My Toxic Ex’s Mother Helped Me Move On From Him & I’ll Be Forever Grateful

When I met my boyfriend’s mother, I thought she was great. We got along well and always found ourselves chatting about fashion and poetry. She was wise and I didn’t realize just how much until I started to see her son was bad news. I wasn’t expecting her to be on my side or give me amazing advice I’ve never forgotten, but she did both. Here are 13 of her gems.

  1. “Crying gives you wrinkles.” Once in a while, my ex would take off and no one would know where he was. He was usually partying hard or selling his possessions for drugs, but anyway. One night, he disappeared and I phoned his mother. I was so worried about him, I was close to tears. She surprised me by telling me not to cry. “I don’t cry unnecessarily—crying gives you wrinkles” was one of her life mottos and it sounded harsh, but the more I realized what a toxic guy her son was, the more I realized she was right. I wasn’t going to waste my expensive mascara for him!
  2. “Don’t feel sorry for him.” She’d tell me not to feel sorry for the guy when yet another thing went wrong in his life because he was so irresponsible. I’d get conned into buying him groceries or helping him pay rent, but I was just enabling the crappy behavior! His mother told me straight that I had to stop feeling sorry for him because he was designing his own destruction.
  3. “You deserve more.” She loved her son dearly, but she told me that I deserved more from him – more commitment, more security, and more love. She made me realize how tired I was of trying to make him the amazing boyfriend he’d never be.
  4. “You can’t give if you’ve got nothing.” She told me how important it was to look after myself because if I just gave everything I had, I’d end up with nothing and that wasn’t a good thing because then I was no help to anybody.
  5. “What do you feel?” I confided in her about how I wasn’t sure if her son even liked me, sometimes he was so all over the place. She stared at me and asked, “What do you feel?” I’d been so worried about where he was at that I’d totally forgotten about what I wanted and how I felt! It was time to focus on myself for a change.
  6. “Walking away can be the greatest act of strength.” I told her that I was tempted to leave him because he had serious issues and he couldn’t give me what I needed, like support. She really wanted me to be with her son, but she never let that get in the way of what was right for me, and I was really grateful for that. She reminded me that even though it’s hard, sometimes letting go can be the best thing.
  7. “You made the right decision.” It should’ve been easy to leave that toxic guy, but it wasn’t. I’d think, “What if he gets better and someone else gets to enjoy his amazing self when he’s not on drugs or being a jerk?” His mom stayed in touch after our breakup and told me how he was always slipping back into his old habits. It pained her to see her son destroy himself, but it also helped me to learn this info about him. It pushed me to remain focused on the road in front of me so I wouldn’t look back.
  8. “Your heart’s not a playground.” I’ll never forget when I heard her say this about herself. Her heart was not a playground where people could have fun before moving on. I reminded myself of this when I moved on from her son. He’d played with my feelings and I wasn’t going to end up in that situation again. My heart was a temple and it had to be respected.
  9. “Don’t lose faith in love.” She never actually said those words to me but she lived them. This woman was phenomenal. She’d picked herself up from numerous heartbreaks and never lost faith in the chance of finding real love. And she did find it! She never ignored her needs, standards, or values, though. These were more important than having a relationship, but they helped her find her perfect match. 
  10. “It’s his loss!” She knew who I was and that I wasn’t a bad person, no matter what her son was saying about me when I left him. It was so great to have someone there who could remind me that I wasn’t to blame and he was the one at fault. It was also quite refreshing because parents tend to support their children even when they do bad things. But this woman was right: it was his loss. I was the one who had everything to gain by walking away.
  11. “You’ll never be alone.” After that relationship, I thought I’d never find someone else, someone who really loved me and was worthy of my love for them. My ex’s mom kept telling me that I wouldn’t be alone for long, but I thought she was just being nice. Still, it worked on a subconscious level because it pushed me to get back out there and try again, instead of feeling sorry for myself.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.