Ever heard this line? – “It’s not you, it’s me.”
I’ve heard it many times myself. In the past my typical response was usually, “Bullcrap, you dork. Grow some balls, coward. I’ll do better. F***er. Liar. Please don’t go. ‘Bleep’. Stay. ‘Bleep’.” These utterances were usually followed by a week or so of tears, some cuddle time with Ben & Jerry watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie, a few tattoos so that I could feel the pain inside in a tangible way on the outside, then eventually pulling on of my Wonder Woman panties, heading out with my friends, my first few laughs post break-up, tequila, Jagermeister, Beam, Stoli O and cranberry juice with slivers of an orange, flying kites in thunderstorms, swimming in fountains, stealing tractors, sweaty soul train dance parties, and Journey concerts.
Hey, everyone has their own personal process.
However, over the past five-plus-ish years I’ve come to realize in a very profound way that the statement that’s broken my heart countless times, “It’s not you, it’s me,” is 1000 percent dead-on true. Every. Single. Time.
Hear me out.
Unless you’re the Dalai Lama, Buddha, or Jesus himself, you’re spending most of your days thinking about yourself. You’re thinking about how you feel, what happened to you, how someone/something is affecting you, what you want, what you need, what you’re doing, what you’ll eat, what work you need to do, what brings you joy, what brings you pain. As Niles Crane says, in a Frasier episode, you’re the narcissistic opera singer starring in a performance of “Me me me me me me” each and every second of the day.
You’re wired that way. Even when you’re thinking about someone else, you are still thinking about yourself. Listen to a friend tell you a gut-wrenching story and I’m betting you’re thinking about how that story relates to you; what happened to you that’s similar so you can share, help in some way, relate more deeply. It’s a challenge, not unlike trying to nail Jell-O to a tree, not to be rude and interrupt, interject and tell your story, tell them how you feel about what they’re feeling.
It’s the same in romantic relationships. Every relationship you have is a mirror that’s being held up to you. When you come upon a particularly big-ass, bright and shiny mirror that reflects back the best of yourself, you’re in love. You’re in love with how a person makes you feel. You’re in love with who you become when someone lifts you up to become that best version of yourself. You’re in love with how a person makes you feel, how a person relates to you, how a person supports you, how a person loves and adores you and how they show their love to you. Often you’ll eventually come to love who that person is at their core but more often than not it’s because of the traits in them that you admire/covet for yourself.
And when you’re in a relationships that totally sucks a**, it’s no different. They’re holding up a broken, cloudy mirror and you’re not liking your reflection at all. Perhaps they treat you poorly, perhaps they beat you, perhaps they’ve cheated, perhaps they spend their evenings watching Sports Center drinking Milwaukee’s Best and you haven’t really talked for a month, perhaps the sex, while once-passionate, is about as exciting as the pink dusty tin of cockles that’s been in the back of your cupboard since 1998. It’s still all about how you feel right? He/she doesn’t make you feel good. He/she doesn’t pay attention to you anymore. He/she doesn’t care about you. He/she cheated/slapped/ignored you. The unsung notes in all of those instances is “me me me me.”
Don’t forget that there’s also the mirror you hold up to yourself; to your own soul. And there are times in your life when the reflection you mirror back to yourself is pristine… clear… glowing… There are also times that your reflection in that mirror has been neglected and is layered with years of soap scum, smoke, and spots (not to mention it’s cracked). Don’t get it twisted, you’re still continually tuning your “me me me” vocals in that mirror. Perhaps you’ve met someone who’s amazing. A spiritual, intelligent, loyal, kind, interesting person who you just know would be great for you. But perhaps the rest of your life is a mess. You feel deeply unhappy with a number of areas in your life and you know, deep down, that the most you have to offer that person, when your life looks like a sh*t storm, isn’t enough to reflect back to them the dimmest of a shadow of themselves and vice versa. It’s still about the “me me me”; where you’re at, what you’re feeling, what you have to offer. I think this is why you often attract into your life folks whose mirrors look just like yours.
You’re here on your journey to grow: physically, spiritually, and mentally, and everyone you meet offers you the ability to expand that growth. But when someone says, “It’s not you, it’s me,” believe it. They’ve finished gazing into your mirror, they’ve learned what they needed to learn, they’re not liking their reflection, they have their own mirror work to do, and it’s gonna take a whole helluva lot of elbow grease. Try to deny the “you” and the “me me me” and the growth stops. “We are all one.” It’s true, but you still need to pull out the Windex, the Brillo pads, and the super glue and work to ensure that the reflection folks see when they look at their reflection in your mirror isn’t muddled with flecks of Colgate.