The mirror effect

For the longest time I never really understood the importance of the old cliché “water seeks its own level” until I became healthier. For the longest time, while dating neglectful, abusive or avoidant men, I thought I was so much healthier than them. That the reason I was dating them was so that I could “take care” of them and “help” them. In fact, I always got a kick out of believing that I was the BEST THING that ever happened to them. How silly of me, and how completely off the mark and irrational. Who did I think I was, Mother Theresa? And who wants to date Mother Theresa anyway. People want equality, not someone better or worse off than themselves. Now that I am healthier, I can see that I was in denial. Big time! And so, “water seeks its own level” makes perfect sense to me now. I was as sick and as avoidant (of myself) as they were. My unhealthy partner was me! We were the opposite sides of the same coin.

So, every time you fall into the trap of wanting to analyze your PoA (and believe me, it’s a dead-end trap), think about the fact that they are mirrors of YOU. That their problems are YOUR problems in disguise. This helps to remove some, if not all of your denial. It also forced me to recognize that I no longer wanted to be on the same level of the men I dated. If I was just as toxic as them, that was pretty toxic and I didn’t want that for myself.  Snobby of me? HELL YES.

Here are a few examples of the mirror effect:

  • When we are attracted to unavailable people, it’s because we are unavailable.
  • When we remain in a relationship with a neglectful, abusive, uncaring person, it is because we believe we are worthy of neglect and abuse.
  • When we stay in a relationship with an avoidant person to the point of constantly focus on why they are avoiding us,  it is because we are avoiding ourselves.
  • When we forge a relationship with a narcissist, or a deeply selfish person, it is because we believe we have no “self”
  • When the relationship becomes everything, we become nothing.
  • When we are engaged in extreme behavior, we will meet and be attracted to people who are also engaging in extreme behavior.
  • When we are drawn to drama, we will seek it out in the people we meet, or we will create it for ourselves.
  • When we are still children on the inside, we will attract others who are immature.
  • When we are unhealthy, we seek out and find unhealthy people, or they find us.

Unsolicited advice? Take one last long look at your PoA. Write down all his ugly traits, label him and analyze him, and then let him go. Knowing him better is a dead-end. Instead, use all that newly acquired information and apply it to yourself and your problems and your traits. Have you been in denial about something? Are you acting like a Mother Teresa? Or Write it down and promise yourself that you will try to be as realistic as possible with who you are. And just as you struggle to put the PoA in perspective, put YOURSELF in perspective too.

4 thoughts on “The mirror effect

    1. Again, replying much later to this, simply because it resonates. I’ve been experiencing a wonderful, novel feeling of *not* wanting contact with the PoA. I am relieved every time a periodically check the e-mail folder that serves as the repository of his redirected e-mails (so I don’t see them in real time) to find it empty. It’s tempting to say, “I don’t want any more contact with this damaged person.” The truth, though, is that I am damaged, too. I am very damaged. It is the damaged part of me that craves contact with the PoA. The healthy part of me does not. In short, I do not want to invoke and encourage the damaged part of me. I want to let her go, as much as I want to let the PoA go.
      The PoA and I have many neutral interests in common. We have spent more time talking about music, journalism and writing than about “us.” Our conversations have been deeply, creatively stimulating. When we talk about these topics, the healthy parts of ourselves are engaged with each other. I had optimistically held hope over this year of our so-called friendship that we could cultivate a healthy connection while letting go of the damaged one. But, you know what? It’s too hard right now. The healthy connection stands no chance as long as the damaged parts are still in play. The attractive force between damage is much stronger than the attractive force between healthy-parts. Unfortunately, when we first came together, we connected via our respective damage. Our damage fed off each other like cancer. We would both have to respectively excise the damaged parts of ourselves, and then hope that the undamaged parts of ourselves could similarly be drawn to each other. The passion and drama of damage coming together is a hard high to beat, and neither of us may have the patience or faith that it would be “worth it”. I’m trying hard to excise my own damage, but not for him! I’m doing it for myself.


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