Updated: Mar 16
Intense long distance relationship for four months with a guy I grew up with until we were 16. Then found each other on FB in 2014, talked randomly until summer 2020. Started seeing each other then. Broke up in December 2020 after realizing he was toxic, wasn’t working. Found out two days ago he was seeing someone else and it broke me. And he might have been talking to her in December when things were ending. I was fine until now (March 2021) Why do I feel so broken and sad even when I know this relationship was not good for me and was okay ending it in December?
Let’s talk about what I like to call “pressing the bruise.”
When I feel down on myself, I have a very bad habit. I seek out people’s social media - profiles of exes or professional peers - and check out what they.re doing. Across the board, every time, I see that they’re really happy with someone new or doing something I want to do. Guess how I feel after?
AWFUL. Like, curl up in the fetal position awash with self-loathing. That kind of awful. The thing is, I KNOW before I ever type that URL or pull up that page that I’m about to hurl myself down the shame spiral. Yet I do it anyway.
Kind of like pressing a bruise. You know it’s going to hurt but that doesn’t stop you. I learned I was doing that because I was already feeling down on myself and, subconsciously, sought out examples of why those negative core beliefs were accurate.
I’m going to guess you found out about his new relationship through social media. If that’s the case, consider the possibility that you sought out his page because you were already feeling bad about yourself and were looking to press the bruise. It really doesn’t matter how you found out. The how isn’t important.
You felt broken before you found out he was seeing someone. Hearing the news about him only exacerbated that core negative belief. Maybe it made you feel more alone or wonder why he - someone so toxic - could find love and you haven’t so far. (So far being the operative words here.)
It sucks when people who treat us poorly thrive but it’s life. I’d like to say that Karma will get him or something equally encouraging, but the truth is great things happen to bad people all the time. The trick is believing that good things will also happen to you if you stay the course and keep focusing on you.
This brokenness you feel has little to do with him. It most likely has to do with the set of negative core beliefs that you have. Such as:
Why can’t I find anyone?
What’s wrong with me?
Why doesn’t anyone want me?
So, the goal for you is to identify and address those core beliefs. What are they? Why do you believe them? When did you first start thinking this way? Psychology Today calls these pessimistic self-opinions BLUE thoughts:
Here's how to recognize BLUE thoughts:
Blaming myself. While it's important to take responsibility for your part, excessive self-blame isn't productive. In fact, it's been linked to mental health problems, like depression. Be on the lookout for times when you tell yourself that you've "ruined everything," or that something is "all your fault."
Looking for bad news. If nine good things and one bad thing happen in a day, it's easy to focus on the one bad part. But dwelling on the negative will keep you stuck in a dark place. It's important to step back and create a more balanced, realistic outlook.
Unhappy guessing. Even though you have no idea what will happen tomorrow, you might predict doom and gloom. Whether you imagine that you're going to embarrass yourself in a meeting or tell yourself that you'll never get a promotion, unhappy guessing can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if you're not careful.
Exaggeratedly negative. Telling yourself that the entire interview was a complete disaster or convincing yourself that everything about your job is terrible leads to a downward spiral. The more negatively you think, the worse you'll feel. And the worse you feel, the less likely you are to take positive action.
Then you have to re-write those beliefs. That way, when they negative ones pop up, you can turn them around. This process is called cognitive restructuring and it works.
After my Dad, step-mom and sister died and I was dealing with the after-math of a very toxic relationship, I felt broken, too. Seeing people who hurt me happy absolutely wrecked me. I’ve learned to avoid things, people and places that make me put myself down or that highlight any thought that makes me feel inadequate.
I wasn’t broken. Neither are you. I know it feels that way sometimes. Like you simply can not give one more person the benefit of the doubt. You swear off putting yourself out there. The pain is too much.
I get it.
You can pull yourself through this muck. It will be a slog at first. Eventually, once you learn triggers to avoid and start changing your thoughts, things will begin to get easier.
Never underestimate your own resilience.
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