Interrupting the Message: How to be Done Re-Writing History

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Someone once decided to stop seeing me by simply using the word “done.”

Now maybe this would have been okay if we had gone on one date. But we hadn’t. We had a history, feelings, all the things. So when he simply said “done,” it spiraled me into a self-defeating mess.

I mean, who does that?

Done.

I remember thinking that there must be something wrong with me. I went through all of the reasons why I must not be a good person because, in my eyes, this person was everything.

I remember this feeling as if it were yesterday. I don’t so much remember the feeling of actually being with him as much as I remember the way that he decided to stop being with me.

Done.

It’s funny how one little word can have such a big impact. In those four letters houses shame, worthlessness, sadness and despair.

But mostly shame.

I felt shame because I must have created an illusion in my head about something that wasn’t there. The shame made me feel cheap as if I wasn’t worthy at all. After all, I wasn’t even worthy of a full sentence. No acknowledgment of who we were. No admission of any connection we once had. No feeling on his part at all.

Done.

It wasn’t until later, as I was able to self-dissect and look at things from a more logical perspective that I realized that he was a coward. Because he couldn’t deal with his own feelings, he felt it necessary to step all over mine.

Maybe making me mad made him feel better. I mean, it’s easier to walk away from someone when you don’t have to take ownership of your own actions. Who knows. Who cares, really.

The only thing I know for certain is that he had the maturity of a nat with an inability to care about other people. At least not in the way I deserved to be cared about. He was selfish.

Objects in the Rearview Mirror

In hindsight, I can look back and see all the flaws.

  • I was always vying for his attention
  • Everything was always done on his timeframe
  • He always had excuses for not wanting to meet my family
  • He would always brush off my feelings with an eye-roll or a sarcastic comment
  • He was never really present. Even when he was.

Somehow though, all of those things kept me more engaged. It was as if the challenge of getting him to notice me outweighed anything else.

History

What I know now that I didn’t know then is that I was trying to re-write history. We all do it. It goes something like this:

You didn’t feel connected or valid in your house growing up, so as an adult you try to heal that wound by finding someone that is emotionally unavailable, and then proceeding to re-write history because somehow you can make this new person emotionally available to you, and if you can do that then that means you are valid.

Yah, so that never works.

Not to go all psycho-babble on you, but our childhood really does matter. It is where we learn how to be human.

  • We learn what love looks like
  • We learn what relationships look like
  • We learn what boundaries look like
  • We learn what communication looks like
  • We learn what our worth is.

Hidden Spaces

I grew up in a space where things were kept hidden. I am an adult child of an alcoholic. We had unwritten rules

  • Don’t tell family secrets
  • Don’t talk about the addiction
  • Pretend like everything is okay
  • Don’t talk about your feelings

I’m not trying to bash my family, there are many good memories. But the fact is that there was no space for emotion because everyone was just trying to manage.

When you are just trying to manage, you don’t think about things like empowerment, feelings, or anything that doesn’t have to do with basic needs.

Trauma Attracts Trauma

If you grow up in a traumatic space, you live a traumatic life.

Not by conscious choice. More because of habit.

If you are taught that love means codependence, communication never works,  stuffing feelings is better than expressing them, boundaries are non-existent, and you are invisible because there is no space for you to be seen amidst the haze of addiction that perpetually fogs your living room, then you find people and situations that fit that narrative.

But there’s hope.

Unlearning

You learned self-defeating beliefs, and you learned that you are not worthy of real love.

The good news is that you are not stupid. You can unlearn these things.

But you have to want to.

And by “want to,” I mean you have to really want to because it’s not easy. I am still unlearning the messages of my past.

The thing with unlearning is that it makes what you have newly learned feel really uncomfortable.

But why? you ask. Why would learning how to be emotionally and mentally healthy make me feel uncomfortable?

When Green is Blue

If you were told all of your life that the sky was blue, only to find out later that it is actually green it would be hard to believe, right?

All of a sudden what you thought was blue is called green. So what is green called? What if all the colors are different now?

