How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Jean Your Own Question

Jean
Jean, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 433
Experience:  Masters degree in counseling, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Jean is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How to process heartbreak when you have to work that person.

Resolved Question:

I've started "no-contact" after a long time of trying to be friends with my ex  (a little back story: after we broke up [she was the dumper], she told me that I was too important and that I was a huge safety valve for her, best friend blah blah. Anyway, I fell for it all hook, line, and sinker. This part is the very important part: we work together in a Residence Life department at a small college, so we have to collaborate and see each other frequently if not daily). After the initial "breakup"  It wasn't very long and we were back to do all of the relationship "things" we'd done pre-breakup: dates, talking a lot, confiding in each other, sleeping together, texting, saying we love each other, etc. It wasn't until a few months ago that she finally said she didn't want to be intimate anymore but she still wanted to be close emotionally, that should've been it for me but I still couldn't let go. Then it started getting super frustrating, she still wanted to have our strong emotional bond but with NOTHING else, I couldn't take it. Also, I knew she'd met another man and was starting to date him...but she was still telling me all the things I wanted to here and openly admitted that she she didn't want me to let go. As with most of these stories, I could go on and on about the details of the last few months and how it's been hell, but I won't. Basically, I've told her how her behavior has been extremely confusing and hurtful while acknowledging that I wasn't letting go as much as I should (never mind the fact that she had and continues to have the same boyfriend the whole time she's been telling me she doesn't want me to let go). When she finally admitted that she was dating this guy, she told me I had every right to be angry at her for her behavior, which is nice for closure, I guess. It was then that I told her that she shouldn't text me at all, or stop by my office, or facebook me (I've blocked her and her boyfriend for the sake of my own sanity), or e-mail unless it's STRICTLY work related. I've done this very amicably and with a certain amount of control, but as you know, it's been so damn hard to see her and know that another guy now has her physical and emotional affections, while all the while she doesn't want me be out of her life. She's even said that I'm one of the only reasons she likes working where we work (another long story related to our new director). I'm pretty confused right now... I still find myself reaching out to her for help with work stuff, but it's so hard to how much I should talk about work stuff...mainly how I *feel* about work stuff, you know? So, my concern is this, how can no-contact work with an ex that is also your co-worker that you have to see and work with A LOT? I've been doing my homework, sticking to no-contact, trying to look for opportunities for personal development and just plain trying to accept that it's over, and have been professional at work; but it's so hard and I'm not sure how to process it. Also, I'm currently job searching and have six months left on my current contract.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Jean replied 1 year ago.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question. Are you available for a live chat?

Jean N/20pluscounts :

I see you posted your question almost an hour ago- sorry to keep you waiting.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

I'm on line for a good portion of the evening, and will be notified when on line and you join the chat. It may be more helpful to you to participate in a live chat to better allow you support to process this. I am sorry for your struggle- this is not easy. In reading your post it does sound like you are giving it all you've got to establish as much space as possible when you work with her. This is "in your face" constantly, and is likely slowing down the process of you getting to the point of moving on or getting to some sense of closure.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It continues to hurt you to be in this situation, not being afforded the opportunity to separate completely from her. It reopens the hurt over and over again. One can not simply just up and quit their job- as much as that would aid in you getting the separation and closure you need.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It sounds like part of the hurt is that she kept you on a string of sorts with her statements of wanting to be friends. Once there is a break up it's nearly impossible to put those emotions aside and just be friends-especially for the "dumpee". As you have discovered first hand- with the frustration and hurt this has caused you. Who wouldn't hang in there when there was a glimmer of hope that the relationship had a chance- no one would fault you for that.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

That you are forced to have contact with her is painful enough, but there is now salt on the wound with her being in another relationship. How much can one guy take right!!

Jean N/20pluscounts :

I do hope we can connect so you can have an opportunity to process this. This is "crazy making " stuff, it would be for anyone in your situation. You are responding "normally" to an abnormal or a "crazy" situation.

Customer:

Hello, I just got back to my computer.

Customer:

Sorry to keep you waiting.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

I'm so glad we could connect!

