“A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.” — Ken Keyes
While this specific quote is new to me, I have heard this notion before. When one finds a quality she admires in another person, she is really seeing that quality in herself. The same goes for when she finds something she doesn’t like in another person. Every single person we meet is a mirror — an opportunity to learn about ourselves and to grow.
When I first got into recovery, I would hear all these people talk about “intrigue,” and I would think, Jesus, what the fuck kind of made-up bullshit problems are these crazy people going on about? I have REAL problems, thankyouverymuch.
Namely, my problems were that I was obsessed with my married lover, who had a host of other issues. I was also going from short-term relationship to short-term relationship, often juggling several at a time. Almost all of these relationships were with unavailable men.
Now that I have cleaned up all of those “real problems,” (and also turned down the volume on that ego, thankyouverymuch) I find that I too have a problem with romantic intrigue. While I am not physically using anyone right now, I have been in contact with some exes and former lovers, and am definitely using them for validation and emotional support. Worse still, in the very back of my mind I’m using them to set up contingency plans if this whole recovery thing doesn’t work out.
With all of that in mind, I decided it was time to take a 30 day break from all social contact with men. Today is day four and it’s been difficult, but it’s also been nice to gain a little bit more space in my life and in my head.
In this moment, though, I’m frustrated and resentful, pissed off at two other people, but really pissed off at myself.
I made sure to let the two friends I was talking to on an almost daily basis know that I wouldn’t be in contact with them for at least a month. I explained what I was doing and they both acted supportive.
Cut to two days later and one of them (I might as well just tell you, it’s Anthony — don’t judge) starts sending me text messages. “Did you like that link I sent you?” he texts, knowing full well he didn’t send me any link. I know this trick. I have used this many times before. It’s right up there with pretending to respond to the wrong text message, sending the person who is ignoring you something like, “ok, see you Tuesday,” or some such nonsense. The goal is to get the other person to respond with something like, “Huh? What are you talking about?” When that didn’t work Anthony tried another look-at-me!-look-at-me! strategy, that I also ignored. The other dude waited a bit longer, but sent me a text (really a sext) today.
I practically wrote the book on these manipulative, attention-seeking tactics, and this is why it’s pissing me off so much. I’m angry because this is all me. These two men are simply reflecting my character defects back at me. I’m usually the one that doesn’t respect boundaries and I’m the one who uses manipulative and attention-seeking tactics to control other people.
Six months ago I would have probably been flattered by this attention, but now I see it for what it is — a reflection of my own flaws; flaws that I am working so hard on removing.