When I had started to write this blog, I had intended to post regularly, to focus my thoughts and feelings on a creative outlet and to allow myself free reign for expression, venting and opinion. The last few months however, I have neglected to do so. I haven’t allowed myself this outlet in order to process my thoughts and feelings, and in a large part, I can say that it was as a result of entering into a new relationship.
At the end of 2012, I met a guy who I had been talking to for a while online. We had planned a few dates which he had always had to cancel at last minute, and I had decided that I wasn’t ready to be messed around – that I wasn’t going to keep trying to make dates with someone only for them to be cancelled before they could happen. One of my friends at work however told me to give him another chance, and so I did, and so began a relationship that may have lasted only a few months, but has taught me a lot about myself which I had, until that point, failed to realise.
It would be all to easy to summarise the relationship through the negatives, through the things that culminated in its end, but for the majority of the time I was happy and had felt closer and more connected to someone than I had for a long time. Only in hindsight do I realise that what I felt was a closer connection to someone else, was actually also a detraction from my personal connection – my relationship with myself was placed on the backburner in order to facilitate a growing love for another person. There were many great things we shared in our relationship – we went out for dinner regularly, would spend most of our spare time together, would share things with each other that we hadn’t told anyone before – all things which are part of being in a relationship with someone else. We allowed those barriers to be broken down in order to create something more beautiful. I had, for the first time, seen what could be a future for myself and someone else. I had, until that point been on many dates, and had many potential romantic entanglements but to me, they had always not felt right – there was something there that told me I should hold off until I found someone who was right for me, and someone who I felt completely comfortable with, and it seemed like my determination had paid off as I had found someone who made me feel that way.
I had introduced him to my family at a cousins wedding. My parents and brother thought he was nice, and above all else, my friends and family had remarked that they had never seen me so happy. I seemed to be in a much brighter and better place than they had seen me in for a long time, and for them, that was the most important thing. I felt this too, I felt this burning desire to be there for him, to support him, to care for him and to love him, regardless of any personal baggage which he held, and it was the situation where I knew that, should things work out, I would have happily sacrificed what I had worked for in order to meet his needs – as personally and medically, he had needs that would one day become more prevalent and would raise that important question of what we, as a couple, would have to do in order to overcome them.
At the same time that this was beginning, I had come to the realisation that I was going to have to move out of my nice little one bedroom flat in the city. Rent rates were going up, and my hours at work were beginning to be cut down, so the only responsible thing that I could do was cut my losses, pick up my stuff and move back to my parents in order to reach a point of financial stability. The move itself was difficult as, for the year and a half prior, I had my own space to occupy and retreat to, and to return to a place where I had grown up but which had changed so substantially that I didn’t feel I belonged in it anymore was a difficult thing to do. It made it easier then that I could go regularly stay at his house, to spend time away from family while I adjusted to not having my own space, and above all else, to feel like I was in a comfortable place both emotionally and physically in my life. He made me feel safe and secure, and it was not from a want for any of his physical possessions but purely because I felt more safe in his arms (as clichéd as that sounds) than I had in my life. Things continued like this for a good month or so, we grew closer and closer and I fell in love with this man.
Then things began to unravel. When I was drunk one night, someone I had used to hook up with had sent me a text asking me how things were going with my boyfriend, and I had been drunk, and happy, and had texted back saying how good they were. The conversation veered off direction and he ended up sending pictures to me which, in hindsight I should not have encouraged, but in a drunken state I wasn’t thinking. I wasn’t using my right mind, and even though I never sent anything back, and never physically did anything in all the time I was with my boyfriend, it was still a mistake that should not have happened. He went through my phone when I was in the shower, and found the messages, and was understandably upset and let down that it had happened. This happened mid way through the relationship, and to me was an obstacle that whilst it should not have happened, was something we could overcome.
