Brene Brown defines guilt as "I did something bad, I made a mistake." She defines shame as "I am bad, I am a mistake." Guilt can be a really good thing; shame can ruin your life. If you can recognize guilt, you can say to yourself "I'm not going to do that again, what the hell was I thinking?" If you feel shame then you just think you are a horrible person and you deserve to be punished. It is a downward spiral, and if you don't realize and acknowledge that you are in it, you may never come out. It's a very dangerous place to be.
I have been feeling shame possibly my entire life. I used to be a perfectionist... And still am depending on the day. But I'm fighting against it as much as possible. Nobody is perfect. I will never be perfect. You can only stay on top for so long before you fall. A mountain is a perfect metaphor for perfection. The top is tiny and all around it is a giant slope down. The mountains we are all climbing have different slopes. Some are super steep and you can fall to your death with the slightest misstep. And some are smaller with a more gradual slope. You can still fall to your death, but you will have to work harder to get there. And then there are those mountains that you try with everything you have to climb to the top, and you never get there. Sometimes you run out of steam. Sometimes there is an avalanche and it's a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. And then there is that person that shoots you. The result is the same in all those situations, but the journey to the bottom isn’t.
I think we all are born with certain gifts and flaws. I think we are predisposed to be who we are based on genetics. Our experiences shape how those gifts and flaws will be highlighted or diminished. If we are unlucky and have a lifetime of difficulty and bad shit happen to us, then we will react in one of two ways. We will say, "I deserve that and I'm going to behave the same way because that is what happened to me." It will be a lifetime crutch that we will use to explain our bad behavior. Or we will rebel against it. We will say "I did nothing to deserve this and I will NEVER be that person."
For example, my brother and I were brought up in the exact same household for better or for worse. There were some really bad times and there were some really good ones. My brother has chosen to use the bad times as a crutch his entire life. He blames my parents for everything that is wrong in his life. Now I'm not saying that it's entirely his fault. He was born with some big flaws. It was clear to everyone that even as a toddler, there was going to be trouble. And this was before anything bad happened to him.
Regardless of who you think I am at the moment, I rebelled against the bad shit. Overall, I was a really good kid. Yes, I have had some growing pains throughout my life. I have made a shit ton of mistakes that I regret wholeheartedly. But at the root, I’m happy with who I am in this moment. That is not to say, I haven't gone through big periods of darkness where all I felt was soul sucking shame were all of me believed I was a horrible person and total piece of shit. Today I can say that most of my shame has turned into guilt. I am acknowledging my mistakes to myself in my head and the world in my blog. I know that I have to do this if I ever want to get past them and move on with my life.
Originally this blog was going to be a letter to the women I loved more than they loved me. And the next one was going to be to the women who loved me more than I loved them. As I wrote the first one, I couldn't help but give examples of the second one I planned to write. So I have decided to combine them into one REALLY long blog, so grab a snack and a glass of wine and prepare for that shit. You are going to be here for a while.
Depending on the day, this blog has gone in two directions, the high road and the low one. When there have been long periods of silence from "the other side," I can be calm and rational and more fair to my ex's and not blame them for everything. But when there is chatter coming from them that is just total BULLSHIT and lies, then I want to go for blood and attack. I want to write about every nasty horrible thing they said and did and make them feel the pain I did in that moment. I have said it a thousand times.... It's not the truths they are telling about me, it's the lies that they tell to cover up their own shame that cuts so deep.
Just last week, a friend of mine told me that someone who knows nothing about me, someone who is very educated and respected described me as "troubled" based on what my ex told her. Basically that I'm criminally insane. I have never said more to this woman than "it's nice to meet you." All she knows is what my ex told her, some of it true, but most of it lies. I know this because my ex went out and tried to befriend every ex I had ever had. I'm fairly certain she spoke with my high school boyfriend. It was like she had this list of people she wanted to get to first to recruit people Into the “I hate Nikki fan club." First on the list were our mutual friends...the people that could potentially go either way. She knew she could get to them first because I am an introvert. Especially in times of crisis. I will curl up into the fetal position and hide I my house for months. It's not that I don't want to talk to my friends about what I am going through; it's just that I don't want to bring them down with the ship. A ship that has been on the verge of sinking for months. I will sink alone on my own ship before I drag down someone I love with me. So I'm not going to reach out and she will win that battle every time. The next people on the list were my ex's. That was followed by all mothers’ that resided in my town. She played the kid card a lot to gather people on to her team. Some of these moms were people she had shit talked previously based on their own affairs or rumors of them. To which I said "You can't judge them, you did the same thing. You don't know what their life is like at home. Maybe it's what they needed to do because they weren't strong enough to leave." She would say "Well my reasons are different." I'm here to tell you, they weren't.
Next in line were my friends, my "ride or dies." They are the reason I know most of the lies that were told. It was kind of mind blowing to think that somewhere in her twisted brain, she thought she could sway them with her lies. These are people that were on the entire journey with me. They saw the beginning, middle and high end. They were the one's telling me to jump off that boat long before it finally sank. And the moment the lies left her lips, they came to me and told me.
From there she moved on to my coworkers and bosses. She was going to win that one too, because when I'm at work, I'm there to help my clients and work out. In the almost 10 years I have been there, the only time I will be seen standing around chatting is when a client is late. That happens for a maximum of the 10 minutes. After that, my headphones are on and I'm working out. At that point, I have exactly 20 minutes before my next client and I'm doing my best not to be noticed or have any conversations so that short window can be a productive one. Sometimes I feel really bad about this. My coworkers have to work really hard to get in. Some of them have flat out told me that and essentially beat me into submission where I had no choice but to love them. And for that I am thankful.
The last stop for her was the other girl I loved. The very person she accused me of having an affair with. She knew there was a chemistry between us long before I realized it. The moment she heard we hadn't been hanging out for a while, she contacted her. I have never seen anything like it. For a long time, I sunk deeper into my hole as I watched all of it happen. At some point, it was so crazy, that I had to begin to fight back or I would end up friendless and possibly unemployed.
So I started telling my side, which totally backfired. That just made her lies worse. I was screwed no matter what I did.
A few weeks ago, a relative of the other one told a friend of mine that I "went crazy on her." To say I was pathetically passive in that relationship is an understatement. I let her treat me like absolute dog shit and then welcomed here back every time the moment she showed me the tiniest amount of kindness. She kept me on the line for almost 2 years coming and going as she pleased. She had total control because the moment I got upset about anything, she just disappeared. So if I wanted her to stay around, which I did because I was in love with her, I had to "send the pain below." At one point she had left me and I was devastated. When she came back, a friend asked me why I took her back. And it's hard to believe I said this because it's tragically pathetic, but I said "I'm miserable with or without her. So I might as well get a few good times out of it, but I know it won't last." I was her dirty little secret for almost 2 years. She allowed me no access to her friends, family or life. I would sit in my house and wait for her to show up. She told me that she was never going to tell me in advance if she was coming. That way if she didn't, I wouldn't be disappointed. When she was at my house, she spent a good chunk of her time reading all of my texts, emails and Facebook messages. If I even glanced in the direction of her phone, she'd be out of there. Also....get this....I was not allowed to just drop by. I had to announce that I was coming or she would be PISSED! Yes I know... I'm an idiot. Turns out she had been cheating on me the whole time...shocker.
I did in fact lose my shit when not only did she betray me as her girlfriend but also professionally. My girlfriend and my job are the most important things in my life and she hit me on both of them at the same time. So yes, I lost it. I said the most hurtful hateful things I could drag up. I had been betrayed in love, but never professionally. And it was by the person I had loved above all others. The person I had been most vulnerable to. So when she approached to give me a line of bullshit excuses. I told her EXACTLY where to go.
On a side note, I bought my house a few days after it ended. As I was leaving work, she was coming through the door. I immediately started crying and walked into my closing 5 min later. I don't think I have ever felt so alone as I did in that moment. That should have been one of the best days of my life, instead it was the worst. All I could do was sit there and try to "fake it until I make it". But the only thing I was thinking is "I'm alone." Buying a house is something you do with somebody you love in the process of building a life together, not by yourself. She was with me when I looked at it. As we walked around, I imagined us sitting on the kitchen floor in our underwear eating ice cream at 2:00am like we had in the past. That was never going to happen...and it crushed me.
At the closing, they gave me a painting of my house. They took a picture of me holding it to a friend. My friend sent it to me and said "You sure look happy." There was no doubt from that photo that I was nothing but miserable. A few hours later, I found out she was cheating on me.
The worst day ever.
For a long time, I felt pathetic and ashamed for allowing somebody to treat me that way. Looking back, it was the best decision I have ever made. If it has just ended the first time she had left, I would have always wondered "what if?" I would have justified her behavior and blamed it on her friends, family and church. All of which were against me and our relationship. According to her, not one person in her life supported her. I can't imagine what that is like.
So I would have gone through the rest of my life saying she is a really great person who is trapped between 2 worlds. And her options are me or the rest of her life. Of course she is going to choose them. The price to love me was just too high. Because of this I would have always been in love with her and I would go to my grave thinking "she was the one that got away."
Thankfully I stayed in the battle long enough to see who she truly is, and now I can move forward in my life knowing I did everything I could. I couldn't blame the people around her. The blame rested solely on her...and me. We weren't good for each other and she was not the person I made her out to be.
