Moving On vs Moving Forward

People are so quick to say I’m stubborn when it comes to the wording used towards those who are in pain, that I am super defensive for no reason. But there is a reason – I’ve been on the receiving end of hurtful words, and had my intentions questioned too many times in my life not to be instinctively defensive. I’ve also been the one to say hurtful things due to my own pain, so I understand where some of it may come from. I won’t cut them off at the first opportunity and take away an opportunity for them to take accountability. And I don’t always defend right away because I don’t want to jump to conclusions about what is truly happening for another person. And I don’t always think that what is comforting to me is going to be comforting for another person. But leaving someone without anywhere to turn for comfort is never okay, in my opinion. Which is why I always aim to ask instead of assuming. It isn’t me attempting to aggressively question anyones motives. It is my way of trying to ascertain what it is someone may need without jumping to provide a solution that may be more harmful than helpful. There are certain motivational phrases and quotes that I find motivating, and others that I find discouraging or disingenuous. And what I find motivating and encouraging others might find discouraging or disingenuous based on their personal values and upbringing. Forcing someone else to live by your own is manipulative and abusive.

This past week, I was contemplating on why certain phrases people said to me after a really bad breakup weren’t helpful even though I know they may have meant well when they said them. There was no one asking what I wanted, what I needed that would make me feel better. They assumed I was fine. And the impact of some of these phrases are so subtle in their differentiation that it’s understandable. That doesn’t make the impact any less painful or traumatic. Most of the “support” I received was just validating my worst fears and preyed on my insecurities.

One phrase that has bothered me for years, and still does to this day is when someone says to move on after a painful experience. It comes across as dismissive, and invalidates that someone is still in any emotional distress. In my opinion it also seems to demand that you are able to immediately process your feelings, come to a conclusion and go on with life as it was before. And that just isn’t realistic, especially if this phrase is said to someone dealing with trauma. I honestly think this phrase is said more to satisfy the one saying it, because they are uncomfortable seeing someone else in pain and don’t want to (or maybe can’t) reconcile with how much of that suffering they may be at fault for due to blindly following different harmful systems of oppression. That is their own shit to deal with and it isn’t fair to put that discomfort on someone else.

I’ve also seen several places online claim that the phrase, “Move on,” isn’t dismissive of pain or that the pain didn’t exist, just that someone or something isn’t worth the pain. And that still doesn’t resonate with me. Because it is saying someone only has worth if they never ever cause anyone pain at all. And that also is not realistic. It comes off a little delusional to expect to go an entire lifetime without any painful experiences at all ever.

Block of text that quotes: sometimes we don't really let go. we don't really move on. we just learn how to cope with the loss. we learn how to smile when sad. learn how to laugh when broken. and adapt. survive. live. we carry on and hope for the best. that's what we do.

The fix to me is simple and so, so subtle: saying to move FORWARD instead of demanding someone move ON. Move forward comes across as much more compassionate, kind and caring. It acknowledges that someone is still hurting and in pain. But it also encourages them to process those feelings in a way that is less shameful, working on dealing with those hurt parts in pieces safely over time so that they are not overwhelmed and flooded with emotions. It doesn’t demand immediate answers or conclusions and allows for real inner peace and relational healing, in my experience. It also acknowledges that sometimes the things that caused their pain maybe weren’t entirely their fault. Maybe it was, but is shame really the only motivator we can use to get someone to take responsibility? That seems to be causing way more harm in our society and in our interpersonal relationships than I think we’re really ready to admit.

J: “It’s Not Personal”

Breakups happen every day, you don’t have to lose it. – Right Where You Left Me, Taylor Swift

Netflix. Comedy Specials. Comfort Shows. Chocolate Ice Cream. Private Crying Sessions. Private Journals. Therapy. Medication. Lots of self-care for the pain I was going through immediately after our relationship officially ended. I feel okay and start moving forward, hopeful we can remain friends somehow, or friendly acquaintances at the very least.

Months later, after he squashed every opportunity to be friendly in our post-breakup encounters, his voice still lingers in my head.

