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How to stop being haunted by failed relationships?

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  • #376779
    nycartist
    Participant

    How do you stop thinking about someone you know you should keep out of your life? I have two people I don’t really see talking to again (though I guess never say never). My old best friend whom I’ve written about before, and also my uncle. Both relationships were toxic and have ended. I haven’t spoken to my friend since November, nor my uncle in 2.5 years. Though it seems daily they cross my mind. I want to focus on those relationships I have that are positive, but it feels like a limb missing. Are they truly something I need? Or is it just the thought of someone being displeased with me, and comfortable throwing away our past just gnawing away at some part of me? I think of holidays like Holi and Passover and Easter and all the times that call for renewal and forgiveness, and wonder is that the right thing. But I KNOW they are toxic to me. There is no question. I’ve released other toxic people before, and every time I think about contacting them there is something in me that pulls me back, like I know better. But this damn feeling in me makes me crazy sometimes.

    #376783
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear NYC Artist,

    I’ve taken a look at your previous thread (from November) and your deep and insightful conversation with Anita. What I would ask is – what do you feel you need from those people you can’t seem to let go? Usually when we can’t let go of someone, we believe we need something from them. For example, we might need to feel loved and accepted by them, because otherwise we don’t feel lovable. So if you can identify what it is that you need from them, I believe it would help you process it and move on.

    #376788
    nycartist
    Participant

    Hi TeaK,

    Thank you for responding. I’m trying to figure this out myself. I think because in my core beliefs I am a pacifist, I think the world needs peace, and everyone should learn to get along. It’s idealistic, but that’s what I’d like for the world. Seeing that it wasn’t possible for me to achieve this with two people that were dear to me is really difficult to accept. Still, my self preservation kicks in and I know it’s unwise to let either of them back in. They both had hurt me, my uncle more so, for years, with verbal and emotional abuse and manipulation, trying to turn me against my own mother. And basically disowning me when I tried for 8 years to be a peacekeeper in an awful family feud. I couldn’t get them to resolve their differences and finally had to step back for my own mental health. I was a new mom and it was consuming me. But now everything has settled, and it still hurts because I try to have a relationship with my aunt and cousins. Not speaking to him makes it awkward at times. I know I need to stay away but it just ultimately feels like a huge failure.

    As for my friend, again, I feel feelings of failure. Here we are, two adult women now, and something as stupid as different politics got between us. Though I know it’s more than that. There was a line crossed of disrespect on her end, and now she’s the one icing me out. If I go back, I am pretty much accepting that kind of behaviour and I can’t. It’s not a matter of pride at all, but again, self preservation. I’ve grown up with abuse and it feels strange to me to not accept that behaviour. But I know it’s what I have to do. I just want the weight of the losses to come off of me. I’m not sure if/how/when they will.

    #376789
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear NYC Artist,

    in both cases, both of your uncle and your friend, you speak of failure:

    Not speaking to him makes it awkward at times. I know I need to stay away but it just ultimately feels like a huge failure.

    As for my friend, again, I feel feelings of failure.

    Since your love and peace-making attempts failed, even though you’ve given your best, do you perhaps feel like a failure? If those people don’t change, do you see it as your own failure, your fault, your being “not good enough”, rather than ascribing it to their own limitations and their stubbornness?

     

    #376793
    anita
    Participant

    Dear nycartist:

    The very insightful teaK asked an excellent question and made an excellent suggestion: “what do you feel you need from those people..? identify what it is that you need from them, I believe it would help you process it and move on”-

    Your answer to her question, paraphrased, with a quote, is that you need the following from these two individuals: (1) to adopt your pacifist belief that “the world needs peace, and everyone should learn to get along”,  (2) to make it possible for you to be a successful peacekeeper , (2) In regard to your uncle- to make it possible for you to experience less awkwardness when interacting with his wife (your aunt) and with his children (your cousins).

    Here is my answer to the same question: you are very scared when people are angry at you, and what you need from these two individuals is that they will no longer be angry at you.

