Dear Amy:

A few months ago my boyfriend of three years dumped me over the phone. It came out of nowhere. It was horrible. He used to tell me all the time that we would get married. Well, he was cheating on me the whole time and moved in with the other woman immediately.

I have tried to do all the responsible things to get over him - not contacting him at all, no e-mails, phone calls or planned "random" run-ins.

I blocked his name on my buddy list and social network Web site. I threw out anything that reminds me of him. I started dating again. A couple of these guys were pretty great. I was starting to forgive him and move on with my life.

About three months ago, he sent me a suicide e-mail, and my mother and I spent the morning in a panic calling the police only to find out he really didn't mean it and that it "was kind of a joke"! The whole experience was more difficult than the breakup. I tried to distract myself with other things, but at the moment I'm not doing so well.

A few weeks ago I was alone in my home and had a breakdown. I cried for two hours straight. Since then, I've been breaking my rules. I've been spending too much money on stuff I don't need. I check if he's online; I look at his Web page. At least once a day I practice telling him off.

I was really close to calling him the other day and screaming at him. I don't like this feeling! I'm afraid I'll do something crazy. Not hurt-myself crazy, but hurt my reputation.

I don't want him back; I just want him to feel the same pain I feel. How do I get out of this?

- J

Dear J:

You need to remember that if this guy succeeds in making you crazy, then he wins. The best revenge is to wipe him from your personal database and continue taking positive steps to reclaim your own life.

A friend could help you wipe the slate clean by being a witness to your data purge. Girlfriends excel at helping one another move on.

If you find that you continue to backslide, and if you engage in any more self-destructive thinking or actions, please get professional help. This is a tough bump in the road, but you should be able to successfully navigate it. You'll feel stronger and more in control of your own life when you do.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to "Ask Amy," Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.