For the month and a half after that, I tried everything I could to show him how much my thoughts were just for him – how it was a mistake that I regretted making, and that I wanted nothing else apart from him. I would make him lunch on the days I was off and have him over so he would have something substantial to eat during work, would meet him after his work to go through to his flat, make dinner and clean up afterwards, would get trains through after I had finished work if I was on later shifts, would not complain about any niggling things that I was feeling, and would be as socially available as I could possibly be in order to show him that he should not be concerned – that I wanted nothing more than to be with him. In that time, my social life with my friends became non-existant. I occasionally went for a drink or two after work with friends, but only if I finished early enough to still go and see him, or if he already had plans. We rarely stayed at my house, always going through to his instead, as I played the diligent boyfriend who wanted to make his life comfortable, and to show him how much I could do to make it up to him. In this time, I met his friends, his family, I went for drinks at his friends house multiple times after I had been on development days, or working, or was working early the next day because I wanted to devote that much time to repairing whatever rift I had caused within our relationship. I felt I was going all the way there to make things up to him, and was never complaining about not being met in the middle – him not meeting my friends, or staying at my house, or dropping me off at home in the morning, instead choosing to drop me by his work regardless of how bitter the weather was which, seeing as Scotland just went through one of the coldest January to April spells in recent history, was a cold and miserable time. I didn’t complain, and I had felt we were working towards rebuilding that relationship – towards moving past what had happened and finding something beautiful and real inside what we had.
We had booked flights to visit his friends abroad, and went away on a week long holiday, drinking a lot and having a great time, and I genuinely felt that he was moving past what had happened, starting to see the reality of the relationship and that I wanted us to be us, simple and honest. He told his friends how amazing he thought I was, how he was so happy and how I was so kind, how he was with me because he felt that I was that kind. He even told me that if he could afford to, he would marry me, and I felt sure that, should he have asked that I would say yes. That I wanted nothing more than this relationship. That I wanted nothing more than to be with him and to share a life with him. As early as it was in the relationship, this didn’t seem to be a question that merited much thought, as I felt I just knew.
We returned from holiday and resumed life – him working his day shifts, and me returning to a waiting job that meant shifts anywhere between 11am and 12 at night, and for those days immediately after I never saw him. I felt sure that we were fine in this though, as I had just spent a wonderful week abroad with him and thought that the time apart would not pose an obstacle to this relationship. Then he sent me a text saying he needed to talk, and what emerged through the subsequent texts was that he felt he couldn’t trust me and wanted to break up.
Now I’m not writing a blog in order to attack him or what had happened, or in order to air my dirty laundry in a public forum. That was never my intention, and what happened after our discussion is something that I would not like to go into too much detail about, but the gist of the situation was that I tried multiple times to suggest ways to repair what had happened, to redevelop that trust that I had lost, and to find ways for us to work out. It wasn’t enough. He would never trust me, and above all else, felt that I didn’t deserve him, was self-centred and that he never wanted to see or speak to me.
That’s the real point that this blog has been moving towards. How we define ourselves, and view ourselves within relationships.
Within a relationship, we are led to believe that we have to sacrifice things that we want if it doesn’t fit in with the plan that we have as a couple, or that we need to make decisions that take our partners into account. I am in no way denying that this is the case, as any healthy relationship needs a balance between what you want and what your partner wants in order to maintain that equilibrium – that balance of decisions, choice, power, dreams, aspiration – all those qualities that enrich a relationship, but in too large a dose would prove detrimental to the functioning of that relationship. Though how do we maintain that balance if what one person conceives as a sacrifice, is to another person not enough of one. How do we keep that feeling of equality, of balance, if one person believes that the other person is undeserving of them. Why do we allow ourselves to scrutinise and change ourselves so willingly because of a partner, when we are in essence the person we have worked and aspired to be.
