You have to do the work to detach… and that means taking responsibility
I recently heard a friend state that the best thing she did, upon filing for divorce from her cheating husband, was block him on social media. She said it was because watching her ex move on with his life was so painful, that it was better if she just eliminated the temptation to watch. This was the fix to her heartache.
Well, okay. Blocking seems like a reasonable, if not expected, choice. But she sold it as advice that would “put the past behind you and help you move forward”. It’s not that simple.
Blocking your ex is not a fix to resolving your feelings about the break up. Blocking won’t help you, “get over it”. Fixating on your ex is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.
The goal is to detach. The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy.
Again, blocking is good symptom management, but it doesn’t solve the problem — attachment — which isn’t going to resolve by pretending it isn’t there.
The thing that was most healing for me in my own divorce from my cheating husband was (deep breath and covering my head with my hands because someone is going to throw something at me)…taking responsibility for my role in what happened.
Once I took responsibility for my part in the demise of my marriage, even though he was the one who cheated, my anger and preoccupation with my ex evaporated. I realized that my compulsive thinking about it wasn’t about him … it was about:
- Fear of the unknown, i.e.
“WTF am I going to do now??? I had my life all planned out!”
2. Self-righteous indignation, i.e.
“How dare he cheat on me! If anyone should’ve cheated, it should’ve been me!”
3. Feeling like I was his victim and had no control, i.e.
“This is ALL his fault!!! I was the perfect wife! The rug was ripped out from under me without my consent!”
I had to resolve all of those negative emotions and that required attending to what had happened, not ignoring it. Honestly accounting for the ways that I had fucked up was the best — albeit really fucking ego annihilating — thing I did.
(For the record, I am pro-ego-annihilation. Your ego can be a real fucking stumbling block.)
Figuring out where I had gone wrong (which, in my case, traced all the way back to failing at mate selection and moved forward from there) helped me take responsibility, and then I was able to stop being his victim. Then I was able to stop giving a shit who he was fucking and get on with doing some fucking of my own.
Now I can say with sincerity, “He’s dating a 26 year old? Good luck to them both. Not my monkey, not my circus.”
If I had just pretended like he had never existed and “moved on” without doing any of the work to identify how I had contributed to the apex of the shitshow that was my marriage, that wouldn’t have healed anything and I would likely be doomed to repeat the same mistakes in my next relationships.
Ignoring syphillis doesn’t cure it. You just slowly go crazy.
Now, I’m 9 months out from my divorce decree and I cannot even conjure the feeling of being attracted to him, let alone imagine giving two shits about who he is dating or what he is doing.
I know women who are 20 years out from their divorces and still carry anger, bitterness, and concern about the behaviors of their exes. They still feel like victims. They have taken no responsibility. They are still very much attached to their ex husbands.
I do have him blocked on social media (and probably always will) but that’s about my privacy, not about caring what he is doing.