Whenever a relationship ends there is plenty of blame to go around, mostly flung at us from the other, departing party. Obviously something is wrong with us if they leave (or allow us to leave.) If there was anything worth fighting for the relationship could withstand anything, right?
But alas. The world keeps on turnin.’ Sometimes, many times, that sun still rises even after the coffin slams shut on those relationships that once were so pivotal and nurturing and beneficial. We must pick up the pieces of our shattered expectations and figure out what lessons to take with us as we move on to the next season.
This can take a while, which leaves us plenty of time to meander through those five stages of grief as we mourn the loss. I’ve been stuck in “anger” for a while now, unwilling to forgive even though I know that’s the last piece of the puzzle where I can set former relationships to rest.
Therein lies the rub. I don’t want to set it to rest. I don’t want to let it go and admit to myself it really is gone. I guess in many ways it’s my only way to hold on to something that once meant so much to me, even as it sifts through my fingers just like tiny grains of sand.
In effort to rectify this sad situation, I will do what I’ve always done. Work it out in a blog where I take the biggest hits (because I need the loudest lessons.) This blog has always been a tool of self-reflection, its sole intent is to make me own up to my own behavior and my feelings so that I stop self-destructive habits. How can it work when I feel unable to say what I really need to say?
I’ve held off a long time on doing so because honestly I’m not out to hurt anyone or betray anyone, which in this situation just can’t be helped. I can’t say outright what’s going on to risk betraying those I long believed friends, but I can’t say nothing at all because that’s just not honest. In a blog where I’ve talked about death, rape, affairs and abuse, to stay silent now is a backward step. It just comes down to how I need to take care of me and I gotta come first. No matter how “passive aggressive” this seems I’m tired of changing ME and who I am to make life easier for everyone else, especially those who have made it plain they do not give a shit about me.
So Imma do what I feel I need to do. To move on I need to own up to my own mistakes, to take accountability for my own part to play in the scenario. Though I’ve thrown many a pity party over the subject I am no victim and I refuse to hold onto bitterness and anger by placing all the blame onto others.
Truth is, I made my own share of mistakes that had equal part in taking down this vulnerable house of cards… most importantly not admitting to myself just how vulnerable the whole shebang really was. I saw what I wanted to see, and I have only myself to blame for that.
Mistake #1: I didn’t give myself enough credit.
I can bitch and moan about how others didn’t value me or my contributions but the simple fact is I didn’t give them much reason to. By assuming they were at the cool kids’ table where I, by some weird default, didn’t belong, I gave them the right to look down on me as inferior. They didn’t decide it for themselves, they simply agreed with my assessment. I had every right to take my place at the front of the class, I didn’t need permission to do so. Waiting for such is my error alone.
Mistake #2: I gave my esteem to those who didn’t deserve it.
Riding shotgun to Mistake #1 is this idea that because people are cooler, smarter, more evolved than me they alone can determine when I’m cool enough, smart enough and evolved enough to stand in their company. Again this was up to me alone to decide, which left me waiting for permission that wasn’t theirs to give. This resulted in a bitter impasse. By giving away my esteem others could build me up higher than I was willing to build myself BUT… it also gave them the power to pull it out from under me when they decided to leave. If I continue to allow their dismissal of me to determine my own self-worth then the only one to blame is yours truly.
Mistake #3: I stopped trusting myself.
Even though I have sharp instincts and can read people like a book, I lost sight of that valuable self-defense mechanism because it meant I’d have to face these painful truths way sooner than I had ever dreamed possible… which was, well, ever. No one wants to face that the people they trust are not trustworthy or the feelings they believed real were nothing more than an illusion. Instead I fell right into that Girly Trap of making up excuses for everyone, when really it boils down to the fact some people are assholes and just simply don’t care. They’re going to do what they’re going to do and if it hurts anyone else, too bad so sad. I never wanted to believe I would fall prey to these types of people, I thought I could sniff them out fairly effectively, but again… we see what we want to see.
