That’s What She Said: How Do I Stop Holding on to a Toxic Ex?

“Hi Bruna,

I was in a physically and emotional abusive relationship for 3 years. He is an older man. Him and I loved together, bought dogs, traveled, and were engaged. During the relationship he had cheated on me with an older woman. He lived a double life for a couple of months.

The woman and I were basically fighting over him after we found he was cheating on us both…the irony. He chose me and a year later we break up because I couldn’t get over what happened in the past. I contacted the other woman and I apologized to her.

We became friends for 2-3 months. 6 months later I find out she’s going out with my ex. She posted pictures of themselves, the dog I bought him, and pics of his son. The story is longer and uglier but I have this obsession of looking at their Instagrams.

I found out 4 months later they move in together and last month he bought her a French bulldog. I feel awful. I’ve gone to domestic violence meetings, codependency meetings, and now started seeing a therapist. She now recommends me to start going to sex and love addiction meetings.

Bruna what advice could you give me to stop beating myself up looking at their stuff?”

Before I address this, I have to state this disclaimer (again) for everyone reading–I am not a licensed therapist. I am just a young woman. My advice can be taken with a grain of salt, but if you ask me for it, I’ll give it to you.

First of all, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. The cheating, the abuse…and then–finding out that the man you loved for so long isn’t even the man you knew. I am so sorry.

You’re not crazy for holding on. You’re not crazy for looking at their Instagrams. You’re human. Does that mean what you’re doing is OK? No. But we all do it.

I remember I went to visit my friend in San Francisco not too long ago, and I was dealing with a breakup. I kept looking at the guy’s Instagram every minute as if something miraculous was going to come of it, and she was like, “Why are you doing that to yourself?” I couldn’t answer. Why was I doing it? Every time I even thought about looking, I’d get that sickening knot in my stomach because I was afraid of what I would see.

“You’re an emotional cutter,” she told me. And as odd as that may sound, it made perfect sense.

I used to always believe ignorance is not bliss, but the older I get, the more I realize that in certain cases, it is. And this is one of them.

Why was I looking? I wanted to keep a part of that connection alive, I guess. I wanted to see him, see what he’s up to, see what was going on. But for what? He was living a life without me in it. Forcing myself into the situation by constantly looking at his shit didn’t change that, it only hurt me.

Think of it this way–you get the urge to look, so you do. You end up feeling like shit. What about the situation changes? Nothing. What happens to him? Nothing. He’s still over there with her posting pictures of their fucking dogs.

The urge is strong. Trust me, I know. But you’re stronger. It may take longer for the emotional detachment to align, but mentally, you can tell yourself to stop. Do what you need to do. Block. Delete. Call a friend when you begin to feel weak.

People may think it’s just social media, but it’s not. It’s extremely powerful which makes it that much scarier. Before this, it was easier. You delete their number and that was it. Unless you have a chance encounter at the bar or store, they were out of sight, out of mind. Now, their every move is at your fingertips, so you really have to exercise your strong will.

And it’s fucking hard.

You already made the hard decision (which was ultimately the best decision) by ending it. You knew you couldn’t let go of the past, and this man was extremely toxic to your well-being. Nobody deserves to be verbally or physically abused. Nobody. Give yourself some credit for that.

Now the only other step is to completely cut the strings and let go. The only person stopping you from doing that is you. Stop getting in your own way of being happy. I know this isn’t making you happy, and you deserve to be happy.

You can do it. I don’t know you personally, but just judging from your story alone, you are one helluva strong woman and you love yourself enough to know that you deserve better, because you do.

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1 Comment

  • Hey there Bruna, I truly enjoy reading stories/experiences on here and although I find things here and there that I relate to, this story in particular, I fully related to. I’m not one to leave comments or even review anything…EVER…but I felt the need to give my sense to this particular individual (and anyone else experiencing the same). I want to start off by saying that its been about 2 months now that I have gone without looking at their Instagrams, so IT IS possible. I too, went through something very similar. I was with this guy for 2 years, we practically lived together, met each others families, etc. I thought we were on the right track. Back in January I began to notice a change in him. I asked him about it, he blamed it on work. Fast forward to March and I finally realized what I was dreading that entire time. I saw the other girl post some very questionable pictures of them and tagging him on them and then…a post that read “netflix nights with bae” in which she tagged him on a glass of wine. Believe it or not, that was not the awful part. The part that hurt more was that a few days before their netflix night, I was at his house (his new house he had just purchased) we built some of his furniture together and did some shopping for household things. Well, this girl, who was with my person who I thought loved me and only me and who claimed he did and was angry I questioned him about seeing someone else, posted a picture where she placed her beautiful flowers he bought her (btw, he never bought me flowers. he claimed “he did not do that” I didn’t see it as a big deal in that I hate flowers, but that’s besides the point) on top of the table I helped built. My insides felt like they were about to explode.I messaged the girl to let her know of what this asshole was all about. Part of me did it because I hoped she would leave him and he would realized he fucked up and come back to me, but mostly I did it so he could not get away with what he was doing. She responded with, “where you physical with him?” hmmmm…I had just finished explaining to her that I was with him for 2 years, I was at his house 2 days before and that’s what she asked?! “You DUMB BITCH!” is what ran through my mind. I kept my composure, and did not reply. He texted me soon after and still had the audacity to tell me he was not lying! Every single emotion that you can think of, I felt. He betrayed me. He lied to me. He still kept lying to me. Who was this person I fell in love with?! He told me off and I ended it. I stopped replying. Right there and there I knew I had lost him, forever. I cried. I threw up. I could not sleep. I did not eat. I felt like was going to throw up anytime he crossed my mind. I kept looking at his facebook and his instagram and of course, hers too. A week after this whole ordeal, she posted again. This time, at Disneyland. Where they seemed happy and in loved. She was kissing his cheek and had her arms around him while he held the phone and snapped the photo. I did not cry that time. I just felt nothing. At that moment I told myself that I would no longer continue to hurt myself. I was not part of his life anymore so there was no need to act and feel as I still was. I blamed myself. I compared myself to her. I put myself down. How can he choose her over me? What is wrong with me? Maybe if I had this or that, things would be different and I would still be with him. But we can’t do that. We can’t blame ourselves. He chose his path. He decided that he would choose her, for reasons I would never know. But I couldn’t continue to hurt myself. I still catch myself thinking of him and then the image of them being happy pops up and its over. If he’s happy then good for him. I will, too, be happy one day.There’s this quote from “The Motivation Manifesto 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power” that reads, “we mustn’t wish them ill; it’s not worth the energy, and wicked people will get what they deserve as they destroy themselves. Our success lies not in their destruction but in our own advancement, not in the astonishment on their faces as we surge past them but in the joy in our hearts at having prevailed despite them.” So to you and anyone going through something similar I say, Be strong. Do it for the sake of having a good nights rest. Trust me when I say that it is possible. I remember the first time I was able to sleep without any sleeping pills or without crying myself to sleep. I took days off from work and did the most random things alone. I cried a lot but it was ok. I’m not dating or even talking to anyone, but I’m ok with that. I know one day I will find real lasting love.

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