This post is dedicated to anyone who has ever loved and lost themselves along the way.
I’ve always looked at November as a month of transformation; releasing what no longer serves us and creating diamonds from the ashes. Maybe it’s the dead leaves falling, maybe it’s the intensity of Scorpio season, maybe it’s the increased feeling of self preservation as the weather starts to bite with unapologetic coldness. Whatever it is about this time of year, it has never failed to push me to go deeper within myself.
And that’s along the lines of what I’m sharing with you all today.
Once upon a time, I met someone who would show me the world. For two years, we would take trips all over Europe by Spring and work in the Caribbean for the rest of the seasons. I would learn how to let someone see the most vulnerable parts of myself- the beautiful, the malicious, the shameful, and everything in between. I would learn how to prioritize one person, above the rest, with my whole heart. I would learn the concept of self sacrifice. And I would learn how far I can go with all of those things.
Not many people would understand our relationship, as he was from another part of the world than I was. An international relationship, I knew exactly what they were thinking: How could that ever work? For a long time, I was extremely bothered by this. I could sense their skepticism from miles away and it would make me feel that people didn’t take me seriously; I would feel less than. It lit a type of angst in me that I let very few people see. What my ego was really looking for, I eventually realized, was validation. Validation outside of myself. I would feel the urge to explain the ins and outs of “shiplife” to people in efforts to try to get them to see how this relationship made sense and how it was/would be successful. I would vent to my best friend and still come out of the conversation feeling as sick as when I started. I guess the reason I cared so much was because, despite my hating every second of confusion, judgment or doubt I received from others, my heart would always want the same thing- him. I both hated and loved myself for that kind of loyalty I possessed.
Fast-forward 2 months post-relationship, and I am now in the process of picking up the shards of myself I never knew broke in the first place. In this way, along with many others, this has been one of the most challenging heartbreaks I’ve ever had to work through. So allow me to unpack a bit- something I’ve grown exceedingly very familiar with, being on tour and doing this process weekly.
I remember the first time I was ever talked to about potentially being codependent. It came from one of my most valued family members at the time and I was revolted to my core; it actually shook me for months. Me? Co-dependent? The bad bitch that all of my friends would always readily describe as one of the most self-sufficient, self-starting, independent people they knew? How dare you use “codependent” in a sentence pertaining to me.
However as the relationship went on, codependent is exactly what I became. There was no fuzzy suggestion or meek potential about it; I was codependent.
Let me be clear before I go any further- this blog post is not a villainization or exploitation of my ex. Although I could probably write a book about each one of my relationships, I refuse to indulge in the tone of Look-What-He-Did-To-Me-and-See-How-Awful-He-Is-For-That, or even explain how this relationship ended. *heavy sigh*
So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you about how I turned into the type of woman I used to mock.
Over the past 4 months, I’ve done a lot of work and research on attachment styles. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I encourage you to look it up; it’s fascinating and important stuff. For me, I’ve learned that my insecure attachment, which stemmed from the very minute I came into this world (and was watered even stronger throughout my upbringing), has made way for some downright unhealthy behaviors and patterns- specifically in regards to intimate relationships.
The thing about being with a person who has their own set of issues (as everyone does), is that if those issues fit into a perfect puzzle piece with your issues, then you are destined for mayhem. (My therapist even describes us as “soulmates of the Underworld.” Bless her spooky witch heart that is so very in sync with my own.)
What I want to say is that there is no shame in being codependent. Shame, as a whole thing in itself, is useless because 1) it delays growth and 2) it is crucial to see our limits and what we are capable of- the ugly included. Through this whirlwind of a relationship, I was able to realize many things about myself; what I am capable of.
First, the stuff I am proud of:
I now know that I am someone who is willing to fly across the world- over and over again- for someone I love. I now know that the voice of my own heart will always win over the judgement of others. I now know that I am a person who believes in forgiveness and trying again- and again. I now know how to calm my ego and compromise with someone whose face I want to rip off in the moment.
And now for the truly ugly.
I now know that I am someone who is willing to sacrifice my own mental and emotional health to feel loved by my loved one. I now know that I am someone who can live in sickening denial for months. I now know that I am willing to put in hours upon hours of research- Youtube videos, Wiki pages, Psychology articles, and a dozen more alike- in efforts to try to understand the person I’ve committed myself to and make the relationship work. I now know that I can cry myself into a rage desperately trying to control someone because I ultimately made them the puppeteer of my happiness.
The truth was that I shamed the codependency in myself so hard, right from the moment that my aunt (lovingly) brought it up to me so many months ago, that it rooted and manifested itself 10 times harder. And now I know that I am capable of running myself so deep into the ground trying to “nurture” someone that I lose the one thing I should have been working at all along- self love.
Because that’s the thing about “self-sacrifice”, friends. It’s a glamourized concept. We are taught time and time again that true love is sacrificing your own wants and needs for the other person. Giving and giving until you have exhausted yourself. Putting yourself aside for the person you love and dropping whatever you are doing to be there for them. In my book, self-sacrifice is now obsolete. I wrote a post not too long ago about self care and the concept of giving; how true giving is only giving what you already have for yourself- the excess. If only I could have listened to that when it came to my own romantic relationships.
Whenever I have broken up with someone, there are immense feelings of shame and guilt. There’s always a lot of crying, blaming, and anxiety involved. But always less so towards the other person, and more towards myself. And if that’s not a red flag message of Love Yourself Damnit, then I’m not sure what is.
In less than 2 months, it will be 2020. 2020– such a satisfying number to read and number to say. A fresh wave for the soul- a new start to be the most pure, concentrated version of myself I can be. And the truth behind that is this: As someone who has survived literal abandonment and adoption and adjustment, I came into this world 100% destined to thrive on my own. Me, myself, and I. And I don’t care if I have to write this in my journal every damn day, I absolutely refuse to go into this next decade not loving myself.
So bring on the self pep-talks, walks, therapy sessions, dance improv sessions, crying, journaling, reading, yoga, cooking myself dinners, buying myself flowers, blogging in coffee shops, and positive self talk.
Thank you for reading what I have to say.
Love, your favourite co-die.