Q: Simone,

I’m writing because I’ve become emotionally desperate about something that occurred in my life several years ago, but I can’t seem to let it go.  In fact, I play the scenario over and over in my mind and have only become more obsessed.  I dated — then moved in with — a boyfriend about six years ago.  Truth is I was kind of surprised when he began flirting with me and then became my boyfriend.  I don’t think I really felt good enough for him (I know that sounds pathetic) and was always suspicious that he was messing around.  Eventually, my suspicions became a reality about three years into the relationship (I think he’d cheated on me long before that) when he left me and moved in with my so-called best friend!  To say I was hurt would be the understatement of the year.  I wanted revenge!

I know I’ve long had feelings of inferiority and have a tendency to try to be like other people who I deem to be cooler than me.  I even did this with my “best friend”.  Even so, how could they do that to me?  They are, by the way, still together three years later, which just makes the pain worse.  I don’t think anything has ever wounded me so deeply, and I can’t seem to get over it.  I felt so humiliated, so foolish.  Help.

Signed, “Dumped…”

 

A: Dear “Dumped…”,

First, let me acknowledge and validate your pain.  You were seemingly betrayed by the two people closest to you.  I want you to note the word “seemingly” in my previous sentence; I will return to that momentarily.  Let me first focus in on an important hint you dropped when you described yourself as feeling “inferior”.  There is an old saying that floats around the fields of treatment and recovery, especially relating to issues of co-dependency: “There are no victims, only volunteers.”  Now that would not apply, of course, to children or victims of violence of any kind.  But it does apply to emotional scenarios into which adults voluntarily enter and then feel wounded and victimized.

It applies because as we move forward in our lives we carry with us the messages we’ve internalized from the experiences dealt us in the hand of cards called life.  When we filter these messages through the nature of our personalities, we form a set of beliefs and thoughts that dictate how we view ourselves and others.  It’s sort of like we attract a set of actors in a play, acting out the parts according to our personal (sometimes unconscious) script.

So if you felt inferior and unworthy, expecting him to ultimately cheat on you or leave you, it was most likely only a matter of time until he did.  And the person to whom you refer as your former best friend was perhaps someone not worthy of the trust you put in her.  But if you have been undervaluing yourself, your judgement and boundaries regarding even those you call friends has undoubtedly been weak.

Yet understand — my words are not meant to place guilt or blame upon you, but, instead, to empower you.  For if you can realize that you are attracting people and circumstances into your life which reflect that which you believe, it means you are not a victim.  In fact, you are in charge of that drama.  Change the script if you are done with those scenes.  “What?” you say.  How am I supposed to do that?  And the answer is that it is sometimes difficult but always doable.

Start with the doubt and negativity you hold about yourself.  Can you identify the source(s)?  If you struggle to identify these on your own, a good therapist can be of great assistance.  Once you’ve gotten in touch with the source of your self-doubt and related self-sabotage, begin the empowering process of redefining and affirming who you are and what new, improved experiences you now choose.

I offer up a salute to the newly validated, newly discovered you and the writing of a whole, new script.

Signed, Simone

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