What do you do when someone tells you something about yourself, that while possibly true, is so deeply unkind that it takes your breath away? Do you initially curl into a protective ball of dazed confusion, trying to fend off more blows while evaluating the depths of the injury? Is it a mere flesh wound? Do you shake it off, walk it off, put a band-aid on it, go to bed? And then, once in bed, does the righteous anger build, slowly spreading through your body like a fire, the flames licking at your face, your chest, your fingers and toes? Will you survive it, will it leave scars? The morning after when you open your eyes to the faint strip of blue beyond the shades, will you remember? Will it all come screaming back like a bad dream, or will a night spent in sleep act as a balm and lesson the sting?
This is what happens when you open yourself up to someone without extracting promises first. I will tell you this but you have to promise not to hurt me. Please sign on the dotted line. You may think that in the sharing of confidences this is implied, but it is not. If the proper procedure is not followed, everything you say can and will be used against you. It will be your fault. You will say, this is what happened to me. You will say, this is what happens when love falls apart. He will say this: Men do not want a sad woman. And deep down, you are truly unhappy. Men can feel this. I saw it, even before. He will say that he is helping. He will say it is because he cares. He will think that now you will commence to be happy, now that you can see, as he does. He will say that it is a choice, and that there is a switch you can flip. Happy/sad. Sad/happy. On/off, light/dark, flip/flop. But it doesn't work that way. Instead of making you happy, the sadness becomes more profound. It has been verified, authenticated, the words give it weight and make it real. You carry this weight around with you and now you feel naked, unmasked, because it's no longer a secret, and you realize that everyone else can see it, too.
And then it gets worse, though you didn't think that it could, when you come home and he tells your other roommate (when he thinks you can't hear) that he has said things that have hurt you, though he says it without remorse, and then you only catch snippets, but it sounds like ...helpful for me because now I know what I want...what I don't want...I need a woman who's really passionate... And you realize the whole thing hasn't really been about you, at all, but that your life, your hopes, your frustrations, and yes, your sadness, have been appropriated by someone else as an exercise in their own self-discovery.
And what is the response to that?