Looking back isn’t going to help you. Moving forward is the thing you have to do. McKayla Maroney
When I started my blog, about two months ago, my aim was to document my journey towards healing. The road to recovery has not been smooth so far. It is full of hurdles, hazards, potholes, bumps, u-turns, dead-ends, congestions and accidents. It seems that whatever progress I make, I go straight back to my starting point and the destination appears further and further away. One crucial problem is that I am trying to move forward while in reverse gear, so I am not going anywhere. I am constantly looking in the rear-view mirror instead of looking at the road ahead. I am stuck in constant dysphoric rumination. I have done more rumination in the past 2 months than a 50 strong herd of cows!
What happened, happened. I cannot change the past. I made the wrong decisions. I gave my trust to someone who broke it. I gave my love to someone who didn’t appreciate it. It’s done and over now but I cannot help going over it again and again and again until my mind is dizzy with the thoughts. I there something more I could have done to save this relationship? What if….? Maybe I could have…? My mind is in constant turmoil. It is relentless.
This looking backwards does not help and going back to the source of the problem is not the solution. I tried and it does not work. It might take the pain away for a few moments but it reopens the wounds. Nothing will ever change. He is who he is. He has good traits and bad traits. He might have gained some insight after our failed relationship, but is behaviour is immutable. Things that were there before will always be there. His exes Marta, Lourdes and the others are an ever presence that will never fade away. It is something that I would not, could not tolerate. He will always omit, withhold or alter the truth. He will always re-invent history. He will always change his emotions at the flick of a switch. He will always make excuses and blame others. As we are now, nothing can be gained by resuscitating our relationship except more hurt, anger, pain and anxiety. It is hard to admit, but it is the truth and there is no going back.
So instead of focusing on the past and trying to bring it back to life, I need to change my focus to the present and the future. Unfortunately, it is not an easy process for me to implement. I am the sort of person who believes that I can think my problems away. I focus on the problem rather than the solution. Staying with my pain feels more secure to me than trying to alleviate it. I know how to handle my pain because it’s been with me a long time. We are best friends. If I let the pain go, what do I get? Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.
When I was still together with my ex-partner, he used to tell me: “You’re anxious and depressed because you want to!” At the time I thought: “What a horrible and insensitive man!” Now I see that what he meant- but did not express in a very diplomatic way – was that by wallowing in self-pity, I was making the problem more acute and instead of passively focusing on the causes and symptoms, I should do something about it.
I recognise that my brooding is a useless, unproductive and passive activity and that healing demands actions. Actions are hard though, because they require willpower while ruminating does not require any. However focusing on the past perpetuates my anxiety and distress and is preventing me from taking the appropriate decisions and finding a solution by engaging in activities that would lessen the pain. Ruminating is a maladaptive coping strategy. It does not solve the problem. It perpetuates it. It constantly creates negative emotions- but it is so much easier than doing things to lift my mood.
So what now?
I need to get out of my apathetic and lethargic mood. Wake up and smell the coffee as my friends would say. I need to change gear (start in first!) and get moving in the right direction. Life lies ahead of me, not behind. I can find help and strength from my past but must not get stuck in it. I need to leave the passenger seat, get back in the driving seat and drive towards recovery. It might be a long and difficult journey – like driving on a British motorway – and I will probably stall and break down a few times on the way but it will be worth it.
Wish me luck!