Who This is For
If you are struggling to find that special someone, or are questioning yourself and your decisions, and constantly finding yourself traumatized by those decisions, later, having that ‘why the heck did I do that again? I must just be an idiot,’ moment too often for your liking, this is for you. Let me start by saying that, as another woman out there, dying for love and acceptance, I have been in your place. I, too, have resorted to that little antidepressant, hoping it would ‘fix’ me and whatever was wrong with me, or somehow make me more appealing to the opposite. For years, I jeopardized my morals, and the structured Christian foundation on which I was raised and familiar with, sacrificed my own integrity on a regular basis, and dealt with the feelings of self-degradation and failure that inevitably followed after having these compunctions. I was that self-affirmed idiot. Let me start out by giving you a bit of insight into my own history.
I Was Raised a Christian
As mentioned, I grew up in a fundamental Christian house. In saying fundamental, I mean that my parents were regular Sunday churchgoers, did not allow cussing, sexual behaviors (or indeed even talk about sex) or anything that would have been considered ‘not Biblical’ to happen under their roof. The first time I ever slept with a man I was twenty-five, and, I'll just say it outright, as I believe in being honest- I did not give up my virginity to him. I felt dirty spending the night, because I had been taught over the course of my life that a woman’s virginity was something special, and, much as I tried, couldn’t bring myself to fully disown that. The way he belittled and talked down to me, criticizing my opinions and being generally nasty, should have been enough to make me walk away and never turn around. Instead, I pined after, and groveled to him for more than two years, deaf to the fact that he didn’t return my love or admiration. I attempted to become more openminded and get ‘over myself,’ as he said I should, purging myself of the values which, I felt at this point, were the cause of my being unable to find someone.
In all the time I was doing so, my conscience told me that it was wrong. It was like my mind was at war with my actions, and this made me feel I was half-insane. My mind was a constant whirlpool of confusion and pain, for everything that I had been taught was being ripped up, like a place in the floor underneath me had broken. I had no more solid ground to stand on. Up until that point, I had refused to give myself up completely to anyone, wanting to maintain some part of myself that was still intact. I knew that Rocky (I’m using a pseudonym to protect the privacy of those I mention here) didn’t love me, and perhaps I also understood that deep down, my feelings for him weren’t pure, either. I wanted to have sex, intercourse- I know there are many ways to have sex so I don’t want to come across as discriminatory and need to specify- with the person I loved, and whom I would one day marry. After I slept with Rocky the first time, though, something in my shifted. It was as if I were gradually losing my hold over old notions, values, and beliefs. It was like trying to hold onto a wooden rail in the middle of a raging tornado- eventually, it was doomed to be a moot effort.
Fighting the Battle
I slept with a few more men after I moved to New York. Part of me still believes the move was a partial effort to get as far away from him as possible, and all of the rage, self-degradation, and devastation I felt after lowering myself down to every possible level to try and make him want me. Each time I slept with one of my crushes, and the desire to love, and be loved by someone in return, became a daily obsession. These feelings, of degradation, depression, and brokenness grew to an impossible point finally, and, perhaps it was the rage- something in that picture pushed me over the edge. Depression was a convenient excuse to throw in the towel at last, and at that point, the struggle was over.
Ironically, life has a funny way of kicking you in the rear no matter what, and something about twisted intention and nature’s design has it so that you take a bigger hit upon giving up. I don’t know what it is, but it seems that God has some higher purpose in mind for us, because even the conscious decision to stop it all isn’t our choice to make. You don’t get any free rides, here, and the evidence for this axiom became painfully obvious to me during the long run I had during those years. Once I had given into the depression, angst, relentless, stinging self-reproach that was cutting into me as if I had been wearing a heavily armored suit with spikes, and threw caution to the wind nearly every time I met someone, the process, if anything, became more routine. I don’t think it’s accurate by any stretch of imagination to say that it became easier or that I was truly able to become detached from it. What is detached, anyway? A relative term, at best. More like closed. I became more and more disconnected from the core of my true self, but that did not in any way eliminate my true self. You can’t. It’s as natural to you as water, and natural intention has a way of throwing back in your face what you try to dispose of.
I grew more and more unhappy as I fought the ever-raging battle against myself. My health suffered. I learned that all men were horrible, and cheap, and that if you became involved with one of them, they would treat you like a cheap thing. My bitter resentment seeped into all corners and passageways in my life, spilling into my other relationships, work life, living arrangements, and vitality. It became more and more difficult for me to find ‘the one,’ as my inner walls strengthened, and I continued to construct layers. The mantra in my head that kept repeating itself, ‘just do it and goodbye, that’s all they want and that’s all there is,’ became something like a virtual computer code. A trigger effect- punch in the correct code- equals the action. I became robotic, plunging along like a puppet attached by strings to someone, or something up above me that was controlling it. ‘This is my life,’ I thought, feeling the strength of those strings drag me, helpless to do anything. I wanted to be free but I didn’t know how to be.
