Finding out someone you loved (romantically, or friendship, or family member) is not what you thought they were, brings a unique pain.
First, there were two guys I loved in college. I thought they were wonderful; as it turned out, one (Peter) was apparently pretending to be more religious than he really was, and the other (Phil) was a manipulative, deceitful abuser. But they were exes, and it’s expected that exes will let you down and leave your life eventually.
But when it’s a friend or family member….
First, in 2007, I found out that my family had been hiding things from me about my father for my entire life. He had a whole secret habit that I knew nothing about, that I had always been taught was sinful, but everyone but me knew about it.
Then the same day I found out about it, my mom thought he had left her, and considered divorce. That turned out to be a misunderstanding, but the secret was out, and I had to deal with discovering that my dad was not what I always thought he was.
Then there was my former best friend Richard. I just got an e-mail today from a forum we used to go on together to defend Orthodoxy. I couldn’t stand getting these reminders anymore from a forum we haven’t been on for nearly three years, so I went to try to delete my account. However, there is no way to do that.
It reminded me of how religious and righteous he always seemed to be, and how the truth was that he’s showing traits of narcissism, that he’s a violent man who did an evil, evil deed, nearly killing his 9-year-old daughter by choking her to unconsciousness.
Then there was finding out what my former boss did. I thought he was a good person, despite his temper, and I liked him. But no, he’s so violently abusive that he went to jail for 9 months, drove away the wife he loved, and lost custody of all his children.
I’m still mourning for him and for Richard, as if they had died, because the person I thought I knew, is dead–or never existed.
How do you get past finding out that people you love, are not what you thought they were? That they’ve been deceiving you, or that they’re actually evil?
And how do you stop wishing they would come to you and apologize for what they’ve done, or prove that they’ve changed so you can be friends again?
I suppose there are many people out there who feel the same pain: former mates of narcissists, abused spouses, people who were mentored by priests who turned out to be molesters.
Can you ever get over it?