Heartbroken forever?


Heartbroken forever?


your avatar   Sarah (27 year-old woman)

How long is a heartbreaking supposed to last? I am one of those women who said I would never be this way but at the age of 27 I find myself thinking that I let the love of my life slip away and I am heartbroken. It has been over 2 years since I broke up with a man I loved dearly. I was working overseas in Australia at the time and we dated for 2 years and planned to be married. I had to return home due to visa restrictions and personal reasons. We mutually decided that I would remain here but only for a year. He came to visit for 3 months but after we had been separated for a few months the long distance became too much to bare.

We were miserable on the phone, crying and missing one another but I had accepted a year long work term and he had commitments to work. So we remained apart. After another few months I started to feel that he was having second thoughts about the commitment so I confronted him and said maybe he should reconsider and think about it (he was 2 yrs younger than me and had not finished University yet). He swore that he was not having second thoughts but two weeks later he called and admitted that I was right and he felt he had a few things he wanted to do before he settled down. He cried and said he loved me and still wanted to marry me. I was heartbroken I said some nasty things and hung up.

Since then he has written a few letters and I have remained so very angry and hurt...that when I try to speak to him I spew venom. Here I am 2 yrs later thinking I still love him and miss him more than words can express. Perhaps it was not meant to be but I still wonder. I have been dating but I am not happy. I wonder if he was the one. My friends are at their wits end, they don't understand how I could still be in love with someone I have not seen in 3 yrs. I just wonder if people suffer from heartbreak for the rest of their lives or if it will get better. I joked to friends when we first broke up that I was on a three year recovery plan...I don't feel recovered at all. Is there anything I can do to get over him? Time does not seem to be helping.

Just a side note, I may be returning to Australia in November for a wedding and I am wondering if I will be able to cope. Should I see him or will the pain be too much?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Sarah,

You are really hurting. Circumstances are such that you feel you and this man will never be able to get together, and yet all you want is to share your life with him. You have given up on the romance, but you haven't.

My dear, from your question, I feel that the main problem is that you are acting as if you wanted one thing, and yet you want another. Even the title of your question implies that you have decided to give him up, to get on with the rest of your life, and the problem is, how to stop grieving. When he writes, you don't answer. When he phones, you "spew venom".

It sounds to me that HE is still interested in you. Is that right? You are still interested in him. So, why is your question, "Is there anything I can do to get over him"?

So, the first thing you need to do is to set yourself a firm, non-negotiable goal: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT?

Do you want to give him up forever and get on with the rest of your life?

Or do you want to contact him immediately, and tell him how you REALLY feel, and ask him to marry you? It is a leap year, after all, and the old tradition is that in a leap year, the woman is the one to ask.

Here is a trick. Toss a coin. Tell yourself: if it's heads, I give it up. If it's tails, I try a reconciliation. Say it comes up "heads". How do you feel? If you feel "Oh good", then follow the coin. If it's "Oh no!" then go the other way. Go with your feelings.

Here is a second trick. Become a love accountant: make up a double ledger. You need four columns:

Reconcile, advantagesReconcile, disadvantagesSplit, advantagesSplit, disadvantages

Take several days to think about each column, and write down everything you can think of. At the end, your firm preference may become clear. The problems in the way of achieving your choice will be clear too, and then you can work on solving the problems. This is far more constructive than spending literally years agonizing, making both yourself and your friend miserable, and not moving on.

Suppose, at the end of this, you decide that you don't want to reconcile with him. Then, you write him a polite letter (no venom) and explain all the difficulties of reconciliation you have listed, and all the advantages of separation.

Then you can deal with the question you asked in this message. For one thing, having taken a strong stance, instead of being torn two ways, you will find it easier. Second, you can work on breaking this habit you have fallen into.

You see, Sarah, THOUGHTS ARE HABITS. How do you break a habit? How do you stop chewing your fingernails?

Visit my web site and find my page on "how to break a habit". Follow the suggestions there.

On the other hand, suppose, that at the end of your decision-making, you choose to team up with him again. You phone him, and for some reason he says "no". He might have a new partner by now.

You will now be hit by grief all over again. However, this will be no worse than now. Actually, it will be better, because this time you will not be hung up between two impossible possibilities. Now you will not be "stuck" in grief. It will heal. You could find a copy of a wonderful book: "Seven Choices" by Elizabeth Harper Neeld. It has helped all my grieving clients.

Sarah, the most important thing is that you should come out of all this suffering a better and more mature person. If you can manage that, the pain will have been worth it.

Good Luck,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com


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