At least not until I met my current boyfriend. Now, I can safely say that if I had followed some of the rules below, I would have released myself from bondage, even then, and perhaps never have gotten into the trouble I did- at least not of the same caliber. Now, I can give them to others who are in my past situation that desperately need to hear this. Below are a few of my personal axioms, and rules I wish I had been able to follow:
Three Golden Rules
1. Do not jeopardize your beliefs and morals for someone. Another way to say this is, that if it doesn’t sound like you, don’t! Constantly trying to prove yourself to someone who is not worth your time is draining and exhausting, and trying to fit ‘that person’s version of you’ is not a trophy you should pursue. It is much more rewarding to be true to yourself and see what is attracted to you, rather than to be what someone else thinks you are and attempt to move to them. If you are after the right trophy, you will most likely never need to pursue after people- they will come to you. Like a shining, bright bulb in the dark, those who are searching for the particular shade you offer will eventually find you. No need to go to them. It’s less work for you and the art of loving will become a much easier and gentler pursuit.
2. Don’t let the abusers stand in your way from believing in yourself. You might meet one or twenty, and I won’t be naive enough to say that, in this day, you won’t easily find yourself closer to the far right of the scale before you find anyone of substance. Don’t let that stop you. If you allow the negative to stand in the way of the good, you will waste so much time that, in another ten years, you will look back with regret so quickly it will make your head snap, wondering if you would have found happiness sooner had you spent less time moping. Speaking on behalf of myself, a long string of verbally abusive men ate away most of my time and energy, to the point where I must now lament the fact that I would have been with the current love of my life years earlier had I not been so prone. I allowed myself to become chronically anxious and depressed, and- rather than getting proper therapy to address the issue- continued into the downward spiral that inevitably follows after these emotions.
3. Get therapy! There is no shame in asking for help. When you find that you are headed into a cycle and have a hard time breaking from it on your own, get therapy. If you are on the line about it, a good test for whether or not you actually need the help is to look at your situation long term. If it has been weeks, to months, to years, and you have not been able to break away from a cycle that is negatively impacting you, this is a good indicator that you may need assistance- and, don’t talk yourself out of needing such assistance with more negative feedback (i.e., if I were stronger I could do this on my own, why am I so weak?) because this can also stand in the way of your progress. Even if you are broke, or living paycheck to paycheck, search out the free talk therapy apps, and other ways to connect- you will find that there are multiple options out there for those who don’t have the money to pay upfront for a professional. Just talking with someone who has been in, or is going through a similar situation can help you. If you can afford it, definitely reach out to a good quality professional to help you break the cycle of despair and distrust. Reach out to someone. Don’t let your time get sucked into a dark vacuum of despair, pain and regret.
The Bottom Line
Don’t waste time. I have a wonderful man and a beautiful relationship, and am not trying to say in writing this out that I have regrets about my situation. The goal of this piece isn’t to give an outpouring of sorrow, or take up space or time with a lot of useless words about how tragic my life used to be, or how sad I am about the time lost. That would be hypocritical in light of what I just wrote. I’m simply here to blast out a message that I want no one to miss, something I want shoved over the loudspeaker, in the notorious mind of negative output- don’t waste your time! Don’t waste and and do not jeopardize yourself for just anyone who decides to show up at your doorstep. Don’t assume that this person is your one and only chance, and that nothing better will ever be on your horizon. If you can’t get past this idea and see past the seeming darkness of the present, then again, get help. I’m here to tell you, as someone who has been to hell and back, that it will get better. No matter what, things will get better and yes, that special person will come around. It may be sooner or it may be later, but it will happen, and the one thing that you are able to control- which no one can take away- is how you spend your time. I firmly believe that, the less time you waste, the closer you are bringing yourself to that lighthouse on water.
Things will get better. Keep this thought planted firmly in your mind, come whatever may. Make it the mantra you repeat to yourself, ten, twenty, one hundred times a day. Repeat it as often as you need in order to stay sane and stay rooted in your values. Remember- the bees come to honey, not the opposite way around. If you play to the tune of your authentic self, good things will happen, and the right person will find you. Get therapy. Do whatever you need in order to stay the course of happiness and wellness, in a brutal world, and in a society that’s losing itself.
You can make a difference. You can start the fire of change first- in you.