I've sent hundreds of texts to my ex in the last year. I don't regret a single one. Even the ones that brought me a lot of sadness. Especially those.
For a long time, I cursed myself for writing to him. I would often write a message that literally said "fck, I'm annoyed I'm writing this." It was so freaking unhealthy. Shaming myself for every "hello", every "I miss you", every "I wish you were here." They were all true, and while the critiques of others compelled me to shame myself, every word was my truth. And, every one taught me so much. Every one helped me to let go.
I can't remember the first time I text my ex post-breakup, but I do remember my inner critic repeating over and over and over again that it was a bad idea. There was this yearning though. There was so much wrapped up in these small, mostly short messages. The yearning for comfort, for affirmation, for recognition, for my best friend back — there was some hope that in all the aching, in all the criticism, in all the suppressing, the beautiful thing we once had was still there — somewhere. As I look back at my past self’s journey, I’m so grateful for her integrity and honesty. I'm thankful for her willingness to honor what she believed she needed. Even if it wasn’t what society would deem “smart” or “appropriate” or “wise” 🤗 She did need it. I needed it.
If I'm honest, I needed to try some more. I'm a pretty extreme individual, so what for many people would be enough to feel closure, felt like another regular Saturday afternoon for me. I needed to break down, cry my eyes out, mourn, get angry, get sexy, glow the fck up, move across the country and try again. I needed to let my new evolved self experience the dynamics of that emotional and physical connection. I needed to learn what her boundaries were. I needed to learn how to speak and declare her needs. I needed to see how she wanted to reveal to the world that she knew her worth. I needed to let her play and try and mess up and play some more and find comfort and make beautiful memories even when things weren't perfect. And all that started with a text.
I want to share some of the wisdom of this journey with you — why I think it's (sometimes) okay to text your ex. The healing I've experienced retracing the steps of my past self has been powerful. I’m also ready to let her and her needs go, and I figured while I'm at it, I'd share, just in case her healing can help you find some power in your experience too.
Before I dive in, I want to be put out a disclaimer to my message. My ex truly was one of my best friends (maybe still is). It was (and is) really hard to let go of that relationship as a result. My ex is also an incredible human being. He never made me feel unsafe or posed any lasting harm to me. This is incredibly important to be sure of if you do choose to engage with your ex. Dating violence is incredibly common. Too often starts off by slipping through the cracks of attempts to grasp at closure or rekindle the thing we miss. If you ever felt unsafe physically, mentally or emotionally in a relationship — even for a second — it's likely in your best interest to commit to doing the hard thing and fully close the door (and throw away the key). I can only imagine how heart aching that would be, but for the sake of your safety, I beg you to do it. Your life is worth so much more than a hope-filled second chance.
If you feel safe in your dynamic, here are some things I explored and learned in my texts to my ex that might be a source of inspiration for you:
1️⃣ @minaa_b says to “make space for grief in the midst of your growth” — this is not only necessity for the 𝙄𝙙 — the part of your being & brain that will try to “help” you by impulsively holding onto what semblance of your old self it recognizes, but it will also be nourishing for the 𝙀𝙜𝙤 the part of your being & brain that will rationalize the value of your old self to steer you away from the death it will face in your evolution.
What does that all mean? Your cognitive processing capacity is going to by nature a) cling to your old self and the easily recognizable behaviors it exhibits and b) rationalize that behavior by getting you to grieve what you used to have and believe you've lost. So, I think it's important to give yourself space to do just that. Grief shows up in so many ways: as anger, as shock, as denial, as bargaining, as guilt, as loneliness, as depression, as hope, as acceptance... the list goes on and on. So often we shut our selves off from many of those emotional spaces when we grieve relationships. Sometimes communicating with an ex can be the very way we explore those emotions.
So here's how to do it safely.
Step 1: I strongly recommend having a trusted life coach or therapist to guide you and help you process this exploration of grieving space. They can support you in honoring your needs and personal boundaries — this was invaluable to me!
Step 2: Be honest with yourself. Be honest about what you want and what your hopes are, but also be honest with yourself about the ways you can potentially get hurt again. This honesty helped me to anticipate the hurt when it sometimes inevitably showed up. I was able to work with my coach to navigate that hurt and fortify my own sense of inner strength to overcome it. I wanted to be really sure I took responsibility for what manifested through this murky exploration: the good and the challenging and everything in between!
2️⃣ Shift focus to what you want and desire rather than what you lost or don’t have. I share a metaphor with my clients all the time: we get so caught up in the wrapping paper or packaging our presents come in that we lose sight of what we actually want, often missing out when the present finally shows up wrapped or packaged a different way.
This is an encouragement to cling more to the gift (the expressive love, the compassion, the peace, the reciprocity) we long for rather than the package (the human, the institution, the experience) we once found it in.
This also helped me to get even clearer when the people I was seeking those "gifts" from were not actually providing them. I noticed I have a tendency to "forget about" the gift I wanted when the wrapping paper felt familiar, nostalgic or exciting. This helped me to clarify my standards and desires for my life. It was the foundation to understanding what was nonnegotiable in partnership, romantic or otherwise.
3️⃣ Give yourself grace. Humans learn best when we can analyze how our failures actually supported our learning — this means we have to have a practice of finding comfort in sitting with our mistakes. Shame is not comfortable or productive. If we shame ourselves every time we do something that doesn’t serve us or perhaps was actually detrimental, we’ll never find the comfort to sit with it and observe it. I like using the mantra 𝗜 𝗮𝗺 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗺𝘆 𝗺𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲𝘀 to help me shed the ownership of the shame that arises & investigate my behavior. Once I detach my identity from what feels like a mistake or a failure, then I can look at it critically. I can ask myself how the action or behavior measures up to the life I want to lead. I can ask myself if there was another approach that could have helped me reached my desired outcome. Once I stopped coating my text messages in shame, I was able to analyze what I was seeking with each one. Sometimes it was sexual intimacy with a person I trusted, sometimes it was reciprocal friendship, other times it was an opportunity to avoid my loneliness. Once I stopped shaming myself for the action though, I was able to investigate and discover those things. Ultimately, it helped me to find more empowering ways and healthy ways to draw those things I desired to myself, but I learned from what I often felt was "messing up." I'm so grateful for the self-grace because what I learned about myself was so damn worth it!
That's the tea! It's juicy right? I've learned so much from my brave, authentic and non-traditional self. She's not perfect, but she's human. She's messy and she's beautiful, and I wouldn't want her any other way. I hope her lessons serve you they way they've served me. Feel free to let me know how in the comments or by scheduling a 1:1 fifteen minute hype session with me. I'd love to hear all about your reflections!
Sending you love and so much damn light,
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