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November 18, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Hard Knocks

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Shattered dreams

Question:

About 3 1/2 years ago, the only love I had ever known was taken from me and from this earth. He was my only confidante; it was us against the world. We promised to be together forever, no matter what. There were times when he abused me, emotionally and one time physically but I looked past all of that and towards a better future to come. I truly loved him and he truly loved me. At that time, I was thinking how hard it would be to go to separate colleges and was completely unprepared for what happened once I got there. He had gotten into drugs pretty bad and moved to New York to join the rave scene, while calling me at all hours of the night telling me he had no idea where he was, that he was scared and alone. With every phone call, my heart was ripped out of my chest and I would cry my eyes out. One night, I received a call saying that he was shot three times in the back (he was running away) for no apparent reason. In a split second, all of my hopes and dreams were shattered! The person who did this to him was never apprehended, and I am expected to just "get over it" or that this will heal in time. Nothing can bring him back, I know. But no one has the right to take away anyone from this earth!

How should I resolve the guilt and pain in my heart if it hasn't gone away by now? Even thinking about him brings uncontrollable tears to my eyes. I never got the chance to resolve the pain he himself caused me while he was still alive, and now I cannot cope with his death. Ever since it happened, I have been obsessed by the whole thing and can't get it out of my mind. What should I do? It's easy to say, "See a therapist," but I have been, and nothing is working. Help me find a way to bring this pain to a closure and to be able to move on with my life. What should I do?

23 year-old woman

Answer:

You have already faced and survived a great deal of pain in your life. I think just getting through it is remarkable. Take a moment to congratulate yourself on this. You now need to move beyond survival. Your future hinges on the question you ask, "How should I resolve this?" You know that you have to move on. If you do resolve it, you can move beyond surviving - even to the point of thriving.

Your have a rather complicated grief, since your boyfriend hurt you and never made things right before he died. But extending your grief won't change that fact - or help your healing. You've mourned 3 1/2 years now. It's time to move beyond the grief and begin to live again.

You mention that you're in counseling. That's great. But counseling cannot change you. You must do that. A good counselor can show you how, but the want has to come from within. I sense you're ready for this challenge now. Let's look at ways to move on.

How to begin? First you need a vision. You need a destination or your travels will lead nowhere. Get a pen and paper, and list a description of how you'd like your life to be. Take the time to flesh it out. Where will you live, what kind of work will you do, what kinds of people will fill your life, how much personal space would be healthy, how strong will you be and how will you show it? The more detail you include, the better.

Then sit down and write again. Now detail a map for accomplishing the change. Plan how you will shift from your current life into your new vision of how life can be for you. Make your game plan detailed - as much as necessary. How will you do it? When? With what resources?

Involve your therapist in this process. Share with her/him your vision and your budding plan. Your therapist can help you refine both of these until you have something truly exciting! Just knowing you need to resolve your grief is some measure of motivation. Having a dream and a plan will build you a head of steam that won't be denied. Once you have a vision and a plan, making it happen is just work and follow through.

As you work your way towards your dream, consider using your gift of writing to help you along. You really capture a lot of emotion in your writing, and might benefit from this gift as a part of therapy. Guided writing assignments may provide you a critical breakthrough in the change process. You might discuss these with your therapist as well.

Wayne Martin

This question was answered by Wayne Martin, LMSW-ACP. Wayne Martin no longer provides E-counseling nor is he accepting new clients at this time.

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