February 15, 2022

Choose Yourself—Even if you’ll Be the Villain for a While.


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*Warning: salty language ahead!


Treachery, by definition, is a deliberate behavior or action in which someone betrays someone who trusts them.

Treachery is an intentional plot to harm someone who won’t see it coming. It is an act of treason against a person who has sworn allegiance and loyalty.

We know these words in relation to country, but it gets fuzzy when it comes to family, relationships, and the boundaries of a singular person. Do your needs and rules warrant the breakup of a family system? A partner relationship? Is your inner tranquility more important than seeing your child every day?

That last question was the one that hurt. Every time. It still hurts to say that I traded my inner peace for the gift of every day with my babies. The relationship between me and their father had been doomed from the start. We were two people who didn’t know how to feel safe in a healthy way. The connection was there. The ability to keep trusting was where we were weakest. We would have happily parted, even shook hands and wished each other well, three months into the relationship.

Instead, I was accidently pregnant. I made a choice to commit to the life growing within me and the situation I was in. I was going to make the best of it. Their father and I had a similar way of thinking, we liked each other alright, but our interests were just so far apart on the spectrum. We both came from generational trauma, and the behaviors and actions that came as our emotional baggage were too much for any relationship. We were genetically compatible, our kids are delightful creatures, but that was really the only place we blended other than liking Pearl Jam.

I left. I signed a peace treaty with the person I left so we could make a framework of what the absolute fuck our life would be now. We were brokenhearted, missing our children, bitter about holidays, and everything sucked so much for a while. He was everything that was wrong with the world. I was a coldhearted, merciless harpy for tearing everything apart. Both statements are true.

I have been called some form of soul-devouring siren for my whole life. I also remember one of the cleverest boys at my high school telling me, in the honesty of a teenager, that I would never be popular because my heart was too kind.

My favorite archetype of my personality is the fairy godmother. I’m also the mermaid and the harpy. I just try maintaining some sort of balance and accept the consequences when I fuck up. It’s always a choice, because even when I fuck up, I have to decide to turn the experience into a resentment or something I apologize and learn from. I have collected resentments. I still hold a couple, for inspiration purposes, but I try to forgive as much as I can. Forgiving is a hard practice.

It’s difficult to apply betrayal and trust to the actions of family because it hurts too much to imagine. We craft little lies to hold it together better. Our brain is made to craft stories. It’s difficult to put yourself on a scale with your family on the other side and find where justice belongs. Embracing a situation on its own terms is difficult. For me, choosing to let the illusions fall and the grief and rage flow is the worst choice I must make. I build great illusions, and it’s hard to set them on fire to find the truth. Illusions are an obstacle to authenticity. Also, I really hate feeling grief and rage. I like a nice balance of reality and hakuna matata.

I’m a graduate student for my master’s in social work. Jane Adams is our patron goddess. In one of my therapy classes, I noticed that so much of the work was just listening to each other and saying, “Oh, God, same here.” It was so hard for me to roleplay a “professional” because I just wanted to connect and commiserate. I’m a millennial, and being adaptable and resourceful is a honed skill of our generation.

It feels like breaking. Resisting our emotions is the way our brain protects us, especially if we grew up in a restrictive environment (especially if we’re in a restricting environment). The emotions are a whirlwind inside our head. We know the story. Humpty-dumpty, the huge egg we accepted as a character in our lives, is on the wall.


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What wall? You can go physical or metaphorical here if you want to relate. I feel like any human, regardless of age or spirit, would have an instinctive, “Oh, shit, that egg is going to fall off that wall and break” thought as they noticed a large egg on a wall.

Anyway, the egg gets unbalanced and falls off the wall. There is no force on Earth that can put it together again. No king’s man. No horses. It’s a shell in goo. It’s even harder when no one tries to help. The broken shell is just left there, shattered, and you are left to pick up the pieces of something you once believed in.

“The lies we tell ourselves as to not feel like the shit of pigs in our souls,” Kublai Khan says to Marco Polo in the Netflix show of that name. The conversation was about those who had abandoned them. Denial is a story we write ourselves when we don’t want to see what’s right in front of us. Our heart always knows the truth, but we can convince our mind of anything.

It is not us who breaks when the rage and grief start to flow. The illusion we crafted breaks. Our denial of reality opens to reveal the truth. Truth is often harsh to the ear, to the heart. There’s a reason truth is often scribed to a sword. Two sharp edges that cut. Though it may feel like pain, it is pain that will not get infected. It is a pain that heals and reveals you.

You must have emotional courage to bear this burden. Rage is in the word. The heart’s rage at being betrayed. What you will find when the emotions pass is reality. No justification. Nothing shoved under the rug.

I knew when I left that I would be happier. There was no balance for me. I was having to shut off parts of myself that I loved. I was losing vitality and starting to think that if I just died it would be easier for everybody. Then I immediately got a therapist because that method and direction of thought can be so dangerous. It sounds so dramatic, but it felt like my soul was dying.

At that time, I didn’t even believe I had a soul. If I did have a soul, I figured I’d somehow given it away to Jesus because there was nothing I related to more than, “Father, why have you forsaken me?”

I was choosing myself at the expense of what we knew as a family. I knew I was destroying an illusion we all wanted to believe in. I was betraying the experience of family we knew and felt pseudo-safe in. I truly believed the kids would be happier. Their father would be happier.

I had to accept that I was choosing myself first, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever fucking done. Figure out what you want, balance the sacrifices, and accept the responsibility and consequences. Embrace that you’ll be the villain for a while. Consider a cape. I really want capes to be in fashion again.

Learning to tell ourselves the truth and what we need to do with it is the hardest way to forge our path. It’s hard to go off alone. It’s hard to choose ourselves, especially if we come from a childhood background where no one ever chose us or could see to our needs.

Our heart is meant to be our compass, and it can’t function correctly if it’s broken.

Be loyal to your heart, and it will provide you with all the light you’ll ever need. If it is broken, find a way to heal. Your spirit usually helps with that. Mind, body, and soul are the holy trinity. You get to choose the path. Always.

With a true heart and a clear conscious, any obstacle can be overcome with hope and enthusiasm. With a well-timed meltdown (some also define this as self-care), perspective can get less daunting.


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