Learning The Hard WayAs I was reviewing my experience groups I realized I hadn't written a story for this one. Then I thought about deleting the group from my list.
Really, is this a group anyone wants to join? lol I do have a very personal story to share though. It's one I rarely tell anyone but it was so important to my life.
Several years ago I thought I was in love. I thought he loved me too. It was, at least on my part, intense, exciting, passionate ... etc., etc. It didn't take long to realize he didn't feel the same. I don't even think he liked me much. How we ended up together is a bizarre story in itself but really isn't important here.
When I got dumped, I was also told about the other women he was really attracted to, who he wanted to spend time with. Well, that will bruise anyone's ego for awhile. So I curled up in a ball and kept my pain to myself and didn't tell anyone what had really happened. Eventually, the doubts & the questions became too much for me to hold inside anymore so I went back to my therapist. It was the one safe place I could discuss it all honestly without judgment. It was also the best thing I ever did for myself.
Ok, here's the really pathetic part of the story. It's not easy to relate but it led to the greatest growth I've ever experienced in my adult life. I had this desperate need for acceptance and ... ok, love too. I'd never felt good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, anything enough. I had always kinda just taken whatever I got and accepted it was as good as I deserved. So I thought in order to have this guy, to keep him in my life, I simply had to become who he wanted me to be. And I really tried hard to do that. I know, it's embarrassing to admit.
He was very intelligent. He held advanced degrees in philosophy & theology. He loved to hear himself talk too ... lol. I am a good listener. I tried very hard to understand his points of view even though they were dramatically different than what I believed. But I didn't debate the subjects or challenge his beliefs. I simply agreed because I thought he must be right. And if I agreed, well then he'd love me, and .... on & on & on. So I was very meekly trying to change myself to fit this mold of who he wanted just to be loved & accepted. I was agreeing with things I had never believed or would have agreed to. He had some very radical beliefs. I was changing dramatically but I couldn't see it.
In hindsight, I don't even know what I ever found attractive about him. He was the exact opposite of anyone I even liked. He was angry, bitter, felt cheated by life and he felt completely justified by all his words & actions. He thought he knew all the answers and the rest of us were all sheep just waiting to be led to the slaughter. He had a very dark & disturbed soul. I couldn't have picked a person any more different than myself.
So in therapy I had time to discuss all this and understand what led me to this dark, angry person. Most importantly though, I realized how I'd thought so little of myself, I was willing to simply let his ideas & needs fill me and dictate who I was. That is scary. Really very scary. I had no idea I was a person who could fall into that trap. Once I figured it out though, I was able to let go of all of it. For the first time I was really able to focus on who I was, what I needed, my own goals & my own desires. I knew I would never again try to change who I was for anyone else.
Looking back, I can't exactly say I'm happy I had the experience but I am happy for all I gained after it. I became much more independent. I trust myself so much more. I always say exactly how I feel without caring if someone else thinks I'm silly or foolish. I accept my imperfections. I know I'll make mistakes and I try to learn and go on without beating myself up needlessly about it all. I'm always true to myself, who I am, what I believe and my ideals. I also know I'd be ok alone. Not like it's my first choice in life but .... I'll never again feel that need to recreate myself into someone who fits another person's mold. I don't need someone else to validate my existence or supplement my self-worth.
He moved away long ago. I have no idea what ever happened to him. I'm sure he continued to be bitter, angry and to hold onto his dark ideals. I suspect he continued to prey on weak, vulnerable women and no doubt found someone to worship him while he continually tore her down.
This is one I can say I'm very grateful to have loved & lost. In losing, I found myself.