I don’t want him to keep haunting me like this and making me fearful of moving on to another relationship. What’s your advice?
I’m a 46-year-old woman with disabilities and health problems. I split up with my mentally abusive ex-boyfriend nine years ago, but it took me a long time to walk away from him, even after we broke up.
I was with him on and off for more than 13 years, but it wasn’t until 2012 that contact between us stopped altogether.
While we were together he was always playing mind games and once dumped me for someone else but I took him back.
I always had a feeling he was cheating as he behaved like he had something to hide and I got no attention from him unless he’d been drinking.
I’ve had six lots of counselling over the past nine years to deal with this legacy of mental abuse. I went through lots of emotions – guilt, anger and not understanding why I couldn’t get him out of my head, even though I was the one to walk away.
Now it goes through stages where I feel a lot better and then those feelings come back again.
I have done everything I can to try to help myself – I have even written poetry as therapy, as well as going for counselling and having lots of emotional support, but it just feels like it’s never going to end. I’ve tried to be in other relationships too, but none have been successful.
I really don’t want him to keep haunting me like this and making me fearful of moving on to another relationship in the future.
What’s your advice?
I’m a big fan of counselling, but I still think there has to come a point where you have to bully your own brain and retrain your thought process.
For example, when your ex starts to come into your mind, you have to be the one to cut off those thoughts. I know this much – your ex won’t be thinking about you.
Use the anger you feel for him in a positive way and refuse to let him drag you down any more. You are going to win this!
Tell yourself positive thoughts every day and don’t lose heart. You’ve been through a lot over a long period, so it’s going to take time and it might be an ongoing thing, but you will get to a point where you feel stronger and you think about him less and less.
And distract your mind with other things, too. Self-help books can be a good way to retrain your mind out of bad habits. Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and feel less stressed and more able to cope. It’s hard when your mind is in the habit of thinking a certain way, but you can change it and, each day you do it, you’ll get stronger.
I understand why you’re worried about opening yourself up to another relationship – maybe you’re not ready for it. It might be another pressure on top of the worries you have. If it happens, great, but let it happen naturally. Not all men are like your ex.
Look at it this way, if a relationship felt wrong in the future, you’d know the signs and would be in a much better place to tell that person to get on his bike. You’ve survived the worst and will ultimately be stronger because of it.
More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, health and relationship problems