It’s amazing how much change can take place in one year. This time last year I was just getting out of a two year relationship. Yes y’all. Twenty-four whole entire months. I have to say that I’m extremely grateful that the relationship ended because it opened up the door for an immense amount of self reflection. Like a lot of us, I subconsciously inherited unhealthy relationships habits from my environment growing up. And like a lot of us, I was not consciously aware of those habits. It wasn’t until I got into a relationship that I had to sit with the honest truth about myself. The truth was that I was a toxic lover. I was claiming love with actions that were rooted in the residue of bad experiences, trauma, and insecurity. My “love” was harmful, not just to my partner, but to myself. I had to be willing to hold myself accountable for where I fell short in order to learn. So, I decided to share some of the mistakes I learned from my last relationship:
I had a terrible sense of self worth. I realized that not only was I not acting on my love for myself, I didn’t truly believe that I even deserved love in the first place. How could I accept and stand in a love that I didn’t truly believe I deserved? That revelation hit me like a brick. It was the most difficult for me to sit with because your self worth sets the tone for all of your relationships and interactions. The way you feel about yourself dictates how you treat yourself. Subsequently, how you treat yourself will set the boundaries for how you expect others to treat you.
The fact that I had a terrible sense of self worth led to me having an equally terrible sense of self trust. I realized that I was always doubting my intuition, my choices, my feelings. Deep down, I didn’t trust myself to choose a partner who would honor me. Therefore, I couldn’t trust him to show up the way I needed him to. It’s interesting because I read something a while ago that said that trusting others is really about trusting ourselves. When we trust our inner knowing, then we can have faith that the people we’ve chosen to enter our spaces will honor us. That is so important because trust is the foundation for every bond that you have.
I was incredibly afraid of being vulnerable. I was so afraid of being hurt, seen as weak, or taken advantage of. That manifested as a huge blockage in communication because I wasn’t allowing myself to feel how I felt. I was getting angry when I really wanted to say “I miss you.” I was giving silent treatments instead of saying something bothered me. Vulnerability is honesty in its rawest form. I learned that when I allow myself the space to feel, I get to be honest about what's taking place and choose how I want to respond.
It’s been a year and I’m still learning and still doing the heart work. I don’t strive to be perfect with my loved ones, but I do strive to be honest. I wanted to share this because, I don’t think we reflect on how we’re loving enough. I don’t think we practice showing up for one another and doing the work enough. Not just with romantic relationships, but with family and friendships too. If we’re being intentional about love, then we have to view it as a practice. That means that we acknowledge the fact that we won’t always get it right. Sometimes, we may have to ask ourselves the hard questions: What have I been taught about love and how does it affect me in my relationships now? How can I love myself and others better?Am I loving others in a way that affirms who they are? Am I loving others in a way that affirms who I am? Am I safe to love?