Hindsight is excellent. You know that. One of the hardest things to see when you're falling in love is those red flags. You want to fall in love. It's wonderful. It's magical. Nothing should get in its way. Not even a Hijackal™*!
Those red flags may not have been waving wildly, just quietly and occasionally. Enough to cause you pause, but then, you swept them aside, quickly made excuses for them.
Hijackals paint you a beautiful, charming, and perfect picture of themselves. S/he is all you ever wanted. How could you be so lucky? You've found your soulmate. They have the ability to hone in on you so fully, that they seem to know your thoughts, so you are not paying attention to those red flags!
You thought s/he was perfect. Now, you begrudgingly have to acknowledge that s/he is a predator!
Now, you're in doubt, upset, and disbelief. Why didn't I see it?
- You had no pattern for it, so you couldn't see it.It is very difficult to see things you haven't seen before. Your brain does not have a pattern for it. So, you try to make things fit into patterns you know.When you are raised in a loving, healthy home, you tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt for a while. You know that people have little slips from being their best selves, and you compassionately understand. You are ready to justify, rationalize, and excuse the occasional wobble.
You focus on the good in folks. And, you believe that, with enough love, patience, kindness, compassion, and attention, they will heal their wounds, and flourish. So, you jump in. Maybe even, jump in to the rescue!
- You've known the behavior all your life and it seemed normal.Maybe, you were raised in a home where there were dysfunctional behaviors and patterns. Perhaps you had a Hijackal™ parent or close family member. Or, you might have been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused earlier in your life.When those things happen to you early in life, you have no experiences to compare them to, so it all seems normal in a distorted kind of a way. You don't like it. May even hate it, but it is so much a part of your experience that it seems normal.
When the Hijackal lures you in, and then treats you poorly, you're confused, but it still doesn't register as abuse. It feels familiar. So, that patterns continue until you wake up and smell the herbal tea!
- You didn't want it to be so, so you excused and denied it.You wanted to be in love, to believe that you were that lovable. Who doesn't want to be seen as the most valuable, loved, and cherished person on the planet? That's normal!When those Hijackal behaviors--like the need to always be right, to make everything your fault, or the unwillingness to take responsibility for anything--show up, you found a way to excuse the behavior. S/he didn't really mean it. S/he is having a bad day, week, or year. S/he is going through a rough patch.
But, something else was at work. You were being demeaned, discounted, and destroyed. You were being manipulated, lied to, and cheated on. None of those things look or feel like being valued, loved, or cherished. And, eventually, you had to admit it.
Now, in hindsight, you feel lost, degraded, frustrated...and finally, infuriated.
Yay! You've found your anger. That's the beginning of your journey back to finding yourself, your self-esteem, and self-confidence, the beginning of healing.
You may be angry at yourself for denying what was really going on for so long. Or, you may be disappointed in yourself that you put up with it for too long. You're used to taking the blame for everything. You've been with a Hijackal, after all!
You hopefully feel angry at the Hijackal for taking advantage of you and manipulating you so miserably. Yes, you allowed it. But, focus on the Hijackal. S/he rushed you into believing you'd found the perfect person.
Why the rush? Because a Hijackal can't keep up the love-bombing for too long. S/he has to make the conquest and seal the deal fast. Most Hijackals tell you that they know you're perfect for each other, that you're their soulmate, that they love you, and they think you should move in, get married, or have babies right away. You buy the dream. Sold! Now, you're entrapped.
But, yay! You're out of it. Good for you. Whether s/he dropped you to go on to the supply s/he had waiting in the wings (because they always have supply waiting), or you finally got away. you're out of it. That's the important thing for you, and for your children. You have left the dysfunction behind. There's a real danger, though, that you'll take some of it with you.
What do you do with the anger, the disappointment, the lost years, the pain, and the feelings of rejection, the anger at yourself? Time to care enough about yourself to get some help. That's a whole lot to work through, and that's what you need to do. You can't bury it, because it will keep showing up.
If you don't get help, you're highly likely to attract another Hijackal, because you've turned into Hijackal Bait. That needs to stop, right? You don't want to go down that path. I've had clients who have been married to, or with three or four Hijackals before they escape the Hijackal Trap! Get help so you won't repeat this pain and pattern.
You're important. You matter. You didn't see those red flags because you couldn't, or wouldn't, but that doesn't matter now. What matters is healing!
* Hijackals are people who hijack relationships--for their own purposes--while relentlessly scavenging them for power, status, and control.
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD. When you're ready to say "No more!" to toxic relationships, unnecessary drama, and poor examples for your children to follow, work with Dr. Shaler directly now. Subscribe to her Tips for Relationships. Listen to her podcasts for valuable insights and strategies to reclaim yourself, and create healthy relationships with yourself and others: Emotional Savvy: The Relationship Help Show, and Save Your Sanity: Help for Handling Hijackals®.