katiebear's blog: It's Over

Posted on Jan 1, 2022 8:05 PM

First, I need to report that today was definately the beginning of a new year for me. Christmas depression lifted in a major way and I made major progress is clearing my house/mind. It happens most every year since I got sober but even if I remember things got better after New Years I didn't remember how much better.

As we wait hopefully for progress on the political front - the anniversary Of the Jan 6 insurrection is almost upon us - I remember the summer of listening to and watching the Watergate hearings and the moment when I realized that the relationship with the man I was living with was over. It had been gong downhill almost from the day I'd moved in about a year earlier as once I was there and committed the criticism had started. It was not helped when we stopped briefly at the home of my sister Susan and she - convinced she was one of the world's great hostesses, came toward him to shake hands and called him "Goonter." He name was Gunter and her gaff was doubly embarrassing because she obviously thought she was being gracious.

Back to Watergate. At the time I was a two-pack-a-day cigarette smoker. I decided it was time to quit. I'd been off cigarettes for 2-3 days and was sitting on the front porch trying not to go nuts and Gunter made some nasty remark. I responded by pointing out that I was doing without cigarettes. He responded with a sarcastic remark about something that was "still" wrong with me. And I lost it. Totally. Sat there sobbing, asking, "How long is your list?" I enumerated the top five or ten criticisms and asked, again, how long is your list. It actually got through to him. He apologized and promised to stop the endless criticism. And he did. For a couple of days. Then it started again and when I tried to remind him of our previous conversation he said "It was just another fight." And at that moment I knew it was over.

When I was just over a year sober I asked a woman I knew what had caused her to end her relationship with a man I had been trying to hlep. She was very helpful and started listing some of the things he had said to her. My favorite was, "Imagine the great me ending up with a lowly person like you." As he had said most of the same things to me and I had tolerated them, a lightbulb went on and I remembered the "It's over" conversation with Gunter, realizing I had forgotten the lesson of that moment. Brought it into consciousness and I've kept it at the forefront of my thinking as I enter into what might be a relationship. The amazing thing is that since I remembered the "How long is your list" conversation I've been able to end some would-be relationships early - nipped in the bud as it were. After spending a couple of days with a man in which we were considering where our attraction to each other was going I thought about our time together and of all the things that he had told me were wrong with me: I didn't make enough money and what I did I didn't manage well, my hair was wrong; my work ethic was lacking; I wasn't energetic enough, etc. I can't remember the details all these years later but I clearly remember my thinking mind slapping me up the side of the head, pointing out that after two casual days together I already knew at least eight-ten things that I was inadequate in and it was clearly just the beginning. It was also the end. I didn't discuss it with the man, just kind of shined him on the next time I saw him. He was furious and showed it which was the best confirmation he could give me.

I've been able to share this insight with some others who have gotten involved in this kind of negative relationship. I advise taking some time getting to know the person and, at some point, to stop and ask "How long is his list?" Awareness is a wonderful thing. Most people who are very critical loosen up and start dropping remarks about your faults early on, especially if you are aware of the possibility and give the person enough "rope" to really let you know the faults he sees in you. There seems to be something in some of us that brings out the critic in many others. Awareness of this can save us a lot of abuse.

"How long is your list?"

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