So there I was many, many moons ago, out Christmas shopping, for the love in my life. I was in a long distance relationship at the time and I use the term relationship very loosely. It had moments of bliss, followed by moments of absolute agony. He kept coming and going from my life and I kept taking him back.
One particular Christmas season, I was out at the mall buying gifts for him and racking up quite a debt, then something very strange happened. I literally stopped in my tracks. I remember specifically being in a particular store and having just chosen something else for him, and the thought of, “What the hell am I doing?” reverberated throughout my entire body.
“Is he going to buy me a gift?” I asked myself. “Hell no. He won’t even send me a Christmas card.” The year before I had bought him an expensive leather jacket, he sent me a nude pic of himself. That was my gift, a nude pic, the likes of which I received every time he needed an ego stroke. I thought about all the days in between the previous Christmas and this one and I couldn’t help but think, “What’s changed in our relationship?”
This is still all about him. He’s boomeranging in and out of my life whenever he wants to. He’s using me and I’m letting him. I’m living in some kind of fairytale, where this is a real relationship, when I’m really just here for his amusement and I’m rewarding him for treating me like this – with gifts. Am I nuts?
He didn’t get gifts that year, nor any other year after that. I’m hearing the same pull in a lot of my readers and clients this month. When you’re an over giver it’s only natural that that trickles down to the actual giving of gifts to someone who clearly doesn’t deserve them.
When I look back, I wonder what was I doing? Was I trying to buy his love with presents? Was I trying to show him that one person really loved him more than anyone else? Was I trying to show him the benefits of being with me? It just defied reason that I was so willing to spend a ton of money on someone, who probably wouldn’t even call me on Christmas day.
As I try to analyze that behavior, now that I am so far removed from it, it’s just so nonsensical. I mean really, he knows how he’s treated me. He knows I should tell him where to go and that I shouldn’t have anything to do with him and yet here I am rewarding his poor treatment of me. What kind of a message was I sending?
I’m pretty sure he would read like this: That Sav is a great friend. She’s so sweet, but she knows how I am and she’s cool with it. So I’ll just carry on as usual.
What it really said was: I have no self-respect, because if I did I wouldn’t buy this guy a clue never mind a ton of gifts he doesn’t deserve. I am so desperate for any type of attention that I’m willing to sell my self-esteem to puff up his ego, yet again. The more elaborate the gift, the more I’m hoping he’ll pick me, pick me. He’s so special and I’m so unworthy.
A lot of my readers see the holidays as an opportunity to sabotage their recovery. They’ve gone no contact for months and suddenly the holidays come around and they’re responding to text messages, sending Christmas cards, and going to visit his/her family, because, you know, they were close to them at one point.
Let’s be real for a second. I don’t care if Jimmy’s mom is mother Theresa, if he has been cheating on you and has dumped you, don’t go over to his mother’s house for tea. That’s his mother – not yours and any need to hang on to his family is just a feeble attempt to stay connected. You’re not fooling anyone – not even yourself. Even if they do the inviting, you decline, send them a Christmas card, they’ll understand, believe me.
I’ve had others tell me that they have a psychic connection to their ex and they could sense something wasn’t right with them, so they had to make contact to make sure they were okay. As an objective third party, this sounds absolutely ridiculous and it is, but I get it. I’ve experienced it myself. When someone becomes the sole focus of your existence and they have shut you out, all you’ve got left is the cosmos. You’re looking for any sign, earthbound or otherwise, that you matter to them. I think on some level, all people do have a psychic connection. I think there is something to telepathic communication, but it’s not just with one person, it’s with all people. If someone has dumped you, or mistreated you to the point where you are completely devastated and you’ve had to go no contact, I don’t care if your Spidey senses are screaming, “Jimmy’s fallen down a well, he needs help,”- Don’t make contact. His/her wellbeing isn’t your problem anymore.
Another good one is, “We bought concert tickets before we broke up and I’m going. Why should I have to miss this band I really want to see, just because he’s going to be there?” Well the answer to that is pretty simple. He’s going to be there. If you care at all about your recovery, it’s worth a lot more than this particular event. If you must go – buy yourself a different ticket far, far away from the other one and give your original ticket to a homeless person. That would be a night full of entertainment.
I get this one a lot too, “Just because he’s mean doesn’t mean I have to be mean too.“ Huh? Well yeah, it kind of does, if you define being mean as cutting someone out of your life because they’ve been abusing you. If that’s mean then, hell ya, you should be mean.
All people can justify bad behavior. Someone who has abused you can justify what they’ve done and you can also find a way to justify what they’ve done to you, but when you are justifying reengaging with an abuser once you’ve gotten free of them, you need to take a step back. Even if it hurts like hell and you are dying inside, begging the cosmos for any sign of life, you’ve got to use common sense and ask yourself – is this good for me, or am I just setting myself up for another turn on the merry-go-round?
You don’t need to make contact again to get closure or settle things. Closure isn’t something that you can get from other people and if you’re involved with an unsavory type, you’re not going to get it from them, because many of them like to always keep that door open. Closure is the commitment you make to yourself that your top priority is always going to be your wellbeing. People who practice self-care do not put their recovery in jeopardy for any reason. They don’t do things to harm themselves and trust me when I say, breaking no contact and re-engaging with someone who is harmful for your wellbeing, is harming yourself.
Santa knows who’s been bad or good and so should you. Update your naughty list and stop rewarding bad behavior. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at Esteemology. Have a safe and drama free season.
Image courtesy of holohololand at freedigitalphotos.net