Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bury it down, down in the ground

Yesterday was one of those days.  I got to work and within 15 minutes spilled coffee all over everything.  In the afternoon I stood up abruptly and cracked my head against one of the upper cabinets on my desk.  Last night I'd composed a big, long email response to Thursday date guy, and I lost it.  It was a trifecta of specific upsets, but really, they were just the practical framework for a day that was truly just maddening.

I got incredibly worked up and upset on two different occasions, both of them related to exes.  The details are unimportant.  I found myself boiling over with frustration, the kind where I wished I still had my Wavemaster to kick and punch at will.  The day wrapped up and I headed home, knowing that I needed to channel my energy elsewhere. 

My evening went out of order, in that I took a bath when I got home, and then I went to the gym.  Whatever works, right?  Either way, the gym was such a good outlet.  I pounded away on the elliptical trainer for 70 minutes, which was a record of sorts.  I was in the zone, so I just kept going.  It felt good and cleansing and therapeutic.  I left feeling lighter and less burdened by the day. 

Back at home, I thought about the baggage I carry around from these exes.  The feeling that I'm not good enough.  Not pretty enough.  Not smart enough.  Not strong enough.  Not independent enough.  Not exciting enough.  Not thin enough.  I thought about how many times in recent months I'd felt inadequate.  I'd examined and analyzed and quantified the relationships they'e all gotten in after me. 

I thought things like:
He found someone prettier.
He found someone skinnier.
He found someone who makes more money.
He found someone sexier.
He found someone with whom he was willing to compromise when he wouldn't for me.
He found someone worth changing for when he wouldn't for me.
He found someone whose faults he's willing to overlook, which he wouldn't do for me.
He found someone who keeps his interest, when I didn't.

Then.  The one ex-boyfriend who never made me feel less than contacted me.  He'd seen a glum status message on FB or gmail or something, so he asked if I was okay.  It was late and I was tired so I honestly answered him that I was trying to figure out why I wasn't enough for anyone.

Then he did something that pissed me off.  He told me very bluntly to quit obsessing about this.  That I did it too often.  That it was unhealthy and unnecessary.  That I should focus on the fact that I am enough, I am awesome, I am good enough in my own right, no matter what anyone else says or does.  He was brusque and frustrated with me, and I got pissed.  How dare he rain on my pity party?  Such nerve he had to try to rein in my wallowing and self-destructive thoughts.

It was only in the next couple of days that I realized he was right, which was maddening.  One of his most obnoxious traits has always been his know it all attitude, so it's really disturbing when he turns out to be right. 

I am not a victim.  I am not inadequate.  I am not insufficient, or incapable.  I am not ugly or a failure or less than, unless I allow myself to be. 

It is too easy to get caught up in the negative.  It is too easy to internalize things that assholes have said to me in the past to assuage their own guilt, or to escape their own insecurities or inadequacies.  It is too easy to be manipulated into thinking things are my fault when I am vulnerable and self-doubting in the first place. 

The choices my exes are making now, after me, are not relevant to my life.  They are not a reflection on me.  The world does not revolve around me, and it's good to be reminded of that.  I will never truly know the paths they are taking because all I see is what they choose to let me see.  Bottom line?  It is NOT.MY.PROBLEM. 

Sometimes I wish I could just gather all tangible evidence of these people from my past and get rid of it.  Burn it.  Bury it.  Trash it.  Destroy it.  Tear it up, throw it in the air, watch it symbolically blow away, out of my life.  I don't want it anymore.  I want a fresh start. A clean slate.  A blank canvas.  A pure place to begin again.

I'm actually considering a way to do this in real life.  To exorcise some of these demons.  Finding a way to really ritually purge some of this baggage is intriguing to me.  I've thought about all sorts of things.  I've thought about getting my third tattoo to symbolize this new stage.  I've thought about burning or destroying actual items, and I've thought about burning words written for that purpose.  Putting this all down on paper and letting it go.  I've thought about trying my hand at painting, which I know logically I would be terrible at, but I imagine how therapeutic it would be.  The colors.  The ambiguity.  The options.  I've thought about selling or trading in all of the jewelry from these exes.  Donating my wedding dress. 

