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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1100
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I have been in a committed relationship for 3 years...I am

Customer Question

I have been in a committed relationship for 3 years...I am 60..he is 69...he dumped me a month ago for a woman that he was engaged to 45 years ago and immediately married her....I was blindsighted and brokenhearted...how do I cope?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.

Dr. Norman Brown :

That's as cruel as it gets. That man's heart is not even half an inch deep. But you deserve a funeral for your relationship, because your love was good. Your grief feelings need to be expressed and honored, or you may go numb and half-dead inside. What you're going through is a divorce through abandonment, and your feelings deserve your respect. I hope you have friends who care and will spend time with you.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I suggest you get the book How to Survive the Loss of a Love, because your future ability to love a man who actually can love you back equally depends on honoring every part of your grief process. I advise you to gather all of the objects and mementos you have that remind you of him and begin disposing of them, either by burial, burning, throwing away or giving away, or if something is worth a lot of money, getting someone else to sell it for you.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Another thing you will need to do sooner or later is give a voice to the anger you must feel for his betrayal. If you are not usually a loud person, a very good way is to write a letter to him and say everything in it that comes to mind--with no care about your language or grammar, because you're not going to send it. You might write more than one, as often as you feel the anger rising in you--for even up to 1 year! You might decide at some point to put some into a form that you actually send to him, if that will not get you trapped into needing a response. If you ARE a loud person, you may want to pretend he's a large doughy pillow on a couch and yell your disgust and contempt, while beating the pillow with a tennis racket or something else that feels powerful to swing.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Since he probably led you to believe he would marry you some day, or even if he didn't, you qualify to join a divorce adjustment group. An important part of recovering from the loss of a love is to separate the Me from the We. The We looks like two overlapping circles, where the Me is the part of your circle that didn't overlap with his. So when your We-ness is broken, your Me circle is missing a piece, and its size corresponds to how much of your life was lived together and in anticipation & reviewing your living together. Everyone in a divorce recovery group is rebuilding their missing Me-ness. The good part of doing that with a group is that that process becomes something concrete that you can do brainstorming and support for. You can pick up ideas for new pieces to add to your personality as you're becoming one person indivisible again.

Dr. Norman Brown :

If you sometimes feel like dying, or like you're already half dead, it's because the We-ness has been a living part of you, like a limb. And even after it's been taken away, it can ache when you're reminded of things you did together, like a "phanXXXXX XXXXXmb." So don't worry if you have suicidal thoughts. You don't need to kill yourself, but just to kill your relationship. You might want to burn pictures of the two of you together, if that sort of ritual helps you focus your anger on destroying the parts of your recently past life that need to be eliminated.

Dr. Norman Brown :

That's a start. You should keep up with some daily routines to keep from letting yourself isolate too much. Walking in Nature and treating yourself to experiences of beauty can be very helpful at first. And writing down your dreams, because they often help bring emotions to the surface that need to be released, and they can point the way forward for you to work through your grief to a new emergence on the other side. (I interpret dreams on this website also, and I've specialized in finding the healing directions indicated in grief dreams.) You can expect to lose some of the activities and aspects of yourself that you did with your former boyfriend, but regrowing your Me into a full circle can include taking up some New activities, especially of the sort that are fulfilling to you without needing somebody else to accompany you: artistic pursuits fit that development need very well. You could even express yourself during your recovery by creating a series of drawings, musical pieces, dances, poems, journal entries, or short descriptive prosody (prosody is prose that has a syllabic rhythm in it that makes it evoke non-ordinary time, and that's an essential ingredient in the healing experience of art, whether in appreciation or in creation, entering a world outside of ordinary time).

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1100
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Dr. Norman Brown and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.

Somebody reported to me that you were not able to read my responses to your question. I think you did read them, because you have responded by releasing your deposit. There is more advice I can give, but your healing is my top priority. I would add an additional warning: If that man could jump ship and hop into marriage with someone he may have had little or no contact for decades, it's equally possible that he'll discover he's made a mistake, because SHE's as much of a real and flawed woman as you are. So he might just as suddenly come running back to you and try to convince you that NOW he realizes that YOU'RE THE ONE, and he'll NEVER LET GO OF YOU AGAIN. If he ever does something like that, I'd advise you to insist that he goes to a marriage counselor with you (who you have interviewed first to make sure he or she won't just take him at his word, but dig deeper into his motivations) until you are convinced he's not as shallow as he sounds.

 

I personally would suspect he has NOT grieved the loss of whoever came before you, so he can't stand loneliness or grief and he's in effect trying to "plug in" another "good woman" like a "Phantom Limb" for whoever he lost. I wouldn't want to put more than 50/50 on that guess, because I don't know but that one thing about his relationship history.

If you didn't get to read all that I wrote, here it is again:
Dr. Norman Brown :

That's as cruel as it gets. That man's heart is not even half an inch deep. But you deserve a funeral for your relationship, because your love was good. Your grief feelings need to be expressed and honored, or you may go numb and half-dead inside. What you're going through is a divorce through abandonment, and your feelings deserve your respect. I hope you have friends who care and will spend time with you.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I suggest you get the book How to Survive the Loss of a Love, because your future ability to love a man who actually can love you back equally depends on honoring every part of your grief process. I advise you to gather all of the objects and mementos you have that remind you of him and begin disposing of them, either by burial, burning, throwing away or giving away, or if something is worth a lot of money, getting someone else to sell it for you.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Another thing you will need to do sooner or later is give a voice to the anger you must feel for his betrayal. If you are not usually a loud person, a very good way is to write a letter to him and say everything in it that comes to mind--with no care about your language or grammar, because you're not going to send it. You might write more than one, as often as you feel the anger rising in you--for even up to 1 year! You might decide at some point to put some into a form that you actually send to him, if that will not get you trapped into needing a response. If you ARE a loud person, you may want to pretend he's a large doughy pillow on a couch and yell your disgust and contempt, while beating the pillow with a tennis racket or something else that feels powerful to swing.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Since he probably led you to believe he would marry you some day, or even if he didn't, you qualify to join a divorce adjustment group. An important part of recovering from the loss of a love is to separate the Me from the We. The We looks like two overlapping circles, where the Me is the part of your circle that didn't overlap with his. So when your We-ness is broken, your Me circle is missing a piece, and its size corresponds to how much of your life was lived together and in anticipation & reviewing your living together. Everyone in a divorce recovery group is rebuilding their missing Me-ness. The good part of doing that with a group is that that process becomes something concrete that you can do brainstorming and support for. You can pick up ideas for new pieces to add to your personality as you're becoming one person indivisible again.

Dr. Norman Brown :

If you sometimes feel like dying, or like you're already half dead, it's because the We-ness has been a living part of you, like a limb. And even after it's been taken away, it can ache when you're reminded of things you did together, like a "phantom limb." So don't worry if you have suicidal thoughts. You don't need to kill yourself, but just to kill your relationship. You might want to burn pictures of the two of you together, if that sort of ritual helps you focus your anger on destroying the parts of your recently past life that need to be eliminated.

Dr. Norman Brown :

That's a start. You should keep up with some daily routines to keep from letting yourself isolate too much. Walking in Nature and treating yourself to experiences of beauty can be very helpful at first. And writing down your dreams, because they often help bring emotions to the surface that need to be released, and they can point the way forward for you to work through your grief to a new emergence on the other side. (I interpret dreams on this website also, and I've specialized in finding the healing directions indicated in grief dreams.) You can expect to lose some of the activities and aspects of yourself that you did with your former boyfriend, but regrowing your Me into a full circle can include taking up some New activities, especially of the sort that are fulfilling to you without needing somebody else to accompany you: artistic pursuits fit that development need very well. You could even express yourself during your recovery by creating a series of drawings, musical pieces, dances, poems, journal entries, or short descriptive prosody (prosody is prose that has a syllabic rhythm in it that makes it evoke non-ordinary time, and that's an essential ingredient in the healing experience of art, whether in appreciation or in creation, entering a world outside of ordinary time).

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