You Hate Your Ex. What’s Next?

When their name is brought up, your friends groan and your family cringes. And, deep inside, you know that you’ve fantasized about rolling them over with a dump truck. Funny how a terrible, no good ex can make you and everyone in your life feel legitimate anger. A bad relationship takes a toll on our psyche and can leave you traumatized for months (or years) to come…

At least, this has been my experience. I definitely don’t think this type of “hatred” should be directed towards just any person or break-up. In my opinion, very few people actually deserve to be hated or outcasted. Most of the time people break up for completely logical reasons, like growing apart or moving far away from each other. Sometimes people have disagreements that can’t be looked past in a relationship. Whatever the reason, I find that many people seperate on relatively amicable terms and do not necessarily wish great misfortune for the other party. But what happens when a breakup is so bad, so harmful, so traumatic… that it makes you legitimately angry (or sad) to think about? In situations of abuse, domestic violence, cheating or lying, I can absolutely understand how a separation can leave someone feeling empty and emotionally restless.

Abusive relationships might leave the victim unsure about the future, their worth, or their sanity. Abusers have ways of gaslighting and manipulating their partners to feel crazy and insecure, and healing from this type of constant exploitation can be exhausting. I can not even begin to describe the pain that I experienced while cutting ties with my abuser, as well as trying to find closure and peace within myself. I understand the internal chaos that happens when trying to end a turbulent chapter in your life, and anger is a very normal part of the process.

If you have found yourself in a similar situation, it can be difficult to know what to do next. On one hand, being able to feel anger and rage towards a person who did you wrong can be a healthy thing- after all, knowing that this person took advantage of you and mistreated you is a hard reality to face. Especially if you tried to be the ‘bigger person’ in the relationship and always took the blunt force of their emotional or physical violence, it becomes a headache trying to understand how an abuser could live with themselves and their actions. Allowing yourself to feel anger towards this individual, instead of taking up for them or finding excuses for their behavior, can very much be therapeutic. For years I found ways to justify the abusive actions of my ex. I constantly was gaslit (and lying to myself) in order to forgive his disrespect and negligence. I could have proof that he was lying to me, yet still convince myself otherwise because of his manipulation and ability to make me feel terrible. After breaking away from his abusive cycle, I was able to see the entire relationship clearly for what it truly was! And naturally, I became absolutely irate. How dare another human so selfishly take advantage of another individual repeatedly and without remorse. And worse, why on earth would I set my standards so low to accept that type of treatment?

Anger can be a healthy emotion. Try not to suppress it, and instead find healthy outlets for it. I went through phases of talking to myself while I drove in my car, verbally reassuring myself that what I experienced was real and that I was allowed to feel angry over ‘x’ ‘y’ or ‘z’. I spoke to my therapist about my anger, and she suggested I started verbalizing or writing down all the things I wish I could say (or do!) to my ex. Obviously, it would be very unhealthy and probably illegal to put any of these ideas into action, and that was definitely not my therapist’s advice or my intentions. But just the act itself of getting rid of that build up energy and resentment was incredibly helpful. Crying, yelling, cursing, or whatever else I needed to do was okay. Allowing myself to finally be upset and stand up for myself retroactively was a very helpful aspect of my healing. However, anger over time can be an upsetting emotion to sit with. Especially when there is little you can *actually* do to avenge the situation, feeling angry and upset about your ex can be frustrating. This is when some hard work begins, and you have to figure out a way to find happiness and contentment even while your terrible ex is still out there living his/her life.

This is where therapy definitely assists. I know that speaking with a professional about my struggles and emotions was incredibly helpful in order for me to move past the amount of anger I held. However, I also think that an equally important aspect of healing comes from the actions you take moving forward, as well as the people you choose to surround yourself with. Your success and wellbeing should become your firstmost concern during your time of healing. You should try to envision your own happiness and contentment with any decisions you make during your healing. What would make you happiest in your life? Is it travelling? Returning to school? Quitting a job? Try to think critically about the areas in your life that are holding you back, or the things that bring you much more stress than joy. Remember it is okay to prioritize yourself for once.

Focus too on the folks that you keep in your circle. As painful as it might be, it may be critical to cut out people who bring out negative traits in you. If you’re trying to better yourself and your life, you might not want people around who constantly want to party, do drugs or stay out all night, for instance. You also might have to see who in your friend group truly supports you and will be there to help you when you are in need. Not all of your ‘friends’ will actually show up for you if it happens to be inconvenient for them! Try to not bother with people who are situational friends only, and instead focus on the people who truly love you and want to see you succeed. (These are probably the people who hated your ex long before you did, anyway!)

Life will go on, fortunately, without your ex. While there are times it seems that he or she still dominates your life, your emotional state, and your anger, time will pass and you can and will heal from the trauma you experienced. You are completely allowed to continue disliking your ex, and in some cases you don’t even have to forgive them in order to move on from your past (I honestly think forgiveness is too romanticized in our society, anyway). But just remember that YOUR healing and peace of mind is what is important. You must focus on what to do in order to feel your best and ultimately become a better version of yourself- which, to be fair, is much more difficult than it sounds. Stay as focused as you can, and make sure to allow yourself the care and love of a healthy support system along the way.

I hope this post is helpful for some. Let me know what you think.

-Nat

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