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How can I finally let go?
about 1.5 months ago, my partner and I made the decision to end our 1.5 year relationship. He just wasn't ready after uncompleted grief work following his leaving his marriage with an alcoholic wife, plus quite a bit of work to do relating to childhood issues he never really got aware of before. He also has an avoidant attachment style because of the childhood issues, so although he wants and loves me, every time he has the chance and I want to build a lasting relationship, he pushes away again. He is aware now and his therapy has taken a much better turn since he is finally aware of all the various things he needs / wants to work on so that his future can be brighter one day. Nonetheless, we ended our relationship because he is not ready and we did not move forward. It was excruciating for me and so we said we would do the one thing we can and give each other the chance to work on ourselves individually so that we both can have a chance of good lives, love and happiness in the future. However, although I initially wanted to keep hope alive that this might still mean the two of us together some day, I have realised that everything he says and does is too vague and I need to let go so I can progress and not get stuck in nothingness.
I am trying my best, I have arranged things with friends, found new hobbies, I exercise a lot and get out into nature. I read a lot about myself and how I can / want to improve aspects of my life. Lastly, I realised I have to set boundaries with him because we work together and although I love him very much, it is not healthy for me to interact much with him while my feelings are still so strong. So I set boundaries again and again, worked from home for weeks on end and asked to only have contact if we really have to speak about work. But, I guess the push and pull continues because although he cannot give me anything and constantly says we need to look after ourselves for now, he continuously seeks contact. It hurts me a lot because that way, I have to be the hard one and push back although everything inside me feels terrible for doing so. I was always the one ready to go all the way, the one that loved 150% of the time. Now I feel I am the only one trying to set necessary boundaries. I love him but this pulls me back again and again and every time I feel I am progressing, contact with him makes me so incredibly sad. How can I progress without breaking our connection completely and without breaking myself?
Half way through reading your post the answer came automatically to me Reeves- go in a date or at least go out to seek new company.
This suggestion you might think is too soon but 6 weeks is long enough to grieve for your loss and moving on is essential to more effective distraction.
It sounds like you are doing all the things you need to move on. The only thing is that it takes time and sometimes it is necessary to remove ourselves completely from someone to heal. Though this isn't an easy thing and as you mention, you work with him. I feel space from him won't break the connection, but it will help to align with yourself and if there is a possible future together, it will come in due time. The important thing is to focus on your own healing and give yourself time and permission to grieve the loss of the relationship.
Remember to be kind to yourself.
thank you very much for responding, I really appreciate it. I have taken some time off just to have some distance from my ex-partner. We get along very well because we both still very much care about each other. But that is exactly the problem. He is unable to progress with the relationship so we made the decision we made. Now, I am trying to move forward without him, not because I want but because I know I have to. But he says that he does not want me to say goodbye or let him go because he is still hoping. But at the same time, he tells me all those things about how he still feels guilty and can't let go of his bad marriage and that he is scared of the relationship with me because for the first time that is a non-toxic relationship and all he is used to is toxic ones with his parents and his past partners. I find this incredibly tragic because we have so much in common and could be so happy but his attachment issues and guilt / bad conscience about leaving his wife are making a relationship impossible.
So I took time off to create distance which was good. Now, I am back at work and seeing or having to talk to him again. And he always brings conversations back to personal things as well. In a nice and cheerful way and I am not immune to it. But all it does is create a lot of heartache because it feels like we could be so great but can't. It is difficult for me to cut that away because I feel like a terrible person if I do not speak to him. But yesterday and today, I went back to working from home and when he reached out, I simply did not answer the phone. Now he has sent me a message and I have not yet responded. I am planning to ignore it but it hurts to think that he will be thinking I don't care. It's like I am the person that has to drive all the boundaries although I was the one 200% ready to go all the way and he was the reason why we can't. This is not about fault-finding, I am trying to get advice on whether it is ok to ignore his messages and be so "cold". I don't want any of this but I cannot continue the contact because it constantly reopens the wound. I love him very much but if I can't be with him, I want a new life to start. I want to be happy with someone eventually and I fear if he doesn't let me go, I will never have a free heart to go forward. How do I manage this considering I have to work with him and I do not want to hurt him. I just want to be able to move forward and let him go.
I am so sorry to hear you are going through this, I too can relate with my situation. I have been like you 200% ready to commit and have tried everything to make things work. My lover sounds very similar also where she is trying to seperate from a toxic marriage and figure out her identity. We met at work and I ended up having to quit because it became too hard for me. Unfortunately this Didn’t really work for me either. I tried enforcing healthy boundaries and eventually physical space kind of worked. It just made us miss each other more though. It has really started to get to me and my other relationships as we are both obsessive and worriers. I don’t have an answer for you as I am at the stage where I need to be the tough one again and I feel so Bad too when family and friends tell me I deserve better and need to block her. I can’t block her from my life. But I can’t keep going like this as it’s ruining both our lives. I am sick of making the decisions. I even decided to relocate to the city to start fresh but it has only made me more isolated and lonely. I need to find work and get a new hobby I can focus on but I just feel like this wound is going to take a long time to heal. When do we call it? I think you are like me and very kind and loving, we have a lot to offer but they won’t meet us in the middle. I Hope you are doing ok and if you want to keep chatting that would be great because it sounds kind of similar? I’m over heartache and just want to enjoy my 30s. Are you still working together may I ask? Cheers and take care
Hello ReeCar, and a warm welcome to the forums.
