There are 2 types of people from our past—distant or recent—that cause us pain in the present. And chances are, if you can’t seem to move on from someone, they fall into one of these 2 categories . . .
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Let’s talk about the two types of people from our past that cause us pain in the present: Angels and demons.
Let’s start with demons. A demon is someone who, perhaps, started as a ghost. Someone you really liked. Perhaps someone you think loved bombed you. Someone that you got close to and then disappeared. It either fizzled out or it ended abruptly with no explanation. And you found that, over time, they turned from a ghost who gave you no closure to a demon who you came to loathe. “How dare they? I don’t even know why they gave up on what we had. We had this connection, they disappeared. They led me on, and then they left me high and dry.” We get frustrated. We start to develop this idea of this person, perhaps as a narcissist—one way of turning someone into a demon is to immediately label them a narcissist, something that appears to be very popular right now.
We look at them and we say, “They’re a terrible person. They’ve caused me all of this pain.” And the danger of doing all of this is that we give this person an awful lot of power. Turning someone into a demon is more a reflection of how much power we’ve given someone than how terrible they are. I don’t like giving people that much power. I’m not saying there aren’t people who have hurt us to a terrific degree, but turning them into these demons in our minds allows them to occupy too much space there. I’ve always said, “Disinterest is closure.” While we sit there looking for closure from a demon, we have to remember that the fact that they’re not interested enough to continue with us, the fact that they’re not messaging us, the fact that they left us in that moment, simply means that they’re not our person, that they can’t give us what we need. That is all the closure we need. Disinterest is closure.
Now let’s talk about the angels. The angels are potentially even more harmful than the demons, because this is the person in your life who perhaps you’ve fallen for, you’re in love with. They even maybe say that they’re in love with you, but they say, “I can’t be with you.” And they give some Shakespearean reasoning why you can’t be together. And what happens is you’re left without the person, but you’re also left with this beautiful righteous feeling about this person, who they are, their nature, and why you can’t be together.
“I just have so much on right now and I’m dealing with all of this, but I love you so much. If only we could be together.” When someone gives us that kind of reasoning, it’s suggestive of the fact that they still want to be the hero on the way out.
Meanwhile, we don’t usually perceive it that way. We look at it as, “Oh my God, we’re perfect for each other. If it wasn’t for this obstacle, if it wasn’t for this thing that’s going on in his mind that’s preventing us from being together. We would be perfect. We are perfect. We should be together. It’s simply that this angel is having some problem that means we can’t.”
Now, one could argue that the angels and demons are actually the same person with different exit strategies. That the demon, the person that ghosted us, just disappeared, left us high and dry—that person was unable to have a difficult conversation, and their exit strategy therefore was just to disappear. The angel is the person who decides they don’t want you or don’t want the relationship, but still wants to be heroic. Still wants to be loved. Still wants to be seen as noble on the way out.
Here’s what we have to do. We have to bring the angel and the demon to earth. So the demon has to be taken up from the bowels of hell, and brought onto an earthly level where we realize they’re not a powerful demonic being, they’re just a person. A flawed person. They’re not powerful, they just couldn’t give me what I wanted.
We have to take that angel up in heaven and bring them down to make them an earthly being. They’re just a person. They’re a person that had some great qualities who couldn’t give me what I wanted.
And by the way, if even after this, you find yourself unable to let go of the angel, here’s a quick thing you can do: Replay back to yourself all of the things that the angel told you about how they feel, how in love they were, how much they wanted you, how connected they are to you, how much you’re the person . . . Listen to all of those things and ask yourself this, “If I was them and I felt all of these things they say they’re feeling, what would I do?”
And if the answer is radically different to what they’re doing, if they’re halfway across the world telling you that, “I would do anything for you. I love you so much. I really want to be with you” . . . Ask yourself, “If I was halfway across the world saying all of these things, what would I do?” And if the answer is that you would get on a plane . . . If the answer is that you would move heaven and earth to be together . . . If the answer is you would make sacrifices to make it work, and they’re not doing those things, then it means one of two things: Either A, they don’t really mean what they say; or B, their values are different from yours, their standards are different from yours, or their needs are different from yours.
In other words, they are not willing to give to a relationship what you are willing to give. And that alone is reason to disqualify this person from the imagined role of your future partner.
Angels and demons: Let go of both. Make them extraordinarily human and flawed and move on to find a beautiful human flawed person who can actually give you what you want.