Like all stories of unfulfilled aspirations, this one is a little sad too, with a coming of age twist and a lesson for most women who jeopardize their identity to be someone else’s favorite.
Usually these stories start with sadness. Vying for someone’s attention and love, sacrificing a lot of ourselves along the way, temporarily made to believe that we have reached where we set out to reach, and finally realizing that it was all a lie.
Yup! Women and their quest of being liked by other people. The power play, the yo-yo of emotions and the final disappointment.
It’s so weird, right? That we would make such endeavor to be liked by someone. To get their approval. To be acknowledged by them.
What’s weirder is that the constant rejection doesn’t feel like tyranny and coldheartedness. It feels like failure. It feels personal.
So what happens when an over-achieving human being is rejected? They try to win others even more. It becomes a battle between ego and need. Need wins. Ego loses.
She was rejected by the same person. Many times. So many times that it became a habit. It became expected. Almost predictable. And because it became predictable, it became comfortable.
While she thought that they had found a way to be, what she didn’t realize was that subjecting someone to constant rejection is a form of abuse. She didn’t understand that she was a victim.
And because she didn’t realize that, she also didn’t realize that abuse can become comfortable too. It can become familiar too. It can feel our own too just by virtue of becoming a part of us.
Yes, friends! Abuse can become a part of us. It can seep into our brains and change the wiring. It can become reliable. It can also become a way of being. So it becomes a part of us.
And it easily became a part of her. The thirst to make someone happy was so strong that she bore a huge amount of suffering. Her soul suffered, her heart too and definitely her brain too. She didn’t care too much about her husband or kids, or her own family. This person, who wasn’t really related to her, had a psychological hold on her happiness and contentment.
Imagine being in a funk. In a funk of abuse. Where every word you say is carefully measured. Every move you make is calculated so as not to upset this supremely important person. Every thought that you think is with the intention of making a mark. That funk is abusive but it’s happy. It’s enslaving. Each time you want to get out of it, you do something right and your abuser rewards you. You slide right back in.
She would’ve continued had it not been for physical distance. Distance made her see things that she couldn’t see before. Distance made her see that she wasn’t family or friend. She was related to her, in an important way by the way, but she wasn’t someone who was essential to her life. She had made herself the most important person by the sheer control and power play that she had them both embroiled in.
Distance cleared many things. It took away the constant need to please which was refreshing but also stripped her of something that she saw as a purpose in life. People say many things about abusive relationships. Not all of it can be explained. But some of it can be analyzed to not repeat the pattern. Abusive relationships can be codependent. Abuse can be very stimulating. It can be very habit-forming. It can make us get used to it in a strange way. It awakens emotions. There’s a darkness to subtle, soul-changing abuse that can be very attractive and difficult to leave.
When they were distanced from each other, there was a period of self-discovery, then a period of intense pain. Pain of lost time. Pain of lost emotion that she had invested with an open heart. The next step was even more painful. Her husband and children saw her as a free woman after years. That was painful to watch. Their yearning for her time and love was painful to watch. She realized she had been giving their time to someone else.
People comment on how much she has changed. Unfortunately many women change over the course of their lives. From their parents’ princesses they go on to become someone who faced life in all its ugliness. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily. Change is usually a good thing. She’s glad she changed.
She’s glad she could get out of the weird power dynamic that she was a part of for a long time.
She’s scared that it happens to women everyday and some may never find a way out.
She’s worried that we have identified only a few abusers in our system and some instigators of abuse fly low on the radar. They don’t get identified. And because they don’t get identified, they walk liberally among us and continue to defile innocent minds.
So she’s terrified mostly of her own vulnerability. She’s mostly just wary of her own susceptibility to the need to feel accepted.