Get Out of the Self-Imposed Prison

Dear Dr. Hurd:

I’m 53 years old.. I spend most of my time alone.

Thirteen years ago, my wife and I broke up, and I simply cannot get over it. I know how silly it sounds, but when I think about her, I still cry. I have no desire to meet anyone else.

I sit in the condo alone and watch TV. I just can’t move on. Will this ever end?


Dr. Hurd replies:

It will end when you allow it to. You’re waiting for your emotions to change before you start doing something different.

‘I still have strong feelings towards my ex. Somehow those feelings have to go away before I can move on.’ In fact, the solution is quite the opposite. Nothing is going to magically happen to make you feel better. You have to do it.

You need to get ahead of your feelings. Emotions can be stubborn and slow to change. That’s natural. Be patient with yourself, but be pro-active about getting the show on the road. The show is, after all, your life.

Think about things you can do to move on. Ask yourself, ‘What would I be doing now if I were over my former relationship?’ Make a to-do list to push yourself out of this unhappy condo cocoon you’ve woven around yourself. You’ve sentenced yourself to emotional prison. Join an organization. Volunteer for something you care about. Make a social calendar and fill it with activities that place you into various interpersonal situations. Fill nothing with something.

You might not be ready to fall in love again, but you’re most certainly ready to spend time with other people. Don’t get trapped in ‘all or nothing’ thinking. You’ve sentenced yourself to staying at home alone because you’re not ready for a new relationship. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are other kinds of relationships aside from romantic ones.

That being said, how do you know you’re not ready for a new relationship? At the moment, that only means being with someone who’s not your ex-wife. So what? No new relationship will ever replace the old one, and it shouldn’t. Next time around it will be something different. Aren’t you even a little bit curious?

Life is short: Get out there and give yourself a chance.


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