I’m just going to come out and say it… I hate my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. It’s not something I’m proud to admit, considering the kind, confident and friendly woman I pride myself on being. It’s an unwanted feeling that reduces me to a jealous and catty high-school-girl stereotype… and I’ve been out of high school long enough to know better.
I don’t want to hate her. What’s worse is that I don’t want to constantly be thinking about her.
I’ve tried to squelch the adverse feelings. When my mind drifts to that negative place where she happily frolics around hand-in-hand with my ex, I attempt to think something nice about her. But try as I may, my go-to reaction at the sound of her name is, “ULK”!!! That’s not an “ugh” or an “ick”, it’s an “ULK” – both of those sentiments combined into one nasty guttural reaction.
Why do I care? I hardly know her. We’ve briefly met twice in passing, other than that I know nothing about her, besides the fact that she’s pretty… and young… and successful… and an actress. As if it isn’t hard enough getting over any old ex, mine has a gorgeous new girlfriend whose face pops up on my Netflix queue, Facebook feed, and Twitter suggestion list every chance it gets. Cyberspace is hell bent on making me “Follow”, “Friend”, and “Like” her!
After months of carrying this weight, psychoanalyzing myself, thumbing through self-help books, prayer, and many failed attempts to purge my negative thoughts, it came to me: Our hearts weren’t designed to watch something that is, or was, ours belong to someone else.
Imagine a parent taking away their child’s most beloved toy and handing it to a random neighbor kid. Then, the toy-less child is forced to watch as this new, random kid cherishes their dearly loved possession. That sounds torturous!
My ex was my best friend, my confidant, my love, and my companion. Now she (the new girlfriend) is the kid at the playground who has snatched up my beloved possession and is sitting there in the grass, laughing, enjoying and loving it – loving him, and being loved by him.
I feel replaced. I feel rejected. I feel betrayed.
What I had been feeling wasn’t hate. It was hurt. I don’t hate her. I hate that someone else has what my heart will always feel like is mine.
Matters of the heart are tricky, icky and sticky! Once you love a person, I don’t think that you can ever completely stop loving them, even if you breakup with them! A piece of you will always be wrapped up in their existence, in some way or another. Try as you may to shake them, hate them, forget them or replace them, they’re in your heart for good. You can never un-love someone.
These new insights didn’t instantly make me feel better, but it did help me get to the root of the issue. None of this had been about my ex’s new girlfriend; it had all been about me and my own heart.
Now, when my ex and his girlfriend come to mind I whisper a kind affirmation for their relationship, whether or not it’s what my heart (or hurt) actually feels in the given moment. I proactively think positive thoughts about her and hope that she is treating him well. I no longer use her as a target for my hurt, and in moments when I still feel something ugly stirring inside of me I quickly take the thought captive and accept responsibility for my own feelings. I don’t hate her. I’m just feeling rejected right now, which is completely normal and understandable. It’s okay to feel rejected. It’s okay to feel replaced. These are normal feelings and they will soon subside.
The routine of taking my thoughts captive, redirecting my hurt, and speaking (or thinking) loving words has caused the negative thoughts to slowly dissipate. I can feel my heart softening. I can feel my hurt dissipating.
Choosing to love (to be love, give love, and think love), even when you’re out of love, isn’t always easy. But love feels so much better than hate. And isn’t love the very thing we’re called to – the very thing that sets us apart in this world?
Photo by (Flickr CC) Pierre Pocs Photography