When you are in a toxic relationship, and living in the “Problems and Unhealthy Patterns of Behavior Phase”, every day is a television soap opera.
No one needs to buy a streaming service. Your drama is streaming for a live studio audience.
You and your partner in the toxic relationship are in the grocery store. You run into one of his friends. There is no introduction.
They start smiling at each other with a look that makes you feel uncomfortable. Then, your partner says, “ I will catch up with you in the cereal aisle.”
You head to the cereal aisle, looking back, as your partner is deeply engaged in conversation with his friend , giving him googly eyes.
Something feels very wrong.
Two days later, you are upstairs in your bedroom. You realize that you are a little bit hungry and head downstairs to the refrigerator.
Upon entering that level, you overhear your partner talking to this same friend about your personal business, and in turn, she is obviously sharing hers.
You are cringing and feeling totally exposed. What are you going to do now?
You decide to pray, and wait and see.
Two days later, you decide to confront your partner about his inappropriate behavior, words, and actions in the grocery store and on the phone, which is enough evidence that something is going on.
You also tell your partner that you are feeling unloved, betrayed, and exposed.
“ Well, when I first met you, I told you that I had a lot of female friends. You never should’ve been eavesdropping on me. Plus, you are being jealous and insecure like always.”
You start feeling bad. And then you start thinking that perhaps he is telling the truth. Maybe you over-responded to the apparently too-close-for comfort behavior.
You apologize, letting him know that you will try to do better. Although you are now feeling guilty for saying something, something still feels wrong and you can’t figure it out.
You have now entered the world of “ Cognitive Dissonance”.
Cognitive dissonance occurs when your belief, knowledge, and reality are misaligned.
Living like this keeps you in a state of being off-balance.
The whole episode of guilt tripping explained in this post is another form of gaslighting, a.k.a. emotional abuse.
And this is just the beginning of the season.
Until next time,