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How does one let go?

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #340348

    Pete
    Participant

    Hello,

    I am 60 and 25 years ago I made an impulsive decision that haunts me to this day and is still affecting every aspect of my life, robbing me of all the good that today brings (yes, i’m, allowing it). 25 years ago, I made a decision to move to a new city for a woman giving up my home, my job/career and ultimately my pension and chance of retirement, friends, family, everything you name it.

    From the moment I made it I knew it was wrong but could not change it and go back. And right from the moment my life literally went downhill. The relationship struggled right from the outset as I realized her heart wasn’t in it (she said shortly after moving there “I didn’t tell you to come here”). I couldn’t find work and when I finally did I had overestimated my ability and was in way over my head.  And by giving up everything at once I lost my identity, grounding, stabiliy, structure, routine, all of the glue that held me together which only added to things making everything worse. I had no family or friends here.

    Over the next 8 years we had 2 kids (the only good thing) but I bounced from job to job while her career flourished. She was terrible with money and that dragged me down (I take responsibility for allowing that to happen). It was a vicious cycle worsenng literally daily. All I could think of was “that decision” and how homesick I was. But I couldn’t go back. I couldn’t rejoin the company I left or buy my house back.

    To my credit I did keep trying to move forward though while wearing the chains of regret. I went to my Dr who subscribed anti-depressant meds but this made everything a 100 times worse. I gained weight (50+ pounds), started drinking heavy, developed an aggressive personality, and started spending recklessly. A horrible cocktail. Everyhing came to a head in 2003 when I collapsed from it all. I ended up in a mental institution spending 6 weeks there. While there in a 72 hour period I was abandoned by my wife, employer and my own family.

    I have never felt so broken in my life and those scars remain to this day. Once discharged and off the horrible meds I had lost everything and I mean everything. Again, all I could think of was “that decision and if only I hadn’t”. Starting over now divorced and sharing week on week off custody of my kids I went back to school full time and eventually became certified in Microsoft. That took almost 2 years and once done I had to start all over again at the bottom in the work world. The IT industry is not my passion but pays the bills. I wanted to be a policeman or teacher but it didn’t work out that way. And i’ve learned over time imagine what I could’ve done with something i loved/had passion for?

    To shorten things since that time, the past 12 or so years, i’ve never really recovered. I’m still bouncing from job to job. I own my own business and now do IT Counselling, and absolutely loath it, though i’m good enough at it to keep getting hired. Most contracts end or stop due to budget constraints. It’s an awful industry. In the past 5 years I’ve had 6 different contracts and that has taken a huge toll on me. The constant starting over.

    Also, during this time I entered into a relationship that lasted 5 years, and it was the happiest I had ever been in my  entire lie. However, 4 years ago it ended very badly which was devestating. Since then i’m just drifting thru life, not being wise with money, beating myself up over everything and the regret of  “that decision” has returned worse than ever. I keep busy volunteering in the community and I’m very good with people with special needs. That’s the route I should have chosen but at my age that’s not possible as a career anymore. My relationship with my kids (now 23 and 21) is good they know somethings not right with me. Another good thing, I have been a great Dad.

    So I’m living in the past, hating today and fearing the future. In the past year there has been numerous triggers including  changing jobs 3 times, again just the same shitty contracts and the recent change back in Dec has plunged me into an awful funk. I feel powerless and at my age it’s too late. I blew it. I wrecked my life. I’ve overcome so much, abusive childhood (physical, sexual, conditional love), death of a child, which I think factored into “that decison” and i’m exhausted by all the energy spent tring to recover. Honestly, i’ve never felt as bad as I do now. It’s the lost career, pension. I don’t feel whole as a result. It’s always been this.

    I’m simplifing alot of stuff here for the sake of space so i’m hoping my story comes thru. I haven’t done a good job managing my life and I live in shame, fear, guilt, you name it as a result. I don’t know if I know how to change it and that it’s too late now. I blame myself fully though the environment I grew up in played a role. Ultimately, it was me that day that made that decison and I still shudder at it all these year later. And if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t have made it. Nothing feels worth it. I’m sorry that’s how I feel.

