You know the words some people use to describe their exes. We’ve all heard them: crazy, bipolar, robot, delusional — all joking aside, these are words that literally question their exes’ mental health and humanity. “Bitch was crazy,” they’d say, as we sit there and listen—possibly in the role of current girlfriend—mentally vowing in our heart of hearts that we would never do anything to warrant being described that way. Never!
Wrong. It can happen to anyone, and unfortunately, it is an indicator of a gap in one or both parties’ understanding of the situation.
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Picture this (and I’m actually gonna cheat and use my story):
Man and woman date for 5 years. They have broken up 4 times, and reunited 3. The man did the dumping only 1 time; the woman the other 3.
The man is convinced that they were happy, that nothing was wrong, and that all their problems were caused by external factors such as: lack of privacy due to a roommate; the roommate distracted and stole the woman; the woman was not giving 100%, and not completely focused on the relationship, and so it’s her fault; on and on it goes. To him, it wasn’t any of his fault at all. According to him, they would’ve been happy if none of these issues existed.
Whatever. He is free to feed himself that bull$#*!. It takes two to tango.
Here is what the woman’s experience was. She felt that she was being emotionally abused — being told that she would make a bad mother; that she was being embarrassing; that she was stupid for not remembering the dryer settings; that it was her fault the relationship was not going well; that she has anger issues; getting hints that she was still not good enough to marry, etc. She felt manipulated, trapped, guilted, suffocated — and she certainly felt like she couldn’t truly be herself around this man. And not to even begin mentioning the fundamental differences in values! It was Red Flag City.
After numerous arguments and tears, the woman finally gave up in frustration and broke up with the man for the fourth and final time. It was hopeless to reach him; he was still in complete denial that any of it was his fault and is immune to any change in perspective.
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If you’ve ever been with someone with whom there is a disconnect in understanding each other’s experiences in the relationship, adjectives like the ones mentioned above become much easier to use. When we use adjectives like that to describe our exes, we have emotionally distanced them from us. We tell ourselves this propaganda to deny their existence as complex people.
This is how we deal with the pain and deny responsibility of the issues that broke us up in the first place.
“Bitch was crazy”? Oh, please.
“Bitch was” in the middle of a 5-year communication breakdown with you while you buried your head in the Beach of Self-Denial.
“Bitch was” frustrated with your stubbornness and inability to compromise.
“Bitch was” trapped in guilt as you manipulated her and made her feel this little: . Yep, that little.
Hell, I’m guilty of it, too. I have thought him a robot, when I damn well know he isn’t. I now understand he is just a different creature than I — a different backbone, a different background. Who knows how long it will take him to be willing to work through himself, to take some responsibility, to detach bone from bone and reattach them in an unfamiliar way? How long before he closes that gap himself?
I’m okay not trying to bridge that gap anymore. Sometimes, it’s a battle you can’t (even shouldn’t!) join. You have to pull yourself out of it and protect yourself. You have to give the other person a chance and trust them to reach self-peace when they’re ready.
WordPress Discover Challenge: Mind the Gap