I have recently learnt the hard way about the only thing that is worse than feeling totally empty when you’re alone, and that is being in a “relationship” with someone who makes you feel completely unwanted and unloved.
I’ve heard about this dynamic before, but I’m not entirely sure that I truly believed it. Until now.
It’s a different kind of misery, that can’t really be compared to anything else.
Most heartbreaks I’ve ever endured have felt quick, almost instantaneous. But this kind of heartbreak, it drags out for days, weeks on end. Like it’s some kind of cruel joke, as if the other party inflicting this pain on you feels as though you’re evil and need to be punished.
Then in your lowest lows, when you’ve felt abandoned and rejected by someone you thought was meant to have romantic feelings for you, and you’re maybe a little bit desperate to feel any kind of connection to anyone or anything, they offer the tiniest tiniest amount of light in your darkness. So tiny, that it doesn’t actually resolve your fears or confusion, but present enough to make you wish that it would.
It’s these tiny, tiny little glimpses of hope that are the most dangerous aspect of this dynamic. You see, if they didn’t exist or if they were never offered, these “relationships” would have come to its conclusion a long time ago.
But because they exists, you allow yourself to keep stringing along.
You speak about it, you name the elephant in the room, in the hope that a discussion can make the elephant feel comfortable enough to make some kind of acknowledgement; whether it be affirmative or an apology. Any acknowledgment will do really, because that acknowledgement would likely have some form of outcome associated with it. And either outcome will offer some relief at some stage.
The worse kind of pain and hopelessness follows the conversations that lead to no acknowledgment, no explanation, no understanding and certainly does not bring you any closer to determining what kind of outcome may result.
It’s when the conversation only brings more of the painful elements; further distance, complete loss of connection, total abandonment and the sharpest sense of rejection.
You get to a stage in the escalation where you resign yourself to the only outcome that seems logical and realistic; the end of the “relationship”. Of course, you feel like you’re the one who has to perform the termination, often because the other party isn’t even emotionally available enough to enact a break up. But you’re entirely sure that this is what they wanted all along and that every centimetre further that they slither away is yet another hint that this is not for them and it most certainly is not for you.
You might make an endless attempts to rekindle the flame you vaguely recall seeing, or the potential you tricked yourself into believing was there.
You might spend hundreds of dollars, shower them in gifts, hand out compliments like dole cheques, drop subtle clues that you want more. You try patience, but patience is a phenomenon that needs feeding, it’s not an infinite resource. It needs fuel to maintain the momentum and when you’re all out of that, what’s left to feed it?!
You might make excuses, perhaps you’ve created a mental mixed tape of these and have them playing on repeat. Perhaps this helps you sleep easier on your lonely nights and it might even allow you to wake with more hope than what you went to sleep with.
Excuses are simply excuses. The difference between excuses and reasons are that reasons give someone insight and motivation to change. Excuses, have the opposite effect. For you, and for them.
As forementioned, this dynamic is something that needs to be experienced to be believed. Not once did I think that one person could feel such an enormous sense of loneliness when lying next to another, breathing human being.
Until I experienced this exact same sensation. Until I could be physically next to another person and feel completely stripped of all connection and interaction.
It’s crushing, soul destroying, when you think about it, when you truly examine it. Someone might be right next to you and of course this appears to be out of choice, but yet they also choose to continue increasing distance in this false encounter.
That’s crueller than any break up, at least during a break up your grieving process can start in that exact moment.
But in these dynamics, it starts and stops and starts again. As if your heart is attached to an ignition and someone else keeps turning the key. This very person, is the same person who allows you to believe that there’s some romantic connection and that an attachment is mutual.
But there comes a time where the only thing that’s finally clear is the hidden intention all along; these people don’t push you away to make you fight for them and for their love, they push you away, slowly, in the most subtle and confusing, but consistent ways possible.
Who in their right mind wants to maintain a connection to any person who is capable of actions such as that. Who CHOOSES to treat people like that.
Upon reflection, I realised I’ve done this at least once or twice. I’ve treated men like they were completely disposable. I have strung them along and offered them some false senses of hope for extra encouragement.
I’d push them out and bring them in as I needed. Extra close if I wanted someone to lick whatever wounds I sustained that week.
All the while, consciously aware at some level that I planned to trade them in, as if they were disposable, when a ‘new model’ came along.
Since that time, I’ve thankfully transformed into a different kind of partner. I use the term “thankfully” lightly, because although I no longer believe that I’m the type of partner who can hurt another so easily, I sure as hell can perpetuate any hurt that’s done to myself.
For the past 3 years I have allowed myself to believe that I am a generous, understanding and forgiving partner. I’ve allowed myself to believe that if I gave so much of myself and gave others chances generously then I must be a good person and I must be a good partner.
All the while, this image of myself that I adopted prevented me from truly admitting and acknowledging that as a partner, I am a push-over; an unrelenting, embarrassingly ‘forgiving’ push-over.
And the only real explanation that offers me any sense of clarity is that I do not believe that I am worthy of a relationship that has firm boundaries and fair expectations. And also, that I clearly haven’t given myself the time and opportunity to consider what it is I truly want and think I deserve in a relationship.
I’m not going to start that process right now, I’m tired. I’m spent and exhausted. I feel as though I only have a limited amount of internal resources left, only enough to either let myself heal from this recent knock, or to start that process I just recently described.
For now, I’m going to choose healing.
I’m starting to feel as though I’m becoming one of those female partners who is inherently distrustful and suspicious of men.
The type of woman who becomes sour and twisted, forever predicting doom in subsequent relationships, while never allowing any relationship (whether good or bad) to even have a chance to show its true colours.
I don’t want that for myself, or for anyone else around me.
For now, I need to allow myself to feel a sense of pride from the fact that I can give a relationship everything I have, even in the face of consistent adversity. But even more so for the fact that I was strong and self-respecting enough to end something that was once equally parts fulfilling and confusing.