We were college “best friends” that fell in love.
He was set on me and was going to marry me. I believed him. Even a month later when the cheating started and I found out, I still believed him. It got a whole lot worse. I didn’t believe him anymore, but I didn’t let go either.
You know him; we all know him. The guy that you thought would never do anything to hurt you because you’re best friends. The guy that just loved and adored you so much and showed you off to his friends. The guy that got caught screwing around and being dishonest over and over that left you scratching your head thinking, “why did he do this? What’s wrong with me? I’m a catch!….aren’t I?”
I was going to take away all of his pain, take care of him. It’s all okay. He’s just hurting from his past and his parent’s divorce. His mother is the damaged one; she wasn’t doing her job as a mother. I’ll fix it.
He didn’t mean to sleep with those other girls, get a few DUIs, push me down, black out and not come home…repeatedly. He’s a good person. He wants to do great; things are just in his way. I’ll fix it.
I’m the rescuer, the savior.
He had this magical way of talking me into things, like a spell. He’d go off and get trashed with his friends, black out and end up in a hotel while his love of his life was home alone. Receipts and texts would reveal the juicy story of late night transactions fueled by booze and hotels. When confronted, he’d lie so much—so convincingly—that I’d start to doubt myself, get confused.
Am I crazy?
I wasn’t crazy. I was insecure. I lugged around my emotional abusive baggage from previous relationships and brought it this awesome party. I was collecting samskaras (emotional battle scars) and wearing them proudly.
But I kept going. My insecure, people pleasing, “I’m gonna prove everyone wrong,” egomaniac-self held on to a toxic, emotionally abusive, mentally-draining relationship for over 12 years.
On my wedding day, I broke out into hives—should’ve been a sign, right? Drank a bottle of wine before the ceremony, didn’t faze me in the least. I walked down the aisle like a pig going to slaughter. I sobbed. In my vows, I said nothing to him. I turned to the crowd, gave them a shout out for coming like a DJ. Oh, and that we would have beautiful babies.
I couldn’t stop because the pressure I placed on myself was too great. I made this decision. If it falls apart, I have no one to blame but myself. This is my punishment for being stupid in love.
I made myself the victim. Don’t you feel sorry for me?!
The lies and cheating kept happening. He’d “drink at me” because I wanted him to spend time with me. He’d look me right in the face and lie. He truly didn’t know any better. His lies were his distorted reality that was emotionally crushing me.
Then I got mad. I was right—all the time. It became addictive. “See?! You lied again. I found the hotel receipts and bar tabs. You’re such an asshole. I knew you’d do this. I’m done!” I can’t tell you how many times I said these words: “I’m done.” I was the girl who cried wolf.
I became comfortable in my insecurity, in my sham of a relationship. My way of sticking up for myself was showing that I was right.
I became comfortable being right. I became the aggressor.
After feeling like a shell of a person for far too long, I found refuge in yoga. Thank God for yoga. It was my escape from my shitty marriage. It was my therapy, my mirror. I was able to look within and see where I had responsibility in this toxic emotional abuse. I learned about the Karpman Triangle conceived by Steven Karpman in teacher training.
A “game” in Transactional Analysis is a series of transactions that is complementary (reciprocal), ulterior, and proceeds towards a predictable outcome. Games are often characterized by a switch in roles of players towards the end. The number of “players” may vary.
“Games in this sense, are devices used (often unconsciously) by a person to create a circumstance where they can justifiably feel certain resulting feelings (such as anger or superiority) or justifiably take or avoid taking certain actions where their own inner wishes differ from societal expectation. They are always a substitute for a more genuine and full adult emotion and response which would be more appropriate,” (Wikipedia).
After some denial and resisting, I finally realized I was all of these and so was he. What a fucking ah ha, Oprah moment! I immediately decided to stop this crazy train.
I asked for a divorce. The next day found out I was pregnant.
Oh shit. Yeah, oh shit! Why is it that I have this amazing, life changing revelation and now I’m tied to this asshole forever?!
Because my lesson isn’t over.
Like yoga, life an on-going practice. Some days I tear it up and kick ass; others, I forget and screw up. Just because you get a divorce or stop being a drug addict or alcoholic, doesn’t mean that you immediately stop being the victim, the aggressor, the rescuer. And just because you realize it, doesn’t mean the other person involved does too.
My sweetface girl is a beautiful reminder of what going through a tough ongoing lesson can result in: love, strength and forgiveness. Without that asshole, she wouldn’t be here. My world wouldn’t be full of her smile, laughter and awesomeness. So really, he can’t be an asshole.
I apologized, took responsibility for my hand in our relationship past, present and future. Thanked him for my daughter and giving me an opportunity to learn such a valuable lesson. Crickets…tumbleweed….silence.
The marriage is over, but his games haven’t stopped. I just choose not to participate in them anymore.
Sarah Winner is a momma who plays marketing to pay the bills and practices and teaches yoga to gain sanity—all with her sweetface girl in toe. She admittedly has a well-controlled addiction to handbags, quotes Coco Chanel quite often and is that person you call at 3 am for a shoulder to cry on. Embracing all the craziness of life, Sarah tries to find the humor and blessings in every situation she is given.
Editor: Kate Bartolotta
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July’s Full Moon in Capricorn: The Heart wants what it Wants. The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. How to Love a Woman who Scares You. Our Soulmates are Rarely Who We Expect. I Still Think of You. Men, Let’s Stop Fooling Ourselves: Size Matters. To the One Who Tried to Break Me. An Open Letter to the Fixers. How your Stored Memories in the Amygdala can lead to PTSD. How My Sister’s Death Transformed my Self-Perception.