One of the constant irritants in my marriage was the fact that my ex could only change if he was forced to do so. That any real change in our lives came at the expense of him kicking and screaming and tantrum-ing until he was forced to change.
Thing is that we hate most in others what we see, but can’t accept, in ourselves.
I thought I was flexible, that I was adaptable. I convinced myself that was true. And, in some ways, I was. I was adaptable — to him and his desires. I had no boundaries in relation to him, so he could essentially be my puppet-master. Again, this isn’t about him — no, it’s about my inability to choose to have those boundaries, or until the very end, the inability to even see I had no boundaries with him. It’s about my choice to allow him to be my puppet-master.
I see the old me being an awful lot like Javert in Les Misérables, unable to change when confronted with the reality of my life. Javert chose not to change to reflect the real idea of justice, versus the cold, heartless, legalistic justice he had held to all of his life. My last few months of being married (versus being in the throes of divorce) was an awful lot of that same kind of soul searching that Javert failed at. He chose to kill himself because compassion and mercy were not part of his worldview, just like compassion and mercy TO MYSELF were not a part of my own.
While I rarely have had any thoughts of suicide in my life, if I had been that kind of person…I’m not sure I would have survived the months through March to July of 2014. Hell, I know for sure that my relationship with my boyfriend was on very rocky ground during those months, because my agonies trying to change my worldview were hard on him. There were days he was convinced I would tamely go back to my ex, allowing him to continue the puppeting.
I’m still struggling, but now it is to rebuild myself stronger and better. To remember who I really was before my ex came into my life. To evolve who that person should have been, including the lessons I’ve learned over the years. To become who I REALLY am, without defining myself through the projections of other people.
Because, if I am honest with myself completely, that is exactly what I have done for most of my life. I’ve let myself be defined by the projections of others, or my perception of their projections.
I’ve spent far too much time kicking over the traces in my life. Some of them have been real, some imaginary. Imaginary or not, they have taught me to fight for justice. To rebel against the expected. But where I lost my way was in defining what I was rebelling against. I was, in many ways, rebelling against what outsiders saw in regards to my ex. I lumped those who were objective about his choices along with those who were obviously prejudiced against those with mental issues. I blinded myself to those unhealthy choices, those sociopathic tendencies. I gave myself props for protecting someone who life had given a fucking-over. As long as I pitied him for his past, that emotion blinded me to who he really was.
Doing her test to figure out which stories I tell myself, I am primarily the Perfectionist and the Super-Achiever, with Self-Defeater and Dependent only slightly behind. This actually surprised me. I consider myself more the Dependent than anything else.
But that, according to the writer, is exactly what typifies the Super-Achiever and Perfectionist. That if a) I don’t surpass expectations (super-achiever); or b) can’t be #1 at anything (perfectionist); then I’m not good enough as a human being.
And, I can see that I’m learning, because if I answer the same romantic relationship questions thinking of my boyfriend, then my numbers for Self-Defeater drop radically. In fact, it mirrors my numbers for Competitor (damned near 0 – except for what I expect of myself in professional situations).
And I’m learning in regards to my relationship with my family as well. Things I have been convinced of relating to both of my parents have been shown to be my own perspective of what they think of me. Not everything, because my parents are human as well, but there are many things that I have finally come to a far more realistic understanding of them.
Just as an aside, of course, my ex’s favorite song in Les Misérables was: