Last year I had a break up.
Fine. I was dumped.
I’ve been broken up with before and I’ve also been the breaker-upper so I know that there’s not an easy way to go about this. But this one. It was different.
He said things to me in that last conversation that echoed in my head for months. He told me things about myself that cut me to places I didn’t know existed. He said things to me that were so jarring that I could not pull them out of my head no matter how hard I tried.
One of the things I recommend to people who are deeply hurt by someone is to write a letter. I suggest to them that they write a letter to this person and say everything they need to say, to be as honest and hurtful as they need to be – and then to discard the letter.
But this letter I wrote with the full intent to send it. I was constructive and kind but also firm. I called out the things he had said to me about myself.
And then I wrote the sentence that changed it all for me:
“And it’s simply not true.”
As soon as I wrote that sentence the power he’d had over my head was lifted. I said, out loud to myself, “It’s not true. None of the things he said are true.”
I discarded the letter and felt the clouds in my head blow away.
He had told me I was too strong a leader for a woman.
That wasn’t true.
He had told me I wasn’t soft enough, that I didn’t care about people, that I didn’t serve people well.
That wasn’t true.
He told me I was an angry person, and cited some very specific things I had shared with him from deep parts of my heart.
And that wasn’t true. I’m not angry. He was simply wrong.
Taking back the power of who I am, who I am created as, and the good things about myself all started with saying to myself that the things he had said I was were simply false.
This came into play some time later as a friend also criticized me about some things and told me some things they saw in me in a negative way.
“That’s simply not true about me,” I said to them. “I can’t accept that because I spent some time thinking about it, and it’s not true.” I said this calm as can be, because it was a fact.
There are things that people in our lives say to us that we need to hear, and that are hard to hear. When people say these things criticizing us, we should take some time to examine ourselves. If what they’re saying is true, we may need to hear it and we can grow from it.
But there are things people in our lives say to us that are not true, and these are things that we need to consider and then release. We have to look at who we are, truly, at the good we bring to the world, at the value we bring to the lives of those around us, look ourselves in the mirror and say, “It’s simply not true.” And if we can, we need to tell them the same when we can do so calmly.
So now this is a practice in my life. When someone criticizes me I first take that and turn it over and over in my head. Because there may be truth in it that I need to hear and grow from. But if they are doing so from a place of meanness, I can see things in myself clearly enough to look them in the eye and say, “That is not true.” And then I can leave it. Because it’s just simply not true.