So there I was lying in a heap on my bedroom floor, crying my eyes out. I had just found out my boyfriend had lied to me, cheated on me, and conned me out of thousands of dollars. And then dumped me. Right before that, I had been through a horrible divorce in which my husband had also lied and cheated on me. All of my relationships were messes.
Over and over again I wondered why I was having this pattern. Why did I end up in these relationships that were essentially the same? I asked my therapist, “Am I just destined for this? Does anyone live happily ever after? Why doesn’t the relationship advice I read tell me what to do?”
After I peeled myself off the ground that day, I made a very important decision: To take a good, hard look at my life, my patterns, and what I was responsible for.
Sure, the guys I had been with had been jerks. Nut I was the common thread in these relationships. I was tired of blaming them. I was also tired of relying on men to make me happy and knew I had to make a pretty radical change. And I knew that learning how to be happy started with me.
With the advice from my therapist and some self-help books, I knew one thing was for sure: The only person in this world I was solely responsible for was me.
As hard as I tried, I could not control the men in my life. I couldn’t control the way they felt about me, the way they treated me, or the actions they took. This sounds very obvious, but to a self-proclaimed control freak like myself, I had to learn to accept this. Letting go was hard, but I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired, I surrendered.
In giving up control and looking inward, I learned three foundational lessons in regards to relationships and how to find a healthy one. In my hopes of saving someone else from the same pattern of unhealthy relationships, I share them with you:
1. Really think about how you feel about yourself.
Are you looking for someone to complete you? To give you all the love you need? In the end, all of us are looking for love — we all know that. But if you don’t love yourself, you will be in a constant state of looking for it somewhere else. Either in a relationship, or sex, or some other outside source.
It’s an endless cycle that will never feed you and fill you up. Unconditional self-love is multi-layered, work that takes practice and patience, but trust me when I tell you it’s the best work you’ll ever do.
2. Try learning from your past relationships instead of jumping into a new one.
Ask yourself the following questions: What were you tolerating that was really not okay? Were you setting healthy boundaries? How are your communication skills in the relationship? Can you be 100 percent proud of the person you were in that relationship? Where exactly could you improve?
If you don’t work on yourself and grow and learn from your past, you’ll be the exact same person in a new relationship. And if you didn’t really like who you were, it’s up to you to change it, it’s never anyone else’s responsibility.
3. Become aware of the energy you put out into the world.
If inside you’re feeling bitter, angry, and resentful, how can you expect to attract your Mr. or Ms. Right? If you’re feeling desperate and needy, how can you expect someone to come right in and do a job that is essentially yours?
Imagine words floating around you that describe who you are and how you feel. What would they say? If you don’t like it, work to change it. Of course, you need to feel whatever you’re truly feeling, but decide which direction you want to be heading. Forward, backward, or stagnant?
Put your focus on your best self, on the life you want, and on how you want to show up in the world. And when you fall down, get back up. Being in a place of utter despair was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m so grateful I was forced to look at my life and what I had created.
Your own wake-up call is whatever you want it to be. Face up to what you’ve been a part of and if it’s not what you want, decide to change it. You are certainly worth it, my friend.