Thank you for showing me who you are

Thank you for showing me who you are.
However I will now choose to disregard it.
I refuse to believe it.
I will continue trying to change you and to make this into something it can never be.
You see, what you showed me is not what i want to see.
I want you to be loving, and rational, and consistent, and kind.
I want to feel safe with you.
I want to enjoy our time together.
I want to feel valued and cared for by you.
So I will disregard what you have showed me over the past two years. 
I think that instead if I recommit with even more fervor, I will turn you into the loving, responsible, kind, considerate man I believe in my naive deluded mind that you can be.
I believe I will help you to become that, because I see so much potential in you.
I will not give up.
Regardless of what you show me about yourself.

I never spoke those words to my first husband, but I may as well have.  Year after year. Not only did I walk down the aisle to a man I had no business marrying, I then proceeded to hold on for 6 years, desperately applying myself to the futile task of changing him.

Why did I not respect him enough to simply allow him to be who he was?

He showed me from the beginning who he was.  He was real about what he wanted, believed, and especially how he viewed and treated me.

Maya Angelou once said that when people show you who they are, BELIEVE them the first time.  And if they TELL you who they are, please, please believe them.  

I refused to believe the actions of my husband because I wanted the happy ending to my teenage pregnancy. I wanted our son to grow up with two loving parents. I wanted to be loved by the father of my baby.

So I closed my eyes to his actions, and I chose to listen to his occasional apologies and what turned out to be a regular output of bullshit.

And when this twisted merry-go-round got me so sick I could not go on, I finally accepted who he was, and then was left to deal with the mess I had created. The reality of who he was is exactly what I had been trying to avoid. But reality has a way of kicking you in the butt when your head is in the sand.  And by then we had two precious boys and I was a financial toddler, working a minimum wage job and having no credit score since I was never allowed to have a credit card and everything was in his name.

I had to return to START, not passing Go and not collecting anything.  Except a lesson I will never forget:  BELIEVE them the first time.

The first time he belittled me.

The first time he made a joke about hurting me.

The first time he lectured me like a 3 year old.

The first time he gave me the silent treatment for several days.

The first time he hid the credit card statement.

If I had believed it the first time – there would not have been a second time. I could have prevented 10 years of an emotionally, psychologically and verbally abusive relationship.  But I was unwilling to believe who he was showing me he was.

A zebra doesn’t change it’s stripes.  Short of a come-to-Jesus inner revival, people are who they are.  

If someone has the need to control others, you will not be the exception.  They will need to control you too.

If they blame others for their unhappiness, they will blame you too.  In fact you will be the main scapegoat.

If they use others, they will use you.

If they bully others, they will bully you.

If they see others success as a threat, yours will be as well, and no manner of hiding it or downplaying it will make it OK.

If they don’t empathize with others, don’t expect them to do it with you.

I thought I would be the one to crack the code, to bring in the light, to make it all OK and awaken the greatness I saw in this diamond in the rough.

If you refer to your partner as having potential, be very careful. You may think you can, but I learned the hard way, and I can now assuredly assure you that you – in your finite human power – CANNOT CHANGE them.

Believe them when they show you who they are. Actions don’t lie.

And then decide, based on that truth, what you will do. And if you choose to maintain the relationship, understand that you can no longer blame them for the times when they act like THEMSELVES.  You no longer have the right to act surprised, outraged, hurt, or angry. They showed you. You knew.

For years I was controlled, reprimanded, not spoken to for weeks at a time, told to shut up, told to sleep in the basement, was lied to, made to believe I was crazy, given no freedom to decide my own schedule, used for sex, insulted, bullied, threatened, left hanging again and again like a worthless rag… yet after the first time he treated me in these ways, enduring all of that became MY CHOICE.  Whether I recognized it then or not. Because I stubbornly refused to believe that was truly him. I clung to the delusion that my love and devotion would turn the beast into the prince. My pain became of my own choosing.

This was a startling revelation to me, since I had always thought I was being the noble, praying wife who was staying strong in order to save my husband from his unhappy self. And the truth was I did love him, and I desperately wanted to save him.

But I am not God.

I never realized I was blatantly disregarding everything my ex had showed me about himself.  I was refusing to see him and accept him as he was. And he certainly was not a monster.  I was just pushing him into a mold that didn’t fit.
And this futile endeavor cost me dearly.
When starting out in a relationship, may I humbly encourage you to listen to the wise and wonderful words of Maya Angelou.  Along with her, I would say please, believe them when they show you who they are. Chase the fantasy from your head and go in with eyes wide open and complete willingness to accept what you find.

Live in reality, because if you don’t, it will eventually hunt you down and burst your little pink bubble into a mess all over the floor. Cleaning up and rebuilding your life will cost you emotion, energy and time.  And it will hurt like hell.

In essence, don’t be afraid of seeing people for who they are.  There is good in everyone. Dwell on that. My ex was so funny.  He was the life of the party when we were out in public, he knew everyone and worked the room like a politician.  But he was a 22 year old partier who was pushed into a parenting role and committed relationship when he wasn’t ready or desiring either.  He wanted out from the beginning. I was just too scared to see it, because I needed him to be the loving knight in shining armor.

Examine yourself – what is it you need from a relationship?  If you go in from a place of neediness, you will miss cues that years later will cause you to kick yourself.  Get yourself healthy so that you can see people for who they are and ALLOW them to be themselves, not the fake version you want or need. Even in relationships, the age old adage “Live and let live”  holds true.

I would simply add: Live and let live as your true selves.

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