Ex emailed me after 9 years, Help and advice?

posted 2 weeks ago in Relationships
Post # 16
Member
6674 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 1997

Agreed that if my Dh initiated (yes, OP, that’s what you did) contact with an ex and then broke down emotionally over it, I’d be OUT.  Your Dh is a very big man for indulging this really, really inappropriate behavior of yours. 

My Dh isn’t as “exciting” as my ex, but that’s because the excitement was all about insecurity and wondering if he was faithful or if the relationship would last. That’s not excitement; it’s anxiety. Don’t mistake that for love or for depth of feeling. 

You need to shake yourself by the shoulders and wake up.

Post # 17
Member
4619 posts
Honey bee

You’re hardly the first person to be contacted by an ex. It’s happened to me 2x, it’s hardly a big deal. But why it’s taking up so much space in your head is probably because you went right from one man to another with no time in between to grow up on your own. If you love your husband, just stop with this already and stop creating drama where none exists.

Post # 18
Member
374 posts
Helper bee

MrsTee :  

For goodness sake, after all the years I’ve been on/off following this forum, I am shocked that everyone is treating this as a “drama” problem and not seeing the very straight forward psychology going on here.  You are having flashbacks.  Not surprising.  Did you know that not all “flashbacks” are visual or event focused?  People who have active, ongoing PTSD can have emotion flashbacks, where they feel what they felt in the past, also pain flashbacks where they feel the pain all over again of a wound that already healed when something reminds them of that time period.  It’s called being triggered, but the word has gotten really so badly overused recently that people forget it’s authentic psychological roots.  

You were in a traumatic relationship at a very young and vulnerable age.  You got out and shut the door on that relationship, essentially “locking away” the trauma.  Well, you just opened that vault and all that emotion/trauma from the past rushed out in your face.  Now it is coming at you in waves because the vault hasn’t really been locked up again.  That would take a while even if after that email exchange you never contacted him again.  You were unprepared to feel all that anxiety again that he instilled in you with his controlling behavior in the past.  And while you are older now and probably better prepared to handle high emotions, the part of your brain associated with him and memories of him is time-stamped at the maturity level you were at during that relationship.  So, for the most part, you are experiencing these old, buried emotions as if you were a teenager all over again.  This is not a sign that you have trouble with your current relationship or that you’re inventing drama because you are carrying a torch for your psychologically abusive ex.  It’s all a sign of unresolved trauma that has been unexpectedly reactivated.  You have some psychological damage to deal with from your past.  A few sessions with a therapist might be helpful to at least identify what’s happened and perhaps talking through it will help you to not be affliceted so badly by the demons of the past that found their way out of the vault when you re-initiated contact with your ex.

For what it’s worth, I went through something very similar when I initiated contact with my foster mother after years of no-contact after she went from “come here on your college breaks, you’re a part of the family now,” to “you have to find somewhere else to go (now) but it’s not because of anything you’ve done” five days before Chriistmas.  Kicking me out right before Christmas when she knew I didn’t have anywhere to go was traumatic to say the least.  Especially when she’d just been talking about getting photos of me to hang on her wall next to photos of her sons.  (I think that’s what pushed things over the edge, actually.  It was her sons who demanded I get out behind the scenes)  But the point is that even though I thought that I had dealt with that trauma, that involved forgiveness and gratitude that she took me in initially which she never owed me, so taking me in was generous; I did have very deep trauma from her doing a 180 with no warning and finding myself begging to stay with relatives who didn’t want to take anyone in over Christmas of all times.  When I contacted her, it was about something going on in my life that I thought would interest her and we exchanged a couple phone calls and emails.  Everything seemed fine.  But then I started having nightmares, bouts of crying and severe rounds of depression and anxiety.  This went on over the course of a couple months before I even connected it to the renewed contact with her because I thought I had resolved my issues from the past.  And it took nearly a year to settle down and drop off again. Trauma is a strange, pernicious demon of many faces.  Once I figued it all out, I made the decision to stop communicating with her.  She sent a Christmas card that I didn’t respond to.  I couldn’t explain to her that communicating with her was activating my PTSD and rendering me practically non-functional.  I didn’t want to blame her like that.  She never intended to traumatize me, she just unintentionally did.  I think she should have known that tossing me out as suddenly as she did was cruel and traumatizing but, whatever.  In any case, you have similarly re-opened the wounds of your past by re-initiating contact with your ex.  The emotional roller coaster, which may include the entire range of emotions you felt while you were with him, including the addiction to him (renewed missing him even though you know he’s awful). To get this to stop, cut contact entirely with him and get some support to deal with this trauma.  Meanwhile, try to explain to your husband that you’re experiencing trauma symptoms from your past and offer a simple apology for contacting the ex.  You had no ill intentions and you had no idea that it would stir up trauma you didn’t even know was hiding inside you.  Taking the step to talk to a therapist a bit can probably help you work through this faster than stumbling through it on your own and help you know what steps you can and should take to validate yoor relationship with your husband and clear up hurt feellings and misunderstandings there that he may be feeling over all of this.  This is really just like an addict who out of the blue struggles with mood swings and cravings for the drugs they used to take when something stirs up trauma of their past which brings back all the emotions associated with the addiction.  You were an addict (addicted to your abuser) and a victim in a traumatic and abusive relationship.  This is not an abnormal experience for someone with your history.  Identify this for what it is (trauma), get support to work through it, and focus on reassuring your husband of his importance in your present and future.  Rekindling the spark in your marriage is something you can work on as a separate issue, and would be good to work on, but it is not the cause of what is happening now.  Best wishes.  Again, I’m really disappointed in the dismissive and accusatory posts on this thread so far.  Hopefully you can find your way to really get well.

