Since New Year’s, when I felt ready to move onto Step 5, I’ve been trying to figure out what “admitting the exact nature of my wrongs” actually entails. For months now, I’ve confessed many unattractive obsessive qualities and maybe told more than TMI on the pages of this blog.
Nevertheless, if I think of my “wrongs” as they pertain to feeling unworthy of love or as a perceived failure in relationships, I think one of the most consistent mistakes I’ve made as a love addict is something that you’d think wouldn’t be portrayed as a bad thing.
As my mother puts it: “You’re just too nice, sweetie.”
I’d classify myself as someone who avoids controversy like the plague. Unless I feel super passionate about something, say women’s, children’s and animal rights, I allow people to state their case and calmly and kindly say, “I don’t agree with you, but I’m glad you have an opinion.” Maybe this makes me a pretty killer journalist, but in the dating scene or as someone’s girlfriend – it makes me a little vulnerable to manipulation.
After about three months of dating Mr. Idea, he went into what I called a “funk.” For whatever reason, not only did he have no interest in kissing me, making love to me, or really even holding me – but his attitude was hostile and flat-out rude. Of any man I’ve ever dated, he knew exactly what to say to make me feel the lowest of lows and his blows were harder than any boyfriend should ever give. Though he never physically hurt me (I did, however, throw a high heel shoe at his face once, woops), the emotional baggage we gave to each other was immeasurable. Needless to say, it wasn’t a healthy relationship and to deal with my extreme ups and downs, I consulted my very best friend, my mom, and my group of girlfriends.
And when I would go to them, crying, frustrated, or mad – they almost all said the exact same thing: “Why don’t you just break up with him, Linds? Why are you sticking around when he treats you so badly?”
I’m not sure anyone really understands the true dynamic in a relationship unless you are one of the two experiencing it, and those who love us only want us to be surrounded by support and happiness – but when you’re in love (or even just in lust), you want to stick around because you can imagine tomorrow. And you also don’t want to leave, in fear of the “what if” monsters you’ll have to battle down the road. Because somehow, if you’re the girl who puts up with the good and the bad, the ugliness and the messiness, the frustrations and shortcomings – you must be something special, right? Because don’t we all go through hardships, don’t we all lose ourselves in funks, and don’t we all just want someone who will stick with us through the thick-and-the-thin, through the years when our breasts hit our toes, and our hair turns a lovely shade of gray?
But at what point does being the nice girl, the good girl, the girl who stands by her dude’s side encouraging him and forgiving his mishaps…get completely pissed off and leaves the relationship (or pretend one) for good?
I do believe in the best in people and perhaps even more so, I believe everyone is capable of change. But the older I get, the more confident I become in myself and with my life, I also believe that the only person who can make your life better, is yourself. It is a decision and a journey that begins and ends with taking one step forward, without looking back, and having faith in the miles ahead. And until you can be without funkiness or messiness as an individual, it is real tough to be in love or be an active, giving-and-taking participant in a relationship. My personal goal to be a better person and un-addicted to love is part of my disarray and something I should work through before I agree to be official with someone. And maybe that reasoning is why I made the agreement with Mr. Possibility in the first place. Or the reason why Mr. Unavailable was unattainable and Mr. Idea finally drove me to a point that I had to leave.
And that point is one that is taking me less time to get to as I grow in my recovery. I’m not really the kind of person to completely dismiss someone, place them on a blacklist, and curse the ground they walk on – but I also am starting to notice when I’m being just a little too nice. A little too reachable. A little too comforting. And when a man pushes you and tests your patience and your lenient nature – you reach an even more intense summit where you’re just done. Sure, girls are sugar and spice, – but we don’t have to be everything nice.
If I want to be in a relationship one day with a man who has his act together, a stable head on his shoulders, and enough charisma to light up a room – I can’t wait around forever for him to come out of the shadows. Sure, no one is perfect, but a line has to be drawn somewhere and it is really up to me on where to place my ending point. Standing by your man or having patience with someone who you can see a future with is an attractive quality – but independence and the ability to demand respect and your needs to be met is even sexier.
While my Southern graces will stick with me until the end, the New Yorker I’m growing into knows sometimes you have to kick the grace to the curb, state your case for exiting, tie your laces, and get right back in the dating race.