Are You Too Addicted To The Past?

This is a guest article from our dear reader and contributor Darren Fletcher.

Are You Too Addicted To The Past?

“Son let me tell you a story, iIt’s one of the reasons I loved Missing (the Ex) so much.”

My son turned to me with a look of sincerity in his eyes.

“You know where that bike shop is in McHenry Village?”

“Yeah I know McHenry Village, it’s where that Mexican restaurant is …” he answered.

“Right. Well one day early in 2010 Missing and I decided to head over to the bike shop because we were interested in getting into cycling for fitness and fun. When we parked and got out of the car, we noticed a young man about your age (20) who was homeless and looked quite sad.

Missing said: ‘Wait here’.

The rest unfolded in a surreal way for me.

She approached the young man and quietly offered to buy him a sandwich next door.

Then she led him by the hand into the shop and told him to order whatever he wanted, and we would pay.

The young man slowly gave his order, and moments later his food arrived. He took his food walked outside and away, thanked us, and I will never forget the very gentle smile he displayed as he slowly walked away.

All of these moments passed by for me like a dream.

I was involved, but more as an observer caught in an emotional moment. She had tactfully given this soul his dignity and a meal, handling the entire matter in a way so as to not draw attention. She never spoke down to him or raised her voice.

She was very considerate of his situation and feelings. She had displayed genuine compassion and empathy.

My heart swelled with love and pride for her.

I walked over to the bench outside as she said goodbye to him and wished him well. Then she slowly approached me her head tilted slightly trying to read my emotion. She sat next to me and said: ‘you ok?’

Words wouldn’t come. I simply sat and gently wept. We had shared a quiet moment before I gathered myself and we walked into the bike shop.

This act of kindness truly endeared her to me and reminded me very much of my mother.

Do you understand a bit more now son how I could have loved her so deeply?” I said trying to explain my feelings.

My eyes once again fogged a bit recalling this story.

My son looked over at me and softly said: “Dad when are you going to stop talking about her, not for my sake but for yours?”

This was a loving reminder of what I knew all too well.

I was still showing an addiction to the past, and if I were to move forward, I would have to beat this addiction and learn to live in the present.

One of my favorite songs played in my head:

“What we are is what we talk about, might sound strange to you, what we choose is what it’s all about, all it takes is you”
—Kip Winger (What We Are)

Ever found yourself living in a moment only to discover an hour just went by?

And the moment isn’t now it was a moment from your past.

Instead of driving by your past and waving you stopped and spent the night. You talk to your friends about your ex until they are sick of hearing about it, rolling their eyes initiating shutdown.

Addiction is a strong word. The Chambers 20th Century Dictionary describes addiction as:

“a slave to a habit or device, inclined or given up to, a habit that has become impossible to break”

Have you been honest in admitting to your addiction to the past?

We must face it head on with knowledge and understanding.

The previous story I related gave me insight into just how much and how often I was visiting the past.

It really had become an addictive behavior.

I was trying to validate feelings and emotions to others as well as convince myself by going back there in my mind over and over.

Why?

Each of us must answer that question honestly by looking deep within at what’s missing in our lives.

We should also be patient and understanding with those who are facing this addiction lovingly reminding them:

“Keep driving. Don’t stop. We aren’t there yet.”

Look at it another way.

The past is dead; we can’t live there. Nothing lives there except memories, pictures, and stories; some of them are quite powerful.

The fact is if we spend too much time there our minds and emotions can slowly die back there too, leaving little for what’s real – the here and now.

Energy goes wasted – energy and emotion that needs to be used as fuel for the present and planning the future.

Now that is a healthier place to dwell.

Stop and smell the roses, enjoy the laughter of the moment. Plan that trip.

Imagine yourself happy with another.

The focus will sharpen over time, and there are many articles on this site that will give you some specific guidance on living in the now.

Take this as a simple reminder that you too could be addicted.

Recognize the signs, keep notes daily of what is on your mind and make sure and write something hopeful that refers to the future every day.

Celebrate the little victories with yourself and others.

For instance: an hour without painful memories or tears.

A day being productive and staying busy at work without obsessing over your Ex.

Time WILL be your friend you may just be pissed at him right now.

Its okay … he will forgive you.

So remember the next time you are driving by that favorite spot on the highway in your mind just wave and tell yourself:

“Keep driving. Don’t stop. We aren’t there yet.”

