Yesterday I ran into 2 of my ex-boyfriends. One online and one in real life.
The first one was via an email alert that said dude wanted to connect with me online for the third-ish time. And I was like, “Nawww dude. Nuh uhhhh. S t o p.”
See, this ex isn’t someone I want to connect with. Not necessarily because he cheated on me and treated me like garbage. But because for years, I took ownership of the way he treated me.
I’m talking, I thought up until a few years ago, that it was my fault he was so awful to me.
The destructive narrative went like this:
I shouldn’t have been so crazy. So uncool. He might not have dumped me and cheated on me if I’d behaved differently.
Time and self-love have taught me that you will indeed go crazy if the person you love ghosts you. Like if he flat-out disappears from your life one day, with no explanation, and then shows up again weeks later, trying to get back together with you.
You will go another shade of crazy if you have abandonment issues from childhood that are triggered throughout this lapse of time.
The extra layer of icing on your so-called crazy label? When he follows up the mind fuckery by dumping you after cheating on you with a woman who has the gall to have drinks at the bar you’re tending after you find out! 🤯
Yes – all of these situations make it all the more likely that you will indeed get emotional AF, and people may throw the crazy card on the field (did I just make a football reference? I think so? I don’t know FA about football 😂)
Somehow, I got it twisted in my heart and head about who needed to take ownership of HIS CHOICE to be awful.
I made it about me, directing the shame about his choices and how painful it was to experience onto myself.
And I carried that shame with me for years.
I made his issue my issue. And I tried to do what I was taught to do – be cool about how horrible he treated me.
I have a lot of experience with men behaving horribly and acting as though nothing happened. Like everyone and everything is fine, and anyone who doesn’t feel the same way is irrational.
With my experience with emotional and physical abuse in my pocket, I carried the trauma of bullying myself for expressing how much pain I was in as a result of the abuse I experienced.
I stifled my feelings about how my ex behaved, to the point that I even tried to be friends with him afterward to somehow save face, and disengage with the crazy label I was offered and took ownership of.
To be clear:
I owned feeling ashamed of the emotions that surfaced as a result of being traumatized by the person I loved.
I integrated it into my beliefs about myself.
When the person I loved abandoned me, both physical and mentally – when he abused me – I took responsibility for his decisions.
All that said, my ex is currently wanting to connect on social media.And I’m all, No thanks. ‘Cause I’m done with the enabling.
If I accept his invitation to connect, I’m enabling him. I’m saying yes, what you did is OK.
This grown man is never going to learn that what he did isn’t OK if I act like everything is fine.
And dude needs to learn and own up to his behaviour, because I wasn’t the only woman he treated like garbage.
He was nearing 30 years old when I had my experience with him, so there is no Oh, he was a young kid that didn’t know any better to use as an excuse.
Even if he was and is clueless about what he did, he doesn’t get a pass for being cruel.
He is responsible for his choices.
An apology is required. And I’m not talking about a two worded “I’m sorry,” just so I can heal.
I accept what happened and how it affected me. I don’t need his words to make me all better. I am my own healer.
What I’m talking about apology wise is that for the betterment of society and the healing of everyone, particularly him, he needs to get clear, within himself, on what he did.
He needs to understand what he did and explain in detail what he is sorry for.
So he can learn and grow from what he did, and realize it’s not OK to emotionally abuse someone. In hopes that he will go out into the world moving forward and be a better human being.
All I can do on my end is focus on healing.
Part of that process requires taking stock of what I’ve done to cause harm to others and myself in the depths of my own inner tumultuous landscape.
I cannot and will not pretend I haven’t done some shitty stuff.
But Lord knows that the answer to How do I forgive myself for what I’ve done and learn from this? isn’t creeping on people’s profiles and liking their pictures, or trying to connect with people I have hurt without a conversation.
And two-feet-on-the-ground reality check: why is an ex contacting me, a married woman, anyways? What are your intentions, dude?
Unless it’s to have a conversation about what happened, in the name of healing and emotional growth, there’s nothing pure going on.
If it’s anything like the dude’s who want to connect so they can poke me on FB at 2 am, my guess is there’s some dysfunction you want to hand-deliver me.
I DON’T WANT YOUR PACKAGE OR YOUR ATTENTION.
High school is where the other ex originated from. This guy is known for serially cheating on his partners. He learned to have no respect for women and run his life according to his penis. He learned to lie and cheat and minimize and manipulate. And I’m not going to enable him by pretending like we are old chums when he sees me in the grocery store anymore.
He never took ownership of his terrible behaviour. And without him taking ownership by exhibiting some form of understanding of what he did and how it harmed others, my door is sealed shut.
Dude hasn’t earned the right to have access to me.
He must understand that I’m not into being his friend by now because when he saw me yesterday he left me alone. A swift change from last year when he eagerly came up to me with the insecure cockiness of his 16-year-old self.
Or the years past, when he kept trying to message me, and I inherently knew it was an attempt to have sex with me, even though he was married to the same woman he cheated on me with in high school.
Straight up: dude’s don’t just randomly message their married exes. They wanna have sex with them. At least that’s been my experience so please don’t come at me for speaking my truth.
With all that heat in me and a commitment to protecting myself from people who haven’t earned the right to be in my life, I saw my ex walk out of the grocery store yesterday and the strangest thing happened.
I felt a tidal wave of empathy for him. I felt overwhelmed with emotion and almost started crying right in the store.
I pictured him as a little boy who was taught to be shitty to women – who was taught that cheating, shaming, minimizing and trying to manipulate his way into a married woman’s life so he can possibly fuck her is OK.
To demoralize the trust in a relationship, and lie, cheat and steal his way into feeling a sense of power and belonging in this hyper misogynistic world – that is his idea of normalcy.
All I could think was how devastatingly sad he must feel inside, to feel compelled to act in such a soulfully wounding way.
So I let myself feel that for a minute, and the shock of the significant inner shift from disgust to compassion.
And when it was over I silently said to myself, “Thank you.”
Why thank you? Because I am so damn grateful for the reprieve from all the years of loathing him and all the men like him.
I have been incapable of picturing the little boys who learned to normalize shittiness up until now. And the sadness of empathy felt like freedom.
It was fresh air bursting into my chest cavity, cracking open my heart so wide that the pain of the betrayals, the shame, and the devastating humiliations and abandonments could begin to detach from my being.
I know the little kid in both my exes must be so scared and confused and hurting, in order to not comprehend that what you did warrants ownership, not friendship requests.
You can’t be an asshole and be OK. Inside, your spirit is being starved.
Every single time you go out into the world with the intention to serve solely yourself, your ego, and/or your dick, you harm others.
That is sadness incarnate.
And I know sadness.
I know how it feels to feel empty inside and try to fill yourself up with shitty behaviours because you don’t know how to survive the emptiness.
I know the fear and desperation very well. And I might not have a dick, but I know what it is to learn how to be shitty out of survival.
I also know what it is to unlearn it.
I know how to own my pain and break the cycle of displacing it.
I know how to call out the bullshit I was taught.
And I know how to call out the men I used to love.
Because I’ve done the work. And it’s time for them to do the work, too.