Yesterday I got sucked into yet another argument with my ex. He is everything short of, including, and beyond unreasonable. He uses a combination of distraction and emotional manipulation to send me spiralling into a rage faster than my own parents are capable. For me, my parents are some of the only people besides my ex who can make me very quickly very furious.

Oh, I didn’t mention, now I have an ex – instead of a partner. Yes, that was a change of pace indeed.

Our relationship had barely been hanging on for some time. I knew for a very long time that it wouldn’t work out. Finally, I got the solid gut feeling that the time had come, so I ended it. There was any number of deal-breakers that I could have chosen along the way to end it leading up until this point. It really wasn’t even the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was just finally time.

Since we broke up it has been the exact same drama triangle (attacker, victim, rescue) as it had been all along. The main difference now is that the topics of argument have changed from bills to child custody, and there is no affection or love to pacify the terrible arguments after they happen.

I have improved significantly. It is far easier to diffuse either myself or the situation when I am less affected by his choices and opinions, and not constantly in his presence.

But yesterday’s argument reminded me of something my sister said. A few months ago we were talking about another typical ludicrous situation involving him and she commented, “He is like your kryptonite.” This popped into my head after I got off the phone with him. He is my kryptonite.

What does it mean for something to be kryptonite? I am not a comic book buff, but my understanding is that kryptonite is the only thing that can take away Superman’s powers, and he is the most powerful super hero of all. Let me repeat that: Superman is the most powerful, capable, indestructible super hero of all time, and his one and only weakness is kryptonite.

For someone to be your kryptonite, means that they are the one person who is capable of disempowering you and reducing you to the lowest version of yourself that is not the real you. When I thought about my sister’s words again, he is your kryptonite, this finally it hit home.

There are many ways of giving away personal power: negative self-talk, distractions, obsessions, addictions. These things can (and usually) exist on a small scale. For example, watching tv, obsessively checking social media, or loving someone who is unavailable. If a person has a kryptonite that is another person, this is far worse, for a few reasons.

In this context, a person becomes your kryptonite because of your involvement with them in a toxic relationship. Toxic relationships are also usually abusive, either mentally, emotionally, physically, or a combination of these and other forms of abuse. Abusive relationships are usually not recognized as such until they are over. They are also usually lengthy, because there is a certain form of psychological addiction that accompanies them. This makes it kryptonite. The combination of the ups and downs, pushes and pulls. The baddest bad makes a mediocre good seem like heaven, and we stick around for those moments. We stay because we feel loved when he apologizes. We stay because we think we are loved, and he tells us so. We stay because we don’t feel worthy of more. We stay because we are scared to be alone. Kryptonite: makes you the weakest, lowest, worst version of yourself that you have ever been.

And when the relationship ends, and you realize you are existing as a version of yourself that is not really you, and you need to get away from your kryptonite… You can hardly bear it. It hurts too good. You want a high, so you take it, and then you suffer the inevitable low that happens when his mood turns or when you realize that what you’re doing is selfish and wrong.

Of course, in all of these things I am talking about myself. My ex is my kryptonite. What does this mean? Where do I go from here? First of all, the very word KRYPTONITE is my mantra. Today when I felt vulnerable and wanted him to hug me, I tell myself kryptonite. When I feel angry because of another argument about our son, kryptonite. When I want to prove my point, or get in the last word, kryptonite. Why? For two reasons.

1. If I really, truly want things to get better between us as co-parents and ex’s (as I affirm that I do), I need to break my addiction to my weakness. I need to be empowered, and remain empowered, calm, and reasonable through all events. I need to be able to affectively communicate without being torn down by my usual triggers. I need to be able to decipher when he is playing the game, and when he really wants to talk about something important. I need to learn when to stop talking, stop arguing, allow the last word to be had and let it go. As long as I keep playing the game, the game won’t stop.

2. If I can overcome my kryptonite, then that means that I have no ultimate weakness, and I am FREE. Personal development never ends. Becoming the best version of yourself is a life-long process that keeps going until the day that you die. However, if you could choose one (and only one) ultimate weakness of your human condition, wouldn’t you try to conquer that first? Wouldn’t all other challenges after that one become much more achievable?

Make kryptonite your mantra. Cut the cord. Take back your power. Free yourself. Only you are responsible for this.

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