Post # 19
Member
652 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2005

gimmepretty :  That all sounds real nice except, her emailing him back was not brought on by PTSD.  The “what if’s” arent brought on by PTSD either.  While she did endure an emotionally abusive relationships more than a decade ago, and yes she likely has some emotional trauma, as an adult you have to take responsibility for your actions.

The email she received was over a year old. She was the one who intiated contact previously when a friend died and he sent an email that went unanswered for nearly a year. When she got the email she had several options available to her. 

1.) Not read the email and go on with your life

2.) Not read the email, block him 

3.) Read the email, respond, and delve back into relationship hell. 

Whats most telling is her last paragraph. 

“But I miss the good things…. he was a big chunk of my life and I missed him but Im scared because I dont want to get trapped.”

She misses him, couple that with her comments about the spark not being as strong in her current marriage and its cause for concern, especially taking a day off work to get her head straight.  Like other posters, if my husband intiated contact with a woman who treated him badly and then was crying over it, missing the “good things” I would be hacked off and we would be having a serious conversation about boundaries and why he felt the need to respond to someone who isnt part of our marriage. 

Post # 20
Member
342 posts
Helper bee

MrsTee : 

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
– Maya Angelou

Do not re-open communications with this guy. You participated in an extremely unhealthy relationship with him for the entirety of your teenage experience. Regardless of the good times, the bad times you described are enough to not look back and wonder what could have been. You have zero proof that he’s changed at all apart from him telling you so. I think the reason you’ve become so emotional is because you didn’t truly end things with him. It was your husband who guided you away from that relationship and right into another one. Rather than going through the motions of a break up–sadness, anger, numbness, tequila and so on–you started fresh with someone else.

The only response a manipulative ex deserves when they randomly reach out for whatever selfish reason is a nice big “F you!”

Post # 21
Member
374 posts
Helper bee

I maintain, as I’ve said on other threads, that contacting exes is a bad idea (in my opinion).  Not everyone feels that way.  In this case, having any communication with this abusive ex was an extremely bad idea for many reasons.  But I don’t think that OP had any idea going in the van of worms it would open to exchange an email.  I definitely believe that something like this could turn into emotional cheating.  I also believe that replying to the email from March may have been at least in part related to her past addiction to this relationship.  She went in like following the pide Piper.  But I don’t think she realized that or had intentions of rekindling a relationship.  Could it have led to that if email exchanges went further?  Yes!  Was she naive and foolish?  Yes!  But I believe she made a mistake that was indeed in part owing to unresolved trauma.  If my husband made this mistake and was honest with me about I wouldn’t hop up and throw a divorce at him.  I would, however, expect a promise to be kept of not contacting exes moving forward for any reason AND I would expect serious action on my spouse’s part to address the trauma with professional help to stop this  madness before it led to other actions that could hurt the marriage.  This emotional turmoil is not something she had any idea would happen.  Traumatic bonds are the hardest to break.  Condemning the initial mistake and treating like she’s already committed adultery is going too far, in my opinion.  Does she need to recognize that she was close to stepping into emotional cheating?  Yes, so she can draw a line here and not go any further with this.  But it sounds clear to me in her post that she realizes that she needs to break contact and not make that mistake again.  She’s asking why she’s so affected emotionally by this.  The answer is trauma.  The answer is not, ” you’re a horrible adulterer and you got what you deserved.”. It seems there is a lack of understanding about *traumatic bonds* and that this OP needs treatment for her trauma and guidance to repair the damage this has done to her marriage.  I’m not going to get on board with stoning her, which is what some of these posts sound like.  People have different opinions, though, and that’s everyone’s right.

