You’re going to have to.
As much as I wish this were not the truth, it certainly is. You started this journey as one thing, and you cannot continue as that, so you will have to come out as something different. Unfortunately, that normally comes after healing from a significant amount of trauma or damage.
I’m sure some people make it out of this unscathed, but those cases are rare. Do not think yourself so lucky. Or do — I don’t live an optimist’s life (bit of a realist myself), but you’re welcome to try it. Maybe that works better.
People, unfortunately, are so goddamn damaged they can accidentally hurt those around them. We get cut and we forget to clean the wound, so it becomes infected and eventually bleeds on others around us. When we are injured, when we are messed up, we hurt those around us because we are hurting. We lash out and manipulate and try to control because we are so horrified about what’s going on inside of us.
Sometimes we are that person, the one who can’t control our hurt, so we pour it onto other people. But sometimes it’s someone else in our life. People like this, people who can’t control their hurt — they might destroy you, might decimate the person you used to be. They’ll bury you with hurtful words and harmful thoughts and inaccurate versions of yourself that only exist in their world. They could be lying, they could be telling the truth, but you’ll never know. And if you get that luxury, it won’t be for a very long time.
Being the person on the other side of this, the person who gets manipulated and bled on and hurt, is a difficult reality. It’s a tough spot to be in — it’s an incredibly harmful and hopeful spot. When you love someone, when you truly value another human and their wellbeing, it’s near impossible to watch them burrow inside themselves and lock you out. You want to help, you really just want to help, but they do not want that. They don’t know how to want that. Perhaps they do not need that.
And how do you swallow such a harsh and final reality? How do you truly let someone go who is already gone?
You’ll have to hurt, for starters. You have to sink deep inside of yourself for a bit and acknowledge all that is happening there. It’s painful, it’s angry, it’s ugly, and it’s the hardest thing you will have to do. There’s an inner storm brewing — try and face it.
You might get swallowed by this storm, my dear, and it can really do some damage. You might fall so deep into the trenches that you cannot imagine climbing back out. You’ll find bruises you didn’t know were there, you’ll see limbs looking a little out of place, and you’ll be shocked that this has all happened in such a short period of time. How will you ever survive?
But the light will break through the storm one day. Maybe not for a long time, sadly, but it will happen. The only way to get there is to let that storm in. Sink deep into it and feel everything that you need to, whenever you need to. Because if you don’t do this first, if you don’t get a little wrecked, you will never properly heal. You’ll just be masking your hurt over and over and over until you become the person who did it to you in the first place.
Let this wreck you. Let it hurt. But don’t you dare let this fully break you. Sure, you’re going to get injured, and that’s okay. But this is not the thing that takes you down. This is not the person worth breaking over. If it were, they wouldn’t have done this to you in the first place.
Once the storm passes, or even when it starts to lighten a bit, look up. See that the light is coming, the warmth is on its way, and you’ll start to feel a bit better.
One day, potentially a long time from now, you will be full and functional and happy, but it will be because you allowed yourself to feel this much. You allowed yourself to accept that the storm was coming regardless of the steps you took, and instead of running from it and pretending it wasn’t looming, you walked straight in with your head held high and your raincoat on, and you knew eventually it would lighten.
Save this story, read it often, and revisit it when you’re whole. When the light is fully back and the storm has fully passed, see how strong you truly are.
You made it. And if you haven’t yet, you certainly will.