What The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly have to do with relationships
What do The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly have to do with relationships, and emotional abuse?
We are not talking about the iconic film here. Instead, I want to share with you a story of two men – one good, and one bad. The Good One makes every occasion a joy. The Bad One is very good at The Ugly – that is making Life unnecessarily harsh, and difficult and unpleasant. These are the two men who have shaped my adult world.
The Bad One is, of course, the emotionally abusive ex-husband. He is a typical abuser. He is world-class when it comes to The Ugly. He’s someone who gets a thrill out of exercising power and control over people. Making someone else feel bad is what makes him feel good – especially if that person is “close” to him. That is UGLY.
The wasband has a gift for intimidating people. He’s, also, someone who can nurse a sickly grudge back to rude health and vitality. No resentment has ever died on his watch. That’s pretty ugly, too.
A while ago, the wasband spotted an opportunity to intimidate his way back into my life. Naturally enough, he welcomed it with open arms A situation came about that he would have foreseen.For me, on the other hand, it was the first I had heard about the whole thing. Doubtless, he had been fantasizing about the whole thing for ages. I would like to say he “rose” but, in reality, he sank to the occasion.
In his mind’s eye, the wasband had doubtless savored the whole scenario a hundred times. He would force me to crawl to him and appeal to his better nature. He would tell me what a waste of space I was, and he would leave me dangling…
Never underestimate how calculating emotional abusers really are
Never underestimate just how calculating and manipulative emotionally abusive men are.
Revenge, so they say, is a dish best eaten cold or, better still, putrefied. Provided you happen to be a hyena, or a vulture. This was a very cold dish, indeed. Who knew that an emotionally abusive man could be patient?!!
What the wasband could not know – and hadn’t taken into his calculations – was that he wasn’t the only person who rose to the occasion.
So, too, did the second man in this story – my wonderful partner. Now, my partner is someone who you may – or may not – be blessed enough to know, yet. He is a gentle man. A loving, compassionate, unselfish man. He is, I often think, far too decent and gentle a man ever to have any dealings with someone as venomous as the wasband.
Yet in this situation it was my partner who defeated the wasband’s machinations.
How did he manage that?
Focus instead on what is constructive
Because he has no truck with mind-games and toxicity, he remained focused, solely, on what was best for me. That focus meant he was able to identify the constructive course of action that I needed to take. My partner’s care and concern put me out of my ex-husband’s misery, long before I would have managed it alone. (I was doing a little bit of huffing and puffing!)
Now, my lovely partner did not rescue me, or step in and solve the problem for me. What he did was rather better – he put the tools for solving that problem within my reach.
He thereby created a triumph of love over spite.
Therein lies the learning, I believe.
Love will conquer fear, venom, and spite, and all the negative emotions. Provided we go about it mindfully.
My partner came from a place of love. He was, shall we say underwhelmed by the wasband’s unpleasantness. His focus was on how he could help me to find my best way through a challenging situation. Plus, he was typically modest, and gracious, when his input produced the best possible result. He didn’t claim any credit for it. He was simply happy for me.
The Good Man did not get the white horse out of the stable and do 9,000 laps of honor on it, all the time trumpeting about what a wonderful man he is. (Truly wonderful men don’t blow their own trumpets – they don’t even have a trumpet.)
Everything my lovely partner did came from a position of healthy love.
We need to make a very clear distinction here.
You and I have both tried loving The Bad – that is an emotional brute who has trumpets attached to every orifice (and plenty of “wind” to blow through them.)
We tried to make love work miracles.
Love not for who you hope someone can be
We learned, the hard way, that trying to love an emotional brute is a hiding to nothing. It just doesn’t work. We loved our brute not for who and what he was, but for who he should have been. We loved him for who we hoped he could be – and especially for the love we hoped he would give us one day. (At some level, he would have known that, and felt even more determined to prove just how horrible he really was.)
Loving someone for who they might be if they were just totally different from who they are is not healthy love, at all. That is co-dependency. You need that to be a certain way in order for you to be happy. Your ”love” is based on need.
You do not truly love your The Bad for the horrible, ugly creature he is. That would be crazy.
More to the point, when you fixate on loving The Bad and The Ugly you do not love yourself, at all.
It is that lack of love for ourselves that creates the void in our lives, and leaves us exposed to The Ugly. There’s nothing an emotional abuser loves so much as filling your void with The Ugly. As you already know – even if you weren’t consciously aware of it – an abuser’s inner Ugliness will always expand to fill the void available.
The wasband could not resist going for one last swansong. Unfortunately for him, he was out of luck.
Give The Ugly a wide berth
Instead of savoring his swansong,, The Bad ended up doing the last thing that he would ever have wanted to do. He actually gave me a beautiful gift. He provided a delightful object lesson in where the power of The Bad falls down. When we stick with love and avoid getting sucked into The Ugly we do just fine.
It really is not your job to attempt to turn The Bad into The Good. However, it is your job to give The Ugly a wide berth. You gain nothing at all from engaging with it. What’s more, when you don’t engage with it, you soon learn that The Ugly is a lot less powerful than you fear.
I hope you will make it your business to learn to love The Good in you, and in the world, and leave The Bad and The Ugly to their own parallel universe. If you’re struggling to do that alone, I’d love to help you.