I was asked to write a series of posts regarding my relationship experiences by the author of the Cha Cha Club Dating Manifesto, Sophie Winters. Sophie has written two books on relationships and is down-to-earth in the advice that she gives. She is a logical person, which is awesome because so many of us are crazy in relationships. Her advice can talk you off a ledge and bring the focus back inwards where you can make the changes. Our talks are priceless to me so I highly suggest checking out her website at http://www.thechachaclub.com/ and her books http://www.amazon.com/Sophie-Winters/e/B009VEVSNY.
My first post ever published (yay!) was very personal and something I had to write. It’s funny though, after it was posted I felt like I didn’t need to write it. But I definitely did. It helped open my eyes to the fact that I was still holding myself back after all these years. I needed to let go and stop identifying as the victim of a bad relationship. Yeah it sucked, yeah it hurt, and now I can get on with the rest of my life. I have a good life. I’m going to live it.
Stand For Something or Fall for Anything
Have you ever had one of those moments where you look at yourself in the mirror and think “What the fuck happened?”. A moment where you finally see things clearly, and the train wreck that has become your life is displayed in front of you in all its fiery glory? Yeah, we’ve all been there….at least I hope we have. It would be seriously depressing to learn that everyone else is stable and well-rounded.
My moment came at the end of my 20’s, in the final days of a dysfunctional long term relationship. I first met John* when I was 21. He was tall, dark, and handsome, and dating somebody else. He assured me it wouldn’t be a problem and for him, it wasn’t. At the time, it wasn’t for me either, but I was young and bad choices seemed to follow me around like a lost puppy.
After a year of seeing each other, he broke up with his girlfriend. I felt like the luckiest naïve girl in the world. He picked me over her so that must mean I’m a better person right? I guess that’s why I was so devastated the first time he cheated on me. I don’t know why I was so surprised, but it rocked my little world.
Unfortunately, that was only the beginning. I still don’t know how many other girls he was with, but it doesn’t really matter. The lying hurt the most because I couldn’t trust anything John said. Was he actually going to his hockey game? Who was the buddy he was meeting after work? Why hasn’t he called me in the last two hours? It was maddening. I was downward spiralling into a world of self hate, fear, and depression. I felt like it was my fault. If I was prettier, funnier, smarter then he would like me more. I altered my life so I could monitor what he was doing. I stopped hanging out with friends and doing things that I loved simply so I could be by his side 24/7.
We were together over 6 years until that day I finally saw myself in the mirror. I was staring at a stranger. This was not the strong, confident woman I remembered . This girl looked weak, and defeated. I didn’t know what had happened, but I knew it wasn’t right. I had two choices: I could keep living the life I was currently in, or I could go my own way. I broke up with him the next day.
The road after was extremely difficult. Sometimes, even when you know you’re making the right decision, it’s still hard to walk away. I ended up leaving the country and travelling for a year to try to find that part of me I had lost. I struggled with trying to understand why I had stayed for so long and I beat myself up over it. There is no answer though and all I can do is make sure it doesn’t happen again.
If I could go back and give my 21 year old self advice it would be to decide early on what you will and won’t stand for in a relationship. I tried to convince myself that I was okay with him cheating and lying and, even when all the red flags were threatening to choke me to death, I found a way to ignore them.
I blamed John for all my problems and it has only been recently that I have accepted responsibility for my own actions. He was being himself and I was being his doormat. You are the person who controls what happens in your life so set your boundaries and walk away from people who don’t respect them. If you don’t stand for something, then you’re guaranteed to fall for anything. Plus, just think of how much money you’ll save in therapy costs. Seriously, that shit is expensive.
Are you haunted by a past relationship? Maybe putting it out there will help you let go the way it helped me. Feel free to share…..I always enjoy a good story!