"What brings you in today?"
"Well, I can’t get over my ex-boyfriend."
I hired my therapist eight months after my ex and I finally broke up. We had a painful four months of hanging on until the bitter end, ending our year and a half long relationship.
I couldn’t stop thinking about him. There wasn’t a single day he didn’t cross my mind. I did everything they recommended: deleted all my social media and traces of him, disconnected from shared friends, for the time being, all to the best of my ability but it wasn’t possible to erase him completely. I couldn’t stop myself from googling him or reading his blog.
Watch: Mamamia's the Split podcast navigates separation and divorce. Post continues below.
I tried to find out information and often found out things I did not want to know.
Replayed what-ifs, recalled old memories. “I bet if I tell him to get on a plane and book a hotel he’d come in a heartbeat.” I played out that fantasy for a while. What it would be like to reunite, reconnect, set new boundaries, create a new relationship over again. I pictured introducing him to everyone new in my life, that he’d be so happy I took him back. Maybe then I’d finally be able to tell him what to do, control him, have leverage. Couldn’t everyone see I was his purpose for existing, I was the only meaningful part of his life?
I was trapped. I could not stop. Hour-long train rides were consumed by these thoughts and fantasies. I shared in recovery meetings. I would tell anyone who would listen.
Then I hired my therapist.
She just listened for the first couple of months. She asked me about other boyfriends, past relationships. She’d always leave me at the end of our sessions with “take care of yourself”.
See, I didn’t want to give him up. She knew. She was a smart, skilled therapist. She wasn’t (and couldn’t) make me do something I didn’t want to. Holding onto him kept me safe. Idealising the life we almost had together.
Two creative 27-year-olds starting a new life together in NYC. It seemed so glamourous… until it wasn’t.
Finally, it’s 13 months after the breakup. I come in embarrassed to admit that I’m still thinking of him. I have a feeling she had been waiting for this window of opportunity for a long time. It was finally appropriate for her to say:
“Molly, are you still holding onto him because you’re too afraid of something good to come in? To be vulnerable with someone new?”