Its sad but true that many of us spend days, months, and even years trying to love the wrong people. We give our hearts and thousands of tears to others who, intentionally or unintentionally, cause us ongoing pain that we willingly endure. Sometimes this pain, conflict and confusion can be so emotionally derailing that eventually you’ll stare in the mirror only to find the reflection looking back is a total stranger. You’ll recognize the fact that you’ve been doing things and acting in ways that make you feel ashamed, and it’ll probably hit you all at once, like a ton of bricks. It is not all his or her fault, nor is it yours. But if / when this happens, consider it a wakeup call and an opportunity to turn things around. But this time, do it for yourself.
Why do we let this happen? Because we love them. Because we’ve convinced ourselves that their happiness is all that matters, or allowed their weaknesses to become our own. Ultimately this deteriorates confidence and encourages an internal misconception that we aren’t good enough or that we don’t deserve kindness. It leads us to feel like we are not special…that we’re inadequate and unloveable. NONE OF THIS IS TRUE.
“Selfish” isn’t a bad thing, when you find yourself giving far greater than you know you’ll ever receive (and I don’t mean supporting someone you care about through hard times, I am talking about the “big picture”). Sometimes in order to preserve dignity and a stable, happy existence, you must accept that the person you’ve opened your heart to is incapable or unwilling to reciprocate…but that doesn’t make you flawed.
You may even come to find that, as much as you might love someone, you are actually SO drastically different that things you feel are vital to building a sustainable, long-term relationship (things like “trust” and “compromise”), are admittedly irrelevant to them. When my ex told me that he didn’t believe in compromise, and that trust, for him, was not essential when it came to his relationships (friendly or romantic), my first thought was “are you twelve years old?”, and my second was that I should go running for the fucking hills.
I cannot claim that my views are right and his are wrong (trying to be neutral here, but by all means I am open to hearing your opinions). However, I will say that these are two values I, personally, feel are pretty much essential. I know in my heart that I could never live my life with someone who doesn’t comprehend or, at the very least, respect this. I’d forever be walking on eggshells and wondering if the words he told me were true. No, thank you.
I think it is also important to remind ourselves that we cannot change people, nor should we even attempt to. It is a lost cause and a waste of energy (especially if they are “anti-compromise”). We don’t match up with others so that we can “save them” or make them what we personally consider to be “better” — because these things are subjective and that would be completely unfair. A couple doesn’t have to see eye-to-eye on everything (in fact, that sounds frightening and also boring), but when two people who are in a relationship have such drastically different standards and viewpoints on fundamental topics, there is no way to move past it. Lesson learned.
I have had two pretty serious relationships in my life. The first one didn’t work out, but I look back on it fondly. The second was different, though. Most of the time it didn’t seem real, and I very rarely felt my heart was in a safe place. They are both GOOD men, who I respect for different reasons. I sincerely believe they wanted and tried to make me happy in their own, very different ways, while maintaining a desire to find personal happiness at the same time — fair enough. There were plenty of outrageous and unforgettable times that I will always treasure. But when it came to a point where the bad times outweighed the good, we should have called it quits. It was like trying, over and over again, to catch a pretty cloud and failing miserably…then the rain would start to pour.
In my most recent relationship, the good times were so good, that we kept on going because neither of us wanted to face the discomfort and sadness of accepting we were incompatible and it was time to let go. It took hitting rock bottom for this relationship to come to an end. And while it has been extremely difficult, it also feels like a weight is being lifted…sometimes, not always — but each day it gets a little easier, I suppose.
I feel I can breathe a little deeper and that parts of me I subconsciously let slip away are starting to make their way back. We were lovers, enablers, best friends (in my mind, not his – which he frequently pointed out), enemies, and weird, silly, stupid companions, all at the same time. We had nicknames and secrets and inside jokes that will only make sense to us, and there are so many things I already miss about him. But we were broken beyond repair.
We are both kind hearted people who care about one another deeply, but oftentimes we failed to show it. We were sad, desperate and addicted. We couldn’t ever NOT come back to one another, but with every additional attempt to “try again”, we were welcoming in more unneeded pain. Instead of taking on obstacles as a team, we turned against each other, until the biggest struggle of them all became a battle between the two of us, and one that would have no winner.
I hope you don’t find yourself in a situation like this — with someone for 4 years who cannot say they love you, unless under pressure, in which case they will cringe as they utter the words I’ve personally found to be so natural, happy and easy to speak…because they were true. Toward the end, I would say “I hate you” in a loving tone, like one would use when speaking to a puppy who doesn’t know what the words mean, just that they are nice. This seemed to make him feel more comfortable reciprocating the sentiment. The thought that I did this regularly in our final months, because it was the only way I could get a response, sickens me (and I take full blame for this masochistic, desperate move). However, when pressed by uncertainty so intense where you lose sight of yourself, or place unfair expectations on others because it is what you want, people act out in crazy ways. And yeah, I am kind of crazy. But that doesn’t mean any of this was right.
With every hardship we can grow to become better, stronger people (if we allow ourselves to embrace these opportunities). Even when you feel like you are burning alive in the pit of fucking hell, just try and look for the silver lining. It might feel like the world is over, but how about this…maybe it’s actually just beginning. You are giving yourself another chance to start fresh…and that is really exciting, if you think about it!
So appreciate your experiences — the good and the bad. When you are down and out, remind yourself that being alone is the perfect time to get back in touch with who you truly are — who you were, who you’ve become and who you ultimately want to be.
Treat yourself with respect and only accept the kind of love you know you deserve. Make an effort to be a better companion in the future by fixing the things you realize you did wrong the last time around (nobody’s perfect). And don’t give up just because something you wanted so desperately didn’t work out. He’s gone, you don’t need him, but rest assured he won’t forget you.
*head to toe: Pivotte Good-to-Go Cardi (love, love, love this brand / piece – definitely check out Pivotte Studio…cute, low maintenance product for high performing women), Sloane & Tate Paradise Cove Bra, pajama shorts from Monoprix, Frenchie (and photos) c/o Alexandra Petruck