I don’t know what kind of toxins have been sifting through the queer air, but lately, it feels like every lesbian in the Sapphic stratosphere is in wild, wild distress over the same pressing issue. My inbox is overflowing with messages from queer ladies of all ages, begging for guidance, agonized and angst-ridden about their relentless addiction to their ex-girlfriends.
“I’m addicted to my ex!” Read the frantic message of a 23-year-old graduate student, yesterday afternoon.
“Zara, how do I get over my EX?” A 39-year old from the deep south messaged me via Facebook last week.
“HELP! I can’t let go of my toxic ex and it’s destroying me from the inside out!” A 31-year old New York based investment banker friend of mine drunk dialed me over fourth of July weekend.
“I can’t stop sleeping with my ex and it’s messing with my head!” A 20-year old baby lez tweeted me at 4am last Tuesday.
It’s been a very dramatic summer, to say the least. I mean, is anything in this cruel, cold world more dramatic than lesbian ex-girlfriend drama?
Late night arguments that wake up the neighbors midweek! Drunken, jealousy-driven screaming matches in dark, crowded bars! Heartbreak-induced sob sessions on the early morning subway! Irrepressible feelings of hopelessness in the workplace!
It’s a nightmare. It’s a sick cycle. And like all sick cycle’s it’s one that keeps us stuck in the same place, unable to move forward and live our best lives.
I myself, have taken a dangerous ride on the ex-girlfriend roller coaster before and let me tell you: It was an all-consuming, intensely sad, dark ride down into a black hole of darkness. I couldn’t seem to quit my ex Lulu* no matter what I tried—even though she constantly criticized me, made me feel unsafe and triggered my deepest insecurities.
I’m a codependent, addiction-prone person by nature, so trust me, it wasn’t easy for me to kick the habit of my ex. But I knew, in the deepest pit of my bleeding heart, that if I didn’t get over her, I would never stand a chance at happiness. Lulu would never be the partner I wanted her to be. I would never be the partner Lulu wanted me to be. All we were doing was wasting our precious time on planet earth.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, but, honey, I’m proud to say that I did it. And I’m going to share the six pivotal steps that helped me cross over to the other side. The light, positive, “healthy-relationship” side, that is. Oddly enough, I never thought I would say this, but I like it over here.
(In fact, I think I’ll stay here. I also happen to think you will want to stay over here as well, as long as you can withstand the harrowing process of crawling through the mud).
1. See a therapist.
There is no way I could’ve ever kicked my addiction to Lulu had I not seen an amazing therapist that I connected with.
My obsession with Lulu was bigger than I was. I got real with myself and owned up to the fact that I needed professional help.
Chances are if you’re emotionally entangled with someone who isn’t kind to you, if you can’t quit wrapping your legs around the one person who treats you like garbage on the pavement, well, then, you’re are most certainly in need of some good old fashioned therapy too. There is no shame in the mental health game.
Sadly for those of us inpatient entities who have an unquenchable thirst for quick-fixes, there are no shortcuts to the psychological healing process. Self-help books can definitely help, but sitting on the couch in a safe place, with a person who literally helps people get over the very issues that are holding them back from happiness, for a goddamn living, and talking it out, in person, is very effective.
Yes, therapy is painful, it requires a massive level of vulnerability. Therapy involves digging up uncomfortable, traumatic memories from the past. Yes, therapy does cost money. And yes, therapy requires a healthy investment of your free time. For those of us who are wont to get addicted to our fellow human beings, are also often people who like to run away from the stone cold stings of reality. We numb out in the flesh of another person. And when that person is taken away from us, we go into withdrawal. All of a sudden the pain we’ve been avoiding sets in.
So making that appointment with a therapist and dealing isn’t always the most natural thing in the world for us to do. It’s exactly what sets us free, in the end! It took me too long to realize that confronting the demon gets rid of the demon. Staring into your issues, without blinking, with the guidance of a trusted professional, scares the monsters away.
2. Take a break from booze.
When you’re completely obsessed with someone who is bad for you, it’s more important than ever to have a clear head. Personally speaking, boozing and my toxic ex always went hand-in-hand. It was like when I quit smoking. I had to cut out drinking for the first few months because every time I drank I broke down and lit up a ciggie. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and right now you need your inhibitions, more than you ever have in your life. You need to your self-control when you’re spinning out of control of your emotions.
I’m not saying quit drinking forever, but while you’re in this wildly vulnerable place, you need to be only channeling your energy on that which makes you strong. At the end of the day, drinking excessively makes you weak. Alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol will numb you from the blazingly real reality that you’re in a dysfunctional relationship. It will make you wake up feeling lonely and vulnerable.
And let’s face it: you’re already lonely and vulnerable right now. So clear that head, baby girl. Get strong. Then you’re safe to go back to boozing (for fun!).
3. Find a hobby!
Find something that you love to do that is disconnected from longing for the validation of anyone else. Something that you do simply because you goddamn enjoy it.
When I was getting over my ex, it suddenly struck me: I had no real hobbies outside of this person. I had poured all of myself into my job and into my relationship. I couldn’t think of one thing in the world that I enjoyed authentically, for myself, for the pure JOY of it. That was part of my problem.
Now that I was actively in therapy and vowing to stay off the sauce of Lulu, I had space to figure out what I, Zara, liked to do for fun. And I realized holy shit; I love to draw.
I’ll never make money off my art, I’m not very good. But I love the meditative feeling of drawing. It takes me out of my head. It puts me in a flow-state, which is very healthy for anxiety ridden, uptight creatures like myself. Most of all, it gave me confidence. It reminded me that I’m able to find happiness and fulfillment without depending on anyone else.
4. Go cold turkey on the social media.
I need for you to stop following this person on all of your social media accounts. Oh, don’t be smug and tell you’ve already done that. Of course, you have. But have you genuinely stopped stalking your ex, sweet kitten?
Fact: Every time you stalk your ex a lesbian angel loses her wings. Oh, and you lose another day of your life channeling your precious time and energy into a person that brings you down. So cut yourself off. Now.
5. Support groups galore!
Repeat after me: I am not above a support group. Al-anon, co-dependent anonymous, group therapy, whatever. Just grab a group of friends who are supportive of you and have them over your apartment for tea once a week. Hold each other accountable for your actions!
Isolating yourself is the worst thing you can possibly do when you’re trying to quit something. Get out of your head and start making real friends who will be positive influences on your life.
6. Don’t EVER sex relapse, treat this person as a real addiction.
Once you’ve had love sex with someone, you can’t have cold sex with them ever again. I know this from experience.
“We’re just going to be fuckbuddies!” I would tell my friends, as they rolled their eyes. They knew I was doomed. Once you’ve experienced the wildly vulnerable feels of love sex, you can’t unknow it. Every time you touch this person your hormones will link up and you’ll be even more addicted to them. If your friend had a serious problem with drugs, you wouldn’t ever encourage them to dabble in the occasional line of cocaine, would you?
This is no different. Every time you have sex with your ex, you will take a giant leap backward in the healing process. You are too fierce and your life is teeming with too many possibilities for you to move backward in life. So keep your gaze direct, get a therapist, make quality friends and don’t relapse with the sex and you’ll move forward into the life you deserve, babes. Oh and message me on Facebook if you need some lesbian big sister advice.