Darren Fletcher

  • lb
     
    Please accept my apology for the late response. The ramifications of maintaining contact after a break up are frought with emotional healing delays, pain and confusion. This article and timeline were pivotal for my recovery. Once I decided I had to fully let go and accept life anew I moved ahead and made much more rapid progress.
     
    Realization is important. Strict No Contact has saved me and allowed my mind to find a new home. Once you maintain strict no contact you will find your trips down memory lane lessen and you will create new memories, friendships and find love again eventually.
     
    Previously I never made it past the 1 month mark often breaking NC earlier. Now it has been over two months and I rarely find myself looking back. I began dating again and slowly opened myself up to find someone truly special (and I have).
     
    So to answer your specific question. It took me months to slowly break my addicition/s – *of specific note please realize that Eddie adopted me early on and allowed me to spread my wings a bit and write for this site. Blogging, sharing and trying to help others helped tremendously. Eddie and his coaching have made a wonderful difference in my recovery.
     
    It will NOT be a constant source of pain! You can recover, heal and find love again. I am living proof ;-)!!
     
    Maintain No Contact with her, it is best for both of you
     
    Blog here often and contact me if you wish, I try to help all I can (I am on facebook).
     
    Sign up for Eddie’s newsletter – It makes a huge difference!
     
    Hang tough my friend – you WILL get better soon 😉
     
    Fletch 

  • Cathy Givans says:

    Funny thing is that it isn’t just past relationships that we give up the present for. Even in current relationships, you can be addicted to the newness or want things to be like they were instead of embracing the way they are. I deal with that sometimes myself.

    • Thanks for the comment Cathy

      I agree with you! Current addictive behaviors can ruin future opportunities. I call the pattern of relationship mistakes; “Groundhog Daying It”. We repeat what we have learned to do and react to these things in repetative ways in many cases. It takes some serious resolve and an honest mirror to identify, then change tactics evaluating new ways of dealing with old problems.

      I am at the head of the line, believe me…

      Fletch

  • SP

    Thanks for sharing your progress and believe me it is my pleasure to offer any words that might help even if just a bit.

    For your last question there is no easy answer but I will attempt. If you have grown and transformed in a positive way after your breakup you may think now that it would be nice to share that with her at some point. However I firmly believe actions will speak volumes without saying a word. You won’t need to say anything to her and better yet your mind won’t plan reaching out anymore.

    IF someday it happens that you both are able to discuss the situation perhaps then it could be healthy….but I will tell you and I speak from experience. That is a very slippery slope. You may even years later get caught up in emotions and words that; “no good can come from” its just your heart speaking and some things are better left unsaid.

    Time will explain all and it will become clear what the natural choice will be, without force or opoosition. just natural. For now just..be

    Fletch

  • hello. I’ve recently been struggling over the worst broken heart of my life. I’m only 18, but I’ve never gone through anything this difficult before… Any advice would be awesome.
    Long story short, I really liked a girl, she liked me back, we kissed, and she left me for another kid. It was much more than just a crush or a feeling though. We’ve been sort of unofficially dating for 3 months.
    Anyway, according to her, I didn’t show her enough attention, and he treats her like an angel. But the thing that I’ve been struggling with more than anything else, is because none of this makes any sense at all to me. He is the type of arrogant, raunchy jerk that is disrespectful to women and always seeking attention.
    At first I was so so mad at him, and disapointed in her. I was a wreck for 2 weeks. I thought we were so perfect until she ubruptly decided he’s better than me. I’d get 3-5 hours asleep at night, because my mind would wander back to her and I’d feel depressed.
    Finally, after not speaking to or seeing her for 2 weeks, I felt like I wanted to be her friend if I couldn’t be more. I hung out with her and some friends tonight, and I realized that I can’t just be friends with her. I love her so much. I want to try to get her back, but that will probably just lead to more pain or not work 🙁 I just really wish I could go back and give her my undivided attention, and treat her like a princess. Don’t know what to do anymore.. I’m a wreck..

    Any advice?
    Thanks

    • Danny, I would ask how it’s going, but you pretty much just said it’s not going so well. I get how you are feeling. Trust me, we’ve all been there. But you are very young, you have a long way to go. You WILL look back on this and laugh at yourself. Just make sure you LEARN from this. Not saying you made mistakes or did anything wrong, but all of us older people would love to go back in time till we were 18 and re-do things. You can learn a lot about yourself in these situations and if you allow it to, and make it happen, you can grow tremendously from it. Your girl is also young, and both of you absolutely need to experience this, other people, and yourselves. It’s a part of life, so don’t beat yourself up. Just take away from it positive thoughts and experience. If you are on facebook, feel free to look me up. I have been through this a few times, this last time was the worst, but I have turned a devastating situation into what is becoming the best thing I could have gone through. My email is michaelanthonystead@yahoo.com. My profile picture is me on a motorbike. I will be more than happy to listen to you if you feel you need it. Hang tough my friend, just remember that you WILL look back at this and smile. It’s just going to take some time. How much time will depend on you.

