Written six months ago…
This afternoon I had a sad phone call with the father of my child. I left him a year ago—not because I didn’t love him. I did. But my ex-partner had demons that I finally realized were not mine to fight.
And while he had those demons, I could not be with him. My ex-partner didn’t understand then, and he doesn’t understand now.
This afternoon was tough. He wants me to make his pain stop but I can’t. It’s his pain. I understand though. It’s natural to use other people to blunt our pain. I’ve done it myself, many times. So I listen. And another layer of my own grief rises to the surface.
We were together three and a half years. We have a son together and I’ve never loved a man in such a way, yet our relationship is done. I may never love another man in such a way. And that is likely a healthy thing.
In our love, there was no space for me to state my truth. Not without conflict and anger and verbal abuse and being told to be other than I was. These were the demons, unfaced, that arose and hurled themselves out at me.
Such is the nature of human beings.
We externalize those aspects of self we don’t want to face. Our demons attack those we love, unless we have the courage and insight to turn and face them ourselves.
I had demons too—demons that worked in the opposite way. My demons didn’t attack others, but kept me quiet. They whispered warnings in my ears:
You can’t say that, he won’t love you anymore.
‘That’ was inevitably the truth. So I sold out truth for love. A fool’s trade, if ever there was one. And one I’m no longer willing to do.
So when my ex-partner calls me on the phone, I practice speaking truth at all times. No matter what it invokes. And sometimes it’s not nice at all. Now, mostly, I can listen to whatever is thrown at me, and let it slide off, knowing it’s not about me at all.
It’s nothing personal. This is one of the many gifts of this relationship. My son is, of course, the great gift. It was my concern for his well-being over my own that finally made me stand up tall. Somehow, even then, a year ago, I was still willing to sacrifice myself—my truth—on the altar of love.
But not my son. He was not mine to sacrifice. And for that I am grateful.
For in the year since I finally left, my life and I have blossomed. Speaking truth is still a practice, especially with those closest to me, and those I’m in relationship with.
It’s extraordinary how silent I can become in the face of love.
My own demons are still there.
But still present.
And I wonder, where did this fear of speaking truth in the face of love arise? Why did I fear that to be me was to threaten love? Where did I pick up this pattern of accommodating and appeasing and sacrificing myself to love?
Not that it matters.
It is enough to notice. To witness. To be present. And to choose to speak up and speak truth.
This afternoon, I listened to my ex-partner’s pain on the phone, feeling my own grief at what might have been but never was… I spoke my truth.
And he couldn’t hear it.
Which is how I know our relationship is over, love or no love.
If he can’t hear me, then in his world, I don’t even exist. I’m only an idea he has, a way to keep the pain at bay. And I want to be heard, as well as loved.
I want to exist outside the projection of another’s mind.
This afternoon, listening to the pain and the love of my ex-partner on the phone, I too felt pain and love.
I too saw how I’d used my ex-partner to keep my own pain at bay.
And how my own projections of who I wanted him to be caused me suffering and pain.
In this seeing…
…because of this mirror
…I see that I too need to see and hear the other
…and love them for who they are
…beyond the projection in my mind.
Funny that, eh?
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger