On the cusp of a personal breakthrough, you will reflect on the time and energy you spent trying to love someone even more than you already did. When they went left, you went left with them, holding their cold hands. They would constantly scream at you, and you attributed it to stress from their job even as you held your own stressful job.
This was your life through sickness and health “until death do you part,” so on and so forth. And it all feels like a waste now. Where has the time gone? How could you have been so foolish in believing that they were the one? These questions haunt a lot of us and the answers are not always gratifying.
Here are four painful lessons we learn in the maze of love, often times when we’re reflecting on what went wrong:
1. Sometime’s love just ain’t enough.
You, Malinda, can love Craig and still decide it’s just not enough. He did have a great sense of humor. When he went with you to the women’s shelter, his kindness and empathy were through the roof. And yet, his impatience really came through when he felt like no one else matched his intellect and perspective. There were times, several in fact, that it turned into him belittling others, including you. Eventually, it all turned into anger and resentment for the world that didn’t operate the way he thought it should and for you who did not support his consistently negative attitude.
You, Malinda, loved so many things about him but you could no longer live with someone whose world on fire mentality superseded the warmth and positivity you needed in a lifelong partner.
As this case and countless others have proven that sometimes love just ain’t enough.
2. That boy who abused you didn’t change, he was exposed.
And by the boy, I mean your ex, not your son. It is a boy, not a man, that will verbally and physically abuse his partner. In a lot of cases, his partner felt blindsided by it. “I do not recognize this version of Anthony, he is not the man I fell in love with”, says Bethany. “When we were dating for those 15 months before we tied the knot, he never struck me nor did he scream at me in front our friends like he did last night!”.
I believe the exact words you’ve just verbalized Bethany, I truly do. What’s more, I can see some pieces coming together in your eyes. For while he never struck you, there were times when you saw his temper go from 1-8 in a nanosecond. You remember those times Anthony would chide you with his short and painful words. They seemingly came out of nowhere but when you add up how many times they came out, it hits you. They are coming from him. Anthony is and always has been a bully.
3. You are only misled for as long as you allow them to mislead you.
Marie tolerated a lot from Jermaine. He was a pathological liar and a bully wrapped up in a calm and sunny disposition. She knew this early on in their relationship and yet did nothing. Marie’s friends would tell her that she needed to stand up for herself or just leave. One friend, in particular, would remind Marie that while Jermaine was the asshole in the relationship, Marie enabled the behavior to continue. This offended her greatly as she knew there was nothing she did to provoke his behaviors.
She was right. I do not believe in victim blaming when it comes to measuring the rationale or intent of a bully. Unfortunately, however, I do believe that behavior from one person to another only continues so long as the victim stays in the picture. Marie knew this as well, but not until long after she as Jermaine broke up. Her words to me in a ‘Thank You’ e-mail after a particularly trying session read as follows:
“I didn’t know it at the time, but Jermaine would have bullied anyone. That’s just him. I should have left him as soon as I realized I was just another victim for him.”
Sad but true.
4. It doesn’t get better, it only gets worse.
There are times in our lives when we must realize that grief and pain are essential steps in the healing process. Grieving the death of a loved one comes to mind. So does the immediate days and weeks following the finalization of a divorce. There are some who believe this also applies to love.
“Our relationship is really hard right now, but things will change. I mean, I know he doesn’t communicate anymore and our physical relationship is nonexistent, but it can only get better after this, right?”
That depends on your perspective Joan. Better than what? If you’re currently making eye contact once a week and next month it goes to twice a week, I guess that’s better. But in what should be a lifelong journey of happiness, passion ad laughter between two people, getting better does not happen simply because it got worse. Something happened for things to get worse and investigating those things is essential. What was the catalyst for them occurring? How often did they occur and who initiated them?
Joan did a lot of this discovering before realizing two things:
1. Simply by thinking it would get better, she endured a lot of negative things in her marriage.
2. Her blind faith that things would get better stopped her from fully investigating the catalyst for those things. She left Ben 3 years after the bad things would start. In our final session together she told me that he has never been so mad at herself than when she realized she could not get those years back.
Don’t be mad Joan Or Bethany. Or anyone that has been through this. You live and you learn. When you love someone and they love you, a heart can often supersede the head. You’re wiser for what you went through and your experiences can only help you and others you know by continuing forward.
More From DivorcedMoms: