In reading the journal I kept at twenty-one, I realize I was not as evolved as I remember being. I was young, naïve, and was insecure when it came to being in relationships. It was my insecurity that made me vulnerable to keeping bad company and dating boys disguised as men. I wanted to so desperately be loved and accepted that I lost myself in words spoken by misguided boys who only really wanted another notch in their belt. The guy I dated when I was twenty-one only wanted a “hot” chick by his side that enjoyed partying as much as he did. He really had no interest in getting to know me or give two cents about my dreams or my well-being.
It is easy to see that now in the passages I wrote on the tear-stained pages of my journal. It makes me cringe that some of the crying was self-inflicted. I read it in the moments I had clarity and acknowledged that I deserved better but unfortunately was too hung up on the word “love” that he threw around like confetti. I want to go back and grab that girl by the shoulders and shake her! Confirm her suspicions and end this horrible relationship before she gets even more hurt, however I cannot stop the train wreck from happening. I must hold my breath and relive this painstaking tale of a girl who deserved better, but accepted the scraps given to her.
While reading this ghastly tale I stumbled across a passage about love, specifically what fears or concerns I had about it. I wrote: “Not being loved the same way I love others. To give them your all and receive nothing in return.”
It is a fear I think most of us have had or continue to fear. In reading my journal, I can see that I was trying everything to keep one person happy and ignoring the one person that mattered – me. I was putting all my spare time and energy to remaining the image he wanted me to be. Skinny, fun, and easy going – even if it meant sacrificing pieces of myself to stay in an unhealthy relationship.
To be frank, a person who lied about his grandmother’s demise to get out of being held accountable for his shitty behavior has no business telling anyone that they are not good enough…bro lied about his grandmother and to my utter shock she was healthy and alive during Thanksgiving dinner. A true miracle.
The fear of loving and not being loved back followed me for years after this relationship ended. I was seeking love and approval from others rather than loving myself for the weird funny girl I was. I was troubled by love since I had yet to see a healthy example of it in my life. I am an adult child of an alcoholic and anyone who has had a parent struggling with addiction in their most formative years struggles in finding real safe places to be who they are and let their guard down. We are released into the world to search for ourselves with limited skill sets when it comes to relationships and often mistaken what little attention our significant other gives us as love.
I had a father who loved his children so much he sacrificed everything for them. Among other things, he taught us what hard work looked like and provided us with great examples when it came to providing for yourself and having a great work ethic. It was in my later years, when he became sober, that all the love I was missing for the first decade of my life really shined through. Unfortunately, I had this devastatingly broken example of what love was in the first six years of my life that influenced my ability to establish healthy relationships and would later influence the way I loved others.
|To this day, I cringe at the sight of this picture.|
I suffered for years not understanding why my love connections fizzled out. In part I did not want to get too involved with anyone, so I limited my relationships to nine months, but if I am going to be honest, I was not a good partner to a good fraction of the guys I dated. I had a lot of pent-up rage and had no problems exhibiting that anger when I did not see or hear what I liked. When someone did not treat me kindly, I knew how to go overboard and push them further into the abyss of no return.
Most significantly when someone lied to me there was no point of return. I HATE liars. I cannot stand being around phonies, partly because of the false promises my father made to us when we were kids, and partly because it is an ugly thing to do. My ex-husband would try to convince me that he lied to me “to protect me.” From what? This excuse has always enraged me further. The lack of accountability and blaming the other person for your lies. Sadly, I have heard this excuse used time and time again.
As I continued to flourish in other parts of my life, I grew more intolerant of lying and became a difficult person to be around when the trust was broken. It is true that once trust is broken it can be difficult to repair. The fractures remain and if little to no effort is put in to heal the wounds, it can get worse. It took me years of therapy to get to the root of the issue and work through my anger toward the lies told to me over the years. It is something I still grapple with and work on with the help of my therapist and the new set of tools I have learned to not become reactive when faced with liars.
The most heartbreaking part in reading my journal is that I blamed myself for not being good enough. It was my fault this guy lied to me, my fault he did not love me, my fault for everything bad that happened during our almost nine-month relationship. Now that I can stomach reading the torture that I put myself through, I can see that I was trying to fill a void that I carried as a child. I was seeking love at all costs and caused more damage to myself by not ending the relationship. It is something I cannot beat myself up over too much, I was learning and figuring this stuff out, but I can take accountability for the hurt I caused him and myself in the process of us both figuring out how to engage in healthy relationships.
In processing what I have been reading through the eyes of that twenty-one-year-old, I can find comfort that after years of struggling with self-love, I am in a healthier place where I love all my broken pieces and can understand the fractures rather than just telling myself that I am broken because I am not good enough. I think I can start mending the wounds I had long forgotten about and be much kinder to myself for this relationship failing. It is through reflection that we can begin healing the parts of ourselves that we drowned out. We can learn to forgive ourselves and the people who are short chapters in our lives.
If I could go back, I would hug the fractured twenty-one-year-old girl I was and tell her she is good enough. No, not just good enough because of her intelligence and her ability to mask her pain, but good enough to be loved. That her heart will one day be filled with so much love and she will be surrounded by people who accept her for the weird silly woman she has become. Most importantly, I would tell her that I love her for being just who she was in that moment – no more, no less.