(7 min. read)
In my last relationship, I experienced a great deal of hurt and disappointment. Despite that, though, it always seemed like no matter what he did to me, I still loved him, and wanted to be with him. Wanting the traditional family unit had a lot to do with me wanting us to be together, but I also held onto the belief that if he would have changed his ways, and tried to be a better man for us, we would have been happy together. What is interesting is that in one of our recent conversations he said, “if it wasn’t one woman, it would’ve just been another. You and I would never be happy together, but we’re best friends.” Friends! What? After all of my love, devotion, and loyalty throughout the years, you mean to tell me you friend zoned me years ago, without me even knowing? He said, “you left me. That’s not loyalty. Right or wrong, if you wanted me, you should’ve stayed and gone through the fire with me.” Gone through the fire! How much more was I supposed to endure? Also, what sense would it have made to stay, when you are telling me that I was friend zoned while we were still together?
This conversation with him vexed my spirit. After all that I had taken over the years for the sake of loving him and being loyal to him, it still was not enough? I helped build your dreams, took care of our home, cooked and cleaned, handled your business affairs alongside of you, but I’m your best friend? You are openly saying to me that it would have just been woman after woman? That’s when I woke up.
Merriam-Webster defines abuse as “improper or excessive use or treatment.” Let’s think about that. According to the definition, his continuing to treat me negatively and excessive improper use of my kindness was actually abuse. Taking things a step further, because I realize I am not innocent in this either, I found an article online that defined addiction as, “intensely activating brain pathways of reward and reinforcement…tolerance is usually built up as a way for the body to adapt to the presence of the substance or the repeated behavior.” Hold up! He may be foul for his part, but did I subconsciously enjoy this? Was I addicted to him? I had to do a quick emotional evaluation. What was it inside of me that was triggering this behavior?
As I evaluated myself, I realized that my entire life, I have wanted acceptance. I am an introvert by nature. Pretty “plain jane,” not really into being the center of attention; However, that is just who I am. Who I want to be is someone entirely different. I have an alter ego of a best-dressed, life of the party, baddie! My brother and cousins were all popular our entire lives, whereas I was kind of nerdy and awkward (Well, that is what they told me. I honestly still have no idea of what awkward even means LOL). Anyway, I desperately sought their approval throughout my adolescent years, the years that we know are vital in shaping our self-confidence and sense of worth. I do not think I achieved the shaping until my late twenties. I was what the popular crowd would call “lame,” and I internalized those feelings for years. Then, I met my ex, and he was everything I had always wanted to be, and the person I would have given a kidney to be associated with. Everyone wanted to be at his parties and in his company. When he chose me as his girl friend, I was shocked, but thrilled! Me? Weird, lame, me? He thought I was sweet, “green,” and genuine. I thought he was kind, spontaneous, and funny. Plus, he was super popular. Bonus! He knew I loved him, and I believed then and still today that he loved me, but he also knew I valued his acceptance. And that is the part of the story that was detrimental.
Every time he hurt me and I forgave him, he reinforced it with a gesture that got me where I wanted to be. Yes, he was cheating, but because of that, everyone knew I was his girl friend, which ultimately made our love story a popular topic of conversation. That meant I was popular by association. Strange way to look at it, but a victory nonetheless! Not to mention, some people thought I was uniquely attractive. This group helped feed his ego even more. The irony in that part is, I never knew I was pretty. Definitely never felt it. I mean, I’m in New Orleans where if you are light skin, you are a goddess. Pretty should not be in a brown girl’s vocabulary. That was before today, when men seem to want to jump on the bandwagon of embracing melanin. That’s not even a conversation for today, though, let me stay on track… I literally became addicted to the thrill of finally getting the respect and attention I always craved. Whether it was good or bad, I had it, and I was known. Checkmate!
Hear me clearly, THIS IS DANGEROUS! Just as the article online explained that eventually your body builds up a tolerance, that is precisely what happened. He got worse and worse, and with each incident, it hurt a little less, until I became desensitized by everything. I went from thinking “damn” was an unthinkable word to say out of my mouth, to having a mouth pretty equivalent to the gutter. Catching him cheating or lying was just another day for us. I stayed and endured whatever he threw at me. It made me feel good for him to see me as a “rider.” For the women who wanted him, to hate me because I had the comfortable lifestyle and materials. I was not awkward anymore. Even my brother and cousins wanted to hang with ya girl! I was popular now, and despite it coming with pain, the reward seemed greater.
