when I was with Darrell. And I know, again, that sounds crazy. So I have some work to do.

Ambivalence is a sign
Lisa pointed me to The Lovely Addict blog, and I read a post this weekend called: The Mystery of Ambivalence RevealedThis has given me a shot in the arm of reassurance.

All my adult life I have thought something was wrong with me that I couldn’t commit. I was ambivalent about Tula in our marriage, and I have been ambivalent about Steve all along. I even had some ambivalence when I was with Darrell.

With Tula, from the beginning, he was visiting porn sites and clubs, and I had doubt about our relationship years before I found out he cheated. With Steve, I had ambivalence about our physical relationship from the first experience together. With Darrell, he was not perfect. I don’t know if I was ambivalent for valid reasons, like I thought he could be selfish at times, e.g. bringing beer for himself and me but not my roommate, ordering food before me, grabbing the first roll on the table as soon as we sat to breakfast (or he could just have been food motivated and untrained) or if my fear of abandonment was driving me. I believe more the latter, as I don’t recall major red flags, but probably both, and anyway, that relationship is consigned to the past.

Basically, ambivalence is a sign of doubt. There is nothing wrong with me for being ambivalent. Thank God. For years, I have thought something was really wrong with me that I could not commit; that I have a fear of intimacy.

It could be just as true that I have been ambivalent for a reason, i.e. the person is not right for me. I think it is more true that I have been scared of being hurt and left by someone I love. The thought of it right now, makes me cry, and that fear has kept me from confronting problems.

What I know now is that the only way to deal with ambivalence and to be intimate is to talk about what I have doubts about, and that will either bring me closer to my man, or we will find this issue cannot be resolved. This is what I have been doing with Steve and what I will continue to do in any relationship I have in the future.

So yay, for not being broken or terminally ambivalent, which is what I feared for a long time. And yay for growth and having enough self love and confidence to have hard conversations.

I am affirming myself minute by minute, hour by hour
As Steve and I are walking through the City, I am doing my best to bat away negative thoughts, to stop obsessing over Darrell, and to be mindful and present. (Writing helps.) To forgive myself for what I did not do in my relationship with Darrell, I am affirming:

  • I did the best that I could with what I knew.
  • This happened for a reason. I needed to learn to love myself.
  • I am not defined by my mistakes. Nobody is. As long as I have a heartbeat, I have time to live a full and loving and amazing life.
  • I have been loved so much by some amazing people. I have a track record of success. I will love and be loved again. Most of all, I will love myself.
  • The serenity prayer, i.e. I cannot change the past, I cannot control the future, I can only be here in this moment and change what I can.

And minute by minute, this is helping me cope with anxiety:

  • I am at peace.
  • I am enough.
  • I have all that I need inside of me to face any challenge.

One thought on “Letting go of the past

  1. dddish says:

    I just read your latest post and I am so proud of you for confronting the things that are holding you back from living your life to it’s fullest. I am concerned about your trip to Korea with all that is going on in the north, but I know you, being a smart and reasonable person, will know if it is too dangerous for you and your mom to travel there. Hang in there and let me know when you are back.

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