  • or maybe the best solution to all our problems is not to invest fully in any future relationship. love them care for them but we should draw a line not to overdo everythng. we shouldnt make them our only priority. dnt love so much that it starts to hurt u. from now on i will never invest myself completely to one person. if he has to go i will let him coz my life include other people who mean much more to me than him.

    • Lost

      There is a definate difference between investing fully and being unbalanced in love “obsessed” perhaps. To make a long term relationship work you must invest and commit fully but not obsess over the other person until you lose your bearings, independance and self worth.

      People who may have manilupative or addictive dispositions may bring out this tendancy on those who get close. Beware!… we can find ourselves on a dark path in a relationship like this. Healthy relationships foster growth and learning not jealosy, hurt or compulsions to posess and manipulate.

      Fletch

  • Seeking Peace says:

    I make steps forward and then fall stumbling backwards into this abysss of longing and pain. What a powerful article Darren. I have read every single one one the entire site and this one speaks volumes. I am amazed that all of us have this shared experience that though it has occurred for different reasons has affected us SO similarly. It has been almost 2 months of NC now and I feel like I am in no better place at all. Though I must be as I haven’t taken the final solution yet. And I am not afraid or ashamed to say the suicidality is a real risk at the bottom of the pit of despair and I know that I don’t want to end up there and am fighting it with everything I have.
    The addiction to the past is definitely desciptive of how I am feeling now. My dreams are the culprit. My subconscious mind has control when I sleep and keeps dragging downward to depression sadness and despair. I awake with all those thoughts of good times, the love we shared, and the burning hope of reconcilliation so hotter than the sun. All the methods and defensive tools are useless against the onslaught of my own grieving mind. I WANT so so badly to stop and at this point I would love just to be numb against it. I’ve tried anger, sorrow, grief, self -hate, and many others to explain to myself how this has come to bring me to my knees. I alomst can fight it. I love how your son’s question was so to the point. We are suffering for our own sake and by our own hands but connecting to that point within ourselves that is able to make it stop is so elusive and slippery. I have spent the entire afternoon in tears just missing her. If anyone can recommend a way to stop the dreams I would love to read or try it. Yes I am in therapy to try and grow and change from this beautifully tragic painful gift that I have been given to see myself and learn from it. But the dreams seem to be undoing it all.
    Thanks to all for reading
    SP

    • SP

      I have been there my friend. Remember that dark place you speak of is never an option or solution. Never. Don’t ever give someone else that kind of power over you, because that is exactly what we do when we go there. The gift of life is precious and no other human has the right to take that away either by direct affect or through their words or conduct that take us down a dark path where that seems better somehow than moving forward.

      Eddie wrote a powerful article on dreams. I am going to quote here.

      With dreams, your subconscious is working out any issues
      you might have. It’s confronting you with pictures and
      feelings you are running away from.

      Basically it says – “face it, don’t run away from it”. This
      is as painful as it can be.

      Here’s how you can make the best of it:

      Keep a notepad beside your bed and write your dream down
      immediately after waking up (even if it’s 3 a.m.). Do this
      is in as much detail as possible.

      Then, get some more sleep or have a good healthy breakfast.
      After that, (a few hours should pass), grab your notes and
      try to interpret your dream. Answer yourself the following
      questions:

      1. How am I acting in the dream?
      2. What symbols in this dream are important to me?
      3. What are my different feelings in this dream (especially
      towards your Ex)?
      4. What would I like to avoid in this dream?
      5. What fear stands behind my dream?
      6. Why did I need this dream?

      If you are able to answer all of these questions, you will
      have a good picture about the mental state this dream is
      grounded on.

      The next thing you have to do is take this mental state and
      the fear behind it, and create a positive affirmation from
      it.

      For example:

      “I choose to be in touch with my own needs and desires. I
      release the need to please others and know that I have a
      right to all my feelings and emotions”

      or

      “Loving myself unconditionally brings healing and an
      abundance of love into my life. I know that my healing is
      already in process”

      Practice your own personalized affirmation extensively the
      next two days. Practice them several times a day speaking
      them out loud AND in writing. (Write them down at least 25
      times).