It started becoming old when I realized my friends were progressing, and I was remaining stagnant, focusing on high school type drama at 20+ years old. More importantly, as I began to meet more people, I formed genuine relationships with people who loved me for me. It is only so long before the real you manifests itself, and they loved the goofy, somewhat clumsy, introverted extrovert that I am. I guess, the lame me for those that used that term. It was easy to be around my real friends. I did not have to prove anything or be anyone. I just had to wake up, and be me. Guess what happened? My obsession with my alter ego began to fade, and I learned to accept who I truly am. Actually, I fell in love with her! I enjoy my “me time.” I like putting on comfy clothes. My idea of a fun Saturday is my hair in a pony, a veggie pizza with extra marinara and garlic sauce, and a good lifetime movie. If I am really living on the wild side, I will add a bottle of red wine!
A friend of mine said, “I honestly don’t know why you want to be with him. You’re so much better than what he’s offering, and you’re way too kind of a person to allow someone to talk to you the way he does. Not to mention, you’re so smart and progressive. What are he and his friends doing that puts them on your level?.” On my level? Girl! I have been the one trying to be on theirs! That friend may read this, and not even realize it is her I’m speaking of, but those words put me in full recovery mode. I was on a road to sobriety, and her words were my detoxifying agent.
Honestly, I thought I was loving him, and being a Christian by forgiving him. I mean, 70×7 right? (see Matthew 18:21-22). Yes, forgive others of their transgressions, but the Bible never says to continuously put yourself in the same situation. If it happens, forgive them, but do not put yourself back in the same position to get hurt again. Love your neighbor AS yourself, not MORE than yourself. That is where I had it twisted, and that is what prompted me to write this.
As recent as this month, I had a revelation that I never really left him. Okay, fine, if I am being transparent, a new guy I was dating cited this as the reason he could not get close to me. Had I left my son’s dad physically, yes, but emotionally, I have still very much been present with him. All of these years, I have hoped that he would come back, and give me a sincere apology. I would have to forgive him because it is my Christian duty, and we could be together again. This time, without the need for me to be accepted by him. So I thought… Wanting him to come back was still a part of chasing his approval. Here was my addiction, showing its ugly head again. Not only that, but now I am bringing God into this? His word says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15,17 NKJV). My son’s dad, and I do not align morally, and neither do our values. I feel I have a divine purpose on this earth, and I seek it everyday. He is more of a lackadaisical person. How could God possibly will the two of us to be together? I had to learn to forgive, whether an apology is given or not. The real task, however, was to learn to trust God. He wanted me to release my will, and allow his will to be done.
Today, I see it clearer. I mistook abuse and addiction for love, because of my own issues that were present long before I had met him. I chased acceptance to feed a long term insecurity, and I suffered greatly because of it. Yes, the Bible says “love suffers long,” but I think that often gets misinterpreted. I believe God means suffer together, as in if you are having financial problems or experience the loss of a child. I do not believe he means suffer for the sake of loving someone in hopes they will eventually love you the same.
The chains of abuse, addiction, and low self esteem must be broken. This relationship was toxic to my peace, and stunted my growth. If you are ever faced with the dilemma of if someone is God’s will for you, open your Bible to Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV. It says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” This relationship took away my peace. If these are God’s words, I don’t think He would send you someone or something that causes a shift in the peace of your soul. So, tell me, is your soul at rest?
Let me pray for you…
Thank you for sending readers to me. Thank you for giving me the courage to share the most intimate pieces of my soul in order to save someone else’s. Love can be such a dangerous weapon, but we know that is not of you. You created us to love and be loved, just as you love us. Open our eyes and ears that we may see and hear your word. Open our hearts, and align our feet, that we may allow you to lead us to the destiny you have for us, instead of following the path we have laid out for ourselves. Give us wisdom to decipher what is of you, and what is of the devil. He has no dominion over our lives. You are our Savior and our King. I declare that the chains of addiction are broken right now, in your name! I declare that the spirit of low self esteem must flee from our bodies in this moment. Break the chains of hopelessness, O, God. I speak life over the lives of my readers. Give them healing, that they may grow and go forward without scars from broken relationships and disappointments. Replace these negative relationships with positive, loving ones. I ask all of these things in your mighty name. All praise and honor to you, Lord. Amen.
xoxo my love