I too had texted my ex and was a ghost after exchanging a few short messages. He said he felt guilty for ending our relationship so abruptly. In return, I told him how hurt I was (in no less than five full paragraphs). No answer, only blue check marks. It was mortifying. Was I too vulnerable? Was it an unforgivable mistake to say that I missed him?
Dr. Jessica Behr, a registered clinical psychologist and professor at New York University, got right to the point: “This is someone who has chosen not to be a part of your life. Talking to them can rekindle old emotions and memories. This can lead to engaging in toxic dynamics and behaviors. It can be self-destructive and the healing process.
But my healing process seemed to be complicated. I spent months analyzing where I had gone wrong; I was obsessed with the idea of playing out different scenarios, wondering if that would have affected the outcome. Sometimes when I allowed myself to be brutally honest, I wondered if we were even compatible. So why did I keep crying for so long?
To answer this question, Worthy suggested that I express aloud the conflicting feelings I was having. It is a form of Gestalt psychotherapy, an approach that emerged in Austria and Germany at the turn of the 20th century that examines the human mind and behavior as a whole.
Worthy suspected that the main reason I couldn’t move forward was because I was being held back by fear and hope. It was easier to hang on to the prospect of reconciliation than to expose myself. Deep inside, I still clung to the hope that we would find our way back to each other once the pandemic was over.
Would I have felt the same extreme emotions if we hadn’t broken up in 2020? To a certain extent, yes. Would it have affected me so much? Probably not. I was locked in the confines of my home, unable to meet and interact with work colleagues and friends, and it seemed impossible to meet new people naturally.
“My best advice is to support your own mental health above all else,” says Dr. Behr. “It can be satisfying to scratch that itchy curiosity as to why an ex did what they did, but it’s no use,” she says, adding that the pandemic doesn’t change the facts of the breakup: “My advice would be the same in and out of isolation; it is not a question of morality, it is a question of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-control.