I received a couple of sarcastic, mean and accusatory text messages from an ex-boyfriend this week. We haven’t communicated in any way for more than six months; we dated for eight years. Reading two messages has left me sad and upset for two days; I debated whether to respond or not; I responded to the first, trying to change the tone and ask for some compassion and he sent a follow-up nastygram back. I decided to not re-engage.
He’s upset (apparently now after months) because I’ve maintained a relationship with his mother; she and I didn’t feel we had to lose each other because my relationship with him didn’t work out. This hardly seems a basis for being cruel to me and I just feel incredibly sad over all of it. The ex-boyfriend started out a very interesting, warm and engaging person who could make me laugh like no one else. However, as often is the case, over time, warm and engaging went away and critical and unkind came out more. It was an important relationship to me, one from which I still have very fond and wonderful memories, but also one from which I have learned a tremendous amount, mostly about what not to do. One thing I haven’t learned, though, is how he and other people can just be mean, while others (like me) seem to have a really hard time shaking the effects of someone dumping negative energy on them.
The simple answer of saying that the person is lashing out from a place of fear or anger or discontent with himself just doesn’t seem like enough of an explanation to me. It is completely unsatisfying to the person on the receiving end who has to process someone else’s horrible words or actions. It is one thing to have words come out wrong in a heated argument, and another thing to manipulate the argument in order to dominate it. The former is a mistake; the latter is abusive.
I am frustrated how I have found myself reeling by someone’s cruelty and then retreating because I just can’t understand or process the low blow. On some level, I worry that this makes me appear weak, but I haven’t yet been successful in hiding just how much I am overwhelmed with sadness and sickness in being on the receiving end of someone’s crappy energy. And don’t misinterpret this as me suffering from low self-esteem or that I’m just sitting around waiting to get the next dose of abuse. It isn’t that. It’s just that I feel like a side of velcro that just picks up negative particles of cruelty and they are really hard to pull off. I eventually do- but it seems like it is much more of a process for me.
I don’t know that we will ever really have a scale that judges whether emotional wiring is different and how to compare one person’s experiences to another’s. But if there ever is such a scale, I am sure that I would end up on the side of the scale where I feel things intensely and reflect more often on outcomes of my actions. I’m not suffering from anxiety about it, but I am very reflective and intentional in the majority of what I do. And I don’t fully understand how other people aren’t that way as well. I have always, even as a child, gone out of my way to try not to hurt other people’s feelings (hence, the “good girl”). This creates its own problems in terms of people-pleasing habits, but I think it also sets me up to feel more hurt when people seem to be deliberately mean.
Does anyone else have a hard time shaking off someone else’s cruelty, even when you know to the core of your being that you don’t deserve it? Does anyone else have a way of dealing with it so it doesn’t bog you down for days?