They say everyone has a type of person they find themselves drawn to in life. For some, it’s hair or eye color, for others it is height or build. For me, it seems to be wounded souls with a ton of unresolved baggage and commitment issues. I’ve always seen them as kindred spirits, assuming that, because they had so many issues themselves, they would be better equipped to handle mine. On some level, as well, I think I’ve always hoped that if I could help them to find a better place in life, they would somehow return the favor – that by some miracle we would find a way to heal and grow together.
I have a history of unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships. Every single serious relationship I have had has been with someone who has been surrounded by addiction, whether their own or their family’s. I, myself, am the child of a compulsive gambler. My father’s family was riddled with alcoholism and drug addiction, as well. Dysfunction breeds dysfunction. Though I never developed an addiction myself, I inherited all the bad behaviors. Again and again, I found myself in co-dependent, destructive relationships with others who walked similar paths. Instead of healing together, we created toxic bonds that slowly destroyed themselves from within.
I admittedly hold onto some warped version of positive ideals more than I embrace the ugly reality of people and situations. It is easier for me to embrace the good than to dwell on the bad. My mind longs to hold onto the happiness and discard all the pain and misery. At the end of each relationship, as I lay there heartbroken and emotionally shattered, again and again I would cry and mourn what I felt I had lost, blind to the truth of the situation. I would think back to all those good times and cherished memories, unable to grasp how things could have ended so horribly.
The truth is that none of those relationships were healthy or loving, at least not for the majority of the relationship and definitely not at the end. When someone genuinely cares for another person, they do not go out of their way to hurt them or make them feel worthless. That is not love. I cannot keep putting people on pedestals that do not belong there. Too often, I have held so tightly to the concept of the person I fell in love with that I was unable to accept that they hadn’t been that person for a long time. While the initial love may have felt pure and beautiful, the warped monstrosity that tore my heart out was anything but and does not deserve to be mourned.
I need to be honest with myself and call things out for what they are. I cannot cling to the happily ever afters of fairy tales and attempt to forcefully align my own stories to match. I cannot glorify the good while ignoring the bad. I cannot cry myself to sleep because again and again my Prince has turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I cannot shed even one more tear for someone who does not even truly exist outside my mind, because that is exactly what I have done repeatedly. I have built up and fabricated ideal personas of my partners that did not truly reflect who they were or how they treated me. Each time, when things fell apart, I was heartbroken, not for the man I had lost but for who I had build him up to be in my heart, mind and soul.
Recently, when yet another relationship imploded, I found myself heartbroken and confused. I could not understand how someone who had claimed to love me so enormously and completely could turn around and hurt me as badly as he had. My image and memories of him conflicted with his words, actions and treatment of me. I was at a loss. It made no sense. Until I realized that all of my hurt and anger stemmed not only from their actions themselves but from that conflicted state, as well. In truth, he was not that man I embraced so fully in my heart and believed had loved me unconditionally, at least not anymore. There is no way anyone could truly love someone and lash out the way he kept doing, repeatedly hurting me. While he may have loved me at some point, early on, before everything began to warp and change, there was truthfully no love for me anymore. Love is not heartless, indifferent or cruel. In the end, he might as well have been a stranger. Once again, I was mourning the ghost of who they used to be or perhaps who I built them up to be in my mind. I was holding onto a fairy tale that did not exist. I needed to let go of it all and embrace the reality of the situation.
I am not without fault. I have many unhealthy behavior patterns I need to address and to change. I have made poor choices and caused my share of destruction. As I have said before, dysfunction breeds dysfunction and it is hard for unhealthy people to make healthy decisions. However, I have always consciously tried not to intentionally hurt those I love and therein lies the difference. But attempting to never intentionally cause pain to those I love has never been enough, nor would it ever be enough on it’s own in the future. I also must begin to be more proactive about how I allow myself to be treated. I do not deserve to be anyone’s doormat. I do not deserve to be discarded and made to feel worthless until I am convenient. You do not tell someone that you truly love that they are not a priority, in your words or your actions. Love isn’t something you push aside and say maybe next week, next month or next year if life is more convenient then. If you love someone, you always love them, for better or worse, in good times and bad. You do not intentionally hurt the people you love. Showing love doesn’t make you weak or needy or clingy. Love should always be appreciated and cherished. I deserve no less than a genuine, complete love because that is what I always give out wholeheartedly.
As I begin to look at myself retrospectively, to talk and to heal, I am seeing these patterns of dysfunction rear their ugly head again and again. I need to be more aware of my choices and not fall into another unhealthy relationship again. Much like two wrongs do not make a right, two dysfunctional people cannot make a healthy relationship, at least not while they are both stagnating in their own unhealthy messes. That does not mean I cannot connect with another tortured soul and bond over our similar paths in life. I just need to find someone as invested in healing and moving forward as I am, who can treat me with the compassion and understanding I deserve and love me with as much tenderness and passion as I give to him. I need to keep walking down this path to becoming a healthier person and I deserve to have someone who will love me enough to stay at my side unwavering throughout my journey.