Getting over your ex: making sense of the feelings that are holding you back.

Keira began by telling me that she was just waiting for her ex to move back in with her. He had broken her heart by leaving her for the woman he had been having an affair with… whilst continuing to come and go in her life, blowing hot and cold in his affections. She explained that she was trying to be fair, and had left the door completely open for him, allowing him 24 hour access to the home they once shared.

I expressed my intuitive sense that she had become ultra compliant and jelly-like, and that this appeared to be eliciting an aggressive, frustrated response from her ex… and suddenly, her demeanour changed: “Yes! He wants me to react, to become angry, and shout back at him – but I refuse to give him the satisfaction!”

I asked her why she thought he was doing that: my belief was that he recognised that his behaviour was incredibly unreasonable, and was experiencing feelings of guilt that he was struggling to handle, especially in the face of her passive and sorrowful acceptance; rather than deal with those feelings in a mature and honest way, he found it easier to revert to his default setting of anger and emotional bullying. I also felt that he was trying to maintain control over her, ‘gifting’ her with a loving hug and a ‘special’ smile, every time he believed he had gone too far. She said she believed that it was because he wanted an excuse to completely break up with her – but that she was absolutely not giving him the opportunity to do so.

I asked her what it was that she was actually hanging on for, where this relationship was concerned, and she confided that she feared no-one else would ever want her – he’d told her often enough that she was stupid and unattractive, and now she believed that it was true. And yet I just knew for sure that this woman was not broken; she was clearly intelligent and articulate, capable of taking care of herself financially, and fully able to rebuild her life… and that behind the soggy, flesh-without-bones outer persona, was real indignation and anger… which she was using every single time she entered into the tit-for-tat game they were playing! She didn’t truthfully want to be back in a relationship with this man, and there wasn’t any actual, genuine love involved, on either side – she just felt rejected and humiliated, and overwhelmed by an ‘unknown’ future.

Of course, there is so much more to Keira’s story than can or should be covered here, but sadly it is one, with variations, that I have heard again and again throughout my 25 year career as an intuitive consultant. ‘Ex’ pain can cut incredibly deeply, sometimes holding the sufferer hostage for years on end. I described to Keira some of the potentials and possibilities that I could see ahead for her, if she consistently took considered and productive action; I also advised her to begin putting some immediate boundaries in place, and to seek out proper, ongoing support. Her journey was not going to be an overnight one, and she was going to need determination (something she possessed in buckets, deep down inside!), and a huge belief in her own happier, more love-filled future. She would have good days and bad days, and for sure her ex was unlikely to let her go without a territorial fight (which is why she needed at least one solid ally)… but she could do it, and should do it… without a shadow of a doubt!

Other times, when customers come to me with ex partner issues/questions, they haven’t actually been in contact with one another for months, occasionally even years. Other occasions include an ex suddenly popping up out of the blue, hinting at possible reconciliation… without actually making any obvious movement in that direction. I have also had customers who have inexplicably found themselves brooding over an ex after years apart, wondering what went wrong… and if the ex still has feelings for them.

So, what is it that keeps us looking backwards, rather than forwards? What is it about the past that gives it such power over us? What is it about exes that is so emotionally seductive? Obviously, there are many different scenarios, and many different possible reasons – but, what if it all just boils down to the fact that we are struggling to come to terms with the break-up of a relationship, even years after the event? What is it all really about?

Mostly, and usually, it is the pain of rejection, and the feeling of being in the limbo state of unanswered questions. Below is an excerpt (that covers both), from my booklet/blog:

Attraction and Dating: How To Successfully Navigate The Honeytrap. (https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/leannehalyburton.com/14075).

However, before we read it, we also need to firmly remind ourselves that exes are usually exes for some pretty solid reasons… and that, more often than not, those reasons haven’t ceased to exist!

Pitfall number 6 – The pain of rejection!

Rejection hurts like hell, and has the capacity to lead us into some pretty self-destructive patterns of behaviour. There are those amongst us who are particularly susceptible, of course, but every last one of us will experience the gut-wrenching pain of rejection – not just once, but many, many times, throughout our lifetime. How much power we allow it to obtain will dictate how often, and how deeply, it cuts us. I believe that we ourselves can become so attuned to rejection that we actively seek it out, albeit unconsciously. I know for sure that I myself have fallen into this trap, and operated from there for years… as have many of the women I have worked with. But it isn’t all bad! A certain amount of rejection is necessary, if we are to define and refine our passions, expand our horizons, and live up to our own, unique potential. Every successful person on this planet has experienced failure and rejection, as an absolutely unavoidable part of their journey. We can choose to view rejection as an educator, or as evidence of our own powerlessness and lack of worth… and the choosing begins with awareness, and some critical thinking!

