Heartbroken and unable to let go

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    Lily Valley

    I’ve never done this before but I feel so lost and stuck that I’d really appreciate advice.

    I feel like a horrible person. This time last year I was in an unhappy marriage. I’d been with my husband 9 years, married for 4, but felt trapped in a controlling and sad marriage where I was bullied by his family but he always took their side because “they were family.” Made me feel pretty worthless as his wife. In January I started a new job and made friends of my own for the first time (we could only hang out with my husbands friends and so I didn’t have any of my own). I started to believe I could stand on my own without my husband so had feelings to leave. When I suggested that maybe we weren’t happy and should talk about it, he didn’t want to try and we broke up. I felt pretty hurt he didn’t want to fight for us but ultimately know it’s the right thing.

    Shortly after this, one of my new friends was the kindest, most caring guys I have ever met and I soon developed overwhelming feelings for him. I split up from my husband in February and come April it was clear that there was an attraction between me and the new friend. One night we went out and I told him my feelings and he said he liked me but I wasn’t someone he could fall in love with. I felt pretty rejected so I decided to avoid him at work and just get on with things. But of course, the “hard to get” (though not intentional on my part) made him chase me and we began a relationship. For 5 months I felt like the happiest person in the world. I felt cared for and enjoyed the thrill of a new relationship and we seemed to get on so well. But he started to introduce me to his friends without saying I was his girlfriend and I didn’t know what our relationship was. So one night when he phoned I asked him what we were doing. At this point I’d fallen in love with him and expected him to say that we’d be officially boyfriend and girlfriend. But, he said, he didn’t know because he didn’t have feelings for me and never would and broke up with me.

    I’ve been left reeling with overwhelming feelings of rejection and can’t move on. I initiated the split from my husband because I believed that I deserved better- to be happy and to be loved-but being broken up with by this guy has shown me that I don’t deserve better and will never be happy again. I can’t move on and it’s been nearly 5 months. I’m so lonely and I’ve lost what little self esteem I had. I feel like I’m being punished. Maybe I am. I’ve never been heartbroken- my husband was my first and only boyfriend until the second relationship. I don’t believe I can ever trust or love again as the two people I’ve loved have let me down and rejected me. Yes I initiated the split with my husband but I thought he’d want to fight for our marriage but he didn’t want to try. The second guy couldn’t love me even though he said I was the kindest sweetest person he’d ever been with. I don’t understand. I always put everyone else first and I try to make everyone happy but no one wants to do that for me. I can’t heal and I can’t move on. I don’t know what to do.


    Hi Lilly,

    For me, a few simple steps are needed for you to start on your road back to happiness –
    1) Accept where you are now, it’s unfortunate but you can’t go back and change things;
    2) Stop thinking of life as some type of reward system (deserving better/worse), it’s just not true and doesn’t work like that. Putting everyone first is as bad as putting no-one first. All you can and should be doing is taking each action/decision/day as it comes, and listening to your heart when making these decisions. Not basing them on what society deems is good/bad;
    3) The only reason you’re saying you can’t heal and can’t move on is because you’re not choosing too. Now this really isn’t easy, and sometime it takes a long time to do, but the best/speediest way to do this is by indulging in the positives, passions and desires you have in life. It may take years, but life’s really all about being true to who you are, and you need to be that before you find the right person/situation for you (or else you find a person/situation which is good on paper, but which you actually end up miserable in – like your original one with the husband), so concentrate on that first.

    You’ll get there. 🙂


    First of all, it is awesome that you extracted yourself from a very controlling marriage, where you were cut off from all friends and family except his own. That is VERY hard for people to do. That requires incredible strength and belief in your self-worth.

