I had a conversation with a good friend yesterday about my breakup that really shed some important light on things.
We had been talking about a concept she was learning in group therapy, about five major emotions that can impact you in childhood and have lasting effects throughout adulthood- fear, grief/sadness, anger, guilt/shame, and I forget the last one. I said to her that “guilt/shame” definitely played a huge role in my childhood and it’s something I still struggle with a lot today. I was told constantly, both verbally and non-verbally, while I was growing up that my needs and feelings didn’t matter, that I was the source of a lot of my family’s problems, and that I didn’t deserve/hadn’t earned really basic things like shoes for school, regular meals (there was never food at home, no one cooked or prepared food for me ever, I started fending for myself around age 7 or 8) or comfort when bad things happened. I don’t remember anyone ever comforting me when my uncle committed suicide, in fact, my mom had actually said something like “everyone around you just dies, huh?” Fuck. Talk about salt on an already festering wound.
Anyway. As I had been talking about my ex a little and my feelings around the way he’d treated me, I realized that I’d seen this very childish, entitled, spoiled side of him. He grew up very wealthy and wanted for nothing, he’s never had a job at age 25, he’s travelled all over the world on his mom’s dime, had a new car every few years, etc etc. His mom, although she’s a very nice lady and I’d never speak ill of her, rescued and enabled the hell out of him. He had said to me that a lot of his struggles in life came from just feeling like it wasn’t worth the hard work to go after what he wanted because so much had been handed to him. I remember him being extremely uncomfortable and perplexed when I’d tell him stories about staying with my mom as a little kid and there being no food, electricity, or a clean place to sleep.
So, back to my friend- as I was talking about this, she interrupted me and said “Natface, do you see what I see here? You talk about feeling entitled to nothing, not ever feeling like you’re worth it, waiting for the roof to cave in constantly, and being told you had to work to earn basic things that every person needs that should have been provided to you. (Ex) is still a spoiled young kid in a lot of ways and feels entitled to EVERYTHING. Do you see how incredibly toxic that is? You’re the martyr/empath, and he’s the taker. You would have kept bleeding yourself dry thinking that you didn’t deserve love or basic support and he would have kept taking without being expected to give anything and would have kept on making you feel guilty for asking for what you need, because that’s all he’s known. Y’all’s issues are like napalm when you combine them.”
One thing I feel like I have concealed or tried to stay in denial about was the fact that he started treating me poorly like, 5 or 6 weeks ago. The way he reacted when I got sick really hurt me. He made almost no effort to check in on me for the first two weeks that we were back in town even though I was an emotional wreck and so, so sick. He’d cancel on me with no notice and no real excuse even though I made it clear that I really wanted to see him. He made excuses for his behavior and I accepted them, and added my own, so I could justify staying in it. I can own my part.
I went to therapy yesterday too, and we talked on this some more. The counselor had me list every major traumatic experience I’d had that taught me that I didn’t deserve love or safety, and we wrote down the beliefs I internalized as a result. “I don’t deserve to be safe. I am a bad person. Things are usually my fault. I deserve to be mistreated/a victim.” etc. Then, we drew a line on the paper and wrote positive affirmations for me based on where I’m at and how far I have come as an adult, and all of the things I have accomplished. “I am resilient. I am a good person. People love me and value me. It’s not my fault. I take pride in taking care of myself.” We cut the side of the paper off that had all of the negative self talk on it and I ripped it up into pieces and then threw it into the garbage, and I have the positive affirmation side saved to put up on my wall.
I feel really good today. I have cleaned up my apartment some after it devolved into messiness post breakup, I am eating regularly again, my sleep schedule is getting back on track, and I’m exercising a few times a week. I feel like I am on the mend for real, and starting to be able to see this relationship for what it was so that I can let go.