For this man, I was willing to throw away four years of work, of dreams and aspirations if it meant that we could have a future – that I could find happiness with someone else. Though in this case, all the sacrifices would have been on my part, never being met in the middle to create a rich shared life with a partner, but rather an unbalanced, one sided life in which one member compromised their life in order to fit into the other persons. That is not a partnership, and for me, the idea of finding a partner and not a lover, a boyfriend, a man, or any other form of nickname for that person you are seeing is an integral part to any relationship. It is about partnership. It is about compromise on both parts. It is about a willingness to balance each other through the pains and hardship of life, not to burden the other person with your problems and not alleviate their load. To reach the end of such a relationship, and to be called self-centred, to be made to feel unworthy, or to be told that you are not good enough for that person is not something that anyone has the right to decide. No one has the right to determine someone else’s personal worth. In situations where you are dealing with people who have committed atrocities – murderers, rapists, paedophiles, dictators and such, that person has negated the right to their own personal worth by committing acts that all would consider barbaric, and unforgivable. Though in a relationship context, just because you feel someone has disappointed you, that does not give you the right to assign them a lower personal worth, or to make them feel undeserving of love, of commitment or of understanding.
This is the way I was made to feel after the end of the relationship. I was told I was undeserving, I was told that he could do better, and told that I was self-centred – things which I would argue that whilst I made a mistake, my actions subsequently were always focused on what I could do to make him feel better, to make him trust me and to try and work through things. To me this is wrong, and something which we should not allow ourselves or other people to do after the end of a relationship.
This blog is something that he is unaware of, in fact it is something that most people I know are unaware that I have started. It is a place that I never intend him to see, it is a post I never intend him to read, and have no intentions of wounding him or trying to hurt him with what I have said. I do not see my words as a weapon, I see this as a way of questioning how we allow ourselves to be seen, perceived and changed using my own personal experience as a backdrop. If by chance he does come across this, then this is not a way to attack him, this is not my way to make him feel small or to take out my feelings of frustration, hurt or anger against him, it is just a place for me to talk – for myself, and not for anyone else. However, knowing that he willingly posted a picture online, a text message from a friend that said he was amazing and would find someone who deserved him, saying that friends knew the right things to say, and knowing that it was in a place that I looked at and would see was, to me, a nasty and vindictive thing to do. For he knew I would see that, and he knew that it would make me feel worse. This is not something that we should think is acceptable behaviour.
Regardless of what happens in a relationship, there are positives that happen for both people and whilst I have gone through a painful break up, I have realised that I am stronger, and more sure of myself for what has happened. Because I know that, in reflection, I did everything I could to try and overcome the obstacle that I had mistakenly put in place and that I could not have done anything else. I have realised that I have dreams and aspirations that I do not wish to sacrifice for someone who is unwilling to allow me to have them, who would rather I found stability in monotony and unhappiness, than happiness through instability and discovery. I have treated the break up amicably and with respect, never resorting to barbs and cheap shots to hurt him further, and that he could not act in a similar way is not a reflection on what has happened, but is a reflection on him. It is a way of showing that some people believe that they are entitled to hurt others because they feel hurt, and that others believe that they should try and minimise the pain for both parties involved. It is a reflection that we deserve to treat others with respect and consideration, regardless of how personally wounded we feel. We do not have the right to dictate someone else’s feelings. We do not have the right to ascertain that level of control over another.
We do not have the right to tell anyone else they are not worth enough. No one has the right to tell anyone that they are not worth anything, or not worth as much as they are. When we do this, we are only making ourselves more closed off from those around us, and making our own happiness less assured. So for anyone that is going through a break up, has gone through a break up, or may be heading towards a break up, just remember that you, regardless of the mistakes you have made are still valuable, and that the person you are with is still worth something to themselves and those around them. Do not try to wound them further, do not be vindictive or unwilling to listen. If they have things they want to say, give them the time to say them and even if you do not agree, do not attack them in both a public or personal manner. Your relationship meant something at some point, and will have taught you many things that you just may not realise yet. Entertain that time, exercise your right to grieve, to hurt and to listen, and if you cannot reach a point of understanding then amicably move on. There is no need to hurt someone any more than they have already been hurt. There is no need to make someone feel that they do not deserve to move on or meet someone new. It will not garner happiness in yourself, it will only breed bitterness and further sorrow.