Customer:

It wasn't a "bad" breakup per se, it was just neither one of us really let go and were still "together" another 5 months or so...then the "real breakup" happened, if that makes sense....

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Yes, it's been a process- making it longer and more painful maybe.

Customer:

True. She even admitted many times that she never wanted to lose me fully or that I she was afraid of me letting go completely. It wasn't until recently when she FINALLY admitted that she was dating her new guy that she said "you can be mad at me if you want and I'm sorry doing all of this" as opposed to trying to comfort me or make it "easier"

Customer:

That's the part I can't get over, her still saying all the things I wanted to hear while she was WITH ANOTHER GUY. That's where my anger is coming from, I'll admit.

Customer:

I feel like she kept me around as an emotional anchor until she felt comfortable enough to be with another man. I'm mad at myself and her.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Her intentions were maybe to not hurt you so much- but in the process of it all it did hurt you "so much" Of course you are angry- feel betrayed- the one you have loved has hurt you the most.

Customer:

Quick side note, what sort of theoretical framework do you operate from? Narrative, CBT, etc?

Customer:

I have a counseling background, too. <--Which is part of the reason I'm mad at myself, I feel like I should be able to process this better....

Jean N/20pluscounts :

She led you on with her words of affection, care and concern. This gave you that glimmer of hope, knowing she still cared. I work with both a lot- especially like the narrative- funny you chose that one!! CBT is a big part of most of the therapy I use.

Customer:

I know she didn't do it maliciously...probably more out of her own insecurities and immaturity and maybe greed....knowing that helps a little bit, but no matter the means, the end is still the same.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You should of known better huh- not so much!! What we know in theory and what we experience in life and love can differ. You were "smitten" the thinking is different in that case.

Customer:

True.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Any which way you look at it- it hurts.

Customer:

The thing that's really bothering me is the constant replaying, bargaining, imagining her doing intimate things with him that she used to do with me, etc.

Customer:

I know better, I do, but I can't shut that off, ya know?

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It's sort of like stages of loss and grief- a normal process that we go through when dealing with any kind of loss. The bargaining- if only, anger, sadness.....

Customer:

I'm really doing my best to forgive myself and eventually her. I think forgiveness is harder to do (but healthier when done for the right reasons) than just cutting the cord, but I'm having trouble getting there

Customer:

I'm trying look at the relationship for what it gave me--life lessons, what I'll do in future relationships, the good memories--and use it as a personal growth step...but I just can't get the bad stuff to quit replaying in my head.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

We have our thinking brain and our feeling brain- love falls into feeling. You are not yet ready to forgive- that's understandable- you hurt and it's okay to identify that, feel that, share that. The ole self esteem takes a beating too- try to figure out what's wrong with "us" when this happens. Yet on the other hand you know you did nothing wrong to create this- her feelings changed- her eyes wondered.

Customer:

I can tell she still wants me to be open with her at work and still lean on each other...I'll be honest it's not to do that if it's under the guise of work

Customer:

I've drawn boundaries, but how can I get to the point where I can work with her and not feel like my stomach is eating itself?

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You must give yourself permission to feel, to grieve, to eventually get to that stage of more acceptance. Time is the true factor here- this is pretty fresh. It will get better- does not feel that way now- but it will. It doesn't help much that you have to be tortured and see her so often. You did not create this and you can not change this- that's a powerless helpless feeling.

Customer:

One factor in our break-up was the fact that SHE never wants kids...while I'

Customer:

*while don't know if I want kids, to never have the option is not something I could want....I try to remember that when processing this relationship, but it's like it doesn't matter because of how much she's told me she needs me, that she'll regret her decision, etc etc. Man, this woman has me upside down, ha

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It is the time factor- your stomach is communicating- you feel ill- this affects you in so many ways, emotionally, spiritually, physically... You can draw all the boundaries in the world at work, and it will still hurt for a time. It's important that you have people who support you right now, people you can lean on, hold you up when you feel like you are going to fall. She doesn't want children, and you do- that's a big difference. This is now your opportunity to continue to have that hope, goal of children. The eastern philosophy of things: crisis as an opportunity, looking at this with curiosity "I wonder how this will work out".