    I remember heading home from a women’s seminar in Liverpool, with two ladies I haven’t been in touch with for years, sobbing my heart out. My life was going through a massive transition, and emotionally speaking, I was bloodied, tattered and torn… but also relieved and hopeful! It was the end of one long, dark phase, and the beginning of something I had worked very hard for. I still had a long way to go, but I was definitely seeing the encouraging glow of the light at the end of the tunnel. The course was made available to me, free of charge (otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to attend!), and I was really looking forward to it. There were different sessions to choose from, with different speakers, but I chose to spend most of the day with one particular woman, and I was eager and keen to join in; to be part of the ‘sisterhood’; to feel ‘normal’ again. I responded wholeheartedly, arm shooting up to answer questions, filling in all the little test papers that were handed out… but when the audience were asked to offer up an example of an occasion on which they had been surprised by their own strength, I realised I had misjudged. I laughingly recounted how, not long before I left my now ex-husband (a very recent event, at that time), I had been so angry, so at the end of my tether, I had actually picked up an armchair, and thrown it across the living room. I tried to follow suit with the couch, but couldn’t quite manage it – and the room fell silent. The American lady stared down at me from the stage, and using her hands to demonstrate, she replied “You know, you’re kind of UP HERE, and maybe you really need to be DOWN THERE… you’re kind of FULL ON, and you need to STEP BACK…”. I was immediately whisked back in time, to the day my school history teacher slammed her hand against the table, screaming “STOP being so STUPID!”, when I laughed a little louder than I intended to at one of her jokes. I was 13 again, self conscious, idiotic, and lesser than ‘the others’ who always had the sense to recognise where the line should be drawn – and who would never publicly admit to morphing into the Incredible Hulk. And I realised that she was talking about emotional strength, not physical strength… but then, so was I. I left the hotel feeling lonelier than when I arrived, and it took a little time for me to understand that it was my problem, but also my opportunity: something life had put before me, to figure out. I certainly didn’t like it, and I really didn’t want it, but hey… when did medicine ever taste like chocolate fudge cake?

    So, what has this got to do with the Honeytrap, and the world of attraction and dating? Plenty, actually. Rejection has the power to shape and form the way we perceive ourselves, and what we allow ourselves to accept. By the time we enter into the Honeytrap, many of us will already be staggering under the weight of unexplored and unresolved rejection… and you can guess the rest. And those who are struggling with layers of old rejection don’t necessarily appear to the outside world as downtrodden and sad; they can just as easily present themselves as strong and feisty individuals. Repeated rejection can either lead us to keep focusing on the hurt, and all the times we have been let down, or to defiantly but defensively rise up, over and again, where dating and relationships are concerned.

    Looking back, I can see that my childhood was awash with genuine rejection, as was, and is, the same for billions of others. I have spent much of my life feeling ridiculous; too this, too that, and too the other. I was never a conformist, and somehow just didn’t feel as if I fitted in or truly belonged anywhere. Most of the pain I experienced emanated from within my inner world, and from my own perceptions… from the way in which I processed my experiences. I expected rejection, even though I didn’t relish it. I learned how to survive, and was often forceful, determined, headstrong, and unwise. I put myself through some real crap, almost seeking rejection out, as if to pre-empt it. I even chose to work in industries that were guaranteed to invite rejection. The world of advertising sales, the arena of intuitive consultancy, and now, self-published writing! I was good at selling; I put my heart and soul into it, and endeavoured to provide the best service I could, but it was always going to deliver a far higher number of no’s than yes’s! Intuitive consultancy is always going to produce some degree of conflict and disagreement, because it centres around and focuses on people’s problems, ego’s, emotions, disappointments, fears, hopes, wishes, and dreams. I have periodically been publicly dragged over the coals on the internet, as well as being accused of being a con artist and a charlatan (by people who don’t know me, and are unlikely to ever meet me). And as for writing and self-publishing, it is a highly competitive market that requires not only blood, sweat and tears, but also endless amounts of patience and self-belief… with a sky-high potential for being completely ignored or badly received! If you analyse your own life, up to this point, you will be able to recognise some of the ways in which rejection has influenced your thinking, your beliefs about life, and your decision-making.       

    So, we can see that it is clear that feelings of rejection start in childhood, and continue to present themselves throughout our lives. Rejection can lead us to repeat the same old patterns again and again, or to close off to anything that could render us vulnerable. Or we could always choose to learn from it and grow. When I started to accept and appreciate myself more, I noticed that I felt the pain of rejection less. I reasoned that if I stopped automatically criticising myself, then maybe life would, too. Of course, that doesn’t mean I was saying to the world “hey, this is ME, take it or leave it!”, letting myself off the hook for everything. I still have a desire and a duty to continue to grow into the best possible version of myself. But I accept myself now more than I used to (my strong personality, my restless mind, my outspoken, expressive way of communicating, and my slight eccentricity), because I know that I am coming from a well- intentioned, positively-motivated place… well, most of the time, anyway! I still hurt, I still feel wounded when I know that I have given my absolute best, only to have it thrown back at me for being less than good enough, but there is no way of avoiding that – for any of us. Even the thickest skin has the odd weak spots!

