I remembered receiving an urgent call from a dear friend. He was sobbing on the phone as he told me about how he was treated by his partner. For the two and a half years they were together, his partner would get angry at him for the smallest things, blamed him for things he never did, called him selfish when my friend wouldn’t give him the attention he wanted.
It was all too familiar to me. The same scenarios with my ex-husband played in my head and I couldn’t believe it was also happening to my friend. He is smart, young and accomplished, shouldn’t he know better?
The truth is, no matter how accomplished or how smart we think we are, the choices we make are sometimes rooted from the deep wounds of our past experiences. We’re familiar with the feeling of pain and neediness as these are deeply ingrained in our subconscious— and we relate to them thinking they are part of our identity.
But it doesn’t always have to be that way.
When I did some introspection on my past relationships, I saw similar patterns. They liked me, I liked them and soon as the relationship started, my neediness kicked into overdrive. The fear of being rejected and abandoned, the feeling that I wasn’t good enough for them were so strong that I would self-destruct in the process.
Before I got married, I was in another relationship with a man I placed highly on a pedestal. I was deeply in love with him and it broke me when our relationship didn’t work out. For years, I held on to the story that he left me and he never gave us another chance.
But as I continued to do the inner work, it dawned on me that this man didn’t really leave me. As it turned out, I was the one who abandoned him. Because I was too scared of losing him, I felt I was doing him the favor If I leave him first. That way, the rejection wouldn’t hurt as bad— or so I thought. In truth, I felt I wasn’t worthy of his love, so I copped out and called it quits.
For three years, I held on to the narrative that he never gave me a chance to explain myself and he completely shunned me from his life. But, I was the one who closed my door on him.
I would rather let him go because I felt I didn’t deserve his love.
My relationships with these men were like having one foot in and one foot out of the door. Just in case one doesn’t work out, I have a Plan B. I projected this image that I didn’t care what the other person did, but deep down I was scared and insecure.
I settled into a self-image of me who deserves little respect because I thought that was the kind of love I deserved. I was operating from a place where all men are the same. They were going to leave me anyway, so I’ll take anything- good or bad- in order not to be abandoned.
It took me a while to realize that this isn’t true. What’s true is I deserve a kind and loving man who respects me and loves me for who I am.
When triggered by a disappointment, the question to ask is who are you being in the midst of this? Do you shame and blame yourself for choosing the same kind of men? Do you feel victimized by the situation? Do you shun yourself and turn your back from others?
No matter how painful and difficult the circumstance is, remember the truth of who you are. When you feel hurt or pained by someone, make empowered meanings out of it.
When you hear your inner critic tell you, you’re not good enough, you don’t deserve happiness and love, you’re not worthy to be loved— instead of reacting, pause and remind yourself what’s really true about you.
The truth is, you matter and your feelings and needs matter.
Keep believing in yourself that you deserve more. Let your heart fall open and continue to trust that Life has your back.