Customer:

You're right, one of my problems is that I ruminate too much on things, my emotions take over. It's like I have to hear someone else to tell me that I can't keep thinking like that, I'll admit, that's something that I get mad at myself for.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It's scary when we feel so vulnerable- that someone can have such an effect on us- that we feel so lost, desperate almost in a time like this, that loss, something slipping through our hands. It can create a panic, or a fear that we will never feel that way again- she's done- so now "I'm done". It puts a crimp in your ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can not talk our self out of feeling- feeling a loss, so hurt, the hurt needs a place to "express itself" needs the time- the true healer.

Customer:

"You can draw all the boundaries in the world at work, and it will still hurt for a time." <-- That's so true, something I've struggled with was the thought that if can "control" all of the interactions then I can lessen the hurt.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Do not be too critical on your self- you need to be gentle with yourself- you are doing the best you can with the loss you are feeling.

Customer:

But, it's going to hurt no matter what.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Control is what we don't have in life when we have a loss, death sort of thing-

Customer:

You're totally right. Thank you. What are some good ways for me to control the constant replaying, bargaining, imagining her with him, etc. I take that to the extreme all the time even though I know it doesn't help

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It hurts any which way you cut it- you can try and go around it, over it, away from it- but kinda have to go through it- as uncomfortable as it is- I'm sorry for that. I can assure you it does get better- it will- the process of things, process of life. Life school- hard knocks of life. It's when we are in the dark that we are most enlightened. That's the light that will come later. You may want to do some writing- set a time aside every day to fret, worry, bargain etc. that way it has a "place" there's the narrative speaking.

Customer:

I have been journaling and it has helped.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Even if it means writing about what you imagine her doing- that's all part of the pain, process of healing.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Give this (the bargaining, imagining stuff) permission to express its self- it will come naturally- embrace it- that will allow you to work through it- hopefully quicker vs. trying to "control" the thoughts.

Customer:

Okay

Customer:

Also, I can see trying to "reach out" or look for excuses to contact me, or even coming back in the near future if her new relationship works....I'll admit....it's something that scares me knowing that she might start busting out the "i miss you's" and saying she might want me back

Customer:

I don't know if there's a part of me that wants that or if that if she does do that that I won't be able to say no...I feel kinda weak right now, not gonna lie

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It is difficult, I know- I've been in this field for many many years- the seasons of life- you hurt, but you will be happy and love again- just nature. You will be the wiser for this. It's earning your life stripes. She will likely seek you out at some point- by then you may be in a better place to say "no", because you will be so wise.

Customer:

My brain wants that, but my id is still screaming for her haha so yeah, you're totally right

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You wrote in your post that you were honest about what this was doing to you- that's the best you can do if she comes around again.

Customer:

You're right. I also try to remember that her actions haven't really synced up with her words--an old adage--but it definitely fits in this point. For god's sake she's got a boyfriend haha

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Your id needs a hug :) and comforting words it will be okay!! We tend to prize those things that we can't have- makes it seem worse than it really is.

Customer:

I think my problem is that I let myself be a slave to over analyzing and tend to have an attachment to emotional outcomes that may or may not happen anyway

Customer:

At least I'm pretty in touch with my emotional knowledge, i guess

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Continue to put a protective suit of armor on when you know you will see her- visualize a protective coat, a shield, a force field to protect you. You are very aware- this will hurt, but help you.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Do allow you the space to feel, in order to heal. Processing all of this can help too- the healing often comes from retelling the story. I'm glad you posted tonight- continue to process this- it will ease the pain a bit. Yes, you will look back on this and say "what the hey" was I so freaked out about- that's natural.

Customer:

One thing I keep telling myself is that i'd rather my relationship with her be a "oh well" than a "what if"

Customer:

I took my shot at love (cheesy as it sounds) and lost, but i'm trying to be okay with it. Thought I was going to marry this woman...

Jean N/20pluscounts :

You are a young man with lots of good ahead of you- I guarantee it- the good news is - this will get better- the bad news- life is full of these lessons- ouch!!

