Monsters Need Boundaries

Confession: There is a monster living inside me. She is a lurking, tricky, messy girl. This dark, fiendish one is a part of me. Right now, she is small and almost completely harmless. She sits like a tiny seed inside my brain and has the capacity to break open and sprout. If she is watered with attention, she springs forth an invasive species, consuming me, choking me, and spreading her wretchedness toward everyone I love.

Her name is Suspicion.

Like all shadowy beings, my monster is born of pain. She used to trust people too much. So when the tower of security came tumbling down, she learned fast: Do not be so naive; do not be so cocky. Be something else. Be suspicious.

Then a new day dawned. Years ago, as I became more invested in my then romantic partner, my monster took over my life. I began to investigate, and I began to snoop. Once I had a taste of uncovering secret information, I couldn’t get enough. It became an obsession. The monster now dominated most of my thoughts. It’s sole target was my lover. I knew something was up and I proceeded to prove it. I would wait for him to leave and I would read his journals. I began sneaking onto his phone when he was in the shower, or visiting with others on the patio. At first, it was just a few pages, or an overview of his texts. It was strangely exciting. It made me feel empowered. Eventually, I took great risks to view his photos, his social media messages, his journals and belongings from his past. Suspicion was in charge. Not me.

I learned so much too. I learned that he had been cheating on me. I learned he was hiding drugs in my home. I learned he had almost zero interest in me. He had noted that I was terribly unremarkable. It turned out that my search for the truth was fruitful. The monster inside me was relentless now. I felt justified.

But I wasn’t justified.

I was a monster.

My monster was destroying my spiritual core, the knowing that everything will go as it will and I will be okay no matter what. I had come to think I had to control the outcomes. I no longer believed that fate was going to intervene on its own.

Once I was single again, there were a few lessons I came to understand when I finally contained the monster, having crammed it back into it’s little space, hopefully never to be poked again.

I learned that the facts are not always necessary to justify how one feels. Just feeling that way is enough to demand a change. I don’t need to prove to someone that they cannot be trusted. I need to honor that I do not find them trustworthy, period.

I learned that when someone hides things from me, it is not mine to reveal. It is theirs to carry. They can walk around with that filth. I can just keep living my life free of such burdens.

When a person refuses to mind their own business, they shatter what is sacred – another person’s privacy, sure – but more so their own self-worth. The madness that ensues from distrust is horrific and staggering. The craziest thing about my own situation is that I slowly realized he was purposefully leaving his things out, tempting me to look, and thus sabotaging us in some twisted form of righteousness. You see, my investigations only proved how important he was to me, in fact, more important than my integrity. I’d have benefitted from caring a little less.

Today, I know I am separate from others and their choices. I can keep my dignity. I won’t let Suspicion take me over anymore. My monster is bored, but I like it that way. I know deep down that she is just waiting in there.

Tap tap tap.

Nope.

Say It to My Face

There are many ways to leave, and among the most heartbreaking and cruel is the scenario of one person slipping away without a word. You know the story: someone comes home and their loved one has taken all their belongings, and simply vanished. Listeners claim there must have been signs along the way, but isn’t that just putting the blame where it doesn’t belong?

This form of abandonment is not just in love affairs or marriage. It can happen with a best friend, suddenly behaving as if you never existed. It can happen to children who lose a living parent without explanation. It can happen at work, when one slowly realizes they have been excluded, uninvited to the regular gatherings of their peers.

Some people do the slow fade for damage control, constantly excusing themselves from your efforts, or canceling plans at the last minute. Some people never reply to your texts or answer your calls. Some people play nice, even hugging you when you unexpectedly show up somewhere. They politely ask if you are well, but then they slink away as soon as they are able.

We, the exiled, are first confused, even deny that it is happening. Then we ask, “What is happening? Why have you moved away from me?” It is a bitter taste when they refuse to discuss it, or worse, lie to your face in an effort to avoid getting real.

I am not sure why people do this thing, but I know it feels absolutely unnecessary, and much like a giant punch to the throat. The word coward comes to mind. Self-serving. Perhaps self-righteous. Even neglect. Yet, these words are too small to match the harm of such an irresponsible act; this is a choice of dishonesty and chaos and lingering regrets for all parties.

Wait! Am I just too scary to confront? I have been told this is true. So I double down and determine to always be calm, humble enough to hear the difficult truths, and capable of a dignified conversation. I make damn sure I am safe and approachable. I prepare for whatever it is. Please, I beg of you, just tell me.

There is little we can do, though, when we are not given the chance to hear it. And we will spend great spans of time wondering how we became unlovable. Somehow, this person you called friend, this person you trusted, decided you were unworthy of an explanation, and you have been robbed of any opportunity to fix it, or even understand at all.

This is why I promise the people I love that they will never have to wonder. I promise to tell them swiftly and directly what has left me disappointed or angry or hopeless regarding our relationship. I honor people enough to say the difficult things, hopefully with grace and compassion in my voice, but at least some honesty, absolutely looking them straight in the eye.

In order to respect myself, I must respect others. Even those who have done some really bad things, or those I must leave for any reason at all. Especially those who don’t even know what they have done, or if they even did anything. Telling someone in person why you wish to pull away is an act of integrity and courage. Life is not fair, I know. But where is your soul?

Today, I seek champions who feel the way I do. I watch to see how they treat those they leave. I watch to see how they behave when they are left as well.

Perhaps people who leave without explanation are merely weak and undignified. I guess I’ll never know.