Dear John letters....
This is but one of many Dear John letters from the Vietnam era war. Though old an story, in many ways it still holds true for many of us today; particularly for us Rick's who have been deposed, dumped and discarded by one of those Becky's.
I can no longer continue our relationship. The distance between us is simply too great. I must admit that I have cheated on you twice since you've been gone, and it's not fair to either of us. I'm very sorry. Please return the picture of me that I sent to you.
The Marine, with hurt feelings, asked his fellow Marines for any pictures they could spare of their girlfriends, sisters, ex-girlfriends, aunts, cousins, etc. In addition to the picture of Becky, Rick included all the other pictures of the pretty gals he had collected from his buddies. There were 57 photos all together in that envelope, along with this note:
I'm so sorry, but I can't quite remember who the hell you are.
Please take your picture from the pile, and send the rest back to me.
Many of us, when dumped by a loved one in, feel a need or burning desire to make the person who dumped us feel as bad (or worse) that we do. Where this may be a natural act of impulse during the heat of the moment, I really don't think it benefits us in any way. In fact, I would argue that it could make us feel worse.
When our relationship ends, our perception of our own reality shifts. Each day is a dramatic change from the day before, the one that we were used to. Personally, I would prefer that the old partner were still out there on the fringe of my world as a friend (because I held the higher ground and didn't try to cut her down and make her feel bad for leaving me) -- than to be gone from my world altogether. Now I can remember the happier times we had together, and my mind is not clouded with bitterness and hatred. Now I can be a positive influence on our children and move forward with making good memories.
It's great you've got to that place. It's very hard to at first. You have to push through the hate and resentment in order for your mind to settle and look back and realise there were good times and bad times. I agree that you should try and hold back from wanting to inflict punishment, at least to the point where you are actively plotting it, or constantly running down your ex to friends and family... it becomes an unhealthy cycle and prevents you from moving on. You can get into a depressive cycle of thinking about 'wasted years' as well, which is never helpful.
Really liked that story.
Some people used to say to me that "it takes two" eg to argue, to be hostile when picking up and dropping off the children etc.
I can honestly say that in the 14 years I carried out that fortnightly chore, I tried hard every time to be friendly to my ex wife for the sake of harmony and the children. It never worked- not once.. So really- it only takes one IMO.
I am really fascinated by these postings. I have returned home from an overseas trip to find my older brother has emailed me saying his wife of nearly 50 years has left him. He is angry and full of blame for here, when from where I stand, I admire her for putting up with as much as she has. The postings have also brought back lots of thoughts about what I experienced when I went through divorce some 25 years ago. It is easy to get into the blame games, the he said/she said routine, which as others have said, does nothing for healthy healing and moving forward in a positive direction. It is too easy to be clouded with bitterness and anger, which is a defensive reaction to our own perception that "somebody has done me wrong", instead of facing the fact that our own contribution to the conflict may have been more negative than what we realised before the crash happened.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings. I am trying to work out in my mind how to most appropriately respond and provide support to my older brother who is full of bitterness, hurt and wanting to inflict punishment on his wife and children
Hi Quiettall. Trying to be supportive, yet keep at arm's length when it's a sibling who's marriage/relationship has ended is difficult. You can see both sides, yet loyalty to your sibling is in the 'front line'. Perhaps for now you could listen, offer words of comfort. When he talks retribution, I would let him know he has to be aware of the consequences of his own actions. He is mourning and angry that his marriage has ended. Unfortunately, his anger is causing him frustration, which is why he feels justified in inflicting more hurt on wife and children. Maybe, at this stage, try gently to redirect him to other ways of dealing with his feelings of betrayal. He does need to lash out in order to accept and overcome his anger, but there are ways of achieving this. Perhaps take him to the gym where he could lash out at a punching bag. Suggest he pretend it's his ex wife, this way he could punch the bag without hurting himself either. Any sort of physical action is beneficial. Punching a bag, walking on a treadmill, riding an exercise bike, these are physical exercises which would help him work out his frustrations in a way that wouldn't hurt anyone.
My advice to your brother, and everyone else who is going through marital breakup, is to ensure that you never, and I mean never, try to punish the other party via the children. For that matter, you don't communicate to/with them via the children either.
The collapse of my marriage was the event that brought me to the BB Forums, so I guess you could say it was pretty bad. Anyone I am thankful that I had the foresight to not allow our children to be pawns in our breakup. I never accepted any communication from her that came via the children; I just ignored it as thought it has never been said. Also, whenever the children wanted to see their mother, I never took advantage of her coming to see them as a time to fight with her. This was there time, and any attempt to make it miserable for her, was really just making it miserable for the kids; so fighting with her would not be punishing to her, it would be punishing them and therefore me. No. If I needed to talk to her, I telephoned here or sent email. And I would only accept the same from her. The kids were not the reason for our marital collapse, so as far as I was concerned they should not bear any of bitterness or anger we felt for each other.
And through the benefit of hindsight, my foresight was spot-on; my kids are especially thankful that I spared them from all that (and their friends - of separated parents - are envious of it)
I tend to agree with Pipsy about siding with family, but I suppose this really depends on your personal viewpoint of family. For me, family is the one group of people that, no matter the trespass, we always forgive each other. I am still good friends with the ex's of my siblings, but I cannot expect that they'd forgive me no matter the trespass as I know that my siblings would; and for this reason alone, I side with my siblings.
Maybe you can leave a couple of BB Forums brochures in a quite place that he might read them; e.g. in the loo. Maybe he'll find his way here, and find the support that he needs to help him get through the breakup.