At the start, I thought this was a story about love and dating. It is in fact about the effects of being shamed. I loved, respected and admired the Second, my heart was completely open and vulnerable to her, and she shamed me for it. The most painful experience of my adult life was caused by someone who doesn’t think about the cause and effects of her actions. That is abusive. She pretended to be available when she wasn’t and instead of taking responsibility for that, she used my vulnerability I willingly gave her to wrong me for the things I done and felt with her. In that process, she took back all the caring she expressed for me pulling me apart at the seams. I was left feeling desolate, confused and fearful that I was too sensitive to be a lesbian because all other lesbians are already accustomed to this type of treatment in a way I never could be. I was desperate to apologize for anything that made her decide to leave my life. That is shaming. It is still hard to accept this reality, but at least now my heart isn’t looking around for her, wondering where she is and saying no that wasn’t her. I learned that in repeat this type of experience is what causes borderline personality disorder, the inability to see different behaviors in someone as the same person. To be a child an experience this, my heart aches for the Third but I know I can’t save her from herself. I don’t know if everything I said about the Second is true, maybe she thinks I did something equally awful to her but I won’t know because she won’t tell me. However, when I was able to look directly at what happened that weekend I felt freedom from her. This is how I know the shaming was true. Truth is healing.
The Third will always have a special place in my heart. She showed me how much I like affection and she gave me the opportunity to look at my strength more directly. Still, I was not ready to get involved with someone else. I thought I was avoiding depression and for me socializing always offsets depression. Now I understand I was avoiding the unfamiliar feeling of being shamed to that depth. Dating was the only way I knew how to reach out to other lesbians to get the comfort I needed. I also see that the pain associated with the First was an experience of shame. She treated me like I wasn’t involved in what we had, just a place holder. She didn’t give me a chance to express what I appreciated about the time we had together, no matter how brief. I do not like being treated like an object. I had an experience too.
I need to learn to be less isolated in my community, so that rejection doesn’t feel so devastating. The act of being shamed pulled the worst feelings of myself to the surface. I hope this isn’t as common in dating as the Third implied it is because than I am scared to date. I may be afraid of strange things like priests and blackholes, but I have never been afraid of love.
I wonder if I idolized the Second. I have never idolized anyone before so I missed the warning signs in myself. She may never again be a part of my life, however my unshakable faith in her is returning. Our weakness is our strength. If she chooses, she can be loving and compassionate with an awareness most wouldn’t be able to grasp. And if I can be turned inside out, I can be strong and emotionally balanced in unparalleled heights, something that I have worked hard to achieve. I am stronger now and that was my goal for 2017, to have a stronger sense of self. I want to be open to love and friendship, to share my vulnerability but I don’t want to be so defenseless that I can be turned inside out. Maybe she was the best thing that could have happened to me, only in a different way than I original thought.
I see now I craved her yang to balance out my abundance of yin. Although I will never be the tough girl, I need to find ways to embody the strength I admire in others. That way I wouldn’t be looking for a way to balance myself with a partner. I can find that balance in myself. I won’t do CrossFit!! But I do like their high intensity workouts, it is a very supportive environment. Ugh! I will probably end up doing CrossFit because I get so mad when anyone suggests I do that. I had that same reaction before getting involved with life coaching. But 2.5-pound weights are my max!
Dear my heart,
You are brave, a lion’s heart. You are as willing to let go of pain and forgive as you are willing to love. I promise that the next person we allow into our lives will value you. Even if she is the law enforcement type that I like, I will not let her be tough with you. No more monsters will eat us. Now I know, the only appropriate response to someone saying, “I shut down” is “Well, it was nice to meet you.”
No, Not The Red Flag
Theme song: “The Last Goodbye” by Jeff Buckley
I want to delete half of what I wrote in these letters. If I can erase it from here I can erase it from my memory, as if it never happened at all. I knew heartbreak was not an accurate description of what happened with the Second. It was a violent experience. Eight weeks after writing this I wondered if “emotional rape” was a term. I found myself reading nearly word for word about my experience online. It was a website about psychopaths. After two more days of crying I am coming to terms with the very real possibility that this woman is a psychopath. I know this is a harsh word, and I am searching for other possibilities, any other reason for her behavior.
Is there another possibility? It is possible that having the mentality of a middle school bully, an inflated sense of self-importance, a motto that “what others think of me is none of my business” and a belief that cutting someone off after it didn’t work out is doing the right thing, created the volatile cocktail that allowed her to behave like a psychopath? Are her actions motivated by fear and cowardice, rather than hatred and indifference? The truth is that whatever the cause, the effect is the same and I am the one who suffered the consequences. I now know about “love bombing” – that’s what’s all those texts were about! – and “intermittent reinforcement” – she intentionally didn’t text me before going to the gym, when I didn’t respond to that change, she intentionally didn’t take my hand in the car, or at all that weekend, something I told her would make me feel insecure (I worried about getting less PDA as a lesbian). During that weekend her behavior and words were confusing because they were manipulation tactics. She was not only trying to manipulate me, she was telling me she was trying to manipulate me. The good thing is my extreme sensitivity doesn’t allow me to be manipulated, at least not for very long. I can sense when someone’s motives don’t match their words, and I seek a deeper understanding of it. I am not looking for signs of manipulation per se, rather to be on the same page. Now I understand that she didn’t leave me because I was too weak for her like I previously thought. She left because I am too strong for her.
Whether or not she’s a psychopath, ending things with coldness and indifference is a form of emotional rape. Emotional rape is as physically painful as it is confusing. If someone can’t end something with the same respect as they started it, they have no right dating. Whichever version of her is true, I forgive her. I forgive her because I cannot live with the pain of not forgiving her. Compassion for others is as much for the self as true self-love is for others. Honest self-love is self-respect and boundaries, not narcissism. I would argue that narcissists have no true self-love. Ego that blocks out the reality of others is not self-love. The more, sincere self-love we have the less we will hurt others. The more compassion we have for others the less we will hurt ourselves.
In the recent weeks I have read over a half dozen books on psychopathy. Psychopaths and Narcissists have an idealize, devalue, discard cycle. There is no doubt this woman sent me through that cycle. There is a very real possibility that the Second hated me right from the very first text, planning her discard from the first moment I expressed interest in her. When I am tempted to think that things weren’t as dark as they were I remember these points. First, normal breakups do not result in researching someone’s behavior nor do they cause symptoms of PTSD. Second, the story she tells about her ex-girlfriend never made sense to me. Why would someone tell the story of their longest break up? Every time she mentioned it I felt sad for the woman who cried on her couch all day from morning to midnight before going home. The Second was clearly looking for a different response. It now makes sense in context, that woman was a conquest, likely her first and she is bragging.
I don’t believe she is a soulless monster like some people believe about these personality types. I believe she made a series of decisions that hardened her to pain, which in return hardened her to joy, disconnecting herself from her soul. The only way she can get a glimpse of what she lost is to break other people open for the chance to get a peek at their souls. That is the tragedy. I believe that when someone hurts us we tap into his or her pain. This woman is in a tremendous amount of pain to the depth I haven’t felt before. No I don’t see her as a soulless monster. I see her as a child in suffering. I could cry a lifetime for her but I won’t. We are all children, responsible for how we treat others above all else, which includes protecting ourselves from dangerous people.
Jules Desiree Wyble was born and raised in New Jersey. She studied Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College where she received her MA in August of 2017. She currently lives in New York City working as a figure model and life coach. She recently took up an interest in learning to box.