You can still love someone but not be a part of their life for different reasons, such as not moving in the same direction, but this doesn't stop the love you have for them, but you just can't live together.
To love a person may not mean you are 'still in love' and there is a difference, as I still love my ex-wife but we couldn't live together because no matter how hard we tried, all the same problems may only come back, and once one happens only opens the door for the other.
Is there a possibility you could be moved to another section/
Hop to hear back from you, when you are able to.
Hello R.Penn and Geoff,
thank you so much for your response and for sharing insight into your experiences. That means a lot to me and it is good to reconfirm that others understand what this feels like.
I have been looking for jobs because, ideally, we would not work together anymore. But I work in a specialised role and most of all, I have worked very hard for my success, so I do not really want to sacrifice so much more considering I have already sacrificed a lot over the past 1.5 years to support him. We are getting along well and there is no animosity, although I have had bouts of anger because he has been so indecisive and quite selfish. But I do not want negativity in my life or between us. However, the fact that we are trying to be nice with each other seems like an invitation to continue this unhealthy push-and-pull experience. I have been trying to work from home as much as possible which was aided by Covid-19. But I will soon have to return to the office full-time and I dread the thought of going backwards again whenever I see him. Last night was the first time I ignored a message from him and although I felt really bad at first, I must say it was like another step towards freedom. I regularly remind myself that I am not the bad one here and that there is no real reason for us to send messages and have phone calls right now considering we are no longer together. I told him a few times that, right now, I do not just want to be his friend because I had hoped to be so much more. Every time I say that, he says I am definitely not a friend but so much more to him. Now I am kind of telling myself that, No, I am not so much more. Because if I was, we would not actually be separated. He is an avoidant attachment style and he has learned that through me and his psychologist this year. So he is now aware that he cannot deal with intimacy although he craves it and that his pattern is push and pull. So although he knows that and wants to avoid giving into it again, he constantly takes small actions to put me back on the hook. Just like last night - we had not talked all day and I deliberately worked from home. Then, at night, he became scared of losing me so he messaged me. It is the same every time. Then, if I respond, it is like he has had his fill and can rest easy again until he gets another sense that I am slipping away. It is starting to be very unfair because if he cannot give me anything, he should allow me to move on and be happy without him, no?
Reading your post really clicked with my situation so I may be able to shine some light. What you have done is the biggest achievement in your relationship - you have set him boundaries which he must acknowledge so that he can take responsibility for his behavior and not to project his issues onto others - especially the most important person in his world - you!
Although, after we have got to this stage, we tend to forget about what the next steps are for us. If you honestly love him and want that future with him as you clearly state - you need to understand that you can and you have every right to have a prosperous life with him. You need to understand nothing comes for free - in any circumstance. But for this to happen, you also need to be really honest with yourself - you only have one life so you also need to work on the relationship to get it to the next steps. It's all really easy to say what you have done, however, if you whole heartily love this person, then you need to support him through the long journey and pave the relationships you want. For a lot of people, sometimes, they prefer to not water their garden and believe it's easier to leave it to shrivel - it's your relationship as much as it is his - you both need to invest the time but you both also need to look after each other - that's love.
Otherwise - continue your new journey - keeping in mind that every day you are away from him, he will push you further away and resent who you are.
thank you for your message and for taking the time to respond.
I think we have a bit of a misunderstanding here. We are no longer together because my now ex-partner said that he cannot commit to me since he has all these childhood attachment and toxic ex-marriage issues to sort through. He was unable to commit throughout the whole relationship and ended it a total of four times, just to pull me back in. Every time, I gave my absolute all, way more than he gave back. He has been quite selfish although I believe there is a very beautiful soul in him, he is just incredibly conflicted. Regardless, as much as I love him and I truly do more than anyone I have been with, this relationship was quite unhealthy for me. I had the worst levels of anxiety and it is very painful to never be loved back to the extent you would deserve. And by "deserve" I mean a simple, true love where the person you love and give everything for tries to meet you half-way. Or, if that is not possible for a little while, then less. But not for the duration of the entire relationship. Sometimes I wonder why I am so attached to him although he has been so bad for me and although he has not treated me as kindly as I would consider a loving partner would. Now that we have gone separate ways, I can see that he will struggle with his issues for a long time to come. I cannot sit and wait so he might potentially come back to me one day. As you say, I only have one life and I have a lot of love to give. But I have been married before and it was a very unhealthy relationship where I gave and he took. Now I have just had that again and I realise there may be a pattern I need to break. I have worked very hard on myself for the last 1.5 years, my ex-partner however is only just starting to stop avoiding. All I want now is to move forward because I know I cannot be with him. He is not ready now, he will not be ready soon, maybe never. I cannot spend my life dreaming of what may be, I choose happiness for myself. It is very hard to let go of him but since I have to, I would like to be able to let go fully and wholeheartedly so I have a chance to give my heart to someone who handles it with care. But that is incredibly difficult while there are conversations with my ex-partner who I care so deeply for and do not want to hurt. I feel like I have to fight for my right to be happy every day and that although I am the one who would have gone the whole way. I want freedom and peace for my soul.