“Was it always about a man?”
It was a question my cousin asked me during our heart-to-heart conversation a month after I left my ex-husband. I was telling her about the sad state I was in, why men were all the same and why my relationships didn’t work.
“Was it always about a man?”
The question stuck to me like glue. I carried it everywhere I go and no matter how much I tried to shake it off, the question lingered. I knew I didn’t need to have an answer, so I dug a hole inside and buried it deep, hoping it would go away.
A few months after the break-up, I thought I was doing perfectly fine. I felt like I was coping well with the changes. I became more open and confident with other people. It was all positive and things were starting to look good. Because of this, I thought maybe it wouldn’t hurt if I start dating again. Surely, building friendship with men at that point wouldn’t be so bad.
So, I did.
It wasn’t long before I found myself running around like a headless chicken seeking validation from emotionally unavailable men. There I was kicking myself for making one bad choice after another. My self-worth, still badly bruised from the marriage, was nowhere to be found.
Then it all came crashing down on me, the realization that all this time, it was indeed always been about a man. All the major decisions in my life were influenced by my romantic partners. I was willing to give up so much of myself to prove my love to another. But at what cost?
In all those times I was blindly looking for validation from another person, I completely forgot myself. I allowed the gaping hole inside me to grow bigger. I believed that someone could fill the hollowness I feel and heal what ached. My prayer was, if only they could return the love, I would be happy. If only the perfect person comes along, I would be complete.
These men would tell me how great, amazing, and beautiful I was. If I was everything they said, then how come nobody stayed?
We often hear that we have to be happy, to be whole and complete first before we can freely love another. It’s so easy to say, but difficult to do. We struggle everyday and demand love from people who are as incomplete as we are.
When do we realize that we can’t give what we don’t have?
Yet we plunge head-on. After all, it’s romantic to say we are fighting for love, just like in the movies. The truth is we can't take the feelings of desperation, of loneliness and of emptiness. We feel the need to control the outcome because we can’t take the pain of rejection. We mistake this for courage, when really it’s just a testament of how broken we are.
It took me a long time to admit to myself, I cannot force someone to love me no matter how much I want it. I can’t control what is outside of me, but I can control what is within me.
All this time, I thought only a man can fill the gaping hole inside me, so I can be whole. It took me a while to realize that it doesn’t always have to be about a man. Love is also about me.
After all, there’s no one else who can complete me but me. I am responsible for my own happiness. It’s a decision I have to make everyday and although it’s not the easiest thing to do, I do my best.
Finding our way back to ourselves is a struggle. It doesn't matter if we stumble and fall each time, for as long as we start somewhere. Being vulnerable doesn't mean we're weak. In fact, it is the opposite. It is where we can find strength by acknowledging we're a work in progress.
The poet Rumi said, Love is the whole and we are the pieces. Let the broken pieces in us find the Love that’s already within.