The Truth is… the truth is… the truth is… I am a turd.
Yep. I just realized this over the last couple of weeks. I have been doing some intense investigating of my motives, my actions, and I’ll be honest y’all, I don’t like what I see.
No, it’s not a self-loathing post. It’s nothing close. Because with the realization of these truths, have come some of my greatest freedoms. Literally.
About 2 weekends ago, I had a hard talk with my guy. Feeling neglected and isolated from him (and of course, experiencing the great fear that comes with the suffering inducing thoughts of losing what we have), I expressed those emotions with tears in my eyes. It went a little something like this:
Babe, I feel really distant from you. I miss you. I am not getting my emotional needs met in this relationship. feel like you don’t want to be around me. When you’re home, you’re on your phone, playing video games. Or I walk in to talk to you and you have your headphones in. I feel like you might have some resentment towards me.
He agreed, but it felt cold. He admitted to checking out around me and being less present and that he did have some resentments. He then suggested (coldly) that we should see a counselor. I agreed. He grimaced in what I thought was disgust, and stated, “I just feel like you won’t like what they have to say and therefore you won’t listen to them.” I immediately let out a righteous breath, an incredulous sigh (scoffing laughter as it was) as I thought, I won’t listen to what they have to say??? That’s hilarious – YOU won’t like what they have to say.
I then proceeded to tell him that, but of course, in a more gentle, “prettied up” way.
But then? He said he had to go to the hardware store.
Ummm…what? I just told you I missed you. I just told you I feel distant. You respond coldly, and then leave? I was furious. He clearly just didn’t get ANYTHING I had to say!
We proceeded not to speak or acknowledge each other for the next 2 days. TWO DAYS.
Those two days were torture. Highs and Lows. Ash against her emotions. Sometimes they would win and I would break down in heaping sobs. Sometimes I would win and would feel utter peace at whatever is to happen. I talked with Aly about the possibility of needing to move in with her. I talked to my mom about the same situation. I was going to at least have a place to lay my head if this was the end. It was exhausting – just severe highs and down-right excruciating lows.
During this time, I faced some pretty intense demons in myself. I asked some hard questions: Why did I need him to behave and act a certain way, in order to fulfill my needs? Why is it fair to put the fulfillment of your (i.e. my) needs on another person? And if you don’t seek your need fulfillment in others, what the hell do you do to get around the god-awful searing pain that feels like insignificance?
So, I wrestled and wrestled over those two days. Side note – I had this incredible moment of peace on the final night that made me see him, and me, in a totally different light. It was like I was a high observer of our scenario. I could see this little me, so pathetically trying to get connection. I could see him, holding so tightly onto his stories of resentment and anger. But this floating, hovering observer “me” was at total peace. I wanted to whisper to him, “She just wants to connect to you.” This observer knew all was okay. It was just our stories in our heads that were all discombobulated.
I’d like to say that it ended in a wonderful peace treaty with lovemaking and gentleness upon that experience. But it didn’t. Because that hovering “me” of peace quickly faded after like 5 minutes, and I could feel the rise of emotion and the stories of neglect and protection flood back over me. That’s when I walked out to him in a near rage, aaaand told him it was over. (This is where girls get coined with “She’s crazy.” – Yep, I was crazy. It was burn-it-all-down kind of moment.) He walked to the bedroom and I followed as we got into bed. With no reaction, no emotion from him, my emotions escalated further. I ran out of the room crying. He just lied in bed trying to go to sleep. I was completely ignored. Talk about feeling utterly worthless…
I then got angry. I got back up and went into the bedroom. I literally shook him violently begging, pleading him to say something, “Please acknowledge me as a human. Please, please, please have the decency to acknowledge me, validate that I am worthy of at LEAST a response! Please, Please, Please, Please, Please…” And he did. But it was like ice. It was completely cut off. Not a shred of grace. Not a shred of kindness. Just what felt like hatred.
We talked about ending it that night. We talked about what that will look like. I talked about the practicalities, you can buy me out of the house. You can transfer me back the title of my car… I was contemplating the end. We agreed counseling would be needed if he wanted to stay in this. I said I was fine with whatever. I then ushered up the courage to extend “love” first and told him I loved him. But he was silent. He went to sleep. Of course, I did this as one final begging to get what I needed, my ego’s final plea… but he didn’t play ball.
I ruminated most of that night on his coldness. I was shocked and in a way, terrified of him. I couldn’t believe someone could be so purely uncaring. And it hurt. I felt like he just committed the ultimate dealbreaker. I thought about how utterly evil someone had to be to just ignore this person they claim they love. It was a terrible “realization.” One that even now, as I think about it, gets my heart all twisted up in this mirage of hopelessness, if I follow those thoughts too long.
