It’s brutal when someone we once loved beyond words can no longer see us for who we are. Breakups are often agonizing for people on so many levels. There’s the loss and the grieving, even if you’re mourning something that didn’t exist. Sometimes we look back on a thing with rose-colored glasses, or we rewrite history, or we dwell on those times when things were good, and edit out the pain, neglect, abuse, betrayal, or disappointment. We cling to some idea we had, or still have, of how things could be, or might have been, if only. Sometimes our “if only’s” are insane. If only the other person were completely different at the core of their being, for example. We torture ourselves over the idea that this person stopped seeing us clearly, or has rewritten history in some way that reflects badly on us, as if their version holds weight, and maybe it does, or maybe it doesn’t. You know how you showed up. You know what you did or did not do, and hopefully, you know no one is perfect. If you’ve owned your end, if you’ve apologized for those times when you disappointed yourself, or the other party, if you know in your heart you did the best you could, at a certain point, you have to let that be enough. If their version doesn’t resemble any reality you recognize, why continue to feed it power by fighting it?
Sometimes my four-year-old comes to me and tells me her brother called her “poopy-pants”, or some other undesirable name, and I ask her if it’s true, “Are you a poopy-pants?” Most of the time she’ll start laughing, and I’ll say, “There you go. If it isn’t true, why let it upset you?” I know that’s easier than shrugging it off if someone you still have feelings for calls you a “manipulative b%tch”, as happened to one of our readers this weekend, but if a thing is not true, there’s no reason you have to receive the insult. Anyone who communicates by calling names is still in the sandbox, anyway.
It’s normal to want closure. One would hope that two people who once cared deeply for one another could honor the relationship that once existed by parting lovingly and respectfully, but sometimes things have eroded to such a degree, the ending is bitter and nasty and heartbreaking. People only have the tools they have; not everyone knows how to communicate, or to truly listen. So many people just want to be right, as if that’s going to be comforting at the end of it all. “Here lies someone who was right.”
Endings are hard for most people; change rarely comes easily. Sometimes what we want diverges so sharply from what someone else wants, there’s bound to be pain. Some people shut down, some people feel guilty and use anger as a defense mechanism. Sometimes people start other relationships thinking they’ll avoid the pain of the last ending, not understanding there is no avoiding it. It just waits, and bites them in the a$$ months later, when the heat of their new relationship dies down, and they realize they’re going to face challenges and work with any partner. Intimacy isn’t easy. Neither is loneliness. You kind of have to figure out which work you want to do.
Try not to spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror, or trying to convince anyone that you really are wonderful. People will remember who you are eventually. They’ll look back just like you do, and if you were good to them, believe me, they’ll see that at some point. That’s not your job, or your work. Your job is to show up as your best self as much of the time as you possibly can. That means you have to nurture yourself, and it’s hard to nurture yourself and torture yourself at the same time, as you might have noticed. Take yourself off the block. If you can look yourself in the eye and know you’re doing your best, keep going. If you blew things badly, stop and get some help so you can figure out what drove your choices, and make different ones the next time. That is all.
Sending you love,
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