That's What She Said: How Do I Stop Holding on to a Toxic Ex?

"Hi Bruna, I was in a physically and emotional abusive relationship for 3 years. He is an older man. Him and I loved together, bought dogs, traveled, and were engaged. During the relationship he had cheated on me with an older woman. He lived a double life for a couple of months.

The woman and I were basically fighting over him after we found he was cheating on us both...the irony. He chose me and a year later we break up because I couldn't get over what happened in the past. I contacted the other woman and I apologized to her.

We became friends for 2-3 months. 6 months later I find out she's going out with my ex. She posted pictures of themselves, the dog I bought him, and pics of his son. The story is longer and uglier but I have this obsession of looking at their Instagrams.

I found out 4 months later they move in together and last month he bought her a French bulldog. I feel awful. I've gone to domestic violence meetings, codependency meetings, and now started seeing a therapist. She now recommends me to start going to sex and love addiction meetings.

Bruna what advice could you give me to stop beating myself up looking at their stuff?"

Before I address this, I have to state this disclaimer (again) for everyone reading--I am not a licensed therapist. I am just a young woman. My advice can be taken with a grain of salt, but if you ask me for it, I'll give it to you.

First of all, I'm so sorry you had to go through this. The cheating, the abuse...and then--finding out that the man you loved for so long isn't even the man you knew. I am so sorry.

You're not crazy for holding on. You're not crazy for looking at their Instagrams. You're human. Does that mean what you're doing is OK? No. But we all do it.

I remember I went to visit my friend in San Francisco not too long ago, and I was dealing with a breakup. I kept looking at the guy's Instagram every minute as if something miraculous was going to come of it, and she was like, "Why are you doing that to yourself?" I couldn't answer. Why was I doing it? Every time I even thought about looking, I'd get that sickening knot in my stomach because I was afraid of what I would see.

"You're an emotional cutter," she told me. And as odd as that may sound, it made perfect sense.

I used to always believe ignorance is not bliss, but the older I get, the more I realize that in certain cases, it is. And this is one of them.

Why was I looking? I wanted to keep a part of that connection alive, I guess. I wanted to see him, see what he's up to, see what was going on. But for what? He was living a life without me in it. Forcing myself into the situation by constantly looking at his shit didn't change that, it only hurt me.

Think of it this way--you get the urge to look, so you do. You end up feeling like shit. What about the situation changes? Nothing. What happens to him? Nothing. He's still over there with her posting pictures of their fucking dogs.

The urge is strong. Trust me, I know. But you're stronger. It may take longer for the emotional detachment to align, but mentally, you can tell yourself to stop. Do what you need to do. Block. Delete. Call a friend when you begin to feel weak.

People may think it's just social media, but it's not. It's extremely powerful which makes it that much scarier. Before this, it was easier. You delete their number and that was it. Unless you have a chance encounter at the bar or store, they were out of sight, out of mind. Now, their every move is at your fingertips, so you really have to exercise your strong will.

And it's fucking hard.

You already made the hard decision (which was ultimately the best decision) by ending it. You knew you couldn't let go of the past, and this man was extremely toxic to your well-being. Nobody deserves to be verbally or physically abused. Nobody. Give yourself some credit for that.

Now the only other step is to completely cut the strings and let go. The only person stopping you from doing that is you. Stop getting in your own way of being happy. I know this isn't making you happy, and you deserve to be happy.

You can do it. I don't know you personally, but just judging from your story alone, you are one helluva strong woman and you love yourself enough to know that you deserve better, because you do.