Savvy Minds: Ask Dr. V ~ Sad, Lonely and Angry

Dear Dr V ~

Help! I’m stuck in a weird city with a broken heart and I don’t know what to do. I moved to LA a year ago with my then boyfriend. We just went through a horrible break up last month. I know it’s good for me to be out of the relationship, but I’m still feeling very sad, angry and lonely. L.A. is not helping. I feel like so many people here are just shallow and full of shit. I’m tired of seeing people in Bentley’s ignore the homeless, and I’m tired of feeling afraid of homeless people walking down the street. I’m sick of traffic. I’m sick of brown air. I want to leave, but the idea of moving back to the suburban wasteland in New Jersey I grew up in doesn’t sound good to me either. What should I do?


Dear Jodi,

I’m sorry to hear about your recent break-up. Those are never easy. However, unless you find yourself in a place of unbearable agony and need the comfort and familiarity of the place you grew up in, I urge you to give Los Angeles a chance on your own.

Without knowing the particulars of your relationship, I can surmise from your letter that in addition to feeling sad and lonely, you are angry. Which is of course normal and to be expected in the tumultuous time that follows the end of any relationship. I think you may in fact be sublimating some of your anger out onto L.A. and its inhabitants when the person actually provoking that anger may be your ex, or if I may be so bold, perhaps even you.

Without a doubt, Los Angeles, like any big city, is not without its fair share of problems and shortcomings. But, depending on one’s perception and attitude, Los Angeles, and even more so southern California, can also be one of the most beautiful and even magical places in the world.

Of course I realize that some folks are truly incompatible with certain places, and there’s no right or wrong to that, it’s just the way people are. However, it sounds to me as if you are projecting a great deal of negativity onto those you encounter throughout the day. Example: How do you know for a fact that the person driving the Bentley is ignoring the homeless? Sure, driving a car like that usually signals affluence, but since when does affluence in and of itself equal misanthropy? Perhaps the financially successful driver of that car is also a socially responsible, even highly empathetic person. Likewise, while I of course encourage and support people being street-smart and careful in how they conduct themselves in their lives, by in large most homeless people are not dangerous. (I’m not saying go running around a rough area after dark carrying a wad of cash while dressed in expensive clothes, but we also don’t have to perceive every other human being we encounter as some kind of villain).

What I’m driving at here is that the unresolved issues and feelings you are probably carrying around at the moment are coloring your perception of reality. I say that not so you should feel somehow at fault or compelled to struggle against these perceptions, but rather I hope to make you aware of them. As I’m sure you already know, time will pass, the wounds will heal and close, the anger, sadness, grief and loneliness will hopefully evaporate as you return to your emotional center.

You also say in your letter that while you want to get out of L.A., you don’t want to go back to where you grew up. This leads me to think you may be searching for what’s been referred to as a “geographical cure”; a fancy pants way of saying you’re looking to run away from your problems. Not that I blame you. Heartbreak’s a bitch, and who in their right mind would want to feel like that? As I’m sure you are also aware of, you will have to take your heart with you wherever you go, and with it will come all the pain and turmoil you’re suffering through now. The only way to get through this is to face the feelings on their terms. Acknowledge what you feel, and try to see what lessons the emotions and experiences yielded by this relationship have to teach you, so that in the best of all possible outcomes, you won’t need to repeat these same mistakes again in the future.

Consoling someone going through a breakup is much like trying to comfort a person who has recently lost a loved one: both are species of grief. There really is nothing more I can say that your friends haven’t told you already, particularly the hackneyed, but still very true “Everything happens for a reason.” I hope you can see past the overuse of this phrase so as to be able to acknowledge its merit. I do believe that everything that happens, both that which we perceive as “good” and “bad,” serves to move a greater, unknowable universal purpose forward. You have a part in the purpose. Perhaps the entire reason for your relationship with your ex was simply to get you to Los Angeles to begin the next exciting phase of your life, whatever that might be.

I suppose my suggestion to you in these circumstances is to simply do nothing, at least as far as relocation goes. Give yourself some time to redefine yourself in your new city. Let the feelings run their course and see if, hopefully after your injuries heal over, your vision of a pretty fantastic town remains colored by your experience with a less-than-fantastic guy.

With Love and Light,

Dr. V

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