That is a whole bunch of words to say, after I heard that I was "troubled and crazy" recently, my objectivity flew out the window and the "high road" blog I intended to write, turned to a very "low road" blog that was filled with nothing but the truth....a very ugly bitter truth. My only purpose in writing that was to hurt them the way they hurt me. Revenge. An eye for an eye. A few years ago, I would have published that one without remorse or apology. Today, that is not the person I want to be. I know longer think of them as bad soulless people. I think they are doing the best they could with what they have to work with.... At least some of the time.
The two women that I was madly in love with, on the surface, when you stand them side by side seem completely different. But when you get past the surface, down to their core, the similarities are shocking. They were to me anyway.
On the surface, one of them is very loud. You always hear her enter the room before you see her. She is an extrovert in every way and needs constant stimulation and attention from everybody at all times. The other one is extremely quiet. You always see her before you hear her. Her appearance is what is important to her. I have never met someone so consumed with every microscopic inch of their own surface. Her self-worth lies in her body, hair, clothes etc. They both get there in different ways, but the goal is the same. They both need the approval and attention of the masses. The same reason both of our relationships would fail.
They both had long lists of people they wanted approval from. I was at the very bottom of that list. Right below taking out the trash and doing the laundry. They both knew they HAD me...and they did. So they put zero effort into keeping me and focused on the things and people that were more likely to go away.
One of them pushed me away over and over. And I would say to her "keep it up, one day your efforts are going to work and I will go away. And once I finally go, I will be gone forever. There will be no getting me back. And trust me on this, that is not the Nikki you want."
That situation is mind boggling, because after years of pushing me away, I finally left and guess what happened? I SHOT right to the top of her damn list! And I went from sad, pathetic, codependent Nikki, to child hating heartless cheater in a blink of an eye. And let me tell you, the night I finally left for good was one of the most terrifying nights of my life. I'm not going to go into details, but let's just say, I have every text leading up to that night, from that night and the aftermath. And the texts the day after are nothing but her begging for forgiveness. If anybody would like to challenge me on that, I would be happy to get coffee with you and show you the evidence. You know how to contact me, my door is open.
The crazy thing about that entire relationship is that her friends and her seem to have complete amnesia about the entire first 2 years of the relationship when they all trash talked me for being too needy and pathetic. All the sudden I became this heartless monster when the tides turned and it was me, who was doing the leaving.
We were engaged 2 times. The first time she gave me a ring... I WAS IN. I couldn't wait. We had announced it, had the venue and food donated. A few minutes before we were to meet somebody to pick out the food, she called it off. I was devastated and since it was my friend donating the food, I had to call him a few min later and cancel.
For the next year, people would constantly ask us when we were getting married. I dark cloud filled the room every time and I would just stare at them blankly. Every time there was a wedding on TV, I got sad and she resented me for it.
After, I moved out of her house, we tried to still make it work. A week before Christmas, I caught her in some more lies. I tried to end it then. I said, "that's it, I'm done. I'm calling my parents and telling them not to come." She said, "Please don't, your whole life will change next week, I promise." I said "No it won't, I know you are giving me a ring and I don't want it." Finally she wore me down and I stayed.
Fast forward to Christmas morning. My parents start reaching for their camera as the kids hand me a tiny box. And they say "Miss Nikki, will you stay with us forever???"
She set me up. My options were to say yes or ruin Christmas for them and my parents. I started to put the ring back in the box and my mom was like "Nicole, you are supposed to wear that." So I put it on my finger, went in my closet and sat on the floor and cried. Meanwhile, she was posting it on Facebook.
So that was Christmas Day and we broke up for good on New Year's Eve. Then I got the joy of people congratulating me and asking to see the ring and then telling them, "Ya about that, it's not happening." And then I watched their face go from happy to feeling like shit....awesome.
She then proceeded to run around and tell everybody we knew…and didn't know that all she wanted was for me to love her and I didn't. And the reason I left is because I didn't want kids and I was cheating on her…both lies.
I never made it a secret that I heard no biological clock ticking. I had no desire to reproduce. It had been a problem in some of my past relationships. I now know that it wasn't that I didn't want kids; I just hadn't met the right person yet. When I met her, it was a package deal. I couldn't have her without the kids. And honestly in the beginning, it was a hard transition. I didn't know what to do or how to act. It was completely foreign. I would tell her all the time what a great mother she was and how attractive that was to me. But that fact also made me highly nervous and stressed out when I was alone with them. I was TERRIFIED that something would happen on my watch. Every time I was home alone with them I was STRUNG out! I would hover around covering all corners of tables knowing that my life as I know it would be over if they got hurt. She would never forgive me and I would never forgive myself, because I did love them. I told her this, but she still will tell you and everybody else something different because once again, it takes the blame off her and puts it directly on me.
