You don't know
how to be
anything other than
unchallenged champion of
the hero of
your own stories.
You see the world
as it isn't,
so you don't have to be
who you are.
Say you're sorry,
so I can remember you
as you're not.
This poem was written by my friend Karen G for Nat Po Wri Mo (poets were challenged to write a poem a day, and used with her permission, here.) If you've ever been in a relationship with a disordered person, I'm sure you understand why it grabbed me so strongly.
I think one of the hardest things to accept is they don't get why/how they have hurt us so. We get trapped into thinking, if I can only explain this better, if I can just convey exactly how hurt and terrible it makes me feel when s/he belittles, name-calls, condescends, won't listen, is nastily sarcastic... surely s/he will stop doing it. We try and try and try, but somehow, the message doesn't get through.
It's not a failure to communicate at all.
I don't believe that people with distorted thinking are evil, but until they accept that their world view is what needs tweaking, not ours, we can try to "communicate" until we're blue in the face, and they won't get it.
I know I upset him too. I never followed all the shower rules (though I did try.) I surprised him by bringing home impulse food buys from the grocery store. I would touch his shoulder or pat his butt in passing. I know now, that to a person with OCPD, these kinds of things are hugely upsetting, but I meant well.
He never seemed to see that, to give me the benefit of the doubt, but each time I did or said something unexpected, he would turn on me as though I was an enemy. He would keep me from hurting him by hurting me first, by keeping me at a distance, calling me names, putting me down at every opportunity.
I know that he loved me in his way, that he truly would have taken a bullet for me. (Bullet, yes, shrink's couch - hell no!)
I got plenty of "I'm sorry's." Lots of "I'm sorry if you took that the wrong way," or "were too sensitive," or even, sometimes, a full-out, "I'm sorry. That was uncalled for and I shouldn't have said it."
I have friends who think it would make them feel better, just to get one sincere apology. And for me, it did at first. It made me feel like there was hope, like he was seeing the damage he was doing to me, to us. Finally!
Then it got to be like the neighbor who keeps stealing your parking spot. After the 11th time they've apologized but done it again anyway, and you realize they have no intention of changing the behavior, it's just meaningless noise. And perhaps, another verbal weapon, "I said I was sorry! What's wrong with you that you can't forgive and forget?!"
Part of the growth, part of my healing, is that I need to work it out without depending on the right apologies or closure from him.
How about you? Did this poem speak to you, too?
Have you learned to move on without needing closure
from a damaged person, or...?