For the first time in my life, somebody blocked me on WhatsApp. I realised that I was blocked when his profile picture disappeared. The sensation was like being hit by a train. (Of course, I am exaggerating as I have never been hit by a train.) I felt a lot of shame and I burst into tears.
Deep down I knew that it wasn’t about me, wasn’t about my behaviour, but I still scrolled through the messages to see if I said anything that would make him take this drastic step. I am generally avoidant in my relationships, so it took me extra effort to respond to him and contact him regularly. Oh, the irony. I was trying everything to step out of my usual pattern of playing it cool and this was the reward. Now, I had voices in my head telling me, “See I told you so, there are no nice men out there, everybody is damaged, there is no point meeting anybody. You should never get into another relationship, just stay alone, and then you won’t be disappointed.”
After the initial reaction of shock, anger, shame, and self-pity, I let my wiser self get on board. (And I called my incredibly wise sister.) I looked at the situation not just objectively, but from his point of view as well. I could tell that he was overwhelmed. We only spent a couple of days together in a kind of summer romance fashion, but once he flew back to his home country, he put the pressure on himself to contact me daily as if we were in a relationship. I never asked him to do that and genuinely had no expectation of him. But he had a completely different story playing out in his head and he didn’t know how to communicate it.
This person identifies as a very trustworthy and responsible person and gives much of his time and energy to care for other people, even if it isn’t expected of him. I am partly mind-reading here, and partly drawing conclusions from the conversation we ended up having after he unblocked me.
What did I learn from this experience of being blocked by someone I had a romance with?
– We all experience difficulties in our lives and we may never understand how the other person perceives the same situation. Have compassion for yourself and others.
-Anxiety is a bitch – it will make you believe things that are not true.
-Don’t mind read! Ask questions! Communicate even if it is hard. Be as clear with your words as possible, so you cannot be misunderstood.
-After years of “doing the work” I still get triggered and become childlike when I am hurt. I don’t think it will ever go away, but I have learnt not to make decisions from that place. I know to stay with myself lovingly through the heartache like a good parent would, without trying to explain it, minimise it, or want it to go away. (This is called self-parenting.)
-I still have plenty to learn about relationship dynamics and may never be “healed enough” to be in an emotionally mature relationship, but I can see myself getting a step closer with every experience. You can only heal your relationship wounds in a relationship.
So, what happened to the anxious blocker? We had a very honest 25-minute conversation, which felt more intimate and vulnerable than most conversations I had in my marriage. He understood that he doesn’t owe me anything apart from human decency and I understood that I need to be very clear with my words and needs whatever they might be. We may see each other again, we may not, but either way, it has been lovely meeting him.