Mistake #4: I stopped loving for loving’s sake.
This is a pretty big one and another bigtime girly trap that erases that thin line between true affection and dangerous co-dependence. Where I thought I was doing things to be generous and kind what I really did was store up “loyalty points.” These are the things you do in hopes someone else will notice what you do and reward you for it with their loyalty. This is not to say I wouldn’t have done them expecting nothing, truth was I had a long pattern of doing a lot of things expecting nothing in return. But when the efforts became bigger and showier and I wasn’t recognized for the contribution, it hurt. When someone tells you, “Well, did I ever *ask* you to do those things?” it’s a really big kick in the pants. No, I was not asked. Yes, I took it all upon myself. So yes, the disappointment is really all my own. Because…
Mistake #5: I tried to make someone care who simply cannot.
Who of us hasn’t done THIS? And really, when has it ever worked? Even if you try to fill up the gaps with your own delusions eventually reality creeps in and there’s no avoiding the truth. Some people will never care no matter what you do. So the best thing is to stop doing anything at all. Otherwise you just keep perpetuating the same mistakes over and over again. It’s like Journey says… it’s time to leave the carousel.
In saying all this there are a few things I refuse to apologize for because I don’t consider them mistakes. This is me, take me or leave me… and if you’re going to be my friend – for real – then I come with certain “factory” warnings.
#1. I don’t apologize for feeling.
No one gets to police what I feel or how I care about other people. You may think you do, but you don’t. If I decide to care about someone and that means I go “all in” then I’m going “all in.” I don’t need your permission or approval. If you judge me on that, that’s your issue alone. I also get to feel sadness, anger, disappointment and any other feeling that comes from being lied to, kept in the dark or otherwise manipulated for your self-serving purposes. And if you’re acting like a selfish tool, I get to have an opinion on that too.
#2. I don’t apologize for getting involved.
I’m a woman of action. If I care about someone I don’t stay on the sidelines. That’s not my style. You can’t just come to me as a friend with a problem and expect me to do nothing. If I love you I want to help. I will do what needs to be done and I will try to fix what’s broken. That’s just what you do when you care about someone, and I refuse to consider this any kind of “betrayal.” My friendship doesn’t come with an on/off switch for your convenience. To get the whole benefit of being my friend you have to take the whole package. I’m not going to turn some things down to make you more comfortable while you use me.
#3. You don’t get to use me.
My expectations may be mine alone but they come from an unspoken contract that we BOTH have entered by showing equal interest in a social connection. You don’t get to change the fine print halfway through just because it makes you feel “uncomfortable” that I feel or do what you think I shouldn’t. Refer back to #1.
#4. Your limitations don’t define me.
This applies both to the duration of the “friendship” and any behavior afterwards. Think what you want to make your excuses why you couldn’t handle me as a friend, but we parted ways because of your limitations and insecurities, not mine. I never let you down or half-assed the relationship. That was always you. You wanted to be in the driver’s seat while staying half in and half out the car until it got to the point where you could safely bail. But put the blame on me and my “scary expectations” if it makes you feel better. All I really wanted was a tad bit of respect and loyalty which I EARNED. If you expect me to fall apart and go “crazzzzzzzzzzzzzy” you’re in for a long wait. I’m going to stay loyal, even beyond the bonds of friendship, because that’s a strength of MY character. Instead, I’ve chosen to be a lady about it and take the high road even though you won’t speak to me and have basically written me off like every other douchebag I’ve ever known. I may not matter to you but the relationship I thought we had still matters to me. And I refuse to let it go out this way.
And that means… #5: I will forgive you.
This is not because you deserve it or have earned it or, God forbid, asked for it. I do this because I’m so much stronger than you ever knew and so much better than you ever could see. My biggest mistake is that I never let you see that because I was too busy trying to bend over backwards to impress that imaginary guy I wanted you to be.
For that, I’m sorriest of all.