“There is a difference between a fool and a “mark.” We are all capable of making silly choices, but some of us were targeted for manipulation. When we make that distinction, we can begin to retell the story to ourselves in a way that allows us to forgive ourselves and reclaim our power.
After completing a relationship, where we felt someone took advantage of us, rather than be tender with ourselves, we tend to beat ourselves up. We label ourselves as silly, foolish, gullible, and naive. We look for reasons why it happened to us, what we did wrong. We view our positive characteristics as weaknesses. We draw conclusions like, “People think I am stupid,” “no one can be trusted,” and “that’s what I get for being so nice.” We say things like, “I shouldn’t be so trusting” and “good guys finish last.” Sometimes we even decide to become more like the ones who hurt us believing that if we drop the kindness, and put on the “heartless,” we will protect ourselves from future hurt.
Unfortunately, when we review our situations from a place of feeling victimized, we don’t heal.We often put on protective personas that are not us, and put up protective walls so high, and impenetrable, that even the good can’t get in. It’s the equivalent of stacking bandages on an infected wound. The bandages may provide some protection from additional outside injury, but they are also preventing the wound from being cleaned, receiving antibiotics, and being left to open air to heal.
When we don’t take the time to address our wounds, they remain decaying under our “protection.” We are helping the wound to fester. It is in our best interest, to at some point, address the infection.
What is the infection? The beliefs we took on about ourselves as a result of the relationship. The habits of deferring our power to another. The surrender of our boundaries, rules, and expectations. All of these need to be cleaned from the wound, if we want to truly heal.
Today, I realized that I get to look back at my past experiences in a more empowering way. I can assess the experience after the fact, like an insurance adjuster. I get to objectively review my past and see where things went wrong. What I realized is that it was wrong long before the relationship ended.
Sometimes situations come up and they seem to “blindside” us. I believed that for a long time. However, when I looked back, objectively, I realized that my relationship was wrong from the beginning. I knew it, I saw it, and ignored it. No one took my power away from me; I gave it away. When I recognized that truth, I felt empowered. I realized that although that person targeted me for manipulation, that I ignored what I saw and listened to what I was told. I was not a fool, although I may have played one.
I am so grateful that I took the time to look back on situation after situation, not from a place of anger, or even hurt, but from an objective place of assessment. I put myself on the witness stand and asked the tough questions, such as:
- When did you realize that things no longer felt right?
- When did you compromise your beliefs, standards, expectations?
- Did you feel the relationship was feeding you or draining you? Picture the moments when you felt this.
- Look at the numerous times you thought about walking away. Why were you ready to end it those times?
- What were some times that you remember it did not feel good anymore?
- When did you feel you were being dragged along but weren’t fully in it?
- What were the big compromises? the ones that left you feeling you had betrayed yourself?
- What was your original plan? Did you stick to it? Did you take on their plan?
- Do you recall times where intuition told you something wasn’t right? What were some of those moments?
I asked myself question after question and DID NOT BEAT MYSELF UP. I just asked the questions to show ME where I compromised MYSELF. I saw the numerous moments when I pushed myself to go along with what didn’t feel right. There were numerous moments where I saw our core values were not aligned. There were numerous moments when I felt as if intuition was screaming, “Pay attention!”
Taking the time to recognize this was so powerful. I realized that I surrendered control when I turned down the volume of my intuition. Seeing that helped me to realize it was a choice. From now on, I choose to trust myself more than I trust anyone else. I am wiser than I gave myself credit, and likely you are, too.
If you were in a relationship that negatively impacted your self worth, or if you can review your timeline and realize you were happily on your way up until that relationship came along, it may be a good idea to assess what happened. Feel free to use some of my questions above to help yourself review it objectively. Maybe ask a trusted close friend to go through the questions with you, if you feel you’ll need support, or bring it to therapy.
I set aside a few hours to unpack this and I felt so light after I was done. I didn’t even realize I was carrying that weight all this time. Be objective. Act as if you are a detective looking for clues of when it stopped being a blessing.
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP. You are looking for answers that will help you see the truth, heal, and move on with your life. There were lessons in that relationship that can empower you, and likely someone else. Look back with the intention to forgive yourself for trusting someone else more than you trust yourself. And decide to never let that happen again.
Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist
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