You Are So Not Who I Thought You Were
After my first few post-divorce breakups, I started to tell people that “anyone is capable of anything at any time.” It’s not to be a pessimist. It’s not to turn you into a suspicious crazy person. It’s just to make you aware that it’s not that anyone will DO anything at any time, but that they are certainly capable of it.
When you understand that “anyone is capable of anything at anytime,” it takes the surprise out of the equation when loving person X suddenly turns into Latest-In-A-Long-Series-of-Mistakes X. It stops the cycle of being surprised by the same old thing.
We think we’re healthier and – since Getting Past Your Breakup says that water seeks its own level and we’re healthier – we must be ready for healthier partners and things “should” work out. But oftentimes it doesn’t. And we don’t get it.
This is often how it unfolds:
After our big breakup, we followed the GPYB program. We read Getting Past Your Breakup. We did the work in the Getting Past Your Past Workbook. We read Getting Back Out There and we do the work.
Then we start dating. We go along merrily and find someone we really like who seems to REALLY like us. We fall in love and think, we got this right! We are hap-hap-happy….
Then – almost as quickly as we got IN – we sense the other person wants out… they ghost us or they start giving us a hard time or they just become the complete opposite of who we thought they were.
We say, “You are not who I thought you were!” and Person X has no answer because the answer would have to be, “Well if I showed you who I really was, you wouldn’t have had anything to do with me.” And you would say, “But I showed you who I really was.” and Person X would grin sheepishly and say, “okay, ‘m I bad.”
That conversation doesn’t actually take place.
Because you don’t want to admit that Person X is more like the latest behavior than the early “reel you in” behavior:
You don’t want to admit you have been the victim of bait and switch;
You don’t want to admit that you have been taken for a ride; and
Person X does not want to admit that he or she is a perfect jackhole capable of incredibly craptastic behavior.
You struggle to understand it.
How could you say A and do B?
Why why why?
How how how?
You sail off on the good ship Self-Righteous thinking, “I could NEVER do that to someone else!” and then you writhe and moan, unable to wrap your brain around this completely self-centered, self-absorbed, uncaring, unfeeling behavior on the part of someone you thought was going to be a good relationship partner.
Did I fall in love with a mirage?
Did I fall in love with someone or something that didn’t really exist?
How do I get them to change back?
Well, you don’t.
People change or change back when and if they feel like it. Chances are that Person X is going to break out the old “sweet and wonderful” costume in order to woo Ms. or Mr. New Person. They’re not going to break it back out for YOU. You’ve seen the switch. You know the phone booth (or whatever people use these days to change into things) costume change trick. You’re not so gullible.
Onto greener pastures with my portable personality capable of switching into Mr. or Ms. Bananahead at the drop of a hat.
And so it goes…
They go on….carrying the costume under their arm, waiting for the next unsuspecting person who wants them to be good and real and genuine even though they know they are no such thing.
Granted, most bananaheads have NO such insight into themselves, but this is what their behavior is saying and doing.
Meanwhile, back at the breakup ranch….
You are stunned, you are flabbergasted, your mouth is hanging open like you are catching flies. Your sentences begin with “huh?” “what?” “how?”
And you twist your brain into pretzels to understand what just happened. Who is this person? How could he or she do this to widdle ole you who just wanted to be loved and cherished? You fling yourself upon the bed and sob until you can’t sob anymore…and you wait and you wonder…and you wait for the change to come…for this nightmare to be over…for the person you loved to come back.
Bad news: NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, and if it happens, it’s NOT REAL.
Remember the GPYB mantra when you are questioning why, how, etc: IT DOESN’T MATTER. IT DOESN’T MATTER. IT DOESN’T MATTER.
So long as you are stuck on what he or she did and how he or she does not make any sense, you are postponing your own moving on. As long as you are in their head and trying to figure out this person from Planet Zero, you are never going to get over it.
Thank your lucky stars you DON’T GET IT. Thank your lucky stars you are NOT the quick change artist. Thank your lucky stars that you have enough integrity to not have been able to see this coming.
And fall back. Stop asking why? how? when? Stop thinking…if only….maybe if I tried this…maybe if I asked that…maybe I can turn this whole thing around.
Start looking at you. Start realizing you were with someone who is capable of extreme behavior that hurts you. And that is NOT what you need and that is NOT what you want.
You can’t trust everyone out of the gate. Even weeks or even months of “good behavior” oftentimes means nothing. Many times we’re humming along thinking both of us are having a good time and on the same page and we’re NOT.
Many times we’re making assumptions we should NOT be making. Did you base your assumptions on certain things or did you just assume what they said is true and now you find they are not? If they said they’re honest, did you just believe it or did you ask what they meant by that. Early on ask for examples of things so you know if you’re on the same page.
