Today’s post is my response, as a relationship coach, to a reader’s question regarding shame and insecurity during and after a relationship. Though it speaks directly to a romantic relationship, the same principles apply to any relationship and any situation where you’re holding on to feelings of worthlessness.
Any who hasn’t experienced those?
I was in a relationship with a man for three years that ended just over a year ago. It was a fun, healthy relationship for the first two years but we really grew apart in the third year and stayed together six months longer than we should have. In the end, instead of getting out of the relationship, he just stopped including me in his life. I’m almost certain he started dating his current girlfriend before our relationship ended.
I’m struggling with the fact that he was so lazy and cowardly about getting out of the relationship. We had several conversations that it wasn’t working, but he said he cared about me, he wanted to try, we could make it work. But nothing he did reflected that he meant that. Finally I told him it was done. He moved some things out, and then it took him six weeks to get the rest of his things out of our house.
In the intelligent place in my mind, I know that he is ashamed of how he treated me at the end of the relationship and that he started a new relationship before he got out of ours. But in that dark place in my heart that spent three years with this man, I can’t conquer this feeling of worthlessness. It was so easy for him to stop including me in his life and he didn’t care enough about me just as a person to say it’s over. Why am I experiencing shame and how can I move through this insecurity?
I know I am worthy of love.
You are experiencing shame because his actions made you feel shameful.
Not because you are wired wrong or weak.
You feel worthless because you were disrespected + marginalized by someone you cared deeply about and most likely never expected this behavior from. Feels a little like having the rug pulled out from underneath you, eh? (I’ve been there too.)
It hurts to be disappointed by and in someone you have made yourself vulnerable to. In the ideal world you would tell him what you need and want + he would comply. He really would try to make the relationship work, respect your boundaries + move his belongings out in a reasonable amount of time. He certainly wouldn’t pursue a new relationship with someone else before properly exiting the existing one with you!
Wouldn’t it be fab if it did just always work that way? A lot of the time–it does.
And some of the time it doesn’t. This, unfortunately, was one of those times.
He did not live up to your expectations.
He disappointed you on many levels + the end result has become shame and insecurity.
And that is shitty.
And I am sorry for your pain.
This pain, however, is the very real, sometimes-cost of dating. Because the truth is: it’s more likely that things won’t work out. So pain + love are bedfellows.
You can’t embrace the hope and possibility of love without acknowledging the despair + distraught of pain. If you want love, you, upfront, accept the chance of pain.
Sometimes relationships don’t work out neatly + your inner world is set ablaze. When the shit hits the fan and the pain materializes, you have a right to be upset, unnerved + rattled. You get to pout, mope, be pissed + feel worthless.
BUT…because you know that love sometimes means pain….
the time comes when this pain must be fully managed for fear of it overtaking your emotional well-being. And now is that time.
You continue to feel worthless because you allow it.
Not because he continues to actively disappoint you.
In fact, it’s probably a good thing you are no longer in communication. Why do you need to be? What do you gain by having a friendship? By keeping your connection alive? Seems to me it would only keep the pain alive.
It has been a year and the problem is that you just can’t let aspects of this one go. It’s over. And it shook you up a bit. It has broken your heart open so new light could get in.
I think where you are emotionally is at a precipice. The ledge between your past wants + dreams and your uncharted, potentially big, love-drenched future. You’re about to write the next chapter of your story, if you will.
This precipice, naturally is a transition. I think you may want to adopt the concept of “Actively Letting Go.“
Actively Letting Go is awake. It is proactive.
I say proactive, I encourage proactive, because you seem to be at the point where you decide. You decide it’s either YOU or him (+ your disappointment in him).
Which matters more to you?
Make a dedicated effort to haul your attention away from your endless brooding over the past. When the shame comes up, acknowledge it + then gently let it go.
Say, “I see you but I am letting you go now because I am sexy, sassy + totally worthy of love.” And then DON’T let yourself rehash memories. When a stinging memory comes up, repeat your mantra.
Half the battle is rewiring your brain. More than 50% of it is actually biology. (Which is a whole other convo!)
Dedicate Yourself to Done.
Devote to Decided.
Sometimes loved ones are disappointing.
You didn’t deserve it.
But it can’t be undone.
Say your goodbyes to that relationship with him. Say goodbye to your disappointment. Your shame and insecurity. Your very false feelings of worthlessness.
Then actively let go.
Wait patiently for love to wrap back around.
because she will.
Get started today on finding your perfect partner.
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