Ex-boyfriend. Ex-girlfriend. Ex-husband. Ex-wife or ex-lover, we all have them. Some people have many. Though, your relationship with your ex(es) (or lack thereof) is unique to you and differs from person to person. Perhaps you still talk to your ex from college, while just the idea of your most recent ex angers you to the core. Or you may be co-parenting with your ex-spouse, but still deeply suffering from the pain of that relationship.
Whether a relationship ended twenty years or twenty days ago, the agony caused by a hurtful breakup can create a deep wound. Harboring hate for an ex, which usually stems from pain and fear, can keep you feeling bitter, angry and emotionally stuck. You may even have built up a wall around your heart that blocks you from experiencing true intimacy with others.
As a therapist, I have heard thousands of breakup stories ranging from very sweet to straight-up scary. The one thing I can tell you is that no matter what, breaking up is rarely ever easy. It’s often dealing with your emotions after the fact, that is most challenging. Letting your negative feelings fester and turning towards hate can be tempting because anger is an easier emotion for many people to handle than hurt.
If you hate your ex then please know you’re not alone. Though, it’s important that you also know that until you release that hate, your heart will never truly heal. Holding on to hate is as the Buddha said “…like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The hate you carry causes you so much more suffering than it does them.
When you hold hate in your heart for someone you are giving them your time and attention. You are elevating their status and gifting them prime real estate in your mind. From a therapeutic standpoint, you also, most likely have unfinished business with them. When an emotional injury or painful situation is not processed properly or honored appropriately, it continues to draw energy from you.
You deserve over the moon, healthy and happy love. Though, until you forgive your ex for what has been done and take responsibility for your part of the relationship (even if your only part was not ending it sooner), it may be very difficult to create more love in your life.
Every relationship is comprised of good and bad, and in order to see it for how it actually was, not just the way you think it was, you must acknowledge both sides. If you’re still holding on to hate, or even a tiny bit of ill feelings towards an ex (or anyone for that matter) I encourage you to make a list. In this list I want you to create two columns, one where you will list all of the bad and hurtful parts of your past relationship and another where you focus solely on what was good. (If you’re holding onto resentment in your current relationships, you can use this exercise to release that as well.)
This list can help open up your heart and mind and hopefully will bring you to a place where the love that you once shared with your ex overrides the hate. As always, it’s important to remind yourself that forgiveness does not mean condoning. What they did may have been terrible. Forgiveness simply means you are not going to carry the weight of that terrible thing in your heart any longer. Forgiveness is for you.
Remember that forgiveness is a process, so if you don’t feel completely free from hate after writing your first list, that’s okay. As you continue to focus not only on what was bad but also what was good, your heart and mind will continue to feel lighter and lighter. Then one day you may notice it’s been a week since you thought about so-and-so, and then a month, until one day your ex simply becomes someone you used to know. Ahh, sweet indifference. Imagine not having a single ounce of hate towards the person whose mere existence once caused you such pain. If that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is.
To take things a step further, I invite you to check out my interview with yoga psychologists, Ashley Turner, on my new podcast, HELLO FREEDOM. Ashley and I dive super deep into the idea of conscious uncoupling and she’ll help guide you through the steps of letting go in a way that feels intentional and freeing. You can access the podcast HERE or search Hello Freedom on iTunes. Be sure to subscribe.
Now I want to hear from you. In the comments below share with me one good thing about an ex, particularly the one with whom you are mostly unresolved. I know this may be difficult, but I promise you focusing on the good can only help free you from the pain you carry. If you continue to hold hurt and hate in your heart then I strongly suggest seeking professional help from a trained therapist, you don’t have to do this alone.
There’s always more healing to be done and on this journey, I hope you remember to as always, take care of you.
Love Love Love,
*image courtesy of Hayley Bouchard