As Christopher Columbus said, you can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. It's hard to let go of that shore post-divorce or after any relationship tanks. No matter how bad the relationship was or how much you wanted out, it's still what you've known, possibly for a very, very long time.
These are things people tell me that scream, I want to stay connected to my ex! I humbly offer detoxes for these toxic connections. I say toxic because, when you look closely, you can see how unhealthy they are.
• I can't stand for him to be with anyone else. If I had a top ten list, this would be at the top. It's tough, but you know it's inevitable that you will both move on to other relationships. Detox. Embrace reality and be grateful. When your ex moves on, in case you were harboring thoughts of reuniting a long time from now, in a galaxy far, far away, this tells you it's really over. You can be grateful for that wake up call. It's also good for kids for whom it can close the door on remarriage fantasies. And you know what, you can stand seeing him with someone else and there are probably other reasons to be thankful. Gratitude always trumps jealousy.
• I want her to still want me. You've finished with someone, probably don't even want them anymore, but you expect them to be waiting in the wings. You still want to be loved, but that ship has sailed. Detox. Know that you will be fine on your own. You don't need your ex to love you to recognize that you're lovable. And if you really think you're not, this is a great time to start figuring out how the next relationship can be better, and what you need to work on personally. It's time to man up, make the changes and find your next sweetheart.
• I hurt, and I want him to hurt too. Do I have to point out that this is just plain mean? Detox. Feeling loving kindness is linked to improved mental and physical health and increased confidence. Part of the meditation involves loving kindness for those toward whom we feel unkind. It's a way of downloading those negative feelings, and allowing them to float out of your head. You will be nicer to be around and you'll probably hurt less.
• She really needs to apologize to me. "Needs to," does not ever belong in the same sentence as your ex. Your ex probably didn't do a lot of things she "needed to do" when you were married. You think you're going to get her to do them now? Nope, you're not. Detox. You don't actually need an apology. Forgiveness is something you give because, among other things, it's good for you. And you don't need an apology to forgive. You do it because you're ready to unmoor and sail on. An apology is not going to get rid of the pain. Only letting go does that.
• I just want us to be friends. Maybe you can be friends. Equally possible, you can't. It doesn't matter. It would be good for the kids, but it's not essential. Detox. You have friends to hang out with and talk to. If you don't, you best get out and make some. Friends have a longer shelf-life than many relationships. It's important to focus on other relationships, not just your personal Titanic.
• He should respond to my calls or texts immediately. Really? Most people don't respond to our needs immediately, so don't expect it from your ex. Detox. If you're calling and texting repeatedly, stop. Ask yourself whether the situation is really that much of an emergency. Don't wait until the last minute to make arrangements for the kids, or get something you need from your ex. Start planning your course ahead of time, the way you do with most people, and don't expect your newly insignificant other to drop everything for you.
To sum it up, be grateful, be kind, forgive, and don't expect things to be better than they were in the relationship. Letting go is entirely up to you. It means moving on toward the unknown, always a scary prospect. But hey, there's a new world out there. So keep your focus on what's ahead, while you breathe in that clean, detoxified air. Smudge sticks can help with this too.