Dear Dr. Brit and Amy B.,
I just got dumped from a 9-year relationship with someone who emotionally abused me. You’re probably thinking, ‘Great! You just dodged a bullet.’ And that’s what all my friends say, but I don’t believe it. I want him back, and if he called me up right now and said, “I’m sorry,” I would forgive him. It scares me that I’m that hooked, that I might miss out on being with someone amazing, and that I might hurt myself because I am so unhappy I can’t eat, sleep or go to work. Please help me get over this controlling person that I still adore so I can finally start living my life.
On the Hook
Dear On the Hook,
The first step to overcoming an addiction is admitting you have one, which you’ve done, and that’s great. You know you’re on the hook and you don’t want to be on the hook anymore. If you asked us something about how to get your abusive ex back, that would indicate a setback, but instead you’ve taken the first step by wanting to get over your ex.
The person who dumped you did you a favor, though your emotions may tell you otherwise at this stage in recovery. This is completely understandable for many reasons. For one thing, being socially rejected–even by someone whose opinion of you doesn’t matter–hurts. Your brain registers it the same as if you had been physically hurt. In addition to this physiological response, you’re probably feeling withdrawal from oxytocin, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. These brain chemicals generate feelings of reward associated with being bonded to another person. When a bond is broken unexpectedly, you experience a stress response, in which your sympathetic nervous system puts you in ‘fight or flight’ mode. (Here are some tips from Read more »