Taking ownership, being accountable. What painful and terrifying things to do. More so if you are as stubborn as I am! Today I had no choice but to take several steps back and re-evaluate my intimate relationships and their subsequent failures.
We’ve all heard the saying “you are the common denominator in all your failed relationships” and I can clearly see that now. I’m a woman who grew up in an environment where love was earned, not freely given. And even if you worked hard to get love and approval, it was never guaranteed. Many a time I would get the highest grades, be a good girl and obey my parents (to the best of my teenage ability!) but the love I craved never arrived. It’s so common in African households to experience lack of love and damaging rejection from one’s parents. Generally, African parents don’t know how to demonstrate love and emotion.
They love according to who they are, the information they have at the time and the only way they know how. Sadly, it leaves African children yearning for affection and an open feeling of being loved, not a perpetual guess-game if one’s parents love them or not.
I took my parent’s inability to demonstrate love the way I wanted to be loved and I made it personal. I dealt with a tremendous sense of rejection and when faced with this for a long period of time, the desperation for love become innate. I learned to function in environments where I was rejected. It became comfortable. I taught myself how to appease, how to please, how to read signs from other people about what would make them happy and I would continue to over-deliver, yearning for love, buying love. I’d attract abusive or toxic men, because they reminded me so much of my comfort zone, it felt normal in the most twisted way. I had no standards set for myself, I just wanted love. To heal the pain from the past and finally ‘solve’ the problem that I felt I was not good enough unless I was perfect and I would only be loved if I always made the other person happy.
I would meet a guy who ticked all the boxes and almost instantly fall head over heels “in love”. I’d worship him and do everything he wanted just so he could love me back. Looking back, it was a very foolish way to live. But when you understand the psychology behind my actions, and the pathology, it becomes almost impossible to avoid falling into the same trap.
You attract people that re-create your pattern. The vibrational energy that you subconsciously put out draws people in, and they will continue to highlight the pain within yourself.
The pattern was set at a young age and I performed it well into my 20s, like a monkey in a circus. What I didn’t realise is that once you meet someone and pretend to be the perfect woman, no flaws, always eager to please, avoiding conflict…all to keep him happy, a man starts to expect that treatment. You condition a man to treat you in a certain way and I conditioned them to expect perfection. The fear of rejection and the hunger for love drove me to lose my bearings in intimate relationships…all the damn time!
So the day would arise when I would slip up, I would be naturally and visibly upset or disappointed by something he would have done or said, I would be human…but to a man, it probably seemed like I was rebelling from the status quo. It might even have appeared like I was a new creature being birthed from the bowels of hell…strange, scary and not the RunnerBaby they fell in love with. So rejection inevitably ensued, he would pull back or become aggressive. Either way it was a fear of facing the reality that I am human. I had conditioned them to believe I was an angel, right? And rejection being my greatest fear, I would go deeper into my insanity upon seeing their displeasure, and do more perfect acts and stop short of licking their toes to avoid the pain of rejection and abandonment. I needed to earn their love and I had messed up by not being perfect. See the cycle? I created it and only I can break it.
Clear yourself and your energy from the emotions attached to these childhood experiences. No longer respond from a childish perspective. You have more power now. Allow the ‘parent’ within you to grow a strong voice and to nurture you towards healing. Accept the past and leave it there.
You don’t get to tell people how to love you but you get to choose whether or not to participate in the way they show love – Iyanla Vazant
Know that how your parents treated you was NOT personal! They were showing ‘love’ the only way they knew how. Now is your opportunity to choose to be in intimate relationships that give you love the way you want to be loved, rather than attracting men that will re-create a pattern that takes you back to your childhood comfort zone.
It’s important to be your true and authentic self going into every relationship. Forget the honeymoon phase where you try act perfect, be yourself from the start. If he leaves then it would never have lasted anyway because the real you would surface sooner or later. Being aware of your own deep-seated fears is also important. How else will you break the cycle unless you take a break, sit down and examine where you might be accountable and to blame for the failure of your relationships. Change can only begin with you, like it has with me.
I am no longer in denial. I am responsible for my failed relationships and I will be damned if I repeat the same painful cycle again.