Post # 22
Member
374 posts
Helper bee

MrsTee :  

OP, I hope you’re realizing that you made a mistake when you contacted and that by doing so you may have undermined trust in your marriage.  Even if cheating was not your intention, it can lead to cheating especially when, as you describe, you were previously addicted to this relationship and had trouble walking away from it even though you knew that guy was bad for you.  I hope you act on the advice to seek out counseling to help get your head and heart straight for your own sake and for the sake.  You also need to apologize to your husband for the mistake you made and for the impact it has had on him (you know your meltdown has affected him too).

I don’t recommend that you make any further excuses or justifications for the contact with the ex and your emotions following.  It will just backfire and do more damage.  It will certainly backfire on this thread.  I am concerned that this thread might get out of hand.  If responses aren’t focused on helping to correct this issue and move forward in a healthy way, then I don’t see how letting this continue on would be of any benefit to you or anyone.  Just like people here have been pretty irate at your choice to communicate with your ex, expect that people around you irl may also be irate to find out about this.  Now you know.  Your husband might also be more deeply upset than he’s letting on.  So….are you to prepared to face that, take responsibility and make repairs on that front?

You’ve already gotten a variety of responses.  I think you know how people around may feel and react.  I think you also know what to do (and what not to do, or no more contact with the ex and no more sobbing to your husband about this).  Get to to a therapist to work through it.  It’s painful for your husband to see and hear you mourning a past relationship, even though working through all of that stuff is a necessary part of healing from the past and the solution to properly put the past in the past and leave it there.

You should consider closing this thread soon, unless you enjoy being harshly criticized with no support to help you solve this problem.  We can help people learn from their mistakes, help them see when personal change in conduct is in order, but stoning people to death for the satisfaction of it is not good for anyone.  Close the thread sooner rather than later.

Post # 23
Member
33 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: May 2021

I agree that you may need a therapist to work through this.

The contact even 6 years ago about the friend should never have been made, you don’t have a responsibility to inform him of anything, he is a big boy and would find out on his own terms.

You are having anxiety and heightened emotions because you invited this man back into your life, and that’s exactly the pain and confusion he brought to your life before. Why would that change? You have no obligation to be his friend and considering he did treat you abusively, you should not be in any contact or anywhere near him, even if he has changed, good. He can go off and be a decent human being in his own corner of the world away from you. 

I’ll also add if that things were reversed and my Fiance did this to me, he wouldn’t be my Fiance anymore. It’s not just about inviting a toxic, abusive person back into your own life…you are inviting that person into the life of your family now too. That is absolutely not fair and kinda shitty. 

Post # 24
Member
3249 posts
Sugar bee

How can you be scared to get trapped again by him if you’re with your husband and not interested in leaving your husband? 

Why is that the first fear you recognize, and not the fear that you’re potentially ruining your marriage?

Post # 25
Member
555 posts
Busy bee

MrsTee :  For the sake of you & your marriage especially – forget about your abusive ex, delete the email, block him & lose all contact.

Post # 27
Member
652 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2005

heartoftourmaline :  Probably not, one of two things is happening. She is either getting her head on straight and taking our advice to block this person from her life,

OR

she is answering emails from this guy and putting her marriage in jeopardy. 

Post # 29
Member
18 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: November 2019

princessanon0125 :  I hope it’s the former :-/ First love can be so potent, I get why it’s dreamy to think back on it sometimes like “Man, that was passionate!” But it sounds like her current relationship is way better and that absolutely nothing good can come from getting back in touch with the ex. 

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