A couple of months before we broke up, I told her “At this point, I’m only still here because of the kids. If it was just about you and me, I would leave. I need you to know that and decide if that is what you want.” This conversation was conveniently omitted later on. This is the great lie I will never forgive her for. She made me out to be a child hating monster, and it just wasn't true. Our relationship failed because we weren't meant to be together, not because of the kids.
I would say it was about a year later when she tried HARD to be my friend. I found this ironic based on the gigantic pile of shit she made me out to be to the rest of the world. Why would you want to be friends with somebody who hated your kids and cheated on you? That’s easy, because she knew they were both lies and that is not who I was. I told her that I would not be her friend until she posted a public retraction on Facebook. She had no problem airing our dirty laundry, so it was time to clean that shit up or stay the hell out of my life. She said she would talk to everybody and tell them the truth. Based on her past behavior, I wasn't buying that shit. She said “Nikki, I can’t, I have kids.” As if my life and reputation was of a lesser value because I did not. So I was like, “Use it as a teaching experience. Sometimes when we are hurt and angry, we say things that aren't true that can hurt people. And when that happens and you know you made a mistake, you have to fix it.” Let’s just say, that didn’t happen and we ain’t friends. To her what matters most is public opinion, not the truth.
The other girl also asked if I would want kids with her one day. When she asked me that, I paused before I answered. I think she took that as me saying yes, but not meaning it. The real reason for the pause was because the first thing that popped into my head was “Yes, I do want kids with you and for the first time in my life, it was really upsetting that we couldn't make one together. The thought of having something that was half of her and half of me running around was the most amazing thing I could think of. It hurt to know that we could never share that bond. That being said, having a child that was half of her was still exciting to me. But that would never happen, because having me on the Christmas card would ruin the fairy-tale.
Believe it or not, I have left A LOT of dirt out of this blog. I could list example after example of situations and things that happened that would do a lot of damage to them if I chose that path. It is impossible to re-write my narrative and tell my side of the story without backing up what happened with examples.
The reason I tried to take the high road and be as fair as possible, is because I don’t think either one of them are bad people. They just couldn't love me the way I loved them. I even said to one of them, “It’s just not that hard to treat you well and put your first. It’s effortless for me. It’s easy for me because I am IN LOVE with you and it’s hard for you because you only love me. I’m just not the one for you.”
I speak from experience. I have been in their shoes. I have been in several relationships where the love was not equal. In every situation before them, it was the opposite scenario. The girls I was with were madly in love with me and I just couldn't find it in me to return it. I can look back and think about how the girls I was in love with treated me and how much it hurt. It was a pain I had not experienced before. It was brutal. But then I can remember some of the exact same scenarios with the girls before them, except it was me who was the distant selfish asshole. A reoccurring issue in these relationships was sex. Here is the thing, my heart and my brain have complete control over my vagina. If those 2 parts aren't into it, then there is NO way that the other part is going to want any action. They would accuse me of being molested, raped and a variety of other things. I would be like ya you are right…I’m totally fucked up. The reality was, for whatever reason, I just wasn't into it because something they did or said turned me off. It could have been the way that they talked to a waiter or the fact that if somebody called me at home, I knew I would be in trouble if I answered the phone. Whatever the reason was, I just didn't have it in my heart to say, I love you and care about you, but I’m not sexually attracted to you. If one of the girls I was in live with said that to me, I’m not sure I would ever recover. So I let them believe it was all me.
Two of my past girlfriends ended up cheating on me and that is why the relationships finally ended after a long series of break up and make ups. And I hated them for it. I felt betrayed and angry because they asked me to stay and I did hoping something would change and it didn't. And now I had crushed their self esteem because they knew I didn't want to be there, but they were in love with me so they tried to make it work. Given that I just went through that exact same experience recently, I feel awful that I did that to them. So of course, the first chance they got, they jumped ship and I can’t blame them for cheating. I drove them straight to it. They weren't bad people; they just weren't strong enough to leave me without somewhere to go. So to all the girls that loved me more than I loved them, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I made you feel that way. I had no idea what I was doing to you because I couldn't see past myself.
I am sorry for hurting the people that loved me so much. I have a lot of guilt about that. I should have walked away the moment I realized that the love was not equal. I can see that now, but in the moment I thought “Relationships take work…we can fix it.” But sometimes you just can’t make it work because you aren't the right fit. I was right for them, but they weren't right for me. With the last two relationships, they were right for me, but I wasn't right for them.
I think there are a lot of people trying to force round pegs into a square hole. And they are destroying each other in the process. As the great Kenny Rogers said, “You got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them.”
I have had sadness and hate towards the two great loves of my life. They showed me a love I have never known and then took it away and it nearly destroyed me. While there are some things I can never forgive them for, it can never be because they didn't love me the way I loved them. We just were never meant to be. I now know that they are not to blame, we are.