Strangers have no power to hurt me. The kid who mooed at me in high school earns a chuckle these days. Friends of a friend who say or think bad things about me, well...that stings a bit, mostly because they get most of their information about me through an intermediary I assume thinks I'm pretty much okay. But no one, and I mean no one, can hurt me the way that someone I love can hurt me.
Someone you love, when that love goes south, has more ammunition than anyone else in the world. She'll remember the bad a whole lot more clearly than the good and since she knows you...she knows which daggers will be deflected and which will cripple you with their accuracy. She won't remember the time you made mashed potatoes from scratch because nothing else would satisfy. She'll remember instead the time you spent the rent money in a casino and didn't tell her until the day it was due. She won't recall the times you stayed up until the wee hours of the night because she was having panic attacks and only knowing you were awake, watching over her, enabled her to sleep. Instead, she'll remember that you slept late into the day, missing her day off.
Of course, this goes both ways. When I talk to her, I don't thank her for the nights spent in the ER holding my hand and wiping away tears, instead I shriek about the times she wasn't there, didn't believe me, or didn't care. And each time she hurts me, I ransack my mind for more ammunition and use my quick and clever brain to twist my words into blades of derision.
It devolves quickly...she shouting, me crying. Neither saying anything that will make the other one feel like she mattered the way she did.
I hate that I do this, hate that I can't stop doing this. I wish I could fast forward my heart and brain six months, two years...whenever that magic moment when I will be able to see clearly all that was, the good and the bad and appreciate it for all that it was. I wish I could stop myself...or at least find the magic words to make up for all that I've said, to let her know that I regret what I've said almost immediately upon saying it.
I know there is a way to break up that leaves both partners with the dignity they deserve, I just don't how to do it.