      You will profit double from this: for one thing it will
      ease your pain, for another thing it will push your healing
      to a new level.

      Your dream uncovered your issues, and the affirmations will
      help you to resolve them.

      Eddie Corbano

      I hope this article helps SP. I found it to be the best article I have ever read on dreams. For me the point was this. Our sunconscious is trying to tell us something, if we learn to listen to it, we CAN work through that challenge just like all the others. It takes the right techniques and positive mindset.

      Here for you bro!

      Fletch

  • Anonymous says:

    Reading everything here and all the articles – I realize you have to want to let go to break the addiction. I feel a lot of pain but the reason I keep going through this is deep down I’m not ready to let go. Scared that if I don’t keep thinking of my memories that I’m going to lose them and I risk the possibility that I’ll never find someone that makes me feel like my ex did. I replay everything over and over again – one memory leads to another and then another and then another – and before I know it hours are gone and I’ve exhausted myself mentally and emotionally. It’s been a little over 2 months and I suppose I’m better than when this first happened – I still think about him a lot and really just want him to come back and tell me he misses me and that he made a mistake. I’m going to therapy to try to deal with the anxiety and the depression – but it feels never ending.

    This article should be a wake-up call for me – but I just can’t bring myself to let go. 🙁

    • Hi from Central California JJ.

      Believe me, its not a one time struggle, wash your hands and sigh relief you are done….ahhhhhh. Not that easy 🙂

      It is a day in and day out struggle. I am almost 6 months in and I can tell you it is a long road….BUT. And this is a big BUT…. lol. We can train ourselves to listen better to what we are really doing and saying that sabatoges our efforts to heal. For me a turning point was my son making that statement. Listen to what genuine friends tell you about where you are at. Listen an observe yourself honestly, this way you will learn and when opportunity arises to be loved again you will not make the same mistakes, you won’t be in that position again. It will be a much better place you are going.

      I just posted a song over on the NC site, sing it, learn it and love it !!

      Fletch

  • i woke up today n here he was still in my mind. still missing him a lot. when will i wake up without him on my mind. does he ever think of me like i think of him every single free time i get. how does people manage to be in long term relationship. dnt they ever argue or have insecurities. are they perfect human beings who can behave normally and patiently whenever a problem arises. so many questions on my mind??? amnt perfect but amnt wicked either.

    • Lost

      Successful long term relationships are filled with love, comprimise, giving, sacrifice, humor and commitment. No one has a perfect relationship. Look at the world today, is it any wonder people don’t stay together? Stormy seas are followed by; “Abandon Ship”, people check out before counting the cost and realizing regret may torture them for years.

      I have seen both sides, leaving and having been left and I never want to put myself in that position (because of anything I may do) again. Sometimes we invite it. I need to be a better person, to be a solid strong person with faith, compassion and hope and offer in time total commitment to the other without giving out.

      I need to embrace my values and always treat others the way I wish to be treated.

      Don’t let your questions haunt you, sometimes they just decide to leave and start over. Sometimes they change their minds about things large and small. Don’t beat yourself up.

      What you do now defines YOU. Work on yourself, be better, smarter and next time you will be happier too!

      Take care

      Fletch

      • thanx a lot for replying back Darren. some days i feel great i have so much positive outlook but some days are just so horrible i feel so useless. ur absolutely right i will make myself a much better person and looking back at my previous relationship i can observe the transformation in me. from being stubborn , impatient and having big ego i have changed a lot a lot. but i still need to keep improving myself then hopefully when am ready then god will send me my man:))))

        thanx a lot Darren

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow… Mina… these are my feelings and thoughts exactly. Toward the end the insecurity, not being pretty enough (affirmed by his family) really beat me up and I wasn’t happy. It was also the time I lost the qualities of being kind, nice and giving, because I could see that his parents just.didn’t.want. me. Being good was just not enough for them … and I was vastly degraded. I gave up on me.

    I feel what you say. I don’t think I would have learned and found myself any other way. I’m still working on me, and I have only began to realize the worth of this journey.

    I liked what Darren says, “I now understand this school I will never graduate from. I must work constantly to be the person I want and need to be.” It’s important to want that in every situation, and I understand this is why me and ex are in our separate ways.

    Thank you, Mina for posting this. It’s posts like this that assures that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an illusion, it’s real cause I’m not the only one seeing it.

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