These are four of the most powerful letters I’ve received about Shining Light on Relationship Cutoff. The names of have been changed and these have been published with permission.
The first is from a young man struggling painfully with the experience of cutoff. The second is from his mother; hers brought me to tears. The third is from a distant acquaintance. The fourth is from a reader who found the post on the Internet. I think they all show the power of relationship cutoff to deeply wound people (and there are many more letters here.)
I wanted to write to you to thank you for posting your Shining Light on Relationship Cutoff blog. My ex-girlfriend cut me off 2.5 years ago and I’m still suffering. You are honestly the first person I’ve found who I feel understands my pain, I’ve been looking for you for a long time.
It has been like a living nightmare. I loved and trusted my girlfriend dearly and thought she cared about me too. Our relationship was far from perfect but it was extremely passionate, she was my first love and I put everything that I am into it. She once signed out of a letter saying “I will love you forever Rob <redacted>”, but I feel like she’s gone on to betray me in ways I never imagined. When my girlfriend suddenly changed, it hit me like a moving train. One minute she was the person who had brought me unbelievable happiness and the next she was bringing me unbearable pain. I’ve suffered a lot with rumination. The feelings of confusion, isolation and anger are completely overwhelming.
Some of your experiences reminded me a lot of myself – like when I wrote her a heartfelt letter and she emailed me with things like “PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL” in block capitals. The world is an extremely scary place when the person you thought protected you, is now attacking you and you have no idea why. Also when she said “Thanks for making things 10 times harder for me”. That’s just to name a few examples.
As you can imagine I pleaded with her to not cut me off. When people are telling you you’re in the wrong, the confusion and isolation becomes even more intense. It’s hard not to just wonder what is wrong with me? And what did I miss regarding what’s right and wrong?
The abuse you got for your blog was hard for me to read because it reminds me of the way some people have made me feel.
To think of her nowadays is a really painful experience for me because it brings back so many painful memories. I do feel if mobile and the web didn’t exist our experiences could have been easier but that’s not the world we live in.
Anyway, I hope you get this email. Thanks again. It’s means a lot as you can imagine.
I’m Rob’s mum and I wish to say, on behalf of his dad and myself, that we are so glad that we’ve found your blog.
We have been helping Rob as much as possible since he broke up with Jess and sometimes we get stressed!
We didn’t really understand at first why he was unable to put it behind him, but he did start to explain his feelings and when I read your blog it just seemed to resemble Rob’s situation.
I don’t really know what else to say, without going on and on about it, but Rob is going to the spa with his dad in a couple of weeks. He is also sorting out a yoga class and we’re glad that you have given him inspiration to beat this.
So thank you for all your help, it really feels like we’ve got someone else on our side.
I usually skip through my dozens of daily emails pretty quickly. Somehow I read yours, started following through the links back to the original piece & forward again to ensuing writings, & now it’s 2 or 3 hours later, even though I had other plans for my evening. 🙂
First of all, thank you. I appreciated your willingness to write vulnerably & sensitively about a deeply personal, traumatizing experience. I suspect the writing was itself part of your healing process. To then have this writing set off a new round of being traumatized by public scorn & attacks … that sounds terrible. That must have been really hard, especially in as much as it came from a community you probably felt alliance with. I’m sorry that happened. I feel for you, brother.
Your original essay hit a deep chord for me. I had my own experience of abrupt, unexpected relationship cutoff that left me in a downward spiral for months afterward. In my case, our relationship had progressed to the point where she’d asked me to move in with her. The day I arrived with all my possessions, feeling like an eager puppydog excited about a new experience, the woman who had previously been so warm & loving to me suddenly became cold & uncommunicative. I wrote it off as temporary jitters about a new living arrangement & did my best to reassure her, “Don’t worry, it’s gonna be great!” By the time I had all my stuff unpacked & settled in a couple days later, she told me, “Sorry, I think I’ve made a terrible mistake. You need need to move out. As soon as possible.” She couldn’t explain why, just that her “feelings had changed.” Was it the end of our relationship? She couldn’t say. She just needed some distance from me before she think clearly about that stuff. So, even though I had just picked up my whole life & moved it to be with this woman, I picked up my whole life & moved it again two weeks later to be away from this woman so she could “sort out her feelings about our relationship.”
I was completely blindsided by all this, & couldn’t stop trying to make some sense out of it while the only person who could explain what was happening either wouldn’t or couldn’t. Once I’d moved out I continued to seek reconciliation or at least some explanation for the abrupt shift in her feelings toward me. The more I asked, the more she stonewalled until finally asking me to stop contacting her at all. My logical brain spent many sleepless nights trying to make sense out of a situation that made no sense. I spiraled into despair for months afterward. It was the worst period of my life, & eventually led to me shutting down the activist newspaper I was publishing at the time.
This all occurred in 1993, & I don’t think I’ve ever been quite the same since.
So again, thank you for taking the risk to broach a subject that has deep meaning for me. Sorry you took so much heat for it, but it sounds like you also got a lot of positive feedback from people who had experienced similar hardships.
Anyway, just felt moved to share all this with you. Take care & be well. I’ll look for your writings in the future.
I just read your article on Cutoff Culture from Nov 2013, which puts that at almost two years ago. I arrived at that piece by way of doing significant research into doing my own type of transformation on the concept of relationships, and was reading a blogger who deals in this subject matter. In one of his columns he referenced you and made some critical remarks, which led me to read not only your original piece but the follow up one on the Internet Rage you experienced, and some of your other work.
I just wanted to write with a note of support, which I will keep brief. Your writing strikes me as deeply thoughtful and coherent, and I am reasonably sure (as much as one can be with a stranger) that you didn’t deserve the harshness you received – not from “Emma” and not from the internet people who didn’t seem to read the serious and integrated context of what you wrote and jumped on the bandwagon of misinformed judgment of who you appear to be.
I know this was now awhile ago, and it is my hope that you are at greater peace with your traumatic life experiences, wherever they are sourced, than when you first wrote the article and of course the original events that precipitated it. Your self-healing and willingness to be honest and vulnerable in the face of this type of brainless aggression are admirable traits, and help pave a way through the emotional underbrush of isolation and shame that so many men have.
You are courageous and I admire that.
That’s all I have to say. No need to reply, but I just did want to reach out and let you know that I wish the best for you, and your articles have given me useful food for thought in my own path. It matters.
Namaste to you.