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.

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.