The confusion makes me want to take a nap.

It’s the same with thoughts.

If all of your life you were given the message that you are invisible, not worthy of love, should stuff your emotions or some other horrible message and then told to go be in a relationship with someone that treated you beautifully, respected your feelings, did things for you, and paid attention to you, it might feel completely unnatural.

And when it feels unnatural, we re-create it into something that feels natural.

And this is where self-sabotage begins.

We start picking fights, making poor choices, being grumpy, crossing boundaries, or any number of things that are destructive. All in an attempt to bring us back to our comfort zone.

Because after all, our comfort zone is destructive. We don’t like it, but at least we understand it.

The thing with unlearning is that it makes what you have newly learned feel really uncomfortable.

Flip the Script

So all this time that we spend wondering why we keep going in and out of relationships with people who do not meet our needs can make us feel like there is something wrong with us.

There’s not.

The only thing that is wrong is that you were taught to not go after what is good because you feel that you are not good. And if you get something good, run like hell away from it because it is not meant for you.

It’s time to flip the script.

Turning the Page

The first step is to turn the page on all of the negative messages that you received as a kid. This is what I want you to do:

Step 1: Write That Shit Down

  • Write a letter to your inner child. Tell your 10-year old self what you want everyone to know. How you feel, what you need, what you wish people knew about you. Everything. Write it as if you are 10-years old.
  • Write your story as you see it now.
    • How do you feel about yourself
    • What do you think you deserve
    • What do you think you don’t deserve
    • What are your fears

Step 2: Challenge it

The second step is to take a look at all of your negative thoughts about who you are and challenge them. Play the judge and jury. Use evidenced-based reasoning to dispute your claims.

For example:

Claim: I feel like I am inadequate

Evidence Against this Claim: I have a job, people come to me for help, I have friends, etc

Do this step with all of your self-defeating beliefs.

Step 3: Exposure

Now it’s time to put yourself out there. Start small, this is not a sprint. But it’s also not a siesta.

Start putting yourself into situations that you would normally feel inadequate, unworthy, or whatever your negative belief about yourself is. I’m not saying to go give a TED Talk if you fear judgment. But maybe the next time you are in a work meeting, speak up. See what happens. I bet it’s not as bad as you think. And if it is, I bet you find that it didn’t kill you.

Either way, you have empowered yourself.

Step 4: Re-Write the Story

When you get to the story re-write, you get to the part where you no longer accept people who do not treat you well. Not because you have changed as a person, but because the belief about yourself has changed.

Back to Me

The “done” guy ended up getting married, getting divorced and getting married again. I’m not sure he ever did any of the suggestions that I outlined here. I am sure he is just as emotionally unavailable as he was back then. But you know what? Not my problem.

I ended up marrying someone very different than that person.

  • He gives me the attention I deserve
  • He is emotionally available
  • He is a teammate
  • He allows me to have my feelings
  • He supports my endeavors
  • He supports me
  • He’s the one who sat by my side for 6-hours at every chemotherapy appointment when I had cancer.

Do you know what “done” guy did once? He dropped me off at the entrance of a hospital when I had an abscess in my throat and couldn’t swallow. And then proceeded to only visit me for about 5 minutes out of the 3 days I was at the hospital.

So when I met my husband, Joe it felt all kinds of weird. In my more self-defeating moments, it still does. I had only ever dated people who shared different versions of unavailability.

I have done my fair of self-sabotaging this relationship to form it into something I think I deserve.

But he doesn’t let me. He’s like a mule. He just stands there, unmoved by the destruction I might create around him.

There have been times I have wanted to give up.

He fought.

There have been times I wanted to sink into a hole and disappear

He fought.

There have been times I wanted to run away from my life.

He fought.

It feels good to be fought for.

I deserve to be fought for.

I’ll take the word fight over the word done any day of the week.

Monica Pitek-Fugedi LPC, NCC, CCATP monica@mindgal.com

The MindGal Podcast

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