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.