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How do I make it stop?

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hopeandnohope posted 4/26/2019 11:52 AM

Hi Haole,

Like you, I don't understand how I still 'love' ExWH when my SO is a wonderful man who treats me like I always wished ExWH would. All I can think is

1. Our minds can't let go, or understand, the betrayal, lies and craziness of the 'end' of our marriage so mentally we can't let go until we make sense of it--which there are no explanation that let's us move on--so we hang on giving head space and heart space to someone who discarded us and their family so easily...if our minds could comprehend the damage this person has caused, there is no way we would/could still love them.

2. The 'feelings' we had with our ex were so deep and extreme compared to our even comfortable relationship with our SO that our hearts confuse the good feelings, painful feelings and all the other rollercoaster emotions ex caused as deeper and we call it love.

I'm not a deep thinker or good at explaining myself but my heart still jumps when I see exwh, I still think he is very handsome but he has said, and done, unforgivable things to me during his affair and through our divorce so I have to be crazy to still have any love for someone who nearly destroyed me.

The first few years of our relationship was the only 'real love' and it was intense and wonderful. The next 16 weren't great and the last two were unbearable. Is those few years the love we are holding on to?

You also said you did not have a good marriage. We both have a better relationship and life now. I just hope the false 'love' for ex doesn't cause any hurt to SO and posting here is much better than sharing with her.

Enjoy your good life because what you have now is real. What you feel for ex really isn't.

Haole posted 4/26/2019 14:31 PM

Hi, Hope:

I really appreciate your thoughtful reply. It’s both nice and frickin’ tragic to know that there are plenty of folks going through this as well. In any case, I think your response makes a lot of sense.

As I’ve said, it’s the “letting go” part I have so much trouble with. I’m a professional holder of grudges... although most of the ones I’d hung onto for so many years got nearly obliterated by what my ex did. The events that caused the grudges are still in my mind, but now they’re more like “things that happened” than “things that hurt.” The “grudges” I hold now are against my ex and Beelzebub.

I think you’re right about the inability to make sense of it. While I can understand what my ex did and, to some extent, even why, I still can’t wrap my head around how, except to the extent that she’s so mentally ill. And, not being nearly AS mentally ill, I still really can’t understand how. And while I’ve felt aware enough to think that I’m way more cognizant of the damage my ex did than she ever could be, I also think that there’s more damage, perhaps way more, than I’ll ever really understand -- such as the damage she continues to do to our son. While she was spending 10 years of her childhood getting raped, her parents pretty much left her to fend for herself, emotionally. That’s what she’s doing to our son now -- without the rape component, thankfully. But I can’t really understand it because my parents never abandoned me.

I think that, to some extent, because love so often involves pain, it might be not be easy to see where one leaves off and the other begins. (Similar, though probably irrelevant, thing with love and sex: My “theory” is that in expressing nonsexual love, we do physical things -- kissing, caressing, cuddling -- that we also do as part of sex, so often it would be only natural to confuse the two.)

You mention the unforgivable things your ex did, and I’ve come to think of the things mine did as unforgivable... and yet I feel this need to forgive HER (though not the things). And so far, I just can’t forgive her, and it eats me up because it feels as though if I can do so, this stuff won’t plague me nearly as much. Then again, it’s equally possible that if I can accept NOT forgiving her, that could make it easier as well.

In mentioning your husband’s appearance, you bring up two things. First, starting a couple months after she left, I was surprised to notice that my wife looked less and less appealing every time I saw her. For one thing, she cried EVERY time I saw her for months. Also, she did NOT have the glow of A Woman In Love. Indeed, when she deigned to let me take her to dinner for her birthday after we’d been separated six months, she looked as though she’d gone out of her way NOT to be appealing (which, certainly, is possible). I saw her maybe half a dozen times after that, and she continued to look worse. I hoped that meant I had become less attracted to her, but… no, I think it was her just not looking so great.

The other thing is, I would think it was only natural to see one’s attractive ex-spouse and still think “Yum!” Most likely you were together, at least at the very beginning, because of mutual attraction. We can talk about appearances being superficial, but they certainly are how we judge people, particularly at first, and usually we don’t become physically attracted to people we don’t find physically attractive.

In saying we didn’t have a good marriage, I don’t mean that we had a BAD marriage. I never thought it was bad, and I still don’t. We didn’t have the necessary level of communication, in part because I was so afraid to lose her that I held my tongue a lot; and she held hers because she was afraid to devastate me by leaving. We always got along well, though, as I’ve said, that extended to rarely arguing and almost never fighting, which was kind of scary.

I do indeed have a better relationship, and most parts of my life are better than when we were together. The main difference between now and then, I think, is that my dad’s gone, and I miss him terribly, but in general, it’s hard to complain about my life (or should be). I am indeed thankful and grateful for so much, and that includes the support I’ve gotten from friends, family, even strangers.

My girlfriend, meanwhile, has no reason to think I would ever dump her in favor of my ex (or anybody else, really) or that she’s somehow in my ex’s “shadow.” She knows I’m no longer in love with my ex -- having also known me while I was, during the separation. The friendship my girlfriend and I had for a year before we started dating was far more “real” than the friendship I believed I’d established with my ex, which was more a case of us both being part of a GROUP of friends than actually BEING friends.

Again, thanks so much for your words of wisdom and kindness.

hopeandnohope posted 4/27/2019 11:05 AM

I thought about your post last night. Funny how opening up and replying on a thread helps us more than we think.

My SO of over 4 years picks me up for Friday 'date night' and is attentive and calls me beautiful. He takes a few minutes to give me 100% of his focus. EXWH was like that for the first couple of years but I longed for exwh's attention for the last 16 years of our relationship (and never once thought about having an affair). It was very hurtful to read exwh's texts calling OW beautiful and gorgeous. Anyway, after posting to you, I savored the treatment and attention from my wonderful SO last night and reminded myself to never take him for granted.

Your wife was abused as a child. I was also. We all have our childhood trauma. It's terrible. Childhood trauma affects so many that your wife is not unique in that aspect. I don't think your ex's past is any excuse for her cheating! There is no excuse for hurting anyone like your ex has hurt you and her son!

Today my SO and I are going for a drive out of town and enjoy a few sites and lunch at a fancy restaurant--exwh wouldn't want to waste a Saturday like this. Again, I am blessed to have a fun thoughtful SO to enjoy the day with.

Enjoy your day with your SO. Let go of the grudge towards your ex because that is like a comma (not sure what else to vall the interuption lol) in your happiness. You deserve an uninterrupted life.

Haole posted 4/29/2019 14:37 PM


If nothing else, I’m glad I was able to contribute a little to your continued appreciation of your SO. Taking each another for granted is an easy trap for couples to fall into, and I do my best to avoid it. (That said, it’s her birthday in a week, and I have no idea what to give her....)

I agree with you that her trauma, however considerable, does not give her an excuse to do what she’s done, especially to my son. She’s fond, in our rare communications, of letting me know she thinks little of herself (“I’m broken,” “I’m not worthy,” “I’m so hard on myself,” “I’m a coward,” “I’m a fearful person,” and so on), but these are just mantras, excuses she uses to get off the hook. She keeps doing this, all these years later, and clearly she hasn’t learned.

I do enjoy my time with my girlfriend. She reminds me every day that I’m a lucky person. But believe me, if I could figure out how to let go of the feelings centering on my ex and what she did, I would. The only way I’ve managed to pretty much let go of other grudges is to have them pushed out by THIS one; otherwise, I imagine they’d still be on my mind. Some folks can simply let go; I apparently don’t know how.

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