Recently a TGL reader wrote to me about receiving a bit of news that left her feeling unexpectedly unsettled: her ex, whom she had willingly separated from months ago, had begun dating someone new. This is weird, she said. I'm not sure how to react to this or how I actually feel. The break up was my choice, and I don't want back in, yet I also can't shake feeling...not good.
Oh honey. Been there.
After a few days of mulling over her situation, I decided it was time to head back to the blog for my most honest reply...
When my last serious relationship ended (quite some time ago), after many months of deep unrest, I truly wanted my ex to be happy. In fact, I felt there was no one else on this planet that deserved to move forward into a fabulous new life more than him. In a sad way I'd wanted him to find new love for several years; a love that honored all that he is and fulfills him in the ways that he completely deserved. I meant that with every pore of my being at the time, and still hope this for him everyday.
In some ways, when your ex moves on, it will be a relief.
It will feel like you are finally let off the hook a little bit. That you can, perhaps, stop punishing yourself so much. That you can let go of feeling bad for him or worrying that he is sad and lonely or that you damaged them in irreversible ways. You can, simply, let go.
You know what it's like to be loved by this person, and it is a truly special thing. Because really, all great love...no matter how long it lasts...is truly special. Being loved by this person is probably one of the most special things you will ever experience in your life because it changed you. Letting go of him fully, knowing that you are no longer holding that particularly special place in their heart, leaves you a little bit sad. And scared. And coulda/shoulda/woulda consumed. And of course, guilty. Always guilty. Guilt from constantly re-evaluating how you could have done better, been better; that you made it more difficult than it needed to be for the both of you.
This person has likely been a source of comfort for you. He will always feel a little bit like "your" person. Knowing they are moving on, even when a break up was your choice, can feel like the last bit of comfort in your old life leaving you. And lord knows as humans we run from discomfort at every turn.
Your ego thrives in times like these. It's mildly jealous of the lucky guy or gal who gets this love next. Your ego is fearful that you will never again be wholly loved, respected, adored, appreciated the way you might have been at one time, or hope to be again soon. In situations where you played the role of the heart-breaker more than the break-ee, your ego also tells you have no right to feel anything but positive towards them. How on earth could you possibly be so selfish as to feel any other way? After everything that transpired? After all of your mistakes?!
The ego is a real bitch.
From time to time one thought in particular will float around in your mind, and eventually it just might hit you like a ton of bricks: You are, officially, alone.
And this, dear friend, is more of a blessing than you probably realize right now.
As always, trust the process. Give time and space their deserved credit; they can be miracle workers, those two. And whenever possible, celebrate the life you shared with this person instead of re-mourning the relationships demise. Know that you did the best you could with what you knew and understood at the time, and give thanks for how they did the same. Being comfortable with who we are, including our pasts, is key to opening the doors for wonderful new relationships.
The truth? There's no right or wrong to how one should feel when an ex moves on. Like the little Shrek ogres that we are, there are layers to our being we often don't quite understand. Be gentle with that. Sit with it a little; get comfortable in the discomfort. Then send love and light to your once upon a time "better" half, and remember to hold a bit back for yourself -- for the person you are, have been, and are gloriously continuing to become.