Isn’t the brain an interesting thing? How is it that we can sit in a space where we long for and think kindly about something that wasn’t good for us?
You mention gaslighting in your letter. This is likely a large part of the culprit. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse; it’s the act of manipulating a person, which results in said person questioning their thoughts, memories and even the events occurring around them.
Let’s take that in. If gaslighting results in us questioning our reality, then doesn’t it make sense that the brain can also recall the relationship inaccurately? The relationship was painted in a light filled with untruths… we were told that how we felt was wrong; that what we perceived was inaccurate. If this is the case, I can see why the brain still wants to go to what was good… the good in the relationship is what we hung onto and was used to justify why we stayed.
Here’s the thing… in an unhealthy relationship, the good parts can be referred to as the honeymoon cycle. This happens after an incident; maybe a heated argument, or physical abuse… where our partner then loves up on us afterwards. This “loving up on us” results with us feeling loved, happy, seen and hopeful. This feeling is the nugget we then hang onto. We really don’t stand a chance if we are being consistently convinced that what we think is not true, and then receive showers of love. This is confusing as heck, so I understand why we hang onto the good… the good is why we stayed; the good felt amazing; the good temporally repaired the wounds and made it all “okay”.
On the best of days, and with the best of intentions, we can have a tendency to place our headspace in what we desire in relationship as opposed to the reality of the relationship. During a break up, we may hear things like, “I don’t understand why you’re doing this”; “You are giving up on us”; “You said you loved me.” Statements like these can cause us to question our “why” because in our minds, we are thinking, “Yes, I love you”, and, “I don’t give up on things, especially love.” Our heart that desires love and companionship wants the partnership, not a break up, so we often hang onto hope; hope that it will get better; hope that things will change.
At the end of the day, being with someone who steps out on you, gaslights you or is unkind to you, is a mind fuck. It will take some time to get clarity, and I think it’s essential to talk with someone who can help you unpack all of this, so that you don’t find yourself in the same kind of situation down the road. I suspect as you unpack this that you will start to see the reality-based behavior for what it was, and know that it is okay to remember the good times, because those good times are what you desire and deserve with your partner on the regular, and as a whole.