I’m divorced and had a boyfriend right away for over 3 years. He was terribly abusive and seemed to suffer from alcoholism and borderline personality disorder. Eventually, I was able to get away from him, only by cutting off all contact. I still shake when I think about how he treated me, although it’s now been 3 years since I last spoke with him.I’ve concentrated on myself, my career, and my child during that time. We’re all doing marvelously. The crazy exboyfriend is married and completely out of my life.Why does it feel unfair that he went on unscathed and I’ve not had a boyfriend since? Am I avoiding men? It’s been several years? Will my issues/injuries ever heal? Why am I completely alone still? Should I celebrate celibacy?Thanks in advance.
The question isn’t should you celebrate, but rather do you want to celebrate your celibacy? To celebrate is to rejoice about your good fortune and it sounds to me like you are feeling rather victimized instead of fortunate.Listen to how you have processed the recent events with him: ‘He went on unscathed. . .’ Where did you get that idea? He’s damaged goods and he went on to marry a woman who was damaged enough herself to take his garbage. Instead of feeling triumphant about your courage to kick him to the curb, you instead sound like some reject who hasn’t found another guy.How about you haven’t found another guy worthy of you? How about, you are strong enough to be alone rather than settle for just anyone?As for the question of whether you are avoiding men, if you asked the question you must think that you are. It sounds like you are still holding on to the injuries you sustained with him. You still shake with rage, I know. But what you need to understand is why you are holding on and not moving on.If I had to guess I would say that the relationship with this guy opened up an emotional can of worms for you. His mistreatment of you must have awakened memories of earlier and perhaps even childhood abuse. If you’ve been reading my columns for a while, then you know that whenever we experience a strong reaction that we can’t let go of it’s because childhood business is afoot.Here’s an example from my book: A woman is out to dinner with her husband and he keeps checking his watch (because he wants to make sure that he feeds the parking meter in time). She goes ballistic, assuming that his watch checking signifies that he’s in a hurry to leave and can’t wait to get away from her. Her intense reaction comes from buried hurt and anger stemming from childhood experiences with her father who never had time for her.How does this example relate to you? I think that this guy’s mistreatment of you has torn the scab off your own childhood wounds. The actual events and memories from childhood may be buried from your awareness and all that you may be aware of are terrible feelings (feeling it’s not fair, feeling sorry for yourself, feeling angry, etc. ).I’ll take this a step further. If you were abused as a child, your unconscious mind would choose an abusive boyfriend (because this type of person is familiar to you and because you are hoping to heal your early wounds).This is what I call the repetition compulsion, which refers to the uncontrollable urge to recreate the painful experiences of our childhood in the hope of achieving a happier ending this time around. We need to choose lovers and life partners who are similiar to the parents that let us down so that we can perfectly recreate our childhood pain.I think that you may be avoiding becoming involved again because you know that you would choose another abuser. Rather that fall into the repetition compulsion, you simply protect yourself by staying unattached. Where does all this leave you?You need to identify your wounds and begin to heal them. Healing can happen in individual or group therapy as well as through inner child work. When you have healed your wounds, you will be free of the repetition compulsion. Then and only then will you feel safe to become involved, knowing that you no longer need to choose abusive men.