-- Question for John --
I was in a relationship that I was so happy with. To make a long story short, she dumped me a year ago. I really didn’t see an end to our relationship coming. Whenever we had problems, we always talked, or I was always willing to talk I should say. We generally would make a decision about a problem, and things would slowly change. Anyhow I just cannot let go.
She still is a friend, but she never calls me anymore. She is willing to talk to me when I ask her to talk for a little though. She is willing to give advice. She says she’s really not interested in ANY relationship. Ever since she broke up with me, I’ve deteriorated all relationships with my friends and family. I’ve had a major opportunity to have another girlfriend which I just can’t seize because I still can’t let go. And worst of all, I don’t even feel good about myself anymore. Once in a while I do something I’m proud of for a total of 5 minutes.
Do you know how I could let go, or get her back? I’d like the latter, but I know it’s probably 98% not possible.
-- Answer from John --
I think a better question you really might want to be asking is how to get YOU back. OK, I agree that it also involves letting her go.
First, to the extent you think about her coming back as any kind of solution for the bad feelings you have, you are looking in the wrong direction. She is outside of you. Your feelings are inside of you. I know this is obvious. But really. Think about it. As long as you are looking outside of yourself — at her as an object — you are not looking inside of yourself. Your feelings are just going to get stuck that way, because they need your attention now. So point one, as much as possible stop yourself from dwelling on her in your mind’s eye. It is just a distraction from you getting YOU back. And she ain’t coming back anyway, from the looks of things.
Second, about letting go. Letting go is a bit of a paradox. Because you have to think about what it is you are letting go of. Which is her. Hence you are not letting go because you are thinking about her. So let go of the whole idea of letting go.
I have found that letting go of someone else is equivalent to reattaching yourself to YOU. Or, letting go is the same as coming to occupy the space you are in right now. That sounds stupid but make it your mantra because it is actually very profound. Letting go is occupying the space you are in now. You are letting go of something outside of you — and moving your attention more fully back into the space that you physically occupy — which is inside of you.
OK. I know that space is full of very unpleasant, perhaps even very painful feelings.
But that is my point entirely. You are in some way not fully embracing those feelings. Thus they are getting stuck inside of you. Instead of occupying this inner space, you are pointing your thoughts outside – towards her.
Your real liberation is accepting the situation. She’s gone. Accepting the feelings. You are bummed. So be bummed fully. Really feel your pain fully. Do this for at least five minutes. But feel it fully. Cry? Sure, if that comes naturally. But mainly just feel the feelings fully inside your body. Sit with your feelings.
That will get them flowing again. You will reconnect with more of yourself. You will be getting YOU back. This is an act of courage. It takes real guts to be in your guts right now, feeling all that stuff.
And OK, you won’t be stuck in those painful feelings forever. In fact, you will probably move through them more quickly if you feel them more fully. Otherwise, they will just stick around, holding you because you are holding them back.
You are depressed because you are avoiding just feeling. Feel the pain. Feel the anger. Feel it all. Write a big long letter to her… not to be mailed… in which you tell her how angry you are… how hurt you are… and so on… and make sure you tell her everything. Then burn it.
Anyway, this is a start. Plan on letting yourself have all the time in the world to recover from this. It sounds like she was your first deep love, and unfortunately it was not the same for her. OK. That happens. Now it’s time for you to regroup and get yourself back. Don’t worry that you energy is inward right now. So it should be. You need to process your feelings and just be with yourself and your best friend, whom you can trust.
If you remain stuck in depression for several more months, I’d recommend you see about going to a counselor and working through your stuff with some outside help. There is absolutely no shame in it. When I was your age, or actually about a year older, I saw a counselor for a year and he literally saved my life — in addition to inspiring me to be in the field I am in now.
You are in winter. OK, a little out of synch with the real season. But you are in your winter. What happens in winter? Thunder and lightning. Rain. Or, to drop out of symbolic mode, anger and sadness. These things can be scary and maybe we don’t like to get wet. Too bad. It’s part of life. The rain has a purpose in the larger picture of things. Spring could not be spring — later of course — without it. Be in winter.