    Going back to the subject of love and relationships, throughout the years, I allowed myself to become programmed to believe that I was responsible for another human being’s misery, lack of fulfilment or success. I wasn’t perfect, and I made mistakes and bad decisions; but I also tried my best, using the knowledge and the resources I had available to me at that time. Bearing the weight of blame for someone else’s dissatisfaction and frustration, year in and year out, created a set of beliefs that were hard to shake off. I carried them forward with me, allowing the pattern to repeat, jumping from the frying pan into the fire. But I can now see that the men I involved myself with, who found it so easy to dump the blame for their own inadequacies and perceived lack of personal achievement onto someone else’s shoulders (in this case, mine), were unconsciously reacting to their own past experience of rejection. We all blame, and we all accept blame for stuff that has nothing to do with us, and in an ideal world we’d all strive to find a healthy balance! Unfortunately, there are those who consistently refuse to accept any responsibility at all for their own beliefs, feelings, and actions – the ‘blamers’. And there are others who unhealthily accept more than their share of responsibility – the ‘blamees’. If we enter into the Honeytrap as a seasoned blamer, the odds are that the one we are to attracted will end up disappointing us, just as all the others have done. If we enter into the Honeytrap as a battle-scarred blamee, the chances are that the one we are attracted to will end up treating us badly, whilst assuring us that it’s all our own fault. The cycle continues, piling new layers of rejection onto the old, confirming our worst beliefs about ourselves, and others. The only thing we can do is to recognise that we have developed an unhealthy emotional habit, and consciously work on breaking it, bit by bit, step by step.

    The agony of rejection also has the capacity to turn a usually rational and sane individual into an illogical, emotional mess. There is a situation I come across again and again, often involving the slightly older woman (as opposed to those in their teens or early twenties), in which she has fallen for a man with ‘issues’ – usually anxiety, depression, and a fear of commitment or intimacy – who has pursued her with every ounce of his being, only to suddenly back off and close down, leaving her confused and devastated. She becomes fixated, trying to figure out what went wrong, what she did that was wrong, and what she can do to put it right. She convinces herself that this man is the only one for her, that no-one ever made her feel the way he did, and that if she just loves and understands him enough, she could be the one to fix him. She lets him know that she will always be there for him… and he either ignores her, or he tells her that he just needs a little time, and that he will get back to her – when he is ready (which he never will be).

    She gets up each day, and goes through the motions. She does what needs to be done, smiling for the benefit of the outside world, whilst sobbing silent tears inside. She believes that the cause of her pain is the loss of this emotionally damaged man, but I believe that she is wrong; the cause of her pain is rejection. To receive love and appreciation is heart-warming and uplifting; to then have it suddenly snatched away is heartbreaking. Intellectually, she knows better, but emotionally, she starts by blaming herself, and then progresses to feelings of resentment – bitterness even, if it is allowed to drag on for long enough. She feels as if she is existing in a kind of emotional limbo, and that is the illusion that rejection creates – it lies to us! It can persuade us to hang onto an attraction way beyond its sell-by date, and to yearn for someone we probably wouldn’t even want to be with, if we actually got to spend real time with them, in the everyday world. And most of its power comes from the fact that the rejector usually has the last word, leaving us with not only a sense of unfinished business… but also with one agonising, unanswered question: WHY?    

    And one ‘why’ can lead to another, especially if rejection has previously left its mark on us. Why did my mother love my sibling more than me? Why did my father abandon me? Why didn’t my schoolmates accept and include me? Why was I overlooked and unappreciated by my employer, failing to be given the promotion I deserved? Why did my ex let me down, so badly? Why did my new love interest appear to be so keen on me, only to dump me as if I’m nothing? Why, why, why?

    The frustrating fact is, there are questions to which we can never receive an answer or explanation that will make any sense to us. We can drive ourselves crazy, we can bang our sore and sorry head against every wall we can find… and still be none the wiser. People who reject others because they themselves are screwed up are never going to be able to explain their behaviour, and they certainly aren’t going to admit to being screwed up. We need to be able to recognise that what is often hurting us more than the loss of the affections of our rejector is the rejection itself – if that makes sense! We need to save our mental and emotional energy for our own healing, dust ourselves off, and move forward. It might not seem fair, and it certainly isn’t easy, but it makes more sense than allowing ourselves to remain trapped and alone within the sticky walls of the Honeytrap, watching as our unpredictable love interest slides away in the opposite direction.

  Almost everyone who enters into the Honeytrap has experienced rejection. Those who are particularly emotionally raw will either jump in with both feet, eager to prove to themselves that this time it really is love, OR enter with their protective force-field already firmly in place, ready and waiting for the ‘inevitable’ rejection! Thinking about it, the Honeytrap can actually present a valuable opportunity for self-learning and enlightenment, if we can be brave enough to view it that way. And in fact, it would be smart to view it that way, because then we would be guaranteed to get something productive out of it, whichever way things go!

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An intuitive consultant/life improvement adviser, a lover of motorbikes, Formula 1, music, writing, reading, walking, camping and ongoing self - improvement!

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