    My answer is based on what you shared Dec 3 last year: “I am so afraid of making someone angry.. this gnawing fear that I’ll have someone mad at me… The idea that someone is going to think ill of me is almost unbearable.. it’s literally sickening when I think of someone being ‘displeased’ with me”.

    Everyone is afraid of others’ anger, but your fear is more intense than others’. A clue as to why is that when you were a child, your mother had “some really horrific boyfriends”, including one about whom you wrote this: “one jerk used to light matches in my face and terrify me!”

    Angry people can do horrible things when angry, and you experienced it in ways that understandably scared you a whole lot, leading you to be intensely afraid of anyone being angry at you to any extent and for any length of time.

    In your original post here, you asked regarding your uncle and former friend: “Are they truly something I need? Or is it just the thought of someone being displeased with me.. gnawing away at some part of me?”- I believe it’s the second: the possibility of someone displeased/ angry at you is gnawing away at the scared little girl in you.

    anita

    #376815
    nycartist
    Participant

    Thank you TeaK and Anita,

    Seeing what you both wrote reminds me of some Dr. Wayne Dyer lessons about “could, should and would”, and also “must”. I am telling myself I SHOULD have been able to fix it, they “MUST” see that they were wrong and come back to make peace. I know that is very unrealistic thinking, and unhealthy thinking. Also, as I mentioned, I don’t even truly want them to come back unless they significantly worked on themselves and addressed the issues going on within them. One is a narcissist and will likely never change, and the other, well, I don’t know what happened to my friend, but she is no longer recognizable as the person I knew for 24 years.

    This actually helps so much. I realize I can be sad for the loss, and still look back and be thankful for the good times we had, but in both cases, the bad times were a pattern and lead to toxicity in my life. I know this is for the best. I also realize I have to protect that little girl within me that Anita mentioned. I’ve worked really hard to protect her, and even missing these people or thinking about them so often is doing a disservice to her. She deserves my attention, not them.

     

    #376817
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear NYC Artist,

    you’re welcome. I’d like to acknowledge you for the fact that in spite of the abuse you’ve experienced in your childhood, you’re not tolerating it in your adult life:

    It’s not a matter of pride at all, but again, self preservation. I’ve grown up with abuse and it feels strange to me to not accept that behaviour.

    This is huge, it’s a proof of your strength and the ability to self-preserve and love yourself. I understand you also have a very good husband, which too stands as a proof that the childhood abuse hasn’t ruined your capacity for self-love, self-respect and self-preservation. That’s admirable!

    What might be happening is that the little girl is still seeking to change her mother and her early care-takers, so that she does get the love and care she needed. So that she could experience peace that she never had in her childhood home. What if your craving for peace in the world is fueled by the same desire – to have peace and love in your own family home? A part of you still seems to look  for that peace outside and depends on other people to provide it for you. Even on political leaders. But of course, the attempt is futile, they can never ensure the peace you’re longing for. The answer is to create that peace and love – that safe, loving space – within yourself.

    What do you think? Is there a chance that this is what might be happening within you?

    #376818
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear NYC Artist,

    another thing occurred to me – that even if you know how to protect yourself, you don’t want to live in a world where you constantly have to be on guard, where people are hostile to each other, where you can’t just freely give and receive love. A world of war and conflict. For your 2-yr old self, it was a pretty big trauma to have a cigarette lighter being lit in front of her face. Not to mention all other incidents where you felt scared and terrified. So it wouldn’t be surprising that you’re now longing for a world without danger and conflict.

    #376821
    anita
    Participant

    Dear nycartist:

    You are welcome. About war and peace, you wrote: “they ‘MUST’ see that they were wrong and come back to make peace”. The definition of the word peace is: the absence of war, the absence, or freedom from war, violence and conflict.

    To have peace with your former friend and uncle then, does not mean to be friends with them/ to have good relationships with them. It simply means to not be engaged in war with them. So, if they are absent from your life and there are no interactions with them, good or bad, then.. there is peace with them already, as is.

    anita

    #377253
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, nycartist?

    anita

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