Why I Was in the Wrong Relationships


I remember birthdays of everyone I’ve ever loved. And without fail, each year, I get hit with a handful. On those days, I think about the relationships I had with those individuals and recall how much I’ve grown since then. How much more I know about myself now then I did, and how I wouldn’t go back and change any of it, even the bad parts. I wouldn’t want to travel back in time and redo what’s been done, because those experiences made it easier for me to identify in my next relationship what wasn’t working.

I can pinpoint in each relationship the minute I knew it wasn’t right. For so long I saw my partners not as they actually were, but as some kind of fantasy in my head. In a sense as real as they were in the flesh, in my mind I didn’t see them realistically. I saw them as an antidote to my insecurities. And because I thought they could heal me, all I wanted to do was care for them. Their needs came before mine. Their wants came before mine. I stopped looking after myself. I stopped caring for myself. I stopped thinking about myself. All of me was tied to the energy and nourishment of my partner. Separation triggered anxiety, so much that in one instance after a fight, I couldn’t eat out of nausea and ended up fainting out of exhaustion. The thought of losing that person had me in fits – almost like I was going through withdrawal. It was in these moments that I knew something was wrong. I knew it was impossible to deny what was bubbling up under all the make believe. I could no longer deny my emotions. No longer push them down and disregard them as undeserving.

I was tired, beat down, and flat out empty, because everything in my life revolved around my partners, there was no me left. I wanted to feel good. I wanted to feel healthy. I wanted to laugh and smile in a relationship and feel lighter, but instead I was curling up in the fetal position listening to depressing tunes, venting to my friends about not being able to do anything right, or worse seeing other couples and wishing I had what they did. Sure I wanted to feel awesome and all these things, but it wasn’t just this one instance it was happening in all of them. The wrong relationship kept repeating itself. I was circling the same track with different guys and that’s when it hit me. I was going round and round because I was still in the wrong relationship not with anyone else but with myself. Truth be told, I was unaware of my own needs and wants, I had seen them at some time and told myself they weren’t worthy of attention. I didn’t like myself enough to hang out with myself alone for more than a month without a boyfriend involved.

All the wrong relationships with others forced me to get clear on the one relationship I was surely to have my entire life – the one with myself. I took a time out, and got clear on what felt good to me. I listened to my feelings and took care of my own needs. I started to rely on myself more, taking responsibility for myself, which meant I no longer wanted to pretend, but wanted to see clearly. I wanted to see not the stories in the picture books, but what was really happening so that I could decide what worked best for me.

My moment of clarity came about two years ago and when I started taking care of myself it was a lot easier to spot a wrong relationship from the onset. The reason? For the first time I was actually looking out for myself.

Cynthia Kane
Cynthia has her B.A. from Bard College and her M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. She has written for national and international publications, and has traveled all over the world. What she's learned about life so far is that it's who and what we are, which means we have to learn to care for it.

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