Hello everyone. The Unleashed One here, back with another Shadow Work Sunday. Today’s topic is going to have me revisiting something I have not done since my early days of blogging, when my stomping ground was Yahoo 360! However, it is one of the few situations which applies to the question which is before me.
Think of a time someone broke your heart. In what ways may you have been responsible as well?
A time in my life when I experienced the greatest heartbreak was May 19, 2008. Although it’s been over twelve years ago, I still remember the series of events. I had just gotten off of my work shift. I wanted to write while I still had the energy. I went into one of the spare rooms we made into the writing room. Microsoft Word was open, though I didn’t recall leaving it open when I left. Lines that only covered half a page had the power to shatter me.
We had been together for about five and a half years but had known each other slightly longer. We shared a passion for writing, although styles and tone were different. What intrigued me the most about the poetry was this ambiance of always searching, always looking, having that glimpse of hope, even when the cadence surrounding it was dim.
It makes for good literature, but not as a functional entity. Not as a thing to deal with day in and day out.
I am not going to rehash all of the ins and outs of the relationship. I’ve talked so extensively about it during the early parts of my blog. Mostly because there was a point where we stopped talking to each other, where there was more fighting than felicity. I desired an outlet, and for me, it’s always been writing.
While being part of Yahoo 360 and sharing my thoughts, people were reading them. There are individuals that would have never become part of my life had I not been on that interface. There are a few that I’m still in contact with today, and whether they know it or not, saved me from times when the situation had gotten so bad, I didn’t know if I still wanted to function the next day.
So … you may be wondering … how could I have been responsible?
When one has been dumped, certain reactions take place. For me, there was a vast assortment.
The latter two being the primary.
It is very easy to paint the picture of one person being one hundred percent the villain and you being the model mate and not understanding why this is happening to you.
Yet, if we are to be quite honest, that is rarely the truth.
Changes occurred somewhere along the way, and through those changes, certain reactions happened. But it’s hard to see it when one is too close to the situation. It’s challenging to work through while in the midst of pain and suffering.
One cannot see it until one is ready to do so. But it takes a special type of insight, objectivity, and awareness to do so. This can result in a person not being painted in a flattering light, and no one likes to look bad. That’s truth.
There are experiences that can unify people. One of the most powerful is shared pain/trauma. In circumstances, a trauma bond can be mistaken as true love.
How does this apply to me?
One characteristic I have as an empath goes beyond the ability of empathy. If I have a close enough bond with someone, I can feel their pain. I don’t like those I care about or love in pain, so it activates that desire to nurture and heal in whatever way possible.
Back in those times, it was a reflex. Like one’s heart beating. Eyes batting. One never really stops to think about it; one just does it.
Yet, one of the most dangerous situations for an empath to be in is one where boundaries are not well defined and clearly established. One that does not know when to reign in the gift, when it borders on being unhealthy.
In the past, I did not even understand what being an empath was. All I knew was that I experienced, saw, and felt things differently and more profoundly than others. Going through life, I was deemed “weird”, “strange”, and “hypersensitive”. In those days, I had difficulty making friends and keeping them.
In the early going, much was demanded from me. From aiding someone with a quiz to constantly being on call whenever people needed me, I was conditioned to believe that my primary role was of servitude. That my purpose was to do whatever I could to ensure that those I loved, cared about, and wanted to have as part of my life would not be in pain and would not suffer. This way of thinking fused me to the individual, to the point where I developed this sense of loyalty. Not only to celebrate when all was going wonderfully but to endure when things got worse. No matter how worse.
At the time when M entered the picture, I had experienced disappointment with a relationship that had just ended. Although he and I talked as if we were on the same page, he backed out of making a move that would have brought us closer. M was a wonderful listener and talking to M made me feel better about the whole situation. M and I were fans of each other’s writings, and we posted regularly to poetry forums we were part of. Along the way, I noticed M would respond to almost everything I wrote, even if it was on topics where M wasn’t fully versed. I did not think much of it at first since again … we were fans of each other.
When M finally confessed to the development of romantic feelings, I did not initially feel the same way. I stated that it was too soon, but M assured me of being understanding and patient. At that point, M and I hadn’t met yet. I was getting settled in GA. M was in NJ.
When M and I finally met, there was this huge build-up of anticipation that manifested in all the things we wanted to say and do to and with each other. I had not thought of the next steps. I was in the moment and wanted us both to feel good.
M and I did the long-distance thing. We would chat every night on the phone. M would make the drive to GA to see me on a monthly basis. It was butterflies, roses, and everything in between.
When things fell apart in GA, I believed that it would be best for me to go back to MS to rebuild. I did not have any expectation for M and me to continue our relationship once I returned to my home state.
That wasn’t what M wanted.
M and I were not on the same level as it pertained to love. M was in deeply and I was trying to get where M was. I thought of how much M stood by my side through all of my troubles. Could I really hurt M after the amount of time, money, and devotion invested?
Out of loyalty and not wanting M in pain, I took the risk and made the move.
Reflecting back, overall, my relationship with M was built from a foundation of trauma. Part of that was my inability to take the necessary time to recover from my previous relationship. The other part was not being vocal or assertive as I should have been when I realized things were going further than anticipated. In addition, M and I had shared trauma, such as rejection, isolation, and abandonment.
The power of that can easily blur what is a trauma bond and what is actually true love.
Did I ever get to the point where it was true love for M? At some point, I did.
Yet, along the way, our relationship went through extreme highs and lows, to the point where the very upheavals we disliked in others, we were doing to ourselves. Once M got very sick, my sense of loyalty overtook my misery and anxiety. When you love someone, you don’t abandon them, even if it meant a part of you was dying on a daily basis.
In a trauma bond, even emotions that do not belong to you become yours. Because you are in that deeply. All of the signs were there that we together had become dysfunctional, but my own vision of what I should be to M kept me there.
Even after we were sleeping in separate beds and no longer intimate, I hung in there, telling myself all was temporary and if I was just a bit more patient, a bit more understanding, M and I could be what we were before.
The moment I realized M was unhappy, I should have let go.
I should have recognized that the proposal of separation suggested by M’s therapist was a way out. Although I was no longer happy, I believed if I left, I would be a bad companion and a bad friend. It did not even dawn on me that my going was exactly what M wanted and was hoping that I would acquiesce to.
Going through that devastating breakup with M brought about clarity. A brokenness in myself—giving beyond depletion to the point where I did not recognize myself. On top of that, feeling a huge level of resentment when it was not given back in return. Yet, if I did not feel I could be of service, then I thought I lacked purpose.
Now I am taking time to unlearn the behaviors that contributed to my own toxicity, but it is a work in progress.
I have to be emotionally responsible.
I have to sit back and ask myself the important questions before jumping into anything new, no matter what type of relationship it is.
Yes, that includes friendships.
I cannot put myself in a position where I make myself responsible for healing another person’s brokenness. That person has to do it himself. On top of that, because he wants to.
This concludes another Shadow Work Sunday.
Take care everyone.