"Stop lying. You're paranoid and delusional."
But I don't know what I've supposedly lied about.
Is it really that delusional to wonder about what could have been when a relationship ends?
Repeated messages that I'm worthless and should kill myself for...I don't know what.
Is it paranoia to fear those actively causing you undue emotional stress?
"Why are you so defensive?"
All I did was ask about what I possibly did that another found so unsettling.
No answer. Silence, weaponized. Anxious confusion for weeks on end.
Was it so wrong to care that I may have hurt another? To want to know how I could avoid causing that same hurt in the future?
"Stop crying. It's not personal."
But I am in emotional distress. And I'm allowed to cry when I am hurt.
The more I accept the loss and attempt to move forward, the more personal the attacks become.
Calling me crazy. Ungrateful. Bitch. Racist. Murderer.
Provoking my insecurities. My grief. My anxiety. Until I lash out and can be labeled as the aggressor.
But it's not personal?
Repeated refrains of how I should behave.
What feelings I'm allowed to have and show to the world.
Dismissiveness towards any negativity, so you feel justified in your emotional neglect and abandonment.
Insidious emotional abuse disguised as uncommunicated boundaries.
But it's not personal?
10 years, and not a single acknowledgement for the tiniest bit of pain you caused.
Always finding a way to twist my words, so the blame is never on you for anything.
Not a single apology. Not even one word of regret for the words said in anger, nor for the scornful looks given that still haunt my dreams and keep me up all night.
Not a single shred of accountability. And you wonder why I'm still so angry with you.

But it wasn't personal.

I disagree. It was personal.
It. Is. Personal.

Midnight Thoughts

Thinking about how so many people (most I no longer talk to, some I barely do) honestly think we were ever really friends, yet they probably wouldn’t be able to name any of my siblings, my favorite color, my favorite movie, my favorite song, my favorite songwriter, my favorite artist, my favorite animal, my favorite food (cuisine and/or dish), etc.

And yet they still think they know me and what my beliefs/principles/values are. No. Absolutely not. They only know me when they’re trying to spiritually bypass over what I believe with what they believe. They only know me when its convenient for them to have me available to assist with their needs — physically, mentally and emotionally. But the second I need any of those things in return, where are these people? When I say my disability is making it harder for me to do things like physically travel, where are these people who claimed to care about me as a friend? Nowhere to be found. Or too busy, or someone else takes priority, or whatever other excuse. Get the eff out of here acting like you know and care about me. You don’t.

The worst part is these same people (cowards, honestly) won’t ever apologize for how they’ve ever abandoned and mistreated me — mentally, emotionally, and psychologically with their presupposed assumptions and unintended ableism (and favoritism). I wonder if these people even know what my disabilities actually are. It’s not like they’ve ever bothered to really get to know me…

As much as I dislike the phrase, “If I cut you off, chances are you handed me the scissors,” it does seem applicable in some situations with certain people I’ve known throughout my life.

Also, anyone reading this may want to do some serious self reflection on how they treat (or ignore caring for) people – I may very well be talking about someone you know.

Some Reflections…

J texted me a few months ago, stating that my life was mess before I met him. What?!? My life wasn’t a mess until shortly before we broke up and I started exhibiting symptoms of C-PTSD.

…it is one thing to blame the other person for the problem and another to describe the impact of that behavior on you while recognizing that the problem may be partly you and your sensitivities. After all, it’s your perception that defines the other person’s behavior as a problem.

Managing Interpersonal Conflict by Louis B. Barnes and James P. Ware

Before meeting J, I was volunteering at [redacted], had just finished my first semester back at college with all A’s, and was starting to figure out how to make money with my previous blog.

He didn’t help with any of that. Teaching me to drive was the only helpful and beneficial thing he added to my life that I can recall. And even that was only because R wouldn’t be available to drive him on the carts at [redacted] anymore. His teaching me to drive was still to benefit him, not because he sincerely wanted to help me.

If he sincerely wanted to help me, why abandon me when I was at my lowest? That isn’t love. Telling someone to shut up when they inform you that you’ve done something hurtful to them is avoidance. It’s lack of accountability and responsibility. Yet, he acts like I am the one who is unwilling to communicate about the harm that’s occurred. I’m not unwilling to do any self-reflection. He is, apparently. He pretends there was no effect or no harm even when there definitely was.

