I got the idea today to pull out old journals from when my last serious relationship ended, several years ago. I expected to read about how I was sad, maybe didn't know where to go from there, but after a while how I got over him and moved on and was happier for it. I was looking for some guidance and reassurance now, in dealing with my current break-up, by remembering I have gone through similar times in the past and came away better off.
What I found, though, was lots of evidence that I should have left the relationship sooner. I was literally shocked as I read some of the stuff I put up with in that relationship. Names he called me, how he talked to me (or refused to talk to me at times), things he expected and demanded. I put up with it all. Sure, I was angry or upset at times. But I stayed. I allowed him to speak to me like he did and treat me like he did. And the most interesting part is I forgot about all that "bad" stuff!
I stayed because I focused on the good in him and in the relationship. I stayed because I thought maybe he was as good as it got. I stayed because I thought at least I was with someone, and he wasn't that bad.
Boy oh boy.
I was 26-27 years old during that former relationship. Looking at my old journals, I see now how little respect I had for myself. I see how I devalued myself and what I was (am) worth. I see how by allowing someone to treat me disrespectfully, I was telling him it was ok to treat me that way.
I was afraid to stand up for myself then. I was afraid to rock the boat. Afraid that was as good as it got.
Beneath all that fear, was a belief that that's what I deserved. That I wasn't worth much. That people could treat me with disrespect. That I wasn't worth respect and real, true love.
Five years passed from that relationship to my most recent one. The one that just ended (the one that I ended) four days ago. I feel a lot more mature now than I did then. I feel like I learned and grew a lot in that time. But did I?
My most recent relationship was a LOT closer to what I want, ultimately. He had more of the qualities and traits that I want in a long-term mate. But there were still things that I allowed that were disrespectful towards me. I still struggled with thinking that was as good as it got. That that (whatever it was at the time) was what I deserved, and all I was worth. I still struggled with standing up for myself and speaking my truth.
I believe that Life, or the Universe, sends us experiences that we need in order to learn and grow. And we will keep getting similar experiences until we learn whatever it is we need to learn. Some lessons are quick and easy. But others don't seem to get through our brains. We each have our own easy and hard lessons to learn. What may seem so obvious to one person, isn't to another.
I'm thankful for all my experiences and all my relationships. With each one I'm learning (albeit slowly) to really respect myself. To love myself. To stand up for myself. To speak out and not be afraid!
I'm so darn scared! At least when it comes to relationships. It's funny, because when it comes to jobs and money, I'm fearless. I can quit a job one day and not give it a second thought. I know I'll be fine. I believe any company would be lucky to have me as an employee. I'm hard-working, intelligent, responsible, and learn quickly. I know my worth in the world of work. When I feel that I've learned all I can from a certain job, I have no qualms in walking away and opening myself up to the next work experience.
But it's the complete opposite when it comes to relationships. Why is that? I have theories, which I won't get into here, but it's still baffling to me. In one area of my life I'm the model of confidence and self-esteem. But in another I barely feel I deserve any respect whatsoever.
I'm working on this.
I have been for a while, and I definitely notice an improvement. So that's good. But I'm not there yet. Clearly. As evident by my most recent relationship. I'm still behaving in relationships at the age of 34 similar to how I did at the age of 24.
At least I did stand up for myself this time. I ended a relationship that perhaps I should have ended a long time ago, but so be it. It is what it is. I did what I needed to do for me. Finally.
Better late than never!
I think the most important thing is that we do learn. That we keep our minds and hearts open for growth. We may have to get pretty beat up (figuratively...hopefully not literally) for certain lessons to sink in, but once they do... ahh... that's what it's all about.
Learn to love ourselves. That truly IS the greatest lesson of all.
Quotes of the Day:
“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” (T.H. White, The Once and Future King)
"Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from." (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross)