Every time I see my ex my gut gets heavy and it hurts to even look at her. She says she doesn’t want me in her life anymore but she says the love is not dead. But she’s
with another guy. Should I just stay away? Am I just being a jealous ex?
I’ll assume by your phrasing that you’re the one that got left, and the fact that it hurts indicates that this wasn’t the direction you wanted things to go. First off, don’t feel alone. Keep in mind I and almost everyone else you meet will have experienced those feelings. In fact very few people who live on this Earth won’t experience them. It’s ultimately extremely human. It would be a shame to live and miss out on feeling it at least once. Without knowledge of it there would be so many other moments that would lose their poignancy.
The reason we know the feeling is that we did the same things you did. Or some variation of them. When people “are together” whether that’s dating or a marriage, there’s a sense that because it’s named that it’s over. That it’s happened in the past tense, as though it was a one-time decision, rather than the truth—which is that it is re-decided over and over and over after each experience, throughout the relationship. Most of us forget that is happening and we slip into a lull where we start to behave unconsciously—where we genuinely lose track of the fact that the decisions we make each day are, in a way, made for more than just us.
This blindness can conceal a lot. Even the cheating spouse isn’t thinking that their point is to ruin their marriage. That’s why they’re sneaking around. They don’t want to ruin the good parts of their relationship. They want to replace or shore-up what they perceive as the bad parts. Or maybe they just want some compliments or to have sex. Do you see how they might tip towards people who are offering one or both? They aren’t thinking about the pain their spouse would feel—in almost every case that’s precisely why they’re keeping it a secret. They don’t want their loved one to experience the pain, but they also don’t want important aspects of themselves to go un-lived or that’s just another kind of pain.
Love is a complicated business once we get words and definitions involved. Without the words and definitions love is left to be a verb, either expressed or suppressed. It does not have a history or a future, real love—the act of love—happens in-the-moment. So if you’re with your partner and you feel close feelings, you will act in a close manner. If your thoughts are elsewhere, on other “priorities” then you will feel those thoughts and in the meantime your relationship will idle from your lack of attention, even though it may have your physical presence. But it is important to remember that your partner is also a thinking being, so as your thoughts are about other things, their thoughts begin to be about other things too. And that is where the distance can start.
You say that your ex says that she still feels that love for you exists but that she wants space from you. Can you understand that just as the breakup is hard for you, that it is hard for her too? I know she initiated it on an official basis, but she may very well feel that you initiated it by having your thoughts focused too-much on subjects other than her. Maybe those thoughts were lazy and easy, like you were focused on the playoffs of a sport or on some important work event or life event like an important new promotion or a wedding or even a death in your family. Our reasons for being distracted can vary, but the distraction is equally innocent, regardless.
Don’t beat yourself up for those distractions—just try to be more aware in the future. And don’t resent her decision—it would have been hard for her too. But know that your thoughts about her are currently a tangled mess of would-be, could-be dead-end thoughts that never lead you to anywhere good. That’s what her thoughts were like before she left you. And just like it did for her, eventually your spirit realizes that these thoughts are fruitless, and you begin to naturally abandon them in favour of other more productive thoughts. Over time you replace thoughts of her or your failures with thoughts of other people and the fun you’re having, and just like every other human, your natural resiliency leads you back to health. In the end we don’t so much find our soulmate, it’s more that each relationship teaches us how to be a soulmate for whoever we’re dating.
Yes being left hurts, just as becoming someone who leaves is a painful experience too. The only thing that makes these painful thoughts “go away” is to replace them with other thoughts. She’s done it with someone else (which is why that’s often referred to as “rebound”), but you will have to do this very consciously at the start. Maybe you’ll use a person. Maybe it’ll be an activity or interest. But your naturally healthy mind will find something to focus on and your innate health will emerge as a result. So the only thing you can do it accelerate that process a bit is by really looking for things to invest yourself in. Then when you bounce back to painful thoughts about your ex, know that you can bounce right back to thoughts about something else.
I feel for you. It’s easy to remember the sort of feelings associated with heartbreak. It’s a painful thing to think we’ve let down someone we care about. But it’s not like that was your intention, so you should be forgiving of yourself. Invest your consciousness wisely going forward. Be very intentional about your thinking and your life will reflect those choices.
All the best.
peace and a hug. s
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.