Break ups are never easy, but truly messy ones can definitely take a huge emotional toll on you. Normally, I see two extremes in my divorce cases: either people choose to retreat while processing their feelings of shame, guilt, and fear, or they remain angry for some time and focus on getting even. Let me suggest to you that neither extreme is healthy.
Everyone should take some time to process what led to the demise of a significant relationship, and no one should just give up all their rights to avoid conflict. But the goal should always be to exit gracefully and recover as quickly as possible, without dwelling on all the negativity. Easier said than done, I know, but this heartfelt advice comes from personal experience and not a bunch of textbooks.
Years ago, following a difficult split I took a long break from dating. I retreated way beyond what many felt was normal, but during that time I really worked through a lot of issues so I don’t regret that period of solitude at all. Then, quite suddenly someone popped into my life and although I wasn’t prepared to completely open up, I was definitely done with my period of hibernation. Unfortunately, I focused way too much on the activities we enjoyed together, and ignored some major red flags while just trying to stay in the moment and have fun.
Eventually, during COVID some horrific truths came to light, and no amount of promises my ex tried to make could help me overlook the reality that staying with this person was not in my best interest. Without even trying to diagnosis him, there is no doubt he has some severe narcissistic tendencies, including a tremendous sense of entitlement that somehow has allowed him to justify his need to be a serial cheater for most of his adult life. Sadly, my inability to trust him again coupled with my unwillingness to stay, sparked a dark downward spiral that ultimately required legal intervention, which now unfortunately makes me part of the 25% of women that have suffered from abuse by an ex.
Fortunately, despite the trauma I experienced as a result of my ex, I had my own home, financial resources, and an amazing support network. Nonetheless, after living through quite a roller coaster ride of unnecessary drama, I could have once again retreated or gone to the other extreme of being incredibly pissed off and no one would have faulted me either way, but once I got my final Peace Order granted against my ex, I made a different choice. I decided to prove that I could find a far better suitor, contrary to my ex’s constant declaration that I would “never have it better” than with him.
Thankfully, even during a pandemic people are still willing to meet up and take their chances at finding someone special. In fact, I have met several nice, down to earth people worthy of love, with a clear sense of belonging and purpose in life– all things my ex greatly lacked. One in particular, however, has sparked feelings in me that I have not felt in decades, and all of a sudden I can listen to love songs with a whole new appreciation that never in a million years would I have imagined possible. While I have no idea where this new journey will take us, I do know one thing- I’m glad I chose to be brave and bold, and I will just let my happiness be the best revenge.
By Regina A. DeMeo