    One of the problems, I suspect, is that you were cut off from other people for so long and this was the first real connection you had felt in a LONG time. And yes, it feels amazing. The fact that he doesn’t feel the same way though, doesn’t actually mean anything about YOU. He made it sound like is was about you, but it’s not. It’s about him, what kind of relationship he is capable of, what he is capable of giving, etc. And right now, he can’t give you much. And he told you that from the beginning. It’s a lesson that we ALL learn the hard way. There is no way around it, and I’m sure most of us have to learn this lesson many times in our lives: when someone tells you who they are, believe them. None of this “oh but he’s so wonderful, he acts so caring, when he looks into my eyes I see such a beautiful soul, I’ll help him see how wonderful he really is.” Knock it off. He told you who he is, accept that.

    You might also have a limited perspective because your husband was the only man you’ve really dated. I, on the other hand, have never been married and have dated plenty. And it is really hard to get used to rejection and it can be heartbreaking. No doubt about that. I’ve had my heart shattered, waiting for a year and a half for my ex to realize that I’m awesome and he loved me. It didn’t happen. But I eventually realized that rejection isn’t *so* horrible when your self worth isn’t on the line. So, I flipped the scenario. Looked at it from the opposite view: I’ve dated some really wonderful, nice guys who were looking for something serious. They treated me well and did all the right things. Any girl would be lucky to date these guys. But something was missing on my end. The chemistry or the trust or the passion or the attachment or something was missing. This did NOT in any way make them less great, or less worthy of finding someone awesome who appreciates them, or less of a person. And the same goes for me; just because my ex clearly felt something was missing, that doesn’t make me less awesome or less worthy of love or appreciation. And the same goes for you.

    I’ve been rejected numerous times. I’ve also rejected just as many potential boyfriends. And in the dating world, you will be rejected and you will reject others too. That’s okay. You should be picky. You should look for someone who makes you feel amazing and appreciated and SEEN. And it should be someone who actually does those things — who actually appreciates you and SEES you. And it should be someone who you love and admire and respect, exactly as they are — not an improved version of them, not a “but if I give it time he’ll change his mind” — exactly as he is.

    You clearly have the strength to move beyond this. I know it hurts and it’s totally okay to be hurt and to cry and be heartbroken. But you believed in yourself enough to get out of a very controlling marriage. A lot of people don’t get out of those. So, you do have that strength. You just have more work to do. Keep working on really understanding that you are enough, with or without a relationship. That you are wonderful. That you are beauty. That you are strength. That you are whole.


    Oh, and as for the “hard to get” thing… I’ve dated plenty, but I never liked playing hard to get. It can work, don’t get me wrong (and yes, I’ve done it), but it never turns out well… for the EXACT reasons that you are experiencing. And I read an article a couple months ago that perfectly articulated WHY it never sat well with me. Playing hard to get hooks a man (or woman) by creating fear of loss, by creating a vacuum and that person clings to what they think they will lose. It’s manipulation, by both people. It’s also a poor basis for a relationship because eventually, you WANT to be gotten. And then there is no genuine connection to keep the two together. It will never bring you the kind of relationship you want.

    When a relationship is based on authenticity, healthy boundaries, self-worth, and vulnerability, you can have the welcoming and satisfying connection that we are looking for. (If you’re interested, the article is by blogger, Shelly Bullard at http://shellybullard.com/… all her stuff is about relationships and why self love is the foundation for healthy relationships… the article I was talking about is “5 Keys to Finding a Really Good Man.”)

    Lily Valley

    Thank you. I am incredibly grateful for your kind advice.


    Hang in there first, know that there are many other people out there that feel lonely. Second, pat yourself on the back, it takes strength first to realize, that you were not happy in the first marriage and second for speaking your mind about the relationship after. Often we are hard on ourselves when really we are growing, etc. Now, I get the whole I do for others and I don’t get that back in return. Reward yourself first. Love self first. This is hard, cause it may come off as selfish, but remember, you were married for quite some time, its now your time.

    Learn to mediate, some part of the day, take care of self first and the rest will follow, I promise. Growth is essential part of this all, being aware so you don’t make the same mistakes, but being better to yourself is what is really important.

    I wish you only love and happiness.

    FWIW, I’m single, almost 40 and have loved to really enjoy my life, my friends, family and this wonderful weird whacky world we live in!

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