I had a glass of wine last night with a girlfriend who is leaving for a three month holiday at the beginning of February. Where she's going is not important -- except when put in the context of who is at the place she's going. A man. A man she once loved who could not, would not commit. A man who hid behind silence. Who never told her where he was, what he was doing or who he was with.
She spent the first year after leaving him healing her broken heart. And then she started dating. A few months ago she decided to phone the man far away. "We were such good friends. Friends stay in touch and I just wanted to see how he was," she told me.
With that phone call, the game was on. Three months ago she decided to go visit him. "Great!" he said. Now, plans laid, trip organized, her packing almost complete he has stopped calling and stopped taking her calls.
"Why does he do that?" she asked.
"Because he can." I replied.
I also had lunch with a friend yesterday who, after 15+ years of marriage, told his wife on Sunday night that he is leaving. "I didn't tell her I know about her lies, the cheating, the affairs," he said. "I just told her the love is gone. It's time for me to leave." She shed two tears, he said and that was that. And then he told me when he got home last night, she did everything in her power to seduce him. "I love you," she said. "I promise to give you everything you want. Don't leave me."
"Why does she do that?" he asked.
"Because she can," I replied. "Because it's what she does."
When I was with the psychopath, he did what he did because he could, because it is what he does.
While I was with him, I focused my energy on coping with what he did, coping with his lies disguised as truths, coping with my confusion, my fear, my anxiety and avoided, at all costs, coping with the truth -- what he was doing wasn't what was making the biggest difference in my life. I was. By not focusing on my 'doing, I was choosing to live with his abuse, his lies, his deceit, his manipulations.
What I wasn't doing was making the difference between living with abuse -- or not. I wasn't looking at me as the root of my own sickness. I was looking at him continually -- looking for my answers in what he was doing, saying, being -- and not checking myself out against what I was doing, saying, being by remaining in his duplicitous embrace. I continually denied what I knew to be true -- he was lying. I continually told myself, 'it can't be true that he is lying' and instead reminded myself, 'It must be true. He loves me. He wouldn't lie to me."
The lie in that statement was -- I positioned the pain of my existence in the context of his loving me.
The truth is, from hello to good-bye, I love you to I hate you. You're beautiful to you're ugly -- everything was predicated on the lie of what he was doing, saying and being. In my denial of the truth, I bought into his lies and gave up on me.
I never asked myself the tough questions, What do I feel about what he's doing? How does it affect me? What can I do to change my situation? What if I give myself permission to leave without hearing his voice telling me I can't? What if I quit calling his abuse love? What if I quit taking responsibility for his bad behaviour and instead, take responsibility for my own?
If by chance, I did happen to ask myself one of those tough questions, I always completed my answer with -- I can't leave him... and then I recited the litany of reasons he'd told me why I could never leave. In the process, I became very, very emotionally sick. In my ill-health, I never gave myself the cure I needed to rid myself of the disease causing my illness -- I never left him because I kept my focus on trying to figure out him -- not trying to figure out a way to heal myself.
For me, focusing on his behaviours, trying to figure out why he was doing what he was doing, continually looking for meaning in everything he said, and keeping the light fixed on him, kept me stuck in confusion. It kept me from shining the light on my own behaviour. My constant angst around his bad behaviour protected me from having to face my bad decision-making, poor judgement in character -- and ultimately, face myself, with tender loving care.
I feel for both my friends yesterday. Theirs is not an easy road. Both will have to decide to either do what is best and caring of them -- or not. Both will have to give themselves medicine -- or not. Both will have to turn up for themselves and let the other person go -- or not.
Turning up for me has been a constant journey into self-love. It has been a continuous quest for finding my truth within me -- and letting go of looking for my answers out there. Whatever answers I find in someone else will always be best for them. Just as whatever answers someone else finds within me, will always be first and foremost best for me.
In healthy self-care, the person I keep healthiest must be myself. I cannot properly care for my daughters without first taking care of me. If I always jump to their aid, continually do for them and not do for myself, I will drain myself of energy, of passion, of commitment. For in my desire to do for them always, I let go of my responsibility to do for me so that I am strong enough, courageous enough, healthy enough to do for them what is loving, supportive and caring.
Once upon a time, I gave up on me and gave into a man who told me he had all my answers. He was my shortcut to happiness. Lost on that road to hell, I found myself again beneath the debris of his tumultuous passing through my life.
In healing, I have awakened to the truth within me -- I am 100% responsible for my journey. I am 100% responsible for living in the light of love, for turning up for me and living this one wild and precious life as if it is the only life I've got -- it is. It is my responsibility to live it up.
The question is: Where do you let go of responsibility for your one wild and precious life looking for someone else to turn the light on?