Because SHE is better than YOU
I knew I was not imagining this. This man, the man I lived with, the man I made a commitment to, had fallen in love with a married woman. I no longer wondered who he was blatantly texting at 2 am. When he did not come home till 3 or 4 in the morning, there was no need for me to question his whereabouts. I knew where he had been. When I called him on the morning of Valentines Day and he said that he was sitting on the porch of her house waiting to go to work later, I just said "OK".
I can't describe how I felt about his affection for her, because it did not devastate me. I was more hurt by what I had become. I was ashamed of me and for me. I was ashamed of who I was. I had lost my fight. I had lost so much in the past year that it just seemed as if everything bad that was happening to me was well deserved. After getting laid off a job I hated and living with a man I increasingly found to be disgusting, I was listless. It wasn't like years before when I had been laid off. Then, I had a huge support system. Not financially, but mentally and spiritually. I had my mom, my friends in my hometown, I had my strength and my ability to laugh in the face of adversity and I did not fear the future.
I thought it was only right that he had wanted to be with someone else. I had not had my hair professionally done in about a year. It looked like a bunch of spiders tap dancing on my scalp. My nails looked like I had been digging in the yard with the dog. My hands were dry because I couldn't buy my fancy hand cream. I wore minimal or no make up because M.A.C. was not in the budget. My house was a wreck because I did not clean and the dog had dirtied the furniture so bad that I just had a hauling company come and pick it all up. I wore the same thing over and over because I did not have the strength to do the laundry. Why wouldn't he fall for someone else?
Even though he was no prize and she was 20 years older than us and not attractive, I was not what he signed up for. Why wouldn't his eyes and heart wander? I was an investment that had gone belly up.
She knew her behavior was disrespectful but she reveled in his affection. When it was just the three of us they would sit closely together, never offering me the seat next to him. Whenever I was cold to her he told me I was wrong and had to be nice to her. Whenever I spoke up and said something to her about her behavior he defended her in front of me. Once when we argued about her he told me that the only reason I did not like her was "because she is better than you."
When he said it I thought "wow". I couldn't believe he would say that to someone, to me. Surprisingly, It did not hurt. At THAT moment, I realized the depths he was willing to go to manipulate everyone around him so that he could be a star. I actually, began to feel sorry for him and for her. I realized they needed each other at that moment to fulfill some unmet need in their lives. He grew up being the unpopular kid. So now was his chance to be big man on campus by publicly humiliating me in front of anyone that was watching.
I was surprisingly not mad at her. Although she was extremely disrespectful, she did not owe me anything. I was not in a relationship with her. She was in the same situation I was in. She also had a bad relationship at home with a man who had a wandering eye. She was publicly humiliated by the rumors of her husband with younger women and her husband was never home. However, she handled it in a way I would not. Her insecurities led her to intentionally inflict pain on another woman to make herself feel better. Me, I looked at myself to see what I had done to be in this situation. What warning signs had I missed? Which lessons had I not learned from?
While she and I should have been searching for ways to lean on one another, she decided to use my pain as a badge of honor for herself.
I think about his comment often, but not in a sad way. I can't really explain it yet. Sometimes when I hear from him or see him, those words bounce around in my head. "Because she is better than you"...."Because she is better than you"...."Because she is better than you"...."Because SHE is better than YOU." Now I use those words as a tool to help others. If SHE is better than YOU at cooking, ask her to help you. If SHE is better than YOU, at dancing, ask her for help. If SHE is better than YOU at making friends, ask her how she does it. If SHE is better than YOU in business, ask her to teach/mentor you.
You never know, "because she is better than you" could be the beginning of a wonderfully positive journey into friendship, self-discovery and love.
WHAT'S THE D–I–S–H?
D - DEFINE your DILEMMA
Well, we know I was in a manipulative relationship. But that was not the only issue. It was a combination of my depression, his insecurities and my inability to grasp my current situation. I also had no one to talk to about this. I felt no woman would understand what I was going through and offer support. I did not feel like being subjected to the disapproving glances and comments from female friends or family. Besides, how can you get support if you hide everything from others and carry on like life is good?
I - IDENTIFY your INSPIRATION
I no longer wanted to live like that. I was giving him power by just being present. His power grew every time I complained. Every time I showed up and sat in the corner while his friends watched the two of them make googly eyes at one another, he grew stronger. So, I stopped being present. I stopped meeting them for dinner or drinks. I stopped mentioning her. I began to live my life like I was alone. When I was no longer a part of the audience for his display of cruelty, I felt better and those two did not exist.
S - SHARE your STORY
I had worked so hard to not be the girl I was growing up, the poor girl, from the wrong neighborhood, with the wrong clothes, that it was hard being the girl who had made it but was now struggling. No more weekly hair, nails and spa appointments. No housekeeper to hide my filth. My identity had been in my career. I rose quickly and steadily and surpassed the naysayers. I was now feeling as if all the critics were right. I felt like he was right when he scoffed at my inability to bounce back quickly. I don't blame him for it, but it was hard being pressured everyday with "So what now?", "What is your plan?", "Why are you not more upset?" I lived in an environment where I could not think straight. This was my doing because I could have fixed my environment. I could have done my own hair and nails. I could have looked for ways to make me feel good about me. I could have found my own identity and stopped looking to him for words of encouragement. The truth, he was my first failure and I could not handle it. How could I go back and tell the naysayers from school, my family, etc. that I had no idea where to go from here?
H - HEAL your HEART
I share this story but it is truly with fear of the ridicule I will get from friends. I still get women telling me how they "would never put up with that." I look at them and think how soon you forget that I know your situation, past or present. It saddens me to think that we still judge one another so harshly. Admittedly, I still judge at times. However, I do work hard to stop, recognize, identify and fix my judgments. I apologize a lot. I also sometimes step away when I'm in a situation where my insecurities are too strong to deal with right then and there and I could hurt someone else. I noticed I was healing when while in the midst of this, I was not angry, hurt or combative. I actually felt compassion for both of them. When he began to try to get back in my good graces by bad talking her with points I had already known about her, I just looked at him and said "Don't talk bad about her. Because you loved her and it's not fair to her." I sometimes wonder how she is doing and if she has found her voice, her strength. This DISH was therapeutic for me definitely. I learned so much about myself and about women in pain. "Because SHE is better than YOU" becomes a good thing if SHE is the reason you learn and grow from the experience.