    #340358

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Pete:

    The Regret in your mind is that decision you made at 35, to leave behind a job and career you had, a home you owned, and a pension to be made, and move to a new city “for a woman”.

    I have a few questions, if I may:

    1. What kind of job/ career did you leave behind at 35; was is a career you liked very much?

    2. What was your state of mind and what was the nature of your relationship with the woman you moved for,  at 35?

    -how did “a death of a child” factor into that decision, was it a child you had with that woman before you moved to live with her?

    3. “From the moment I made (the decision to move at 35) I knew it was wrong but could not change it and go back”- why couldn’t you leave her and move back?

    * I will soon be away from the computer for about 12 hours.

    anita

     

    #340442

    Pete
    Participant

    1. What kind of job/ career did you leave behind at 35, was is it a career you liked very much?

    It was a career with a large Public Utility working in computers and it had been “forced” on me at 18 by my Father and an older Brother. They both worked there and I was/felt pressured to do the same. The older Brother got me in and “everyone – my Mother, Father, Brother” wanted me to take the same path. Another older Brother declined to follow suit and took his own path and in the ensuing years he was constantly criticized by my family that he didn’t . So I felt that pressure.

    I was the youngest of 3 brothers and was babied. I was different, heavily into sports/social and I wanted to be a policeman and/or teacher, and started volunteering social work type stuff at 13. At 19 went to my Father about trying the police entrance exam and he talked me out of it saying I was too small, wouldn’t like it, could die, what about your girlfriend? (this one is key) etc etc and I succumbed and said ok.

    2 years previously at age 17 I had gone to my Father asking to work at a campground for a summer and again he talked me out of it saying he would give me money. Both of these were so important to me and when it wasn’t heard that’s when I started de-valuing my own life. And in both cases it was about making a safe choice more to what my Dad wanted.

    Over time I’ve come to learn how defining those 2 moments were and the choices/decisions/path I chose from it.

    2. What was your state of mind and what was the nature of your relationship with the woman you moved for,  at 35?

    When I was 15 I had my first real girlfriend who lived 45 mins away in a different city. Met her one summer at a campground. A year later I was out of love with her and wanted to move on BUT growing up I had been sexually abused by a family member from the age of 8 to 11 and my Father had been beating me off and on from the age of 13 to 16. Also, there would be random acts of violence, usually late at night in my home between my Father and 2 older brothers or between the 2 older brothers. Always the same – fist fighting, yelling, screaming, breaking glass etc. So this girl and her family was safe. The girl actually felt like a sister to me instead of a girlfriend. Her Father a mentor to me. So instead of breaking up I stayed. To be safe, stay safe and make a safe life choice. And the times I wanted/tried to break up with her my Father and/or Mother would talk me out of it. From all this I was always questioning myself about who I was and what I wanted. I started to think I could never be more than this. Though deep down I knew different. But I was trying to please, be loved, stay safe. As it was over time this girls parents and my parents became best friends. Only adding to the pressure.

    We got married at 22, though the year previous I finally had the courage to break up with her but came back 3 months later – due to pressure from the families. I was miserable and my life played out that way. I was in a career I didn’t want, I was in a marriage I didn’t want so I went thru life angry at the world, and at me for not having courage, and acted out terribly. I was immature, entitled etc and wouldn’t allow myself to grow up. So of course this created bad habits along with having no self esteem or self respect along with people at work hating me for being such an a-hole. It became a vicious cycle in my head and fighting for respect from others and myself but behaving horribly.

    To add at the age of 20 while I am at this Company I am meeting lots of great girls, all normal stuff :-). And again I was ready to break up with my girlfriend but instead completely out of the blue I come home from work one day and my Dad says “I got Mary a job with the Company today”. I completely flipped out yelling and screaming at my Dad “why? why? why? I never asked you!!!.” He just went ahead and did it without asking. His reply was “I thought that’s what you wanted”. It’s what he wanted. So the chains grew even tighter. And now I am travelling to/from work EVERYDAY with her.

    As another aside, when I was 18 I went to buy my first car and asked my Dad to go with me. So we went to HIS dealer and bought the very first car I drove. Not what I wanted but what he wanted. See the pattern here?

    Death of a child

    so married life continued for the next 7 years both us miserable. Me acting/behaving horribly along with the complete mindfuck I was doing to myself. She got pregnant and miscarried. she wanted kids and I didn’t, at least not with her. I simply didn’t love her. A year after miscarrying she got pregnant again and the day she told me was the day I wanted to end the marriage. At the time I was having an emotional but not physical affair with someone at work so I finally had the courage (I thought) but I said nothing as she announced she was pregnant again. When the baby was born it was a disaster, my son came out with a million things wrong with him, and had gone undetected in the ultra sounds. He lived for a month then passed. The guilt I felt from all of this was beyond massive.

    The one good thing out of that was I realized how strong and resilient I really was. I handled my son’s death completely on my own. Looked after all the arrangements and even looked after her. My family still treated me like a baby and after I went to my Mom one day and said “I was having a hard time with it” and she said “It’s better he’s dead”. Nothing more. I went to my Brother at work with the same and he said “We all have problems” and turned away. As an aside we borrowed money from my mom to pay for the funeral and a couple of weeks later called me up out of the blue demanding her money back. I’m sorry but i’m not making this stuff up.

    So over the next year everything fell apart. I had no support system for me and we struggled too. Because I was not well liked at work I had no support there either. We finally divorced which was for the best.

    3. “From the moment I made (the decision to move at 35) I knew it was wrong but could not change it and go back”- why couldn’t you leave her and move back?

    The next few years were a struggle and bounced thru 3-4 different relationships and finally to get away from all the noise I took a job transfer with my company to a different city 5 hours away. It helped more than I realized.

    But 2 years later though the company downsized and I was forced to return. I was very upset about that. While on the transfer in the office i met a woman who was a carbon copy of my 1st wife.

    I returned back to my original city but felt the weight of my past there. I had purchased a really nice home though and the positive was I was coming back on somewhat different terms with the hopes of putting the past behind me. I didn’t like the work and wasn’t good at it. But it had job security/pension. But I wasn’t happy and really it was the social (started making new friends) of the company that i liked.

    The woman and I stayed in touch and I had in the back of my mind this romantic Hollywood thing relationship. Boy meets girl in new city, leaves and returns for love.

    So 6 months later the company downsizes again offering buyouts to leave. I had been travelling on weekends to see this woman still. One foot in the door of separate lives in different cities. Never a good thing at anytime.

    So we talked about moving and she wouldn’t come to my city and in a moment of complete total stupidity and impulsiveness I said I would take the buyout and move there.

    A key point here – while still married and still travelling to work together daily, I forced my wife to take a drastic salary cut and transfer within the company to a small office near our home so we wouldn’t have to commute daily together. Beyond selfish on my part and she made a difficult and terrible sacrifice. The guilt I felt from that now came into play. I was trying to recreate the past on every level and absolve myself of all the guilt and sacrificing my life.

    So I took the buyout and it was as such that once you accepted it you couldn’t undo it. And that’s where from the moment I made it I knew it was wrong. Deep down I was making the wrong decision. I had made this decision for the wrong reason. For someone else and not me. Yes, I wanted to leave the company but by doing it for someone else I lost all my power. I was running away. Things went downhill rapidly as this new woman, we married a few months later, heart wasn’t in it. Plus I had given/thrown away my entire life. I think at the end of the day we both had kids for our own agendas. Me to fix the past and her based on her biological clock and parents hopes to have grandkids.

    From all this I became a great Dad and proof was my daughter telling me 1st when she got her 1st period at age 13. But all my bad habits got exposed along with the fact I wasn’t good at IT and it wasn’t my passion so I struggled with holding jobs. and here I am years later living with regret. I am a completely different and better person today. I am well respected in the community here winning awards for my volunteer work over the years. I have this affinity for people with special needs and have high empathy due to all my struggles but what’s really bothering me is my lost career/pension. My future and what will come of me? I have paid a price/losses and there are moments especially recently when it all becomes too much in my head.

    So the regret starts with “if I hadn’t left”..

    #340474

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Pete:

    The Regret: “25 years ago, I made a decision to move to a new city for a woman giving up my home, my job/ career and ultimately my pension and chance of retirement, friends, family, everything you name it”.

    Let’s name it, let’s name what you gave up:

    1. the job you left behind: it was a job that you took because you felt pressured to take it, pressured by your father, your older brother, and your mother. You “didn’t like the work and wasn’t good at it. But it had job security/ pension”. Your heart was not in that job, but in “social work type stuff”, becoming a policeman and/ or a teacher.

    2. the family you left behind:

    -your father babied you on one hand and beat you up (with) the other hand, exposed you to the violence between himself and your older brothers and between the brothers (“fist fighting, yelling, screaming, breaking glass”), didn’t notice or protect you from the family member who sexually abused you for three years, talked you out of doing what you wanted to do (working in a summer campground with kids at 17 , and going for the police entrance exam at 19), and into what he wanted you to do (work in a job you didn’t want, and have a girlfriend you didn’t want). When he got your girlfriend/ first wife a job in the same company where you worked, which gave you no break from the woman you didn’t want a girlfriend or wife, he said: “I thought that’s what you wanted”- reads to me that what you wanted was never his concern.

    -your mother babied you as well, but didn’t protect you from your father beating you up, neither did she protect her other sons from being beaten by your father, and from beating each other; neither did she notice or protect you from the family member who sexually abuse you. Along side with your father, she pressured you to take a job you didn’t want, and she talked you out of breaking up with a girlfriend you didn’t want (because the girlfriend was her best friend’s daughter). When you had a baby with this woman turned wife, and the baby died, your mother said: “it’s better he’s dead”. She loaned you money for the funeral of the baby, but two weeks later, she called you “out of the blue demanding her money back”.

    3. the friends you left behind: you had “no support system”, and you were “not well liked at work”.

    4. job security/ pension- yes, you lost these things on paper, meaning, staying in your original city, if you managed to remain physically healthy, and if you managed to heal emotionally from years of mistreatment and blatant inconsideration, and if you managed to live a life that made sense to you, then you would have enjoyed the job security and pension.

    5. a really nice home – one that you  purchased and lived in unhappily.

    In summary of what you gave up: the security of a job you didn’t like,  a family who mistreated you and kept you in chains (“the chains grew even tighter”), a purchased house that didn’t make you happy and a pension you were to receive decades later.

    – Still younger than 35, before The Regret, and after your divorce from your first wife, you took a job transfer with your company “to a different city 5 hours away. It helped more than I realized”. Two years later, the company downsized and you “were forced to return” to your original city where your parents lived. Before the move back, you met a woman in the new city.

    Back in original city, “I felt the weight of my past there.. with the hopes of putting the past behind me”- you needed to be far away from your original city/original home, but you returned to it and hoped to  put the past behind you (while living with the past close to  you).

    Six months after you moved back to your original city, having kept in touch with the woman, you “had in the back of my mind.. Boy meets girl in a new city, leaves and returns for love”-

    – I think that you didn’t want to live in your original city where you were mistreated for years, where you felt trapped, in chains, where the past was thick in the air, so you longed to.. get away.

    “Deep down I was making the wrong decision”- I think you made the right decision to move far away from your original city, far away from your parents, far away from a life that didn’t make sense. The wrong decision was to move in with yet another woman you didn’t want.

    “I had given/ thrown away my entire life”-

    -it was not a good life that you gave up or thrown away. It only looks like it to you as you look back 25 years later. Certain things in your life now makes you look at your life before 35 in a positive light that didn’t exist then: back then you were young, now you are older; back then you had a stable job, now you have contracts that end before their time; back then you lived in a really nice house, now you live in an apartment perhaps.. but back then life was not good. You left that life because you wanted to get away from it.

