I’ve given a lot of mixed messages to C over the last 81 days. Many of them have boiled down to the simple refrain of, “I love you, go away.”
That message has seeped out in a 100 subtle, and not so subtle ways.
For example, Day 49 was a particularly hard day fraught with emotional landmines for both of us. During the course of the day, what should have been an issue between two adults negotiating the end of a relationship became a group project involving at least six people with varying information, maturities, communication skills, motivations, and opinions.
From my perspective, it was an ambush of ill-informed people drawing conclusions about me and my motives. Their actions were once again motivated by contempt prior to investigation and a self-serving, condescending, and grandiose idea of chivalry that completely underestimates C.
Their perspectives perhaps vary.
My clumsy attempt to complete an assignment from my doctor resulted in a narrative defined by self-deputized crime fighters treating my efforts as narcissistic abuse, manipulation, and a dangerous control issues.
Why and how this happened is a disagreement between C and I…if we were debating. Which we aren’t.
The problem is my natural and human anger at being judged, ambushed and humiliated spilled out resulting in C being judged, ambushed and humiliated. I lashed out at her because of other people’s self-serving behavior hurting me, so like an emotional 12-year-old, I hurt her.
Instead of walking away, I dug my heels in and fought back against multiple mischaracterizations of my intent and ended up providing fodder to fuel the ghost stories and confirmation bias. As the poet, Tennyson wrote, “Often a man’s own angry pride is cap and bells for a fool.”
I played the fool. For the third time, I let my pain, insecurities, and humiliation be manipulated by a third party interloper.
It won’t happen again.
The result is an understandably hard situation becoming an unnecessarily ugly – and unnecessarily public – spectacle.
As a result, at the day ended I sent three mixed messages to C:
- Go away: I immediately and angrily wrote her and told her to never contact me again
- I love you: I wrote her a second email telling her the door is always open to her and I love her
- Pursue acceptance: I sent a group email pursuing understanding and inadvertently punished and humiliated her
Is it any wonder she is confused about who I am, what I need, and what I want? Not really.
As they are fond of saying in AA, “we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.” There has, in the wake of my infidelity discovery, been a great deal of toe stepping, resentments, and retaliation by both C and myself.
But again, individual perspectives may vary.
When I returned to my doctor’s office a few days later to tell her I completed the assignment we discussed the immaturity at which I occasionally respond to emotional pain. She is helping me see how my lifelong experiences with abandonment, worthiness, abuse, loneliness, and isolation motivate me to undermine my own success in the most intimate of relationships. To my credit thought, I am willing to own it, talk about it, and not hide behind ghost stories and other people.
On a shallow level, I believe C is ending the relationship because of my infidelity and secrets. However, at my core? At my core, I believe C is ending the relationship because I am not worthy of being loved.
That is an emotionally messed up way of interacting with the people that love you. It doesn’t have to be true to feel true and I feel everything.
I knew this thinking and feeling existed within me but I thought I had it managed. In reality, it managed me. Self-deception creates self-destruction.