Relationships Are Experiences, Not Achievements
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I have loved…
- Men who wanted to keep our relationship a secret.
- Men who cheated on me.
- Men who were misogynistic, and I knew it before partnering with them.
- Men who were of a different faith than me.
- Men who were significantly older & more experienced than me.
- Men who I allowed to pass off my ideas or words as their own.
- Men who made me feel unattractive.
- Men who had not yet met and been filtered by my family.
- Men who were jealous & verbally abusive.
- Men who were controlling.
- Men who were “getting out” of one relationship and transitioning into a relationship with me.
I have been thinking a lot about the men who I have chosen to be involved with romantically throughout my life and how those choices were a reflection of who I was (the good, the bad and the ugly) at a given time. Relationships are reflections of how we feel about ourselves and what we feel we do or do not deserve.
At times in my life, I did not value myself and connected my value to what I could give or exchange at any given time — whether that be my body, my nurturing gifts, money, my spirit, etc. In the early stages of these relationships that were not healthy for me — I commodified myself. I have learned that this is not just a pattern in my romantic relationships but in most of my relationships. Feeling the need to do something to earn something.
At times in my life, I have ignored my intuition. I “shushed” her, and turned her volume all the way down. Due to this, I experienced greater pain and heartbreak. I believe that some things were inevitable and I knew that to be true before the inevitable happened. The truth was, I was afraid of what was on the other side of the reality that my intuition was highlighting. In many cases, ignoring my intuition did not remove the reality of the circumstances. When I turned my intuition down, reality turned up until I could no longer ignore the truth.
I am a master at compartmentalizing things and at concealing things. I maintain rigid boundaries and only allow a few people all the way in to my inner circle. I have only had a very public reaction to a romantic issue one time in my life and the people who witnessed that breakdown STILL talk about it to this day because it was so abnormal for me. It happened in High School and has not happened since. The challenge with being an extremely private person, is emotionally intelligent men have used my decision to be private against me. It created inner turmoil because I made the decision to carry all of the trouble and problems internally. Don’t get me wrong, I would try to address the issues with the individuals I was in relationship with — but I also felt obligated and was sometimes manipulated into thinking that my silence was protecting them. My silence was protecting them, but it was making me sick internally. My silence was also enabling infidelity. Emotional manipulators are like carbon dioxide. The damage that they do is not easily visible or noticeable but it is deadly.
Women are socialized to want to be “chosen.” We are not taught to ask “CHOSEN FOR WHAT?”
- Chosen to be “his rib?”
- Chosen to operate in the shadows and dim our light when it shines to brightly for him?
- Chosen to be a domestic servant?
- Chosen to be in an unsanctioned polygamous relationship?
- Chosen to be an emotional, mental or physical punching bag?
Relationships ARE NOT achievements, in the same way that graduations or new employment opportunities are. We don’t tell people “congratulations” when they buy groceries from the grocery store. We don’t tell people “congratulations” when they get a new best friend. We don’t tell people “congratulations” when they travel outside of the country for the first time. Relationships are experiences, not achievements. When we shift our thinking that way, we give ourselves the grace to go through the experiences of relationships without the shame or guilt of having to end one. When we think of relationships as experiences, we allow them to be customized and personalized and we stop comparing what we have (or don’t have) to what others have. When we think of relationships as experiences, we can make certain our needs and wants are centered and stop trying to keep up with some warped, patriarchal or toxic version of partnership. The only relationship that should be celebrated, is the relationship that we have and maintain with ourselves — whether or not we are in a romantic partnership.