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March 1, 1999   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I was with my boyfriend for five years. I am currently 22, and we got together when we were 17. Although we had our good times, I will admit that the relationship was not very healthy. After our first three months together, he cheated on me and I forgave him and took him back. After 2 years together, he decided that he needed space and wanted to see other people. We did that, then we started seeing each other again, without the titles of "boyfriend" and "girlfriend." When we did decide to get back together last year, I got pregnant and had an abortion. We thought it would only make the relationship stronger. Unfortunately, three months ago, he broke up with me.

He said the reason why he broke up with me was because he was still young, and he wanted the chance to hang out with his friends more. Also, because we had been together since high school, he said that he needed the opportunity to go out with other girls. Also, he told me that a relationship with me was too stressful. At the time he broke up with me, I was finishing my last semester in college and trying to look for a job. I was under a lot of stress and he has never been the kind of person who would listen to my problems.

Well, we decided to remain friends. I thought I would be all right with it until three weeks after we broke up he started seeing another girl. Of course it broke my heart, and I didn't know what to do. He would tell me that he was confused between me and her. He'd hang out with me and we would still sleep together, but he'd also spend a lot of time with her.

I started to feel really depressed. I would call him and cry. I'd even wait at his house at night for him to come home from her house so we could talk. He was understanding at first, but then he started to get frustrated. He'd start yelling at me, saying mean things. He'd tell me to get over it, but at the same time he would still hang out with me, sleep with me, and tell me things like "maybe we'll get back together in the future."

Well, for three months this whole scenario has been going on. I have been so depressed, and he has been getting more and more frustrated with me. I know I should just totally cut him out of my life, but I don't know how to live without him. I guess you could say I'm codependent.

I've been going out with my friends and dating to get my mind off of him, but I only end up doing stupid things. The other night, I slept with a guy I hardly even know. That's something I thought I would never do. The stupid thing is, after that happened, I felt awful and started crying. Then I called my ex and told him about it. He actually said that it hurt him to hear that I slept with someone else. The next day he even called me and asked me if he could come over. That was nice and all, but the next day, when I called him to talk, he got upset with me, and he said he was busy and was going to spend the day with her.

I have come to the point where I don't know what to do. I really am just ready to die. I have a wonderful job, but I can't even do my work because I just sit around thinking about him. I know our relationship wasn't good. I wasn't even that happy with him, but I can't seem to let go. Please help me. I can't go on like this.

-- Cecilia

Dear Cecilia,

Your letter is instructive for all of us in that your story kind of represents the breakup id: the division of the psyche prone to instinct, impulse, and action unchecked by the superego -- better judgment, norms of decorum, and superhero advice. We've all been there; you just ... went there. We can all learn something here.

But before I get way too far into psychoanalytical territory, let's call out our psychotherapist-on-call, Belleruth. "Seems like you're playing out a really ugly masochistic rejection scenario, over and over. It punishes both of you. He feels guilty and squirmy (and laid), and you feel abject and grimly satisfied that he's ruining your life. Is this the play you saw your parents act out? Possible. In any case, you need to remember how to like your bad self, assuming you did know how once. A professional -- not, say, him -- should help you do the job, I'm thinking. But you've already done some of the work, Cecilia, really. See, you could have not finished college, not found a wonderful job, and then said, 'See how you wrecked every aspect of my life?!' But you didn't go there. And that's good. Perhaps better than you realize. There is some solid ego operating in there somewhere. Let's really put it to work."

BR and BG



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