Joey Garcia

I have finally realized that my ex-boyfriend is the man I should marry. He endured my chronic moodiness and was always supportive. I had trouble committing to the relationship because of bad past relationships. I broke up with him a lot, but he always took me back. He initiated our last breakup, and we intended it to be final. I called him recently because I really miss him. He has not responded. I know I was an idiot, but I don’t understand why he won’t forgive me. How can I get through to him?

What’s in it for him? By your own admission, you’re chronically cranky and needy. You were in an exclusive relationship, but you refused to do the personal growth necessary to forge an identity as a couple. When the relationship challenged you to transform unhealthy attitudes and actions that kept you from being emotionally intimate, you killed the relationship. Then you resuscitated it. Killed it again. Resuscitated it. Now that it is terminally dead (by your own request), nostalgia has moved in.

In your situation, nostalgia keeps you in denial of your addiction. The behavior pattern of breaking up and getting back together keeps a relationship—and the people in it—in emotional chaos. It signals that you cannot be trusted and expect to have relationships that lack trust. It also suggests you have low self-esteem that alternates with arrogance (the latter keeps you from seeking therapy to end the dramas you create) and that you probably engage in some kind of sexual seduction behavior to initiate relationships and to revive them. You are also addicted to the adrenaline cocktail that you get from having drama in your life. Those emotional ups and downs are accompanied by surges of adrenaline that your body now thinks are normal.

Let’s consider your question, revised. If you love your former boyfriend, why would you want him to return to a relationship with you before you have been to a qualified therapist? To revise your other question: How can you get through to you and call yourself into emotional health?

Let’s also examine your desire for forgiveness. Forgiveness is releasing anger or resentment against someone. Reconciliation is the coming back together of two or more people. However, forgiveness precedes reconciliation. You must forgive yourself for your behavior and change it before you ask someone else to forgive you. Reconciliation is a spiritual gift, not a requirement. Ever.

My abusive ex-husband is getting remarried. My family (and his) thinks that the impending marriage means that I was the problem, not him. I am so sick of this. I don’t know what to do.

Admit that you engaged in behaviors that contributed to your abuse. Perhaps you ignored early warning signs about your former husband’s penchant for violence or you refused help from people who knew that you needed to get out of the relationship. Maybe you can even see how you baited your husband because the pattern of emotional chaos was so familiar that something in you compelled you toward it.

Admit these things only to yourself, not to your family. Remember that even if you did engage in dysfunctional behavior in your marriage, it never deserved to be met with violence. But being completely honest with yourself about your role will take the sting away from the unkind remarks of others.

When a relative accuses you of being the problem, silently acknowledge your part and then greet their blame with a compassionate smile. Leave the room or change the subject. Or respond to their comment by saying, “Is that what you think?” Then, remind yourself to stop trying to control your relatives’ image of you. It’s hopeless. Focus instead on creating a circle of friends who celebrate the good within you.

Meditation of the week
I responded to a newspaper ad that promised a free facial with the purchase of a skin-care product. “Hello?” a woman answered, completely annoyed. Surprised, and expecting to hear the name of a business, I asked if I had the wrong number. “No,” she said, “I shouldn’t have answered the phone that way, but I’m really busy right now. Can you call back later?” I decided not to pursue it. Do you work for success and, when it arrives, discover that you’re not prepared for it?

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