A few months ago I broke my face.
Well, not my whole face, but a crucial part of my face, anyway.
One wrong turn on a motorbike in Thailand, and I ended up fracturing my nasal bone, leaving a healthy (though apparently fixable, and thus non-permanent) scar on the right side of my nose. I’m thankful that the accident was not much worse, but still–walking around with a for-the-moment-noticeable battle wound on my face has not been fun.
Everyone tells me the scar is really not that bad at all, and it’s only a big deal in my head, but still–it’s my face, you know? It’s difficult to not be self-conscious about it, as you can imagine.
I’m a proud person. I strive to be as self-sufficient as possible in every aspect of my life, from my emotional needs to my finances, even when it costs me. At times, being vulnerable, and asking the people around me for help, has been tough for me. I’ve talked to many people–particularly male sufferers of retroactive jealousy–who feel the same.
Even though I wrote and published a book in which I was emotionally-naked, in the past I’ve been accused–and not unfairly– of being slightly “guarded,” and this guardedness has occasionally resulted in the dissolution of friendships and other intimate relationships. But after the accident I knew that I needed some help. And I knew I had to be honest, and vulnerable with others, to get the support I needed.
From my doctor, to my parents, to my friends, to the guy next in line to me at the bank, lately I’ve been opening up to the people around me more than I have in the past. I’ve been real about how I feel, how the accident impacted me, and my reflection and soul-searching in its wake.
The result of all of this vulnerability?
I feel more supported than I have in a long time, my relationships with the people I care about are stronger, and I am more than confident about my ability to heal, both physically and psychologically. In short: I’m moving on from this traumatic experience with a little help from my friends.
So why am I sharing this with you?
Because I want to inspire you to seek out the help you need. I want to inspire you to be vulnerable, even if it’s embarrassing, or uncomfortable, or unusual for you to do so.
In her bestselling book Daring Greatly, Dr. Brene Brown (pictured at the top) writes:
Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The power that connection holds in our lives was confirmed when the main concern about connection emerged as the fear of disconnection; the fear that something we have done or failed to do, something about who we are or where we come from, has made us unlovable and unworthy of connection…
Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.
The short version: one of the main keys to happiness and peace of mind is openly engaging with others, and being vulnerable–even when it’s scary to do so.
It’s been a couple of years since I suffered from retroactive jealousy, but I still remember how isolated, helpless, and hopeless I used to feel. I remember talking to friends who just didn’t seem to “get it,” and although they offered their support, it didn’t make much difference because they couldn’t relate to my experience.
One of the main reasons I created the “Get Over Your Partner’s Past Fast” course and community was to provide a forum for RJ sufferers to come together, and share stories, tips, and support in a safe space. I noticed that most online forums on the topic of retroactive jealousy dissolve into unhelpful, accusatory nonsense, and I knew that I could create something different. So I did.
Over the past year, my course has attracted hundreds of students, many of whom have joined my private Facebook discussion group. Our little group has really showed me the power of being vulnerable, and how impactful being vulnerable can be as you work to overcome retroactive jealousy.
Here are some comments from group members on how being vulnerable, and having a supportive community has helped as they overcome RJ:
Brian from the US writes:
The course has completely changed the way I view my retroactive jealousy. In fact, before the course, I had no clue there was even a title for it, nor did I know so many people have suffered from the same thing.
The support group has also had a huge impact on my dealings with RJ. Being able to interact with people who know EXACTLY what you’re going through is an amazing feeling and so helpful in my progress. I’ve also found great relief and self growth in being able to help others as well.
I wish I had found this sooner. I thought I was just crazy or immature before finding this course. I don’t wish I could change the past, however, because it has led me to the mindframe I’m in today.
Jane from the UK adds:
I never met anyone who understands retroactive jealousy like the people in this group. Just feeling part of this community and sharing triumphs and setbacks has been essential. I also wish I had found this course and group sooner– spent years in a bit of a rut without it!
Maureen from the US also commented:
It’s important to have a place where you can feel safe talking about things that maybe no one else talks about or can relate to. It’s a relief to read something that’s been posted and be able to say, “Wow, it’s not just me! I feel like that, too.” In my case, the fact that several others in the group have mentioned “the movies that played in their heads.” No therapist I went to understood that at all.
And when you don’t have a group of people who can relate to your pain, the isolation is almost as painful as the problem. I think this is really something that no one can get over on their own. (Thank you, Zachary, for having the courage to create your course and start this group!)
I wish I’d known a lot sooner that I wasn’t the only person on the planet who was suffering and that I wasn’t going to have to feel like that the rest of my life. It is really a condition that robs all the joy from your life unless you are shown the way out.
Jennifer from the US added:
I’ve only been a member of the community here for a little while, but I’ve found it very encouraging so far to be able to talk to other people who understand.
It’s helped get rid of a source of contention in my relationship. My partner’s gotten frustrated with me in the past, because nothing he tells me helps (or he feels that way) and he’s practically begged me to find someone else to talk to about it. He’s never understood why I wouldn’t.
Honestly, I wouldn’t mention [my jealousy] to my parents or friends, because it’s cripplingly private and embarrassing to me. The couple of people I’ve mentioned it to either don’t understand it or say “he picked you, get over it!”. Not very helpful. In this group, though, I can finally talk to other people about it.
It’s also very helpful to hear from some people who comment on here who have been in the same place and have gotten past it. It gives me hope that I can too.
In conclusion: want to overcome retroactive jealousy ASAP? Don’t be afraid to ask others for help.
If you found this website, congratulations: you now have a name for your problem. Who knows how many sufferers of retroactive jealousy go through their entire lives without ever identifying their problem, and discovering how to solve it?
The next step is committing to solve it. And that means being ok with asking others for help.
Whether you seek help by talking to a counsellor, therapist, or friend, reading my guidebook or somebody else’s book, or chatting with people in a discussion group, don’t be afraid to seek out the support and guidance of people who want to help.
Regardless of whether you join my online community, I hope you take this opportunity to find the help you need. It’s much easier–and faster–to overcome retroactive jealousy when you take advantage of the knowledge of others who’ve been in your shoes.
It’s not always easy to be vulnerable and ask others for help, but if you do, your future self will thank-you for it, believe me.
P.S. A big thank-you to everyone who sent messages of support to me as my injury heals. Don’t worry–I’ll be up to my old tricks again in no time. 🙂
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To learn more about the power of vulnerability, don’t miss this classic TED talk from Dr. Brene Brown: