“Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.” -Dream Hampton
For the life of me, I couldn’t understand what he was angry about. As would often come to be the case, his reaction made absolutely no sense whatsoever. I figured he must have misunderstood. Perhaps our language barrier was greater than we’d realized. I wondered if we had been miscommunicating all along and neither one of us had noticed!
I did what any woman who has no absolutely no idea what is going on might in this situation: I attempted to explain myself.
Explaining oneself to someone with emotionally abusive tendencies is one of the most confusing and frustrating experiences one can have, and it actually does much more harm than good. The more I tried, the angrier he became and the more misunderstood I felt.
The next day, I finally got frustrated enough by the dynamic to get sucked into a power struggle, which escalated into a fight. As someone who enjoys peace, I hadn’t engaged in what I’d consider an actual fight with a boyfriend, complete with yelling and a volley of unkind words, in well over a decade.
I found I hadn’t lost my ability to deliver quick-witted digs and snarky comebacks. Within minutes of returning his oppositional attitude, he left.
When I still hadn’t heard back from my text an hour later, it was my turn to bolt. Did he think I was going to just wait there at his place until he decided to return? Clearly, he thought I was someone else, maybe a submissive ex.
I was happy to be back in the hands of my fully charged ego, which booked me a hotel in South Beach.
A few minutes later, I realized I was heading in the exact opposite direction of where I wanted to go, both from a driving perspective and also emotionally. When I turned my rental car around, I noticed I was in the exact spot we’d taken our magical bike ride that first night.
The observation helped me silence my ego long enough to recall that my Kundalini teacher Guru Jagat, who knew I was in a new relationship, had sent me a meditation kriya a few days prior to clear relationship issues. I walked down to the beach to check it out on my phone.
I had smoke coming out of my ears when I started but 31 minutes later, I felt calm and loving. I decided to reach out to my boyfriend and offered to stop by before heading to South Beach. He said he wanted to talk also and when I asked, told me his son was already in bed.
His son was very much still up when I arrived. The bigger surprise was that a couple we were going to meet out before our fight was visiting. Why hadn’t he mentioned he had company?
After forcing a smile during introductions, I went into the kitchen to compose myself. He didn’t follow me; he barely acknowledged me. I felt incredibly uncomfortable and figured this couple knew all about our fight, which I’d come over to discuss. I hadn’t planned to do so publicly.
I somehow resisted my strong urge to leave. That is how I used to handle overwhelming relationship conflicts – escaping – sometimes leaving the relationship all together. I did a few minutes of tapping (EFT) and somehow managed to socialize as well as I could with people who didn’t speak much English.
When they left, my boyfriend told his son they were going to have to leave earlier than usual for school the next morning, because I was going to work and couldn’t give them a ride.
Work? I thought I was going to South Beach. When had I gotten a job?
I was surprised by his dishonesty, because he had me convinced he was someone of high integrity. I could have understood not telling his son the details – why not just say I wasn’t available?
The morning forecast called for showers. I’d watched the kid work on a big school project for days. There was no way I was letting it get ruined just because his dad was willing to let that happen to our relationship. I decided to stay the night, despite how unwelcome and uncomfortable I felt.
The following morning, my boyfriend told me that his coldness had been in my imagination. After dropping his son off at school, he enrolled me in my own course of studies, relaying a version of the prior night that differed significantly from the one I remembered.
I’d been studying psychology, coaching and personal development since college, but I’d never heard the term. If I’d seen the course description, Gaslighting 101 would not have become my elective.
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