If there’s one thing I’ve learned about sharing things with those close to you, especially when it comes to relationships, it’s don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.
Having a sympathetic family and a badass group of wildly intellectual and intuitive friends is no doubt a lifeline when you are feeling some type of way. Who needs therapy when you can text in the middle of the night or run over to someone’s patio with a bottle of wine and Marlboro lights at any given moment? Venting and sharing frustrations with those who know and love you can save you from a downward spiral of self-doubt, over-analyzing, and destructive behavior triggered by being screwed over by someone.
But what happens afterward when we choose to continue engaging with someone we bitched about, screenshotted, and whose demise we plotted with friends?
For one, we regret telling anyone anything and we look and feel pathetic.
You can’t take back all the negative things you told others when you were angry or hurting. And those who saw you get torn up over someone’s poor treatment of you find it hard to forget even after you already have. You wanted those close to you to be there for you when you needed support, to agree with the bullshit you were dealing with and to point out all the levels of fucked up something was. But when you choose to let it go it’s hard to explain yourself and your choice to do so.
You said you’d never do so again, yet here you are, down for another round.
You’re backtracking, now adding positive details that you conveniently edited and overlooked. You’re rationalizing; justifying and shifting some of the blame onto yourself about the secret things that you did that make the situation complicated. After you’ve put your spin on something and sold your side of the story in return for some sympathy and lack of accountability on why things weren’t going your way, you’re now being honest that there’s more to the story. You may now understand the pattern of behavior and why he/she does what they do or how you contributed to the dynamic, yet no one is trying to hear it.
You want those close to you to know that it’s not always about you being a fool, or being weak. And it’s not always a lame lesson of forgiveness you’re preaching about to excuse yourself for being a dumbass. There’s no logic in emotion sometimes. When you begin to see a side of someone that’s deeper inside that doesn’t represent what others may think based on the picture you painted when you were mad, it’s difficult to explain this without sounding like a complete sucker. They need to see it for themselves. But most of all if they love you, it’s more than just seeing and taking your word for it. Should they just accept what you chose to accept, regardless if they agree with it or not?
I know not everyone is trained the way I am as a therapist to look deeper than what’s on the surface. I know that when someone is acting out or hurting others, there’s usually more to it than just a bad boy/girl exterior and a long string of careless bad behavior.
Yet I’ve gone up one side and down another about people in my life on an impulse because something felt unfair to me and I was pissed. Only to later see that inside this person, outside of their interactions with me, was something different. They were smart, sensitive, and self-critical and have real emotions, despite what I may have once thought. I’ve seen it in the way they talk about memories from the past and value the ones they love. I realized that they have self-doubts and inner demons and are hurting over many things too but don’t have the same outlets that I do. They are human and have talents and flaws and hopes and dreams for their future, whether or not you’re going to be in it. And despite mistakes they have made, they are still capable of taking care of you behind closed doors and bringing out the best of you at certain times. In the dark, they will hold you close. In the light, it might not be so easy for them. But that’s not about you, it’s about them.
What is about you is the fact that you chose to be a part of this.
This doesn’t mean you are not taking the advice of the people you vented to and it doesn’t mean that you are making excuses. You’re seeing things through your own lens and cosigning to it regardless of how it appears in the eyes of others.
Whether you’re turning over a new leaf with someone or straight up choosing to accept a situation that can’t be changed, at the end of the day, it’s your choice. And as long as you aren’t putting yourself in danger or at risk of being subjected to any type of abuse, the people that mean the most to you will hopefully still be there for you, even if you need to start bitching about it again. Because turning their back on you will only contribute to any shame and confusion you may already be feeling, which is hard enough. If they don’t want someone else hurting you, why would they want to do the same?
Tough love doesn’t always do the trick, some things are tough enough.
The key to keeping your dignity and friendships intact after you’ve returned to the scene of a crime is to focus on the positive, not exaggerate the negative and to keep certain things sacred. You don’t have to over-explain how much different, better or good things are now because if they truly are, they will see it for themselves firsthand as it plays out. And if they can one day see in them what you see, maybe they won’t think you are selling yourself short. At best, they will understand why you find it hard to walk away and won’t judge you when you don’t.