I still have nightmares about it. I still have panic attacks. Not nearly as much as I used to before ever going to therapy, but it doesn’t go away. I can’t just pretend to be okay. Faking it until you make it is incredibly harmful, but that’s what he seems to want. I won’t do that. I can’t do that. It’s superficial and dishonors my nervous system. That isn’t okay.

Don’t mistake being numbed out to it for being healed from it. People mistake feeling emotions about something as not being healed when, in fact, it’s one of the biggest signs of healing.

Juno Counseling (Dr. Vassilia)

I just want him to do some goddamn self-reflection and take accountability for having done anything to cause me harm. And to stop telling me that I can’t talk about my own experiences.

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

Anne Lamott

For some reason, he also thinks the judge agreed with him. About what, I’m not entirely sure. I don’t know why he thinks he ever actually offered a legitimate apology. The judge even told him to his face that I was still waiting for an apology. And that my intentions behind my actions weren’t without purpose. The only agreement I made with the judge was that I don’t believe J will ever sincerely self-reflect and apologize for having hurt me. There are literally transcripts of what was actually said by everyone in the court room that day.

The only time I got any sort of apology, J later mocked me for wanting to believe it. He even confirmed it was only provided to try and get me to shut up. I will NOT shut up about his abusive behavior towards me. I’ve never told him to shut up about anything I may have done that he felt hurtful, but it’s okay for him to do it towards me.? No. I don’t think that’s fair. If he’s allowed to talk about how I may have possibly hurt him, then I am allowed to talk about the harm and hurt I have endured from him. And I will not just “move on and forget about it.” That isn’t how trauma works. It’s most certainly not how healing from trauma works.

Until someone takes the impact of your traumatic experiences and places them in their nervous system and their body, they have no right to tell you to move on. Taking the time to heal is brave.

Nate Postlethwait

I have always been willing to hear him out about how any of my actions may have been hurtful to him – he doesn’t share it. That’s on him. I’m not a mind reader. Disappearing from a relationship the way he did is hurtful. There has now been more research on why ghosting is so hurtful, and I hope they continue doing more research on that topic.

What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.

Brene Brown

What really hurts is that he didn’t completely disappear. Part of me wonders if he had actually disappeared (instead of returning every so often with another scolding about how I’m wrong for feeling and expressing any hurt by his actions or lack thereof) would I have been able to heal more by now? And what makes him think he ever has a right to tell someone else how to feel? Why does he think he has a right to tell me what I do or do not find hurtful? Why does he seem to believe he has a right to tell me how and when I should heal? It isn’t his pain. It’s not his trauma.

He has no right to tell me what I do or do not feel. He has no right to tell me when I am healed. He has no clue what I deal with internally on a daily basis and never really has. I can’t recall a single a conversation since we broke up where he has ever been really willing to listen and empathize with my perspective on anything. I also don’t understand what makes him think he knows more than my own therapist about what I do and don’t need to be able to heal. He doesn’t get to make those decisions for me or anyone else.

Dear “Pro-Lifers”…

All I’ve seen from pro-lifers this weekend is a serious lack of empathy and compassion towards those who are now experiencing shock and trauma in the face of Roe v Wade being overturned. How is that Christlike? How is that kind and compassionate? To sit there and act like you’re happy while completely disregarding those who are horrified at what this decision could mean for them, and their futures is appalling. Your serious lack of actually being trauma informed is appalling and your lack of empathy for those who have now had previous traumas triggered by this decision is atrocious. You are literally celebrating while millions of people have spent almost the entire weekend sobbing, throwing up, and terrified of a future without Roe v Wade and everything it protected. My family has a history of aneurysms. I get migraines a lot and the constant fear that I’m going to die of an aneurysm the next time I get a migraine is exhausting. The ONLY thing that has ever helped my migraines go away entirely is birth control. Yet pro-lifers seem to think the only reason an unmarried single woman would ever take birth control is to go out and have sex with whomever whenever she wants. And that is so far removed from many people’s realities. It certainly isn’t mine. Even if they do want to do that, why is it any of your goddamn business? It isn’t your life. Stop controlling people through a belief system that other people may not believe in. I am terrified that I will not be able to get back on birth control when I get health insurance again now, since I certainly can’t afford it out of pocket at the moment. Beyond just the migraines, I live in chronic pain every month when my period comes around. I can’t function with the pain – I’ve literally had way more moments of screaming and crying and being unable to move, scared to eat a single thing, than I can count in a single month because of the severity of the cramps. I’ve lost jobs, friends, and many other opportunities over it already. I am terrified, as are many others in similar situations, and you pro-lifers are cheering and celebrating. You are cheering, celebrating, and completely dismissing peoples very real and valid fears. This is not and never will be okay.

If you are pro-life, get the fuck out of my life. You don’t care about the people you are traumatizing with your bullshit about how this is a good thing. It’s not a good thing. IT IS NOT A GOOD THING. I don’t care how close we are or not, this isn’t up for debate. MY TRAUMA ISN’T UP FOR DEBATE. Pro-lifers are showing that they lack a significant amount of empathy with their online posts this weekend, and my PTSD is fucking DONE. This is too goddamn fucking far. It’s too fucking personal for me to be able to engage in any sort of debate with you in the slightest regarding this. What’s most disappointing, is this didn’t start here. It started with you assuming places like Planned Parenthood and other womans clinics offered nothing but abortions and calling them abortion mills. You ignore rape victims, like myself, who almost went there when they had no other option to get care after their assault. I didn’t go because I didn’t want to be confronted by evangelical Christians assuming I’d go there for other reasons. I was never pregnant but wanted checked out for any possible STD’s. Yet I was more scared of you than my assailant, and didn’t go. You know how fucked up it is that I’m more scared of WEC’s than a man who sexually assaulted me? That medical trauma is on you. I would personally never have an abortion if I got pregnant, but that’s the assumption y’all make when anyone is pro-choice or visits any womans clinic that performs them. You pro-lifers seem way too eager to confront people at abortion clinics with your assumptions and cheer and celebrate when the person changes their mind about abortion because you ‘convinced them’ not to have one. Did you really convince them though? Because from where I’m sitting, it looks a hell of a lot more like manipulative coercion, not persuasion. After living through an abusive relationship, to me, everything you do looks more like manipulative coercion than persuasion. You pro-lifers seem to ignore the people like one of my family members who has had multiple miscarriages when they tell you the treatment is an abortion. I’ve worked in medical coding and billing – too many ICD-10 and CPT codes for miscarriages and whatnot call it an abortion in some form or fashion. Debunking that meme going around right now that you dislike isn’t the win you seem to think it is. Debunking peoples lived experiences, and debunking peoples lived traumas isn’t the fucking win you want it to be. And one trauma response is anger along with impulsivity, so I’d advise you to stop playing with that fire. You pro-lifers have shown with your actions this weekend that you ignore people in severe emotional pain and turmoil and cause further mental harm by implying it was their own fault. That is emotional abuse. You are causing further trauma by calling people uneducated about their own lived experiences. That is gaslighting. Doesn’t matter if you do this directly or indirectly; actions speak louder than words. Also, the silence from some of you is deafening. You’re not off the hook. The pro-lifers most assuredly don’t appear to care about people in the slightest – you only appear to care about babies. You only seem to care about babies being born, but not the reality of what happens after and promoting adoption/foster care as an alternative shows how easy it is for you self-proclaimed pro-lifers to redirect from the actual problem of helping people dealing with significant traumas that affect peoples lives every day. GET THE FUCK OUT.

Also, I’m deleting and blocking any pro-lifers who comment on this post, whether that’s here on FB or elsewhere. Pretty certain I deleted the ones I could find verifiable proof of prolife status. You are not welcome here. At all. My mental health is far more precious to me than any bullshit you might try to shove down my throat. I worked hard as hell after everything I’ve been through to protect it and you will not destroy it. I’ve also moved passed the crying and sobbing, straight to anger as a trauma response, so tread carefully. I’d advise you to just remove yourself instead of trying to ‘persuade’ {coerce} me into seeing things your way. Cause I won’t. Ever.