A guy friend told me, "It's sucks when you are sick and you are single." His comment reminded me of a girl friend that told me, "It's sucks when you are sick, you have boy friend, but there's no difference than you are single!"
Which one sounds worse to you? To me, definitely the second experience mentioned above. This girl friend of mine named Alice (nickname, to protect her identity). She told me there was once she was really sick and came back from work at night. She was thinking of asking her boy friend to go get medicine for her. They normally talked through MSN. That night however, her boy friend was so obsessed on computer game and didn't notice she needed him. She then called him and asked for his help.
"It is OK that he is obsessed with computer game if he doesn't know I am sick. The problem is, he knew that I was not feeling well a day before. Yet he didn't really care to ask me how I feel today when I came back home." The good thing is, once she made the call, her boy friend straight away said, "I am going to get that now." Alice wanted to go with him and once she got in the car, her boy friend laughed out loud as if watching comedy. She told me even until today, she still didn't know what he was laughing about. She said she couldn't help but started thinking of how her ex boyfriend would have treated her differently than this one. This thought plus her suffering from sickness made her started crying. Her boyfriend then turned to her and said, "Should you cry when you are sick?"
"I felt so disappointed and sad when I heard that. I didn't get the support from him when I needed him the most. I ended up feeling it's better if I went to get the medicine myself instead of counting on him." At this point, she started asking herself whether he is the right one for her. Instead of putting this into big fight, she chose to find support from other sources. She then went to have a sleep over at her friend's house the next day while her boy friend went to his friend's girl friend's birthday party. "I tried to put the thought that he doesn't care behind and therefore I never told him how I felt. And I thought I got the support that I want from friend. However when I recalled this right now, I still feel sad."
"He never wants to hold my hand when we went out. He even acted he didn't know me well in front of his family and friends. I feel sad for this, as if I am a worthless person. The saddest part was, when I tried to get close to him in front of the public, he would go away and avoided me. Sometimes I really think he only wanted to get close to me when he wanted to make love." She started crying when she said this.
This couple showed me the insecure bonding in their relationship. She was not able to reach out for him to ask what she wants when she needed. They are seperated now. Of course, I see a lot of options that can be done to improve this relationship. I am reading a book named "Hold Me Tight" by Dr. Sue Johnson. It is an extremely good and interesting book especially for those who are interested in knowing what love is all about and how to have a good, secure, loving relationship. I am reading it and I can see many possibilities of them patching back. It is not hopeless. However another thought came into my mind, "Is it worth to put so much effort to fix this relationship at this early stage?"
They were together for less than a year. She was not getting what she wants from the very beginning. A friend of mine told me before, "In dating stage, the guy should woo the girl if he wants her." I agree with what she said in this relationship. If only one party in the relationship is trying hard to make it work while the other just laid back or give up easily, I cannot see the point of continuing the relationship at this early stage. I was trying to utilize the skills that I have learned to help this couple to patch back but after my friend reminded me of that, I think maybe it's better for her to move on. As my friend said, "All the things mentioned in the book are good in helping married couples. But at this early stage, do you think it's worth to have the girl to put in so much effort?"
"I love him. I still do. I have the courage to say that even he never tell me his feeling to me. I cared a lot of his ex girl friend because he always tell me how much he suffering from her leaving but he never tell me how much he treasures or loves me. I guess I wasn't really jealous of his past relationship. Everybody has past, including me. What I want is his reassurance. I want to be able to feel his love and affection. I want to be unique to him. I didn't feel that when I was with him. He made his ex the most unique person when he was with me and I don't know why. He has her photos in his room even we have started our relationship and he put none of mine. And you know what he told me when I mentioned to him my concern? He said I am not a generous person." Well, I wish he is able to find a girl who is generous enough to accept all these.
"I was obsessing the ways to make this relationship work. There are times when I really feel like giving up but I told myself to hold on." She laugh and said, "You know what? I feel myself like a loser when he told me, 'I think it's better if we just be friends.' I thought I am the one that suppose to say this but ended up he told me this. I wanted to say this for a long time but I always tell myself to hold on. I wanted so much to make this relationship work. He even said I fall in love with a guy like him because I am "cheap" ('fan jin' in cantonese)." She cannot control her tear at this point. "Probably he was right. If you asked me what so good about him, I can't really tell you. But that's love isn't it? You have no reason and there's no logic sometimes when you fall in love with someone. However, I am still proud of myself that I didn't give up easily."
I feel proud for her too. Although the relationship turned out did not work out fine, I am proud of her spirit of not given up easily. She used to say "break up" often in her previous relationships. This time, at least she did her part to make things work. I am not saying she is a perfect girl. She has a lot of issues to work on herself like her bad temper and stonewalling attitude.
[In relationships where intense arguments break out suddenly, and where criticism and contempt lead to defensiveness, and where more contempt leads to more defensiveness, eventually one partner tunes out. This is the beginning of stonewalling. The stonewaller acts as if he (research indicates that 85% of stonewallers in marriages are husbands) couldn't care less about what the partner is saying or doing. He (sometimes she) turns away from conflict and from the relationship. Any form of disengagement can be stonewalling.] Resource: Dr Howard Lambert - http://www.relationshipresourcecenter.com/html/fourhorse.html (originally was the idea from Dr John Gottman.)
And I am not saying the guy is worthless or bad either. He actually showed his care in different ways. He knew Alice likes to do certain activities and travel around, he did his best to make it happen. He knew Alice likes to go to theme park, he brought her to Disneyland. He did try to woo her from time to time. Guess this is the part that make Alice has hard time to let go now. Of course, after an intimate relationship is over, there are times when we feel like wanted to patch back, wanted to have things like it used to be and wanted to turn back the clock. It is especially hard to let go and knowing that you are alone at night time.
Alice, I wanted to let you know it is OK to shed your tears, it is OK to still hold on before you are ready to let go, it is OK to feel the feeling of sadness, anger, fear and even sorrow. It is not about how he has treated you, it is all about how you treat yourself now. The process of letting go is not easy but I am sure you can do this. You have to believe that you are beautiful and never let anyone take away your precious self. It is not the time to blame anybody or self-blame. Express to me your feelings of anger, sadness, fear and sorrow and then slowly, we will learn to forgive. Thank him for letting you grow up, thank him for giving you a chance to learn more about yourself. Last but not least, thank him for loving you.
However, before we are able to let go and forgive with a peaceful heart, there is some exercises that we need to do. This is an exercise that I found in a book named "Starting Over" by Dr John Gray. I realized some people either blame their ex partners or self blame after a relationship has ended. By holding the hurt from the past, we actually lost the ability to find the soul mate. We actually lose the ability to open our heart and love again. By expressing the four emotions mentioned (anger, sad, fear and sorrow) again and again, we will then be able to find the forgiveness and finally let go. By taking time giving ourselves permission to slowly let go, we will then have stronger hearts when we finally able to let go. We will then able to open our hearts and love again. We will then be able to give the love and accept the love we deserved.
Writing feeling letter, response letter and forgiveness letter to your ex partner is going to help a lot. It doesn't means you have to mail the letter to your ex partner. In fact, the letter should never give out to your ex partner but it is a process of letting go for yourself. Remember, the focus is not on your ex partner but yourself.
The sample of feeling letter:
I am writing you this letter to express my feelings. I am now in the process of letting go. I believe I am able to find my ability to forgive, let go and finally, love again. I am feeling...
I am angry that you left. I am angry because I put so much effort in and you just gave up easily. I feel angry when I think about how you kept mentioning your love to your ex partner but not me. I feel angry when you treated me as if I am a stranger in front of your friends and family. I don't like being rejected. I want you to love me.
I feel sad that I am alone. I feel sad because I still love you. I feel sad when I think of you will no longer be in my life. I feel sad when you were not holding my hand. I wanted you to love me, I wanted to share my life with you. I expect you to feel the same and love me. I expect to have a great and bright future with you.
I feel afraid that I am alone. I feel afraid because I don't know where to turn to. I feel afraid when I think about starting over. I feel afraid when I think of you will totally walk out from my life and starting a new and loving relationship with other. I do not want to be alone. I need your love and friendship.
I feel sorry that our relationship doesn't work out. I feel sorry because I can't turn back the clock and make you change your mind. I feel sorry when I think about the happy moments that we have shared. I want you to hold my hand and share our happiness and sadness together. I hope I will be able to let go soon and really let go this time.
Thank you for listening.
Source: Gray, J. (2002). Mars and Venus starting over. HarperCollins: NY.