I think about my ex every day

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Hi Meredith,

How long does grieving last? Am I still holding on to something that I'm afraid to let go of? Am I crazy, normal, or somewhere in between? I was married to my second wife in 2017; in 2018 she discovered in traumatic fashion I had been cheating on her and and immediately wanted a divorce. This was days before our first anniversary. I really believed that she was THE ONE, and I was prepared to go to the grave with my secrets and my shame. Maybe I even thought she could save me. I was devastated by the destruction my actions created; I went away to rehab, spent countless hours in therapy and in men's groups, and have done a lot of inner work on myself.

Today I'm in a healthy and honest relationship; I feel happy, emotionally present, I'm intimate and vulnerable, and I'm sexually satisfied. Closing in on three years later, and I still have random thoughts about my ex-wife just about every day; I don't sexually fantasize about her, I don't stalk her on social media, I don't initiate any contact with her. She's just kinda there, like a ghost that won't go away. What else do I need to do to move on? Thanks.

– Grief

I think ... you don't move on.

Sometimes we're supposed to get rid of our ghosts, but there are a few spirits – people from our past – who are meant to stick around. They're reminders, maybe badges of our shame, but also of what we've overcome and how we've changed for the better.

You married your ex and hoped for forever, and then you hurt her in a spectacular fashion. The memories won't magically float away. It's also possible that a healthy, intentional relationship with a new parter reminds you of what you couldn’t give your ex.

You're not googling this woman all night or seeking closure. You're thinking about her sometimes, because she is a symbol of what was. If you accept that, and give a polite nod to the thoughts as they pass through your brain, I think they'll be less upsetting. Maybe they'll even become less present.

Also, 2018 wasn't that long ago. You've had a busy few years. If you brain wants to wander to recent history, let it. Personal growth doesn't come with a delete button (nor should it).

– Meredith

Readers? Is it healthy to be thinking about this ex every day?