Recently I told my therapist I have been struggling with de-coupling the past from my overall positive present. I want to put the past to bed; label it, stick it on the shelf of past experiences… but not exactly sure how. I’m struggling with this “labeling”. After some digging on her end, she discovered I still haven’t fully explored all the feelings from the split. Specifically: anger. I had no trouble recounting the events of the split and describing the sadness I felt. However, when she asked if was angry I struggled. While my answer was an easy “yes”, it was really hard to enunciate/expand on the anger. Upon reflection, my guess is that anger implies an acceptance of a mistake; an understanding that the relationship wasn’t right, and that I was complicit in some way (deciding to be together, pursuing in the first place, something like that). Regardless, she suggested I explore the anger a bit… to vent in some way. So, I bring you: the Anger Dump.
She let me down. She was not perfect for me. I poured my heart and soul into her and she told me it was not enough. That’s bullshit, man. I gave everything I knew how to give and she wanted more. With time, I could have given even more… but I was not given the chance.
I invested so much in her. Time. Money. Energy. Despite this, she walked. Even when she was telling me I wasn’t enough, I told her I would work on myself, I would try to be even better if only she would engage with me in therapy. I would do anything. It’s pretty debasing, in hindsight, and that’s pretty shitty.
She was constantly down. She had hopes and dreams that she wasn’t equipped to pursue. The inevitable failures upset her. The failures were inevitable only in that she didn’t try very hard, didn’t pursue in-depth. She half-assed everything and then would cry when it didn’t work out in her favor. As her loyal cheerleader, I would be there to catch her on the way down. I expended so much emotional energy boosting her back up, and then helping her come to a solution… solutions that were *never* followed up on.
Case in point (how to choose just one?):
Dance — she was a trained dancer. She wanted to be a professional dancer. To do pursue this career, you have to go through a grueling audition process. It helps to have connections, which requires endless networking. It’s a lot like trying to become an actor, which we all know takes years. She would lament the fact that she wasn’t succeeding as a dancer, while not putting in much time to pursue it. She would settle on an audition she wanted to do, then “cram” dance classes for the 2-3 weeks before it. Inevitably, she wouldn’t get a gig because she hadn’t been training year round like her competitors. Cue tears. Cue world is ending. Cue me consoling. Cue me lifting up. Rinse, repeat ad nauseam. Want me to put you in touch with my friend’s partner who works with like 30 dance groups in Chicago and has offered to put you in touch? Yes? Ok! Have you followed up with her yet? No? Ok, I’ll stop asking.
Art/stationary — she had talent as an artist. She wanted to make something of it. She liked the wedding industry. Settled on a wedding invitation “business” (spoiler alert — the business never eventuated). Spent weeks and weeks planning her move — endless conversations with me about what it would be. Step 1: start an Instagram page! Ok so how is this going to lead to your career? It will build your portfolio and then you plan to reach out friends offering your services? Great! Months later: hey, your page is looking really great, how are you feeling about it? Do you think it’s time to reach out to some friends? No? Ok, I’ll stop asking.
Yoga — now you’re interested in yoga? Great! What are your plans? You want to become a teacher? Great, here’s thousands of dollars for a yoga teacher training course. You want to practice on your free time? Sure, I’ll volunteer for that in my own free time! You want me to go to your trial class at the studio? Couldn’t be happier to do so! Congrats on graduating! What’s next? Cool, networking at other studios and putting up fliers for yoga in the park sounds like a great idea! Hey, how’s the networking and fliers going? Oh, haven’t started yet? Ok, I’ll stop asking.
Cue endless self-doubt. Cue anger at me for trying to help. Cue tears. Cue consoling.
Not sure exactly where I will go from here but for now I’ll just see how it feels accepting and acknowledging the anger and her genera shittiness in this regard and see how I feel moving forward. At the least, it’s been helpful to realize that in my next partner I am looking for confidence and competence.