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Yes, it's a loss of a plan, idea, or picture you had for your future too.

Customer:

True.

Customer:

I do thank you for your time. I'm a processor, sometimes I really need to talk my crap out for it to not drive me crazy.

Customer:

You know, it's funny, I help my students with this kind of stuff all the time (I'm a student affairs professional).

Customer:

Also, last thing, my ex is a licensed counselor, how is that for ironic?

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Listen to a few country songs- love, loss, good, bad etc etc. ha ha. You are so welcome- glad I could be part of the processing. Take care. Right we are suppose to or "should" know this- careful not to "should" on yourself lol. This experience makes you better able to help others with the same. Of course she is- we are not exempt from this!!

Customer:

So how does this process work, just rate you and be done? Is it a flat rate?

Customer:

Sorry, silly questions, I know

Jean N/20pluscounts :

If you would be so kind to rate my answer okay or above so I can get credit- thank you!! You rate and then you pay whatever you agreed upon ahead of time -can offer a bonus if you'd like.

Customer:

Sounds good. I'll rate you well.

Customer:

Quick - any quick tips for when I start to my overanalyze?

Customer:

Sorry, after that one I'll be done!

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Thank you- I do appreciate that! Hey with your experience you can be an "expert" some day. My best advice is to write- give it a space to over analyze will naturally lessen.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

A good brisk walk can help- simple but does help.

Customer:

Thank you.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

When you start to over analyze tell "it" you have set time aside later for it- You are welcome!!

Customer:

Enjoy the rest of your night. People like you are the reason I got into the counseling and student affairs profession. It's a good career. Thanks again.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

Let me know if I can help again- can request me by putting my name ahead of your question/post.

Jean N/20pluscounts :

It is a great career- very fulfilling.

Jean, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 433
Experience: Masters degree in counseling, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Jean and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
< Last | Next >
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
  • I thank-you so much! It really helped to have this information and confirmation. We will watch her carefully and get her in for the examination and US right away if things do not improve. God bless you as well! Claudia Albuquerque, NM
  • Outstanding response time less than 6 minutes. Answered the question professionally and with a great deal of compassion. Kevin Beaverton, OR
  • Suggested diagnosis was what I hoped and will take this info to my doctor's appointment next week.
    I feel better already! Thank you.
    Elanor Tracy, CA
  • Thank you to the Physician who answered my question today. The answer was far more informative than what I got from the Physicians I saw in person for my problem. Julie Lockesburg, AR
  • You have been more help than you know. I seriously don't know what my sisters situation would be today if you had not gone above and beyond just answering my questions. John and Stefanie Tucson, AZ
  • I have been dealing with an extremely serious health crisis for over three years, and one your physicians asked me more questions, gave me more answers and encouragement than a dozen different doctors who have been treating me!! Janet V Phoenix, AZ
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Dr. Keane

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1262
    Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DR/Dr.Keane/2013-8-20_204325_drkeane.64x64.jpg Dr. Keane's Avatar

    Dr. Keane

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1262
    Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RE/resolutions66/2011-1-17_05728_IMG8202smilingeditedforJustAnswer.64x64.jpg Elliott, LPCC, NCC's Avatar

    Elliott, LPCC, NCC

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    5024
    35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/formybunch/2010-12-06_191055_img_0975.jpg Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC's Avatar

    Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    3733
    Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DR/DrAkiraOlsen/2012-2-20_746_AkiraADpicmain.64x64.jpg Dr. Olsen's Avatar

    Dr. Olsen

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2336
    PsyD Psychologist
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/norriem/2009-5-27_134249_nm.jpg Norman M.'s Avatar

    Norman M.

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2193
    UK trained in hypnotherapy, counselling and psychotherapy and have been in private practice. ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), UKCP Registered and ECP.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PsychologyProf/2010-07-15_171248_logos060400409.jpg Dr. Michael's Avatar

    Dr. Michael

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2177
    Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/KURTEMMERLING/2010-07-23_215531_just_ask_picture1.jpg Steven Olsen's Avatar

    Steven Olsen

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1727
    More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education