But as I said, over those past 2 days, I had been asking myself some deep questions. It was as if this pain was the very stain of pain that forced me (so long as I was willing to engage with it) to face my truth.
My truth was understanding that his actions didn’t mean anything for me. They weren’t doing anything to me. This was his way of dealing with pain, dealing with his resentments/anger, dealing with his disconnection. His actions had nothing to do with me. What was causing me so much pain were my own stories I concocted in my head about his actions. I created the deeper meanings behind them that fueled my emotions. I created the suffering in my heart. I was sick – needing attention, validation, importance – and asking him to take the medicine: You behave better for me so I can feel better! But I am the sick one. I needed to take the medicine.
And the medicine? Reality. What is. Accepting what is. Really accepting it – Not fighting against it with what I thought it “should” be. He’s acting this way. He’s not talking. Okay. This is what is happening… And the thought stopping there. It doesn’t mean anything at this point. Literally. Because without all the thoughts that follow, I am just observing this reality. Nothing’s happening. I am just there. In silence. With him. Without my story of all that it meant, it was just what it was.
When I faced that demon head on, I started to see that all this suffering, all this craziness I had been in, was my own doing. He didn’t do any of it. He was silent. He didn’t say or do anything. I realized that my thoughts had begun to build this mecca, brick upon brick, of egomaniacal thought giving way to egomaniacal thought that wasn’t based on any concrete truth.
Something about this opened me right the fuck up. The next morning, I woke up clear. I dropped the events of the previous night entirely. I could finally see that his actions were his. And they just were. He was free to perform the actions he wanted: Ignore me. Speak coldly to me… They had nothing to do with me. I was open to them. I was even welcoming to them. And somehow, strangely, I began to see him as “me.” I began to see him as almost a reflection of me. I could see that when he is cold, I understood the response of his to be cold, but in turn, I could actually be love to him. I want to be the warmth he may be unable to be in this moment. I knew coldness. And I could also be separate from what I reasoned his actions meant of me. I could do that because as I did it unto him, I was doing it unto me somehow.
All of this “reality love” quickly unraveled all the pain from the weekend. This dissolved all the frustration, feelings of neglect, anger, upset. And the dealbreaker-offense-of-dehumanizing-silence just seemed like a distant thought, almost laughable. Whatever jolted in my brain let me completely see and own my whole part in all of it. It let me see my madness. It let me see further back into the relationship too…and here’s where I didn’t quite like what I saw.
Seeing him in this new light of love, unattached from his actions to what I thought they meant for me, let me glimpse into the past 3 years in a flash of memories. I immediately could recognize how so much of our tribulations have been caused by ME, or my need to “see him become a better man” (because the story in my head was that he needed to change his behavior so that I could feel loved – I was asking him to take the medicine that I needed.) I could see how my complaints wore him down. I could see how the expressed pain of his behavior caused much heartache and pain in him as I would lament them. I could see just how much I have inflicted hurt on him without even realizing it. 3 years. 3 years of constant attempts, comments, encouragement and challenging him to “improve.” 3 years. It’s amazing we are still standing. He was tired. I fault him not.
My heart broke. I had this amazing new peace of presence when I was around him. I started to just love him. Despite his actions, despite his reactions, I just let him behave the way he knew to behave. I didn’t judge his actions as good or bad. I just saw them as they were. He became freer around me. We talked and it was me, this girl, just listening to him, this guy – with fresh ears, with no attachment to any possible stories about me in his words – I just listened. He started to become more gentle around me. More thoughtful. The strange thing was, I didn’t need it anymore. It was beautiful (because kindness and gentleness are always wonders to behold) and I was grateful, but I no longer needed him to be anything other than just what he was.
I told him later how sorry I was. I told him how I finally could see how hard I have been on him because I had built up this story in my head of what his actions meant. And that it was unfair to have required so much, to have reacted to my own stories only to then treat him poorly because of what I thought these stories meant. And how I know he must be so tired. Oh so tired.
Something about this confession made him cry. It broke his walls and I think it created a safe place for him. I know now that his behaviors, his actions, his responses and words – those are his. My words, my responses, my behaviors – those are mine. And I certainly would like those actions, the ones I get to put out into the world, to be of love, kindness, awareness. No matter what is dealt to me.
How often do we put the onus on someone else to validate, confirm or fulfill what we think we need from them? Should we demand others to behave in the manner that we think they “should” behave? No. They should behave exactly how they know to behave. Which is exactly how they are behaving. We can accept it. We may not stay around for it, but we can accept it.
The greatest gift we can give the world is to accept it, just as it is. And to return to it what we want it to be – what we are: Love.