We’ve all heard the phrase, you’re making mountains out of molehills, which of course means, you’re making something out to be bigger than it really is. When you’re a codependent, or have low self-esteem, you have a tendency to do the opposite and dismiss big, important issues as unimportant or insignificant.
Case in point: My neighbor called out to me, as I was getting out of my car, last Thursday. She asked me if I wanted to grab some dinner. Who am I to turn down conversation, a meal and a cocktail? So I said sure and off we went.
When I first met this neighbor, three years ago, she was lost. She was divorced and involved with a man, who she was deeply in love with, but he had a tendency to repeatedly toss her aside and sleep with other women, whenever the mood stuck him.
I had tried to counsel her back then, but she wasn’t ready to hear what I had to say, so when she would come to me for advice, she was always quick with a rebuttal, a dismissal and what she deemed a valid argument. I learned long ago that if you ask me what I think, all I can do is give you the information that I acquired and what insight I have and what you do with it, is out of my hands.
Her argument was always, “You just can’t shut people out of your life. None of us are perfect. We’d all be alone forever, if we all sat around and waited for the perfect friend, or the perfect man to show up.” This in answer to my statement that she needed to rid her life of the toxic people in it. She would talk of loving everyone unconditionally and the importance of helping people, but mostly she was consumed with the notion that she and her lover had a deep spiritual connection, so she couldn’t leave him and she was not open to having her opinion challenged. She didn’t really want my opinion, I realized. What she wanted was for someone to agree with her and tell her she was doing the right thing.
Two years later, my neighbor has made some huge changes and just being around her energy, it was easy to see and feel that she wasn’t the same person. She had been no contact with her lover for more than a year, she meditated every day and was feeling really good about herself and it showed.
We were having a great time, laughing and joking and mid sip of my mango Daiquiri (don’t judge, it was delicious) she dropped a bomb shell on me. “I slept with Mark last night,” she said.
“Oh,” I replied. “I thought you weren’t in contact with him anymore?”
“I called him,” she said. “I’m single, he’s single. I’m so over it Savannah. It really isn’t a big deal.”
I explained the Law of Addiction to her, which states – Administration of a drug to an addict will cause re-establishment of chemical dependence upon the addictive substance.
“Savannah I’m not addicted to him. I’m a different person now. It really doesn’t matter to me if he comes and goes, or who he goes out with and you know what? We have a really strong bond between us. It will always be there. I think that we’re soulmates. There is such a deep love between us. It doesn’t matter how much time passes, I know it will always be there.”
Internally I am doing face palm, after face palm and I began to tell her a story:
“I use to smoke when I was a teenager. I quit for 5 years, until one day I thought it would be fun to have a drag of a friend’s cigarette. I was long over it, I told myself. It has no power over me anymore, I said. Later that day I asked for a whole cigarette, not just a drag. Before the end of the next day I had purchased a whole pack of cigarettes and it had me in its grip again. I then had to start the weaning process all over again. If you reengage with this guy again, on any level, regardless of how in control of the situation you feel, you will get sucked back into it again – this I promise you,” I told her.
“You say you don’t care if he comes and goes, or who he’s with, because a) you’re lonely and you are justifying it with, I’d rather have a piece of someone, than no one at all and b) he has successfully eroded your expectations and trained you to accept his shitty behavior and not expect much from him.
You don’t have a deep love and connection together. He’s not in love with you, because you don’t treat people the way he has treated you and claim to love that person. But you’re really not in love with him either, you’re in love with the intense feelings you experience when you go into the soaring part of the relationship cycle, after a withdrawal. You tell yourself you can handle the crashing, just as long as you get to experience the soaring too.”
My neighbor is the kind of person that tends to interrupt and not let you finish your thought when she doesn’t like what you’re saying, so I had to keep asking her to let me finish. She tried to justify, minimize and argue my every point and she kept reiterating that she would be okay if he left her again to sleep with other women.
“People just sleep together all the time Savannah,” she triumphantly threw at me.
“That’s true,” I said, “But you’re not just any people and this isn’t just any relationship.” I continued. “Whether you admit it or not, you want more from him and you’re hoping he’ll realize suddenly, that you’re the one and he’ll change who he is for you. You can’t, in one breath say that the two of you share a deep love and then claim that it’s just sex. You have made such amazing progress, all after you stopped engaging with him. It would be a shame if you had to start all over again.
It is after all your life. You can do what you want, but let me just finish by saying that people who love and respect themselves don’t continue to put themselves back into situations that don’t serve them and are harmful to their self-esteem. Cheating is a big deal, lying is a big deal, treating the person you claim to love, like they mean nothing to you, is a big deal.
It doesn’t matter that the pain of the initial sting has worn off – all that means is that you’re resilient and that’s great, but it doesn’t make it okay, and we can’t just minimize it because it doesn’t hurt so much now. That’s like saying it’s okay that someone shot you, because it wasn’t a fatal shot. No it’s not. Just because you didn’t die doesn’t make shooting you okay. When you just look at the fact that you got over it and it didn’t kill you and not the act and the intention behind it, you’re missing the entire point.
Healthy people, that love themselves, don’t think it’s okay that someone intentionally hurt them. They know that once you show that you can betray them and that you can be deceitful, that’s enough for them to make the call that they gave you a chance and determined that you don’t get to be a part of their life anymore and they’re good with that decision.”
My neighbor was quiet and pensive for a minute. When she opened her mouth to speak again I braced myself for another face palm.
“You may have a point Savannah,” she said.
I smiled and let out the breath I was holding. “I’ll take that,” I said and ordered another drink.
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