I'm open to suggestions.  How should I exorcise these insecurities and the weight that I still carry from these failed relationships?  I know there is no actual cure all for this.  This is more of a symbolic exercise, a step in the right direction.  I have to keep moving forward.  I cannot keep getting dragged backwards.  I'm tired of just saying "Onward and upward".  I want to actually live it!

Suggestion box is open.  If you would like to participate, that's welcome, too.  ;-)


  1. A lot of what you write, I feel like I could have written! When I felt this way a couple years ago, I did a huge purge and it was one of the most therapeutic things I've done ever. I went through every thing - every. single. thing. and anything that reminded me of an ex or anyone who brought negative feelings to my life, got trashed. It was so so so difficult getting rid of my ex boyfriends baseball t-shirts but the feeling when Goodwill hauled them off, was great. I never had to look at them again. I also did end up selling a lot of jewelry from exes - on ebay or otherwise. The price of gold is super high so you could always sell and then do something really awesome for yourself with that money. I also did a big facebook sweep. I deleted anyone and everyone who made me feel like crap. I deleted people from college whom I hadn't spoken with in ages but who still had ties and connections to my ex. I couldn't see any more status updates, I couldn't peruse through pics hoping to get a shred of information as to what these people were up to and what I was "missing out" on. I also went to weekly therapy sessions and, I would say, that was the best thing I could have done for myself. If you're at all interested in that, I went to the Women's Center in downtown DC and they're AWESOME. It was and still is the best part of my week :) As for the wedding dress... I have no idea. Can you take it to a consignment shop? Ebay? If it makes you feel crappy just looking at it, I say sell it. You'll never wear it again anyway. But that's just me.

  2. You need to develop a narrative and rational for the break ups that isn't critical of yourself. It sounds like you haven't done that with them. Think of all the ways the exes weren't good for YOU, not why you weren't good for them. Can you envision what your life would be if you were still with them? Probably wouldn't be so great right?

    And yes, follow ames' advice too. Get rid of any reminders and ties you have to exes. Not healthy.

    As for the last ex that pissed you off, that's a big difference between men and women (generally). We are active listeners that have to propose solutions when we hear venting. Just passively listening isn't really in our genes. I'm obviously generalizing here, but it is VERY hard for a number of us (myself included) to hold back on giving our two cents.

  3. @Ames: I'm thinking on how I want to enact this exorcism. I'm wondering if writing down the parts of the each person and/or relationship that brought me down, or that I carry around with me, and pairing it with some small item associated with them to burn or trash or something would do it. I'm not *really* going to trash jewelry or my wedding dress, but I can certainly donate the dress and sell the jewelry. You mentioned clothes, too, which reminded me of a t-shirt I still have of the last ex's (the most toxic), and that I should get rid of!

    Beyond that, I did therapy for years upon my separation and periodically thereafter. LOVE it, and I have a great therapist on hand if I need. But generally, crazy overthinking/venting sessions aside, I've gotten fairly good at knowing how to take care of myself, hence the extensive gym workout last night to decompress. :)

  4. @SMB: You know, I've done that at various points for each of these relationships, but for some reason that's not the part that sticks. I know logically that I was not meant to be with these people, and that they could not give me what I need and deserve. Yet I fall back into this pattern where I take the blame on myself, and it frustrates me.

    The know it all ex was right-I do this too often and I'm looking at it entirely wrong. Maybe I need to revisit this, since it's been following me around a bit lately, put it all down on paper.

    As for what you said about the difference b/w men and women in terms of listening, you are definitely right on that. I know the impulse is often to fix or offer solutions.

    A day or two later I realized he was right, and that his approach made more sense, but at the moment it just annoyed me because I was all caught up in my self-indulgent wallowing.

    He was right to try to pull me out of that, and I know he did it out of concern for me and a dislike of seeing me tear myself down. He has his moments. ;)