I’ve always held great pride in my ability to judge character.
I tend to be able to suss out whether someone has good intentions early on. It’s not an exact science. It is likely a combination of analytical nature, cynicism, and my insistence that “vibes matter.”
Friends tend to come to me for advice on why a person they love may be acting a certain way or to give me the low-down on their new coworker and ask my opinion. I enjoy thinking about people and why they behave a certain way. I seek to understand people and their motives as best I can.
But my confidence in this ability has been shaken. I feel as though every assessment I have made must be reconsidered because I was so incredibly blindsided.
I will admit: I let myself get swept away in the heat and intrigue of the situation. Swept away by a mysterious man with an artistic nature and wit as sharp as the focus of his camera lens.
I was smitten by his sweet words and the hope he articulated for a real, true connection between us. I was bewitched by his use of old cameras, loving the nostalgia and romance of moments caught on film.
I saw none of the red flags that the universe was waving in my face. Or maybe I did and I blissfully looked past them. I’m still not sure.
I opened myself up to him. Shared my struggles and thought he understood. Took a leap and tried something so new and fun and immensely passionate. Gave all of myself and trusted a person more than I ever had before.
And then he disappeared, but not before he turned his sharp wit and sweet words into ugly accusations and complete disdain for who I am.
I was left reeling. How could he do this? Didn’t he care about me? Didn’t he understand where I was coming from? Didn’t he have any compassion at all?
The answer to all of my questions is a resounding “no.”
I couldn’t accept that at first. I couldn’t accept that I had so incredibly and embarrassingly misjudged his character and intentions.
Instead I made him into the person I had deeply hoped for him to be in my mind. I tried to find justification for his actions, a reason behind the madness, even hope for reconciliation.
When people are cruel for no apparent reason, we tend to overanalyze their actions. It’s so incredibly hard to let go, especially when you care about this person.
“What did we do wrong?” we ask ourselves.
We think that maybe if we had acted differently, been a little more of what they wanted, been a little less us, then maybe they wouldn’t be treating us this way.
“Is there an underlying reason that justifies their cruelty?” we wonder.
We think maybe something triggered it. Maybe we can get to the bottom of it, understand them — even change them.
“Can we fix this?” we think in agony.
We think we can make them see that they don’t have to lash out. We want them to know that they shouldn’t treat us this way because we care about them.
But what I came to realize is this: Some people are just cruel.
It’s not your fault. You can’t change them.
Just let go.
Somewhere out there is photographic evidence of how much I foolishly trusted this man. There is evidence etched on my face of how happy and hopeful I was for a fleeting moment in time.
My intuition was wrong. Lessons were learned, the biggest being that I am a human, and at 26, I have no clue who I am. So how can I expect myself to unfailingly pinpoint who others may be?
But that’s all okay, because there is one thing I do know: I am worthy.
I’m worthy of love.
I’m worthy of respect.
I’m worthy of understanding and empathy.
Even if I must first give these things to myself.
I can let this consume my mind or I can let it go. I can let it shake my resolve in finding love and romance or I can keep my heart open to possibilities. I can let it make me indecisive and meek or I can absorb it like a punch to the stomach and come back swinging, stronger.
Sure, next time my walls may not come down as easily. But the right person will help me dismantle them brick by heavy brick.
If you’re sitting alone, thinking your intuition has utterly and completely failed you, if you’re wondering how you could have been so foolish, I beg you: treat yourself with compassion. You are human and humans make mistakes.
If you acted with honesty, compassion, and good intentions, this isn’t about you. This is about the other person’s demons and their lack of dealing with them. You shouldn’t feel like you have to accept or attempt to change this behavior. You don’t need them.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t meant for you. Better things are coming.