It ended four years ago; why am I still struggling?

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    Hi, all!

    Roughly four years ago, I split up with my ex girlfriend (who we’ll call “V.” We had been together for four years, but amid cheating (my fault) early in 2010, the relationship had collapsed by December. It was a tumultuous and drawn out ending that finally cut off after I found out that following July that V had moved on and was happily with someone else. We haven’t spoken since July 2011, and we haven’t seen each other since July-August 2012 (an awkward run-in at a concert).

    Jump start to January 2015. January 13th marked my 25th birthday, and my first since the death of my Mother (she passed July 2014, she had been ill with Lupus and Lymphoma for nearly 15 years). I’m self-aware enough to realize how much has changed, and how much I’ve grown. I’ve dated many girls, been in two long term relationships since (currently in one, although I’m not happy and I’m thinking about ending it). I’ve experienced so many new things since we broke up, and I know she has, too. I understand that we may both be fundamentally different people now. The thing is, I find myself feeling helpless and still in love with V. I feel desperate to see her and be with her again. I feel such a major void that I know can’t be filled or replaced. It’s like trying to accept the death of someone who I know is still alive. In all the time since our split, I can honestly say that I’ve thought about her every day since. I’ve felt it consume me ever since the split. I feel desperate for emotional relief.

    But why do I feel this way? Do I actually miss her, or the idea of her? I know I miss specific instances of her–the way she was when I knew her; her beauty, her smile, her laugh, our specific inside jokes, our specific rapport. Is this what people mean when someone’s in love with the idea of an individual or relationship, and not truly the individual? Am I filling that criteria? Whatever it is, I know that I need to leave her alone and move on.

    I very infrequently have suicidal thoughts, but I have had them. I do feel like life is pointless, and that is something I am willing to accept and face in spite of. I want to free myself from these slaving emotions. I feel compelled and motivated to pick myself up and conquer the world at times, only to feel the weight of it all when I lift everything all at once. My motivations are not exactly the best, either–I feel like the only reason to pick myself up is to make V notice me again and realize that I am worth it. Maybe V is merely an avatar for my own insecurities at this point. Idk.

    I feel an entire rainbow of negativity–depression, grief, extreme guilt, regret, hopelessness, a sad longing for V, nihilism. I feel pathetic. I need help.


    I am not always the best at advice and when I read your post, it felt like it had been me writing it. Almost the exact incidence happened to me. And that is why I know you are going to be alright.
    I suffered from depression and, also four years ago after the breakup I was given this book When things fall apart: heart advice for difficult times -Pema Chodron
    Changed everything and because I am not the best at advice but completely understand your head space right now I recommend looking at this book. There is even an audio book online. Please give it a go. It will help I promise.


    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your mother and that you are suffering right now. Your post is titled by a reference to your breakup ‘four years ago’. There is nothing odd or unhealthy in missing someone from your past. I personally don’t think that four years ago is a particularly long time, especially since you were together several years. It sounds as if this ex stands out from the others and this can cause you to think there is something particularly significant about her, which may be interpreted as an indicator that you are supposed to be together. This may be true and, if it is, the only practical advice that can be given is to get back in contact with her. I know this isn’t easy and if she is still in a relationship then getting back into contact for that reason isn’t really advisable. This then leaves acceptance. I know you feel depressed and that her absence is a void, but there is a chance you are projecting your salvation onto her when really you need to working on accepting being single and being happy with being single. Fulfilling, successful relationships are amazing and the healthiest/happiest ones are the ones where each individual is content with themselves. Otherwise the relationship is just an addictive clinging, which leaves each individual feeling constantly anxious in case the relationship comes to an end.

    Real strength and contentment will come from putting yourself first and this means you alone, not an idealised relationship. No matter how great she is, she can’t ever save you because you can only do that for yourself. Even if she showed up at your door right now and said ‘I love you and want to get back together with you’, soon enough cracks would start to show because your depressed/suicidal thoughts will not simply be dissolved by being with this girl, even though that is what you think you desperately want. Aim to get some help for your depression if you haven’t and look into its roots; try to detach its roots from her. Most of us are in the habit of looking back on the past through rose-tinted spectacles. Can you be sure this isn’t happening now?

    Good luck 🙂


    I just posted something like this today, wow if you read mine and read yours, almost identical.



    I feel compassion towards you and your heartbreak. We have all been there. Even the rich and famous get their hearts kicked around.

    However I strongly feel that you should move on… This girl left you. You didn’t leave her. When a woman leaves she is certain that she doesn’t love you…. or else she would stay and try to make it work… Women by nature are nesters and generally try to make things work before calling it quits. I have never once seen it work out in this situation.

    If you’re single you should have 2-3 girls that you’re actively talking to and trying out. Dating is a numbers game in your 20s.

    Lastly I am concerned on how little you value integrity… Why would you want to love someone that left you for the arms of another man years ago? The answer is you don’t. Its your ego talking. You want to win… Think of healthy role models. Would tom brady beg for his ex back? ….

    The real problem is that you clearly don’t have control over your thoughts or emotions. You allow them to run wild…. Try to develop a meditation practice and you’ll be surprised how clearly reality becomes. Without it, you’ll be doomed to living life full of “what ifs” constantly being played in your head rather than focusing on “what is”… Which is a world full of beauty, abundance, and opportunity.

    Lastly. You need a support group of strong male friends. You need to exchange masculine energy with other males… This will tremendously. Iron sharpens iron.

    Martina Weiss

    Emmett, no one can tell you what to do. Why don’t you find out what your motivation of you missing V is? Is there a way to contact her? There wouldn’t be anything odd about contacting her after four years (if you haven’t been in touch in that time). What stops you from approaching her? Is it fear? Don’t allow fear to get in your way. Acknowledge that it is there and do it anyway. I believe the only way to figure out what is really going on is to get in touch with her, maybe share with her what is going on inside of you. You might think now ” Oh, if I do that she must think I’m a loser or a weak or that I don’t know what I want.” Yeah, that’s the inner critic, your fear again, trying to protect you from being rejected or similar. But you know what? Against all those assumptions of what is bad or weak, I tell you this: Showing vulnerability, showing who you really are is THE expression of inner strength. Because at this point, you stop pretending to b someone who you are not. Because you show to the outside what moves you. Because you stop pleasing others and let your fear control you. SO go for it. contact her and see what happens.

    All the best!


    You should at least give it a sincere try. Try to talk to her and express you feeling. There is always chance of rejection but in either way it will be helpful to move on with your life.


    It does sound like V. is a symbol to you of who you were when you were happy. If you’re in a relationship now and it’s not working, what does it need? What does a relationship that does work look like to you?

    She’s not going to make you happy. Addressing your problems, maybe making new friends, maybe just looking deeply into yourself for what you truly want and taking steps towards that is more likely to help.

    Good luck.

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