It’s been a while since I wrote to you out there. That’s, in part, because I’m getting my life back. I feel more like me than I have in years. I was told it would take ten years to shake off the trauma of being thrown away, and that turns out to be pretty accurate. This metric was given to me by a veteran thrown away wife. She nailed it. In another year, it will be 10 years since my ‘armageddon’, and I believe that by that time, I might even be better than I am today.
I feel like me again, finally. It’s good to be back with my sense of humor, my confidence, my feeling that nothing is beyond my reach. Remember when I couldn’t remember whether my precious pet was male or female when I went to buy a leash? When I stood before two bathroom doors, one for men and one for women, being unsure how to proceed? That terrible cloud is gone forever from my life, that awful lack of ability to think straight. I feel good again, actually good. I feel like being around people again. Remember when I wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear? Yes, nine years ago, and for many years after I felt that way, that I wanted never to have existed in the universe; it wasn’t enough to hide.
The worst and longest lasting side effect of being thrown away is the broken relationships AROUND the marriage, the collateral damage. Sometimes those relationships heal in the requisite decade, but not always and not all. I once wrote that every single relationship in my life was broken, and they were. Some few are knitting back together and some never will…and some that never will are gladly gone. I’m a different person now, and some of the people I cared about and whom I believed cared about me…were just fakes. I can see that now, and can’t believe I couldn’t see it all along. I was surrounded by people who didn’t care about me. Why? Because I ‘invited’ them in. I didn’t expect to be treated with love and respect, because I had no clue what love really looked like.
But, fellow throw-aways, it is true that healing happens. It is true that you are not forever gone, you are not worthless, you are not unloved. It is also true that some of your relationships are gone forever. And that is okay! Here’s why.
See, when you are broken into so many pieces, even when you are reassembled, you might look like you, but you’re a scarred you, and in some ways, surprisingly, a stronger you. You are also damned determined never to be broken to that extent again. If you paid attention along the recovering journey, you have realized some important things about yourself that you never knew before…like how strong you really are. And I’d bet that you were once a person who gave people a LOT of passes, people who didn’t treat you well. It’s easy to rationalize away bad behavior when you ‘love’ someone. But just know, or learn, that giving people passes also gives them permission to treat you badly. Eventually they learn that they can ‘dis’ you and get away with it, and human nature means that they will continue that behavior and even escalate it.
You teach people how to treat you.
Among the wreckage of my armageddon are fake friendships revealed, traitors and betrayers brought into the light, people’s true feelings about me revealed, and a lot of surprised people who can’t believe I won’t associate with them anymore. After all, I always let them treat me like crap before! What’s different now? Here’s what’s different: I learned what love it and what it is NOT. I learned that trust is earned, not handed out freely, and I have learned that an untrustworthy person is….not to be trusted. Seems simple, doesn’t it? How many times, though, have you allowed a person to lie to you and still stick around?
The biggest revelation for me was finally understanding what love is. I questioned it a lot, remember? How can anyone who EVER loved me do this to me? Why do people who ‘love’ me, treat me like a virus now, when I need them? Remember? Well here’s how: What they showed me was not love, even though among all of them, they must have said, “I love you!” a thousands of times. Some of them still do, by the way. Amazingly, they do. And I shake my head, partly out of sheer disbelief. Why? They really think they do love me. But I, on the other hand, do not love them. They do not deserve my love. They might be around, but will never get within arms length of me again. Their loss, by the way.
I agonized over love, prayed about it. What IS love that it can be so horrible, so damaging, so hurtful? Where can I find it, the real thing? Well, first, love is never horrible, damaging or hurtful. Love is never any of the negatives. It’s just not. Love is good, kind, protective, safe. In answer to a thousand prayers, I learned that to some, love is possession. These are the people who bully and badger you into being what they insist you be. To them, you are not good enough the way God created you. To some, love is abuse. To them, you are their personal punching bag, there to provide an abusive way for them to destress. To some, you are a host. You are there to support them, pay their way in life, feed them and their ego. They are parasites.
Well, then, what IS love?
Remember when I said it was God, only God, who got me through? Well that, my friends, is where you find love. You find the definition of it, literally, and you see the illustration of it, in God’s word. In answer to a prayer, I was told to stop looking at the wrong illustration of it, and look to God. If you want to know what love is, read God’s definition. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But we who are thrown away do not love ourselves enough to understand love. So yes, look to God’s word. Read the definition. And start looking away from the ones who do not embody that definition. Look instead to the ones who live the kind of love day in and day out, and open the door and your heart to them.
And keep walking through the valley. There is sunshine ahead!