    Please post again with your thoughts and we can continue this conversation.

    anita

    #340594

    Pete
    Participant

    Anita, thank you for your responses… I will continue the chat this weekend as I want to take a bit to and absorb your response… i’m finding all of this is really helping and providing clarity …

     

    Pete

    #340598

    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Pete. I am looking forward to resume our chat when you are ready.

    anita

    #341084

    Pete
    Participant

    Hello,

    so i’m going thru all of this (which by writing it down and your subsequent responses has allowed it to become more clear) and it’s very hard right now to accept. My life feels worse now than the awful one I left behind which is why i’m re-living everything. If my life had worked out better, not perfect just better and I felt good about me, a career, no job bouncing, a level of financial security, am I re-living any of this? I don’t think so. And with hindsight and reflection I have that sinking feeling i’ve wasted my life and it’s now too late.

    I alternate between anger at myself for NOT valuing my own life and of course now i’m paying for it. Anger/feeling victimized at the environment I grew up in, which led me down this path, and the realization my family did not respect me and it was mostly conditional love. That is really difficult to accept.

    I really wish I could move forward and escape all this but I don’t know if I know how and it seems this is all I really know. I feel lost still… just goes around in circles..feels like a wasted life…i don’t feel good about “me” …and I don’t think now I ever will.. it’s too late…

    #341154

    Pete
    Participant

    ahhh.. maybe ignore my recent post.. feeling “off” this morning…

    #341156

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Pete:

    Following my long post to you Feb 28, you wrote to me: “I want to take a bit to absorb your response.. I’m finding all of this is really helping and providing clarity”.

    Four days later, today, you posted and what you wrote has absolutely nothing about it that indicates any absorption of my reply  to you. It is as if I didn’t reply to you at all.

    This is not criticism of you. It is an observation that tells me that you are very invested in your Regret. It is in you and you are in it, and the two are one, “living in the past, hating today and fearing the future”.

    There is a heavy sadness and real pain involved in accepting a dysfunctional, wasteful past,  and the resulting compromised present and future. I have done that myself and I am about your age.

    I will be glad to show you how I did it, but it is up to you of course, if you are willing.

    anita

    #342458

    Pete
    Participant

    no… i actually read and absorbed your reply…it’s what i struggle with.. going around in circles… i can’t accept the decision i made even 25 yrs later… i try and live with it daily and i can’t do that either…

    #342492

    Peter
    Participant

    Hi Pete

    How to Let Go…. Their is no try only do. (when you do notice you have let go that’s what you will realize, that you just did it)

    You let go by allowing the experience to flow through you vice blocking it.  Feel what you need to feel, learn what you need to learn, apply why you learned as best you can and engage life in the present. Forgive yourself- do not dwell (notice when you are), Forgo getting even (with others and yourself). Forbear, be kind to your self.

    Ask yourself if your your getting some kind of payoff for hanging on? If you did let go what would that look like? Is there something scary about letting go.

    For example I hold onto the pain of my last breakup because it gives me the excuse to hide away and avoid putting myself out their again.  It keeps me safe… and miserable. Safety verses taking a chance  or Self comfort over Self Care.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  Peter.
    #342614

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Pete:

    “I am 60 and 25 years ago I made an impulsive decision that haunts me to this day.. giving up my home, my job/ career and ultimately my pension and chance of retirement”-

    Imagine people who made all the right choices, owning homes and having many millions of dollars, plus fame: Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams: what haunted them so badly that both preferred to hang themselves (in 2014 and 2018) over living one more day of wealth and fame?

    – what do you think can possibly haunt a rich and famous person so badly?

    anita

    #342638

    Pete
    Participant

    Anita,

    thanks for the response.. i’m giving it thought and letting it sink in.. will get back..

     

    #342642

    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Pete. Post again whenever you want to.

    anita

    #343122

    Pete
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    i’m sorry I haven’t responded because I am stuck and can’t find the words….

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