It’s Time to Stop Villainizing Your Ex

stopvillainizingI get it. I DO. Trust me. He’s a jerk. She’s a #$@*&. She’s crazy. He’s abusive. All of these things may be true. They may only partially be true or they may have little to not bearing of truth to them at all. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s time to stop painting them out in a way where they are the most evil, horrible, awful thing that has ever happened to you. Why? Because it’s not serving YOU.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you never speak anything bad about them, but that you stop painting them out in such a disproportionate way that only allows for them to be the problem and you to be the victim. It’s kind of like how forgiveness isn’t about them it’s for your own peace, but on the next level. Clearly you haven’t forgiven them if you’re still talking about them this way every chance you get. There is certainly a period of time where it is normal and even healthy to be processing all that went wrong and how they betrayed you, hurt you and could have should have done differently. Don’t skip that step because it is important as you dig and clean out that wound so it can truly and fully heal. But if you’re stuck in the digging and picking and only focusing on how awful they were you will limit your healing.

Villainizing has a few aspects to it that are problematic:

  1. It can establish, or perpetuate, a pattern of being a victim.
  2. It creates an imbalanced perspective about what happened.
  3. It can scare off future quality partners.

Let’s explore those a bit…

1. It can establish, or perpetuate, a pattern of being a victim.

Maybe this is the first time you’ve been treated poorly over and over again or perhaps it’s the clear pattern in your life, but one thing is for sure you’re not going to break out of that cycle if you just keep harping on how terrible the last one was.

2. It creates an imbalanced perspective about what happened.

It takes two to tango. Even if your contribution to the whole mess was a combination of not seeing the red flags and then allowing your boundaries to be violated time and time again, you still have a part in what happened. Get some quality therapy to process the trauma because it is very real, but get the help you need to get traction to get out of this rut. And if you have even more weight in matter of what went wrong in the relationship, look at that honestly. And get support and help as well. Lean into the discomfort of the truth of it all and allow yourself to be vulnerable with someone who has earned the right to be in that space. Bring your shame into the light and be free of it once and for all.

3. It can scare off future quality partners.

Chances are high that you do want to get into a relationship again somewhere down the road, and you probably don’t want that to be one riddled with similar experiences to your last one. So you’ve got to do things a bit differently otherwise you’re just experiencing the definition of insanity. The thing is, someone who is going to be emotionally connected and available, will see you for who you really are, and LOVE that person, is not going to be impressed with your woes of why your last intimate partner was the devil. For one, they may fear that you would someday turn all of that them, and also it’s just not fun to stay with someone in that low of a vibration. The only people that will hang around with you in that muck for very long are others who are at a similar level, probably villainizing their own ex, or their parents or their boss, etc etc.

I have a good friend that really helped me to see all of this. He was interested in a girl a while back that had been through some really rough relationships. She’d had a string of men in her life that had violated, abused and offended her in pretty much every way imaginable. She really does have some villains in her past. And while that is heartbreaking, and understandable about why her ex was the worst person in the world, he was nervous to not only date her, but to even form a friendship with her. As an attorney, he was concerned that if she were to one day turn that on to him, accusing him of this or that, he could lose everything that he had worked for. You hear of outlandish stories where, even if they have no merit, just the accusation of something unspeakable can destroy an entire life’s work. He recognized that she had real, genuine pain in her life, but that she was also at a place where her lack of ability to see things in a grounded way could put him in jeopardy.

This really woke me up. I asked him if I was speaking about my ex(es) this way and in his honest and gentle way he said that I would, from time to time. Not all the time, but as I reflected on this more and more, it was too frequent for me. It was just not in line with the woman that I am and want to become.

Here’s the other thing, this is HARD. While I’m aware of it, I’m not perfect at it. Far from it. But I am striving for this. My ex is not the devil and still has plenty of good in him. They all do. He may not be living up to the good in him and that’s for him to figure out. But I can take a deep breath and be brave enough to let go of the crutch of him being awful and me being perfect so that I can progress in the light with truth on my side. It also allows him the space to grow into a better version of himself when I’m not ready to jump all over him at every chance, even if only in my mind, when he proves that villain portrait correct.

Plus, I just have more PEACE. When you give yourself permission to no longer villainize them, or anyone else, there is so much more room for true peace in your life. I encourage you to consider taking on this challenge yourself, and give yourself permission progress.

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