Even if your ex disappears, you can find closure and move on.
This was my friend Sean’s* experience just three years ago.
How do you begin to understand such a thing? As one person spins off to create a new life with a new partner, the other is left devastated and shell shocked.
When your ex never apologizes to you for their behavior, it can prevent you from moving forward with an open heart, available to love a new partner.
But what if you could write your own apology letter from your ex to yourself?
Sounds a bit absurd, I know, but this can be just the thing you need to breathe new life into those broken places inside of you.
I thank Sean for allowing me to share how he finally broke through his own terrible experience. Here is his story:
It was in June 2013 that my whole world turned upside down. I sent Jamie* my usual "I love you" text on the way to work, and was stunned when I got a reply saying, "I no longer feel the same way."
I felt sick to my stomach.
What followed hit me like a tsunami. Jamie asked one of our mutual friends to come over later that day to tell me it was over between us.
Of course, I wasn't having that!
I asked Jamie to tell me in person. I couldn't believe this was happening — that my sweet partner had turned into such a monster.
I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. The shock was unbearable.
We separated for four months with the goal of "trying again." Now I see she never intended to return to me. In fact, at one point I actually found her in our marital home ... with another lover.
By November 14th it was all over. My marriage of 4 years (and loving relationship of almost 6 years) was finished.
I was devastated. The worst part was that I had no idea why it was over. All Jamie had said was that "things just changed."
Fast forward to 2016.
Through coaching and energy clearing techniques, I realized I had to put Jamie and our marriage in the past or I would never be free to explore love with another person.
After I read Catherine’s story I was inspired to try and clear some of the old pain by writing this apology I will never receive from her.
I’ve been meaning to write this letter for a long time, but I didn’t know how, and I thought you would just throw it away if I did.
First, I would like to say that I am sorry.
I am so sorry for how I dealt with this whole thing, and for how I treated you. It was dreadfully wrong of me to tell you I was feeling differently by text, and I am deeply sorry for not having the courage to tell you in person.
I am sorry for agreeing to separate with the expectation we would get back together when I already knew that wasn’t what I wanted. I wasn’t brave enough to simply say things were over between us, and I am so sorry for letting you think for months that we would work things out and be together again.
I feel terrible about the countless cruel things I said to you.
Looking back, I can see I was just trying to make myself feel better about the situation and about what I was doing. I knew it was my fault and that I was the one completely breaking your heart.
I tried to find reasons to justify what I was doing. It seemed easier to blame you, so I tried to convince myself that what I was saying was true — all to ease my own guilt and pain.
It was so hard to see your heart breaking right in front of me, and because of that I tried to make myself believe it was only because of things you had or hadn’t done.
It was wrong of me.
I loved you, I honestly did, and at the end I still cared for you so much. I hoped we could one day be good friends, but I realize that will never happen because of how I acted and how I treated you at the end.
More than anything else, I am sorry that I brought another lover to our home, and that you found us there together. At the time I tried to justify it to ease my own guilt and pain, but now I can’t even imagine how hard that was for you.
I know you may throw this away, and that the opportunity for us to be friends is probably long gone, but I do want you to know how sorry I am, that I hate having caused you so much pain, and that I do feel guilty I ended our marriage the way that I did.
I hope you are well and happy,
After writing this, Sean went on to tell me:
“It felt surprisingly good, actually. I did have a cry while I wrote it, and I recognized this as a part of my releasing the energy of the old sadness and grief. Now I feel relieved and calm about the whole thing. I am more optimistic, and finally ready to move on.”
You may find it helpful to write a similar note to yourself from your own ex. As you do, remember that the purpose of this exercise is to regain control over your own emotional needs.
If you would like to write your own apology letter to move past a breakup, here are 5 easy steps:
1. Choose a particular incident or behavior with your ex that upset you.
Don’t pick the worst thing that happened. There is plenty of time for that later. Think of something that hurt your feelings but wasn’t devastating.
Surprisingly, this technique works best with seemingly trivial events.
For example, if your partner always left the toilet paper holder empty for you to replenish, pick that frustrating behavior rather than diving straight into a major betrayal.
2. Write down three specific things about the incident.
“He got angry when I forgot to renew my driver’s license. He yelled at me about it in front of his mom. I felt deeply embarrassed.”
“She flirted with the bartender right in front of me. I tried to get her attention to let her know I was bother, but she ignored me. I felt invisible.”
3. Write a short apology letter to yourself from your partner addressing only those points.
“I am sorry I freaked out about your driver’s license renewal. I'd had a hard day and took it out on you. To lose it in front of my mom like that must have been really embarrassing for you. I’m sorry."
“I realize I was a too flirty with the bartender that night. I was a little tipsy, and even though I knew you were upset, I kept talking to him. I don’t blame you for being upset — I bet you felt invisible. I'm sorry.”
4. Burn or shred your notes (carefully!).
The destruction of your paperwork as you balance the energy left over from loss, sadness and grief is a sign to the universe that you are ready to shift your thinking to a new perspective. You may notice a sense of lightness or relief as you do so.
5. Spend a moment reflecting on what you experienced as you wrote, read, and then destroyed your own apology.
You may feel pressure or warmth in your chest, throat or temples. You may feel goose bumps, or even burp or shiver. This is all evidence that the energy really is moving through — and out of — your body!
You can repeat this process as often as you wish.
Above all, be gentle with yourself as you go through this process — and through your newly unfolding life.
Catherine helps people write new stories that get results moving on after your divorce. You can follow up with her on her blog BreakupCandy.com and on her website CatherineBehan.com. Aching to be with a partner, but hate to date? Try a little DatingCPR.com.