Shortly before he broke up with me, my ex told me that my fears about our relationship were irrational and due to insecurity and low self-esteem. He said that I had nothing to be afraid of because nothing had changed between us.
At the time I believed him, and did my utmost to calm my fears and trust him… right up to the point where he closed off communication abruptly and finally. He said that this was because my insecurity was making me too needy and demanding. That my expressions of distress were overdramatic and something that he “did not choose to have around him at this time”.
To begin with I thought my irrational and out of control fear had actually brought about exactly what I dreaded. But I see things very differently now. The fear was a response to the problems in our relationship, not the cause of them. What was making me so insecure was actually a very shrewd intuition.
When problems started to manifest themselves, a voice started to tell me, “something is wrong”. Now I look back at his behaviour, the problems were very, very obvious- it’s hardly unreasonable to be concerned when your lover changes suddenly from affectionate to distant, from communicative to withdrawn, from open to defensive.
But I didn’t want to hear that voice. I didn’t want to hear that things were not going well in a relationship which, up to then, had exceeded what I had dreamed was possible in a relationship. But things were wrong, and my intuition wouldn’t let me ignore it. No wonder I felt insecure, with a voice inside me shouting, “SOMETHING IS WRONG!”
If I hadn’t had that intuition that something was wrong, I would have felt less insecure, and might indeed have been able to control my fears. And I might still be in a relationship that had become unhealthy for my peace of mind.
In the circumstances, insecure was exactly the right response, and it triggered an ending that had to happen. But it wasn’t a good ending. Of course, there’s no pleasant way to end a relationship that we had both had cherished such hopes for, but we were caught up in a vicious spiral of fear and distress that was deeply unpleasant. Yes, it was necessary for it to end, but with hindsight I can see many ways I could have helped us find a better ending.
The problem was that that I was ignoring my intuition, so it turned into insecurity rather than action. If I’d faced up to what my intution was telling me, I could have taken control of the situation. I would have been able to take action to protect myself and challenge his behaviour and his interpretations of my behaviour. I would have been able to attempt to solve the problem or end the relationship on my own terms.
What were those inner signs that something was wrong? A deep uneasiness. A feeling that I didn’t want to look too closely at what was happening. A reluctance to describe the situation to close friends for fear that they would confirm my fear that something was wrong. A strong feeling of fear, that kept returning when I banished it with argument. A feeling that who I was wasn’t good enough. A feeling of being cut off from my strength, of needing to apologise for what was no more than being human, and having human needs and vulnerabilities.
And what were the signs when I started to listen to the truth inside me? Sharing with my friends the things I had not dared to mention when I was afraid, and listening to their advice. A need to know the truth, whatever it was, of what had gone wrong between us, and whether it was truly over. A willingness to challenge my ex’s silence in order to find out that truth, however he reacted. And even when he reacted defensively, and said many critical things, I was able to accept and learn from the true things that he said and discard what he was projecting onto me. When he told me I was not being truthful, I had confidence in my own honesty and self-knowledge. And while I loved him still, and felt compassion for the inner turmoil and denial that was prompting this hurtful behaviour, I was able to protect myself, and see clearly how little this had to do with me.
It took me several months, but in the end I reclaimed my freedom and my strength, and walked on towards my future.
Next time I will definitely try to listen to what my intuition has to say!