Last month, a writer by the name of Paul Hudson of Elite Daily, wrote a short article, entitled “The Pain of Loving Someone You Should Let Go Of, For The Both of You“. He talks about experiencing true love, the pain of heartbreak and how the hardest part is learning from it, being honest with yourself and being able to move on. He makes some insightful points about what is a very intensive introspective process that can be very hard to master, especially alone. What he doesn’t touch on are external influences that can not only damage the healing process, but also isolate individuals, causing deep depression, as well as a variety of other issues. In other words, we have a responsibility to balance the projection of our own experiences with the compassion of being completely open to understanding that not everyone will think/feel the way you do.
Last weekend, I was in somewhat of a heated discussion with someone I considered not just a close friend but a (future) potential mate. Given how small this world is for our social group, many rumors are communicated and many side discussions are had in various levels of severity and unfortunately, some of them do a lot of damage. Apparently, not even the most open of individuals are safe from the many judgmental minds of my hometown.
My back story: Last year, I was married. This year, I am not. My ex and I decided it was best to go our separate ways and we did so peacefully. Although he still resides with me until May, there is no animosity, weirdness or other negative feelings that usually accompany such a split. I went to therapy to sort through how I was feeling and also spent a lot of time reflecting. The bottom line is, life is too short to sweat it. It didn’t work, my life isn’t over, I take care of myself and I walked away with a boatload of lessons about myself, my future and what I want in a future partner. It left me feeling confident in myself in a whole new way. My ex and I are the best of friends and sometimes, that was what was meant to be all along.
Anyway, my friend is upset with me because 1. A girlfriend of mine (being the good friend that she is) indicated to him that he needed to take a more “active” role in this mutual interest and 2. Rumors started flying when I got home that I had been engaged five times and that something else was up because I am still living with my ex (amongst a few other amusing rumors that came out). This is in addition to the numerous judgments passed on my current situation that he was listening to from people who didn’t know me at all. I can’t lie, for as strong as I am, it hurt. It hurt to think that someone I was interested in (and who I considered a good friend) was more interested in passing judgment, based on the draw of his own experiences and opinions of others, than giving me a chance to show that oftentimes, what you hear, isn’t true. It made me (briefly) question if I even knew how to date and if I should just give up because I started to feel hopeless. By the next evening, it occurred to me that there was something going on in his own life he wasn’t sharing (wasn’t over his own break up maybe, likes the idea of commitment but his heart really isn’t in it, etc.) because anyone who works with a clear conscience handles things differently – especially if they like you back.
Another example that has happened to countless women in my home city (and no, this is not a personal experience because I’m a D.C. native): A young woman moves to the city, not knowing many people. She gets hooked into the social scene with no knowledge of the men that encompass it. She’s new, she’s young, she’s beautiful and naive. These men see her and start approaching her. She goes out on dates, falls for one of them, sleeps with one of them and all of a sudden, she is then labeled as “used” and “has no respect for herself”. For two reasons: 1. The other men didn’t get a chance and they are mad (so they vocalize their frustration) 2. The thrill of the chase is over but no one else is allowed to have her (so they vocalize their triumph). The rumors start flying – “she has slept with everyone”, “she’s just like every other woman”, “she must be in it for money”, etc. She feels utterly destroyed and lost. People are nice to her but she can feel the silent judgment coming from every direction. She gets depressed and ends up on meds because she is no longer dating material to anyone and her world feels screwed up – she will always be judged for her past, unless she moves to a new town.
In both cases, the bottom line is that everyone has their own life story and almost everyone has been through their own personal hell. Our unique experiences shape us into who we are – especially when we allow ourselves to really reflect on the meaning of our feelings and why they cause us to do and say what we do. Breakups cause pain and sometimes, we shove that pain way down into the depths of our being to get by, to appear stronger and eventually FEEL stronger. So when someone comes along who is quick to pass judgment on another simply by reciting a rumor or drawing from a half thought-out personal experience, it can cause the other to have to practically (involuntarily) regurgitate a negative feeling on the subject they swore they would never feel again. In both stories mentioned above, the person passing the judgment/spreading the rumor is deflecting on something they are dealing with in their own lives that have nothing to do with you. It’s almost as if subconsciously (and sometimes it’s conscience too) it’s a small little triumph to see pain across someone else’s face because in that small moment, they feel better that someone else is down too.
Sure, in my story, I felt immediate pain, hurt, sadness, insecurity and definitely had a thought that I’m just not good at relationships, and needed to swear myself to a life of solitude. But then I realized that it isn’t me and my own experiences that are the issue. Perhaps timing isn’t right, perhaps I’m getting great insight into my friend’s true stripes, or perhaps we are just not a match. In any case, I told myself that life is too short to really dwell on it for much longer – everything passes with time, it all happens for a reason and the universe has a funny way of working (which when you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, it always means it’s something wonderful). And, because I love adventure and surprises, I’m always excited to see what comes next.
So my advice to everyone who relates to this post: Be yourself, be happy, spread light and laughter in the world. Appreciate every day you have on this planet – feel like you have accomplished something (even if it’s doing the laundry), don’t waste time sweating stuff because your time is too valuable and you deserve to have someone that understands and appreciates that. Don’t dwell on things that will hold no significant meaning in the future (your life is NEVER OVER after a bad day), don’t project past negative experiences onto others and don’t ever deflect – deal with your own issues first. The best thing you can do for yourself and for others is to be honest, to grow as a human being and self-contain any issues you’re facing. In other words: