Written: Tuesday 3rd August 2021
Read: Friday 5th November 2021
Bandaged Moments, Gravity Festival
The Reader, Calderstones Park, Liverpool
This is all about healing and love after negative or toxic relationships.
It’s a journey and a half but the growth, learning and happiness and peace are all yours when you perform a little bit of alchemy and convert it into something that serves you, rather than diminishes you, and I want to share that with you.
If ever, in your life, at some point, you’ve unfortunately found yourself deep in the mire of a relationship with a person who has caused you unfair, undeserved and sustained misery, you often can’t see clearly for the fog.
You’re stuck in the mud, searching for the light, searching for sense.
It’s a wretched wasteland where nothing good grows; you have no compass or torch to guide you to the exit. Somebody else’s shadow is eclipsing your light.
It takes many forms and every relationship is unique but there are plenty of patterns and behaviours in common when you read about it and the one objective in common always seems to be that the abusive partner seeks validation by detracting from other people and it’s a rough ride and it’s horrid and it’s all a ploy, it was always a ploy all along and that’s what it was.
It was a con.
It was all a hoax to con you into thinking you were lesser, inferior, unworthy.
They do this trickery because your self-esteem becomes their currency, furnishing their impoverished reserves by stealing it from you. The problem is, when you’re in the middle of this, you don’t always see it for what it is: a hoax, a con, because they cloak their sorcery with smokescreens that they’re right, you’re wrong, you got it wrong, they’re the good guys. They’re always right, apparently. Dissonance.
They do their best to dim your light. It dazzles them.
Your vision gradually becomes clouded by things which aren’t by any measure ok; that gradual normalisation of mistreatment and emotional neglect which seeped in before you could even see it coming in and you know and you always knew deep down, deep in your bones that something was so deeply wrong, something had always been amiss really, but you become disoriented by their contrived cycle that goes:
Idealisation then discard, idealisation then discard.
Mistreatment then grovel; mistreatment then grovel.
In between, you find yourself drifting into an apathy, not wanting to stay but not sure how to leave, gazing out into the ether, daily, wistfully, thirstily into faraway rains with the knowledge that this emotional desert is a place where soon you’ll sprout wings and you’ll leave, you always would leave and you knew that from the start on some level, it was never for you anyway, it was a temporary aberration, and so this innate desire floods your blood as you yearn to be free and you were always going to be free because you were born free so free is what you will be.
But cast under the raincloud of a person like this, your wings are clipped and you’re not living your true self, you aren’t fully free.
Love isn’t always perfect but love should never be painful. Love is love, love is not pain.
Previous patterns cause us to confuse the two but love should never be painful.
Love should boost us, energise us, make us glow, and yes, it’s true that it can test us and we might be impatient at times or have silly tiffs or get bogged down in the mundane domesticity of picking each other’s odd socks up off the floor but love should never be painful.
Nobody has the right to bring that into your life. Nobody possesses the right to make anyone feel lesser.
So what on earth, qualifies any other person on this earth, to be in a position to judge another and decide that they are apparently lesser? To decimate them? To chip away at them? Nobody beholds that position.
The following is truth and this I guarantee: any person who seeks to drag another person down and con them that what they’ve arbitrarily decided is their worth, actually holds themselves in very low self-worth. It was always a hoax and a con and this I guarantee.
Fuck them, strip them of this self-assigned position to judge and make you feel bad. Who are they anyway? They didn’t earn it and their words or judgements have no more credibility than yours.
Don’t forget that their behaviours and the way they try to make you feel are a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves inside, behind the façade.
Remove their gravitas, their credibility, their judgement doesn’t mean a jot. Their opinion holds no truth, they are just trolling you for their validation.
Like playground bullies, self-loathing people only seek to bring you down because they are already there and they are threatened by you.
Your existence is a living reminder for them of all they perceive they lack. They choose you because they want a bit of your magic, hoping they’ll become it via absorption, then they’ll chameleon you for a while to falsify bonds then they’ll resent you and punish you.
And I’ll let you into a secret: they don’t really consider you lesser.
They actually consider you far superior to them, they envy you and covet your magic and wonder and would give their right arm to be like you deep down but that can never happen and that is a bitter pill for them to swallow, so because they can’t become you, they try to bring you down as it makes them feel better.
Their own inner chaos is a solitary beast that craves company to survive.
Cast them off.
It’s time to step into the light.
The simple matter of a different partner proves to you that all the mistreatment was never about you.
In place of the abusive person, a happy, secure, and content person would and will freely love you and adore you because they are happy with themselves and they respect themselves therefore they will respect you.
So if you can be with one person who makes you feel like hell, but in place of that person, a secure person makes you feel happy and safe, it isn’t about you and it never was about you. And unfortunately, they’ll make someone else feel like hell long after you’ve gone too, while you go on to be happy and at peace with another like-minded happy soul too.
Happy people want happiness to multiply; to spread it, to sustain it, to share with others in that happiness.
So, remember that if you ever find yourself in the face of emotional abuse, overt or covert, degradation of the self or any form of spiritual mistreatment it’s not about you. It was never about you.
You were a variable in their life; you could have been anyone, the treatment would have been more or less the same as they are their constant. It was therefore no measure of your worth. Never mistake that.
They’ll muddy the waters and leave you disoriented, wondering if that’s all you deserve, but no. False. Quite the contrary, actually.
You were the temporary, unexpecting canvas that they projected their ugly self-expression onto, but it all came from within them and only from within them.
This was never about you.
Their traumas and sad stories are weaponised to bank on your empathy. Oh, they know this. You give more lenience than you would have done otherwise.
Unfortunately, sometimes, extending sympathy to fire means you end up with your fingers scorched.
But- the important thing is- do not let this scald you or scar you; do not let this harden you.
Do not lose your gentleness out there. Don’t think for a second that the only way to not suffer by others is to become just as mean.
We mustn’t perpetuate a world of if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em; what a dystopia that would be. Stay sunny. It’s why the true people love you.
Underpinning all of this, all along, is that it was not about you. It was never about you. You were a variable; they are the constant.
Extend compassion to yourself, be gentle with yourself. Know that it was never love and the greater love you deserve is to come, you might even know it now.
Give yourself time. Date yourself. Take good care of yourself. Appreciate yourself. Fall madly and besottedly in love with yourself, cherish who you are, then when or if you feel ready to meet someone else, you’ve already planted the good seeds in your good earth, let them grow, scatter and sow, scatter and sow, skip the low-hanging fruit; no need to harvest the first to show.
Your goodness will meet goodness and all in good time. That’s just the law of attraction.
It’s no coincidence that when you’re vibrating at your lowest, you’ll probably meet the worst partner for you, they sniff out the vulnerability, but when you’re vibrating at your highest, you’ll meet your high match.
You wouldn’t have gotten from the low vibrating phase to the high without the chrysalis process, which is some comfort to know that the rough experience(s) were a part of the process that made you learn, sharpened your perceptions like a diamond, and clarified the once muddy waters. They’re warm and crystalline now, and this is the pool you’re in and this is the good love you’re surrounded by now.
Remind yourself often that so many beautiful souls exist in this world and they are out there, to meet and to know, to meet and to know, platonically or romantically, they are the souls you deserve to know and they deserve to know you too.
Somebody once said to me that you know when you meet the right person for you because it is like looking back at yourself in the mirror. You don’t have to look alike or be duplicates of each other’s tastes or interests, but you feel that soul familiarity and you see something of yourself, a similarity of you within them.
You reflect one another. You meet them and you know them, the light refracts, prismatic, there’s an innate knowing and warmth and it just feels right. It’s safe.
Your body knows it, your heart knows it, you know it in your waters and you know it in your bones. It might take a little bit of time to relax and lean into it, but what’s meant for you won’t pass you by, it didn’t pass you by and now here it is. Here it is, or here it comes.
Little by little you onlook in awe as all the little quirks and facets of you at your core that you once thought were annoying and undesirable because you maybe, in some way, had the audacity to rattle their cage, are exactly the things that this good love loves about you.
The very foundation and fabric of you is an intricate and interesting tapestry to them and they’ve traced over all the seams and patchwork and have fallen in love with all the unique details and illustrations that make up you, and likewise you of them and all of theirs.
The absolute baselines of a loving relationship are respect and trust. Without them, there is nothing.
There really is nothing.
Everything else that is beautiful in the story you write together is unique and yours and it is precious and everything you deserve.
You both deserve this. You always deserved this and so did they.
Frida Kahlo wrote, “You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee, and poetry”. That’s gorgeous, and you deserve that too. You really do and you always did.
And, for example, when you drift into wakefulness at 5:30am in summer sunrise after lucid dreaming this piece of writing and you absolutely must get up and create it right now, and you try not to wake them but still, they stir in their sleep and instead of getting irate they reach out for your hand and ask, “do you need some paper?”- well, that’s love; you deserve that love and you always did.
I’m going to wrap up now with more borrowed words, this time from Carrie Bradshaw:
“The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you, you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”
The photographs of the beach in Ravenna (top) and the sunflower field in Quattro Castella (middle) were taken by me. All the rest are from Unsplash.