Remember frame of reference: if someone says they’re honest, it doesn’t mean that they are. Just because you say it and mean it, doesn’t mean everyone says it and means it. That is an ASSUMPTION. In my work with former partners of the personality-disordered, I have written about how sociopaths and narcissists “mirror” you and mirror what they think normal is. You will say, “I’m generous,” and they say, “Oh me too!” and you apply your idea of generosity to them. But if they are personality-disordered (and many times even if they’re not), they don’t have a clue about being generous. But you fixed it in your mind that a) they are generous and b) they are generous exactly in the same way you are.
There are people in places like 12-step programs and community groups and churches who are there because the majority of people are sincere, trustworthy and TRUSTING people. You think that the person recovering in a 12-step program that stresses honesty or a church member in a church that stresses honesty IS honest when they say they are…but many times the most deviant people are there exactly because the pickings of victims is plentiful. Don’t make assumptions! Just because a person is in a church or in a program or has a certain title doesn’t make them reliable or truthful or generous.
And a person who has given you NO pause about anything is probably keeping up a facade. Real people act real. To have no issues with anyone…everything is perfect, perfect…is not real. There either HAD to be something or you were just totally snowed or you allowed your assumptions and fantasies take you away to lala land, and Mr. or Ms. X forgot to accompany you there.
Either way, it’s a problem…for YOU. You cannot and will not find a healthy relationship if you don’t own some of this. Because if you don’t own anything, you can’t change anything and if you can’t change anything, nothing changes.
Did you really talk about things? Did you ask the right questions (review GBOT for this)? Did you observe? Did you listen for things that went wrong in their past relationships? You obviously missed SOMETHING even if it’s just that this person is a gigantic liar liar pants on fire. You can try to look back and see when and how the deception took place. Maybe you could have caught it but maybe this person is very good at it. You do have to work on you. Something was amiss and something was missed.
So what do you do now? Back to Basics:
1. Do your grief work. Journal about the relationship, journal about you, journal about warning signs and red flags that you MISSED. There have GOT to be some there. Reread GPYB and GBOT. If you haven’t worked in the workbook in some time, do that as well. It is ALWAYS good to get back to basics.
2. Work on your affirmations. Version 3 of the GPYP Workbook is completely revamped because of the on-going research about the positive effects of affirmations on the brain. Affirmations are NOT “new-agey mumbo jumbo.” They are based on neuroscience and as the workbook and Power! Affirmations Booklet attest, there are REAL, SCIENTIFIC STUDIES done on neuroplasticity showing actual, physical changes in people who employ positive self-talk and affirmations.
Affirmations are an integral part of the GPYB program because affirmations DONE RIGHT work! If you haven’t started affirmations or stopped doing them – please start. The Power! Affirmations booklet is the result of over 25 years of research and field experience. It walks you THROUGH the affirmation practice building exercises and explains everything in-depth to get you on the right track.
Work on your positive self-talk. Work on believing that you deserve so much more than this. Work on your Acceptance statements and Even Though statements from the workbook and Power! Affirmations Booklet. Work on knowing that a person with integrity presents who they are – not who they are not. If they purposely or accidentally misled you because they don’t have personal insight, it’s still your problem. You have to get right with the idea that not everyone is who they say they are.
3. In GPYB, you should have done your Relationship Inventory and the Life Inventory. Go back to those inventory. Revisit your Life Inventory. Work on your life history. Has this happened before? When? How often? What is the pattern here? Think about your partners. Water DOES seek its own level. To find out what is going on with us, we need to look at our partners. If we are attracted to people with commitment issues, guess what? WE have commitment issues. I have heard people SCREECH: NO I DO NOT! I want a relationship! But they continue to pick partners who are not emotionally available. That usually means you are – on some level – afraid of intimacy – afraid of being hurt. The way to avoid being hurt in a deeply committed relationship is to avoid picking partners who are capable of a committed relationship. You may “think” you’re ready for a relationship, but your choice of partners says you clearly are not. GET HONEST ABOUT YOU. What are you REALLY afraid of?
4. Self-care. As explained in the GPYB book and the Workbook, it’s time to work on being good to yourself. Work on giving back to you during this rough journey.
5. Part of the GPYB program is OBSERVATION. Review the Observation exercises in the workbook. Step back and observe yourself and observe other people. Learn to hone in on people and learn to step back and allow someone to reveal things about themselves to you before you create a fantasy in your mind of who you want them to be. What actions of theirs did you OBVIOUSLY misinterpret? Think back on the “signs” you interpreted to mean that they were falling as hard and as fast as you were. You must learn to pull back on interpreting things so much in your favor. Read this post —> Discount It All.
6. Review your Standards and Compatibility from GBOT. What did you miss? How did you miss it?
7. But above all else: forget this person you fell in love with. They are never coming back. The person who LEFT YOU is more in line with who this person REALLY is than the person you fell in love with.
And stay out of their head and stop trying to make sense of it.
It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter.
Be good to you.
Today and always and
JUST SAY NO to bananaheads!!!!