I know I’m not the only one out there. I know I’m not the only one who hates being alone, loves being in love with someone, and getting love back. I also know I’m not the only one who had a habit of getting into relationships with people who “couldn’t” give me true love back. Since High School I have been hearing my Mother warn me, “Ashley, you really should try to be out of a relationship for a while. Heal from the last one, learn the lessons it taught you, and then get comfortable with being with…yourself.” Well, I always knew she was right, but because of my deep fear of abandonment that was seared into me as a little girl, I have for a long time, found it very hard to follow through with her advice.
Over the past year I have done a lot of learning about relationships and how to break the cycle I have been in since High School. There is so much to learn about something that you think would come natural that really doesn’t. Especially when growing up you were given only negative examples of relationships to learn from. It’s very hard to understand that you should marry someone you love unconditionally and truly loves you back and who will never lay hands on you to cause you harm when you grew up seeing your Father beat down on your Mother daily either verbally, emotionally, physically….etc. Yes, it wasn’t your fault and it never will be your fault that this is what you had to deal with as a child and are seriously lacking in knowledge of this area of life. What will be your fault is if you don’t take control of your life and start learning what a healthy relationship looks like, and then make it happen for yourself. You owe it to yourself no matter if you come from a very healthy, happy and stable family, or a torn-apart, horrifying and severely dysfunctional one. No one is going to give it to you…so make sure you take care of your heart and do this for yourself! So far, I have devised a process for myself in changing the romantic relationships in my life and it is comprised of four main steps.
The first step is spending time with yourself and yourself alone. Learn every little thing you can about yourself. What makes you happy, what makes you sad, what sets you off, things you love to do and things you can’t stand to do. You know, it took me until this year to realize that I love painting. It also took me until this year to realize that I can’t stand being a doormat. (And I am so done with that). The first thing this whole making and keeping true and healthy relationships boils down to knowing who you are, and being completely happy with yourself especially when no one else is around. It is also important to know that if you don’t love and respect yourself, it makes it hard for others to love and respect you. Once you start making progress you will realize how amazing it is when you feel good about yourself enough to actually be happy about being single. It is quite liberating!
The second part is making a list of characteristics of the former lovers, husbands/wives, boyfriends/girlfriends you have had in the past good and bad. After you have written down everything about those individuals that you loved and you couldn’t stand, do some deep soul searching (and don’t do it for a night and claim that you have it all figured out…I am very guilty of this) take your time and realize what qualities you want and NEED in a significant other. Write all of these things down. Take a look at the list of qualities you have had in a significant other in the past and compare it to what you really and truly want and need. I’m sure the majority of you can say that there is a huge huge problem here. The list of characteristics I wrote down for my past relationships were nothing like what I know I want and need in someone. It made me shake my head and say, “Now it’s time to figure out why I settled for someone who couldn’t meet my needs…for someone who only was toxic for me”.
The third part is making a game plan for how you are going to change this nasty cycle you’ve gotten yourself into. Mine looks a little like this:
Stop looking to date someone right off the bat because I am lonely and want someone to love. Make friends, real, true friends and spend lots of time getting to know them. Know someone as a friend for a while before considering something romantic. It is safe and healthy to know someone deeply (and know others who know them very well) before ever dating them.
Start learning everything I can about healthy relationships. How to start them, how to keep them, and what to do when things are not as good as you want them to be.
Continue to learn and practice great communication skills. (How can someone satisfy me in a relationship if I am too afraid to share with them what makes me happy…and more importantly, what hurts me and scares me)?
Spend time everyday reminding myself that I am a good person, a wonderful and loving Mother and I can be single and very happy single. Also, that I do deserve a true, unconditional, strong and healthy love and that it will come in time.
My happiness never depends on the happiness of someone I am in a relationship with. I am strong and independent and I don’t have to fall apart every time the person I am with falls apart or is negative towards me or others.
If something ever feels wrong, speak up immediately. Don’t compromise yourself.
If you start seeing red flags…don’t you dare ignore them! Do something about it.
(This is a taste of my very long and complicated action plan). Hopefully, this gives you some insight on what you can incorporate in your own plan).
Now, for the fourth step (and this isn’t set in stone, and we don’t all operate the same way and God knows I may add more for myself later), put your action plan into effect and never stop it. Type it up or write it really neatly and post it somewhere where you will see it every day. If you are anything like me, it will help you to see it very often. Don’t be afraid to add things to it, or modify it, so long as it is helping you stick to the plan of being good to yourself and being only in healthy and happy relationships. Remember, you deserve this! You were not put here to suffer and live out your days alone. You were created to thrive, be fulfilled and fulfill others. Take care of yourself, especially your heart…as in the words of my precious Mother, “be gentle with yourself”.
I love you all, talk with you next week! And please, if there is anything you would like to discuss or have me write about, feel free to write me, pm me, add me on Facebook.