I was in a health food shop today chatting with the owner and as many conversations go we ended up talking about relationships! He had recently, but reluctantly, split up from a 12 year relationship. His description of his ex and the power behind his words spelt out a very raw man still in pain.
Many of us try to rationalise and logically put the past in a neat little box labelled “oh well they weren’t right for me anyway” but in reality that person, even though others tell you are better off without them, made you feel alive and despite the troubles, was the one who held the promise of your healing and wholeness.
He then said something that struck me. He described how he had become someone he didn’t really feel good about when in the relationship and a friend had told him to remember the “him” before he met his ex.
So I got to thinking just how many of us morph and mould ourselves ever so subtly to be with an intimate other and how we gradually become someone we are not happy with, which irks and erodes our relationship eventually, while the underlying “us”ness insists on pushing through.
Do you resonate with this? I certainly do and oh boy I did it many times!
One of the common ailments among us girls is the sacrificing of friendships to be ever increasingly at our man’s beck and call, only to find when he dumps us (which often happens because we are not being true to ourselves!), that we have lost alot of our support network, once so precious.
But this is not exclusive to women. A mate of mine became alienated, begrudgingly from his college mates when he married his first wife, because she found subtle but powerful fault in nearly everyone of his friends over the years which made it difficult to see them. Today he really notices the lack of “man time” he has in his life. Thankfully his current girlfriend is all for him meeting new friends and so he’s back out there being the real him again.
Many people give up families, friends, hobbies and literally themselves to be with their partner, thinking it’s really ok when really it’s SO not!
We also take on their stuff and in a way become them as the relationship space blends. But the one with more emotional toxicity can control the direction and quality of the relationship. Control can be exerted in the form of explosive and tricky emotions or no words and lots of closing down. Both create the impetus in the other towards happiness even if vast compromise on authenticity occurs. But at some point balance WILL be addressed naturally. Your authenticity is essential and will push you to make changes to re-address any unhealthy balance. This may come in the form of more conflict, which is ever increasing sign to DO SOMETHING.
When does it start?
The timing of when we start to lose our sense of self in an unhealthy relationship, I feel, depends on the length of time it takes to fall in love.
I notice a distinct change in many once confident, outgoing people who literally become a gooey mess with their partner as they wake up one morning and realise they are in love. As well as the great things, we feel a sense of rising anxiety because our stuff wants to come up and we feel almost at the mercy of love. Are you saying yes to this?
I had a 3 month “pre collapse” timeline. I was this amazing, sassy thing with a great career, lots of good friends and just a vibrant sense of “me”ness, until I fell in love. Then pow! Overnight, I was insecure, reactionary and worried about whether this or that signal from my man meant that he still loved me. I dated some shallow guys. Ones who thought waxing this or shaving that, was best. I dyed my hair to match my man’s one time and yes I even considered plastic surgery to look younger for the young thing I was dating, after only 6 months!
Why do we lose sight of who we are?
1) Loss of Love - In my own experience and in observation, when we fall head over heels, we feel the vulnerability of being in love and we kind of lose ourselves in the Universal fear of loss of love and will do almost anything to keep from feeling it. In fact I think this is the primary driver on the whole, but what we fear we ultimately create!
2) Believing the other person to be perfect – Being in love can bring about the madness of thinking the other person is better than us and what they say goes. People are clever. When we want something we can use very clever relating tactics to rationalise why things “should” be a certain way. Mark Twain made the point that we are all selfish creatures with “me” being number one always and all actions are for personal good feeling, no matter how much we might shout “No, not me guv!”
What Can You Do?
1) Listen to people around you – the truth of where you are is most often reflected in those that care about you. My dear mum has always been such a truth sayer in my relationship life. She would, annoyingly, always tell me, what I knew to be deep down not right with “current man.”
Acknowledge others views (with gentle caution) and see if there is a distinct opinion. You know if they are right because they merely reflect what we already know. Your choice in how long you leave taking action on getting back to you.
2) Sit with yourself – if something just doesn’t feel right deep down. Don’t ignore it. Find the time to fully explore what feelings are coming up. The urge inside to say “no that’s not me and that doesn’t feel good” NEVER goes away. Head ruling will muller you eventually.
3) Remember who you were before – think of you when you were happy and content with your life. What was happening then and how did you feel? Freedom is the greatest elixir in being who we are. It is an essential ingredient in healthy conscious relationships.
4) Have the “I feel....” “I need....” chat – call a conversation with your beau and explain how you feel and what you need to achieve to get back to being who you are. Get them to reminisce about the time you met and how good you felt. You may find your honey missing those bits of you too!
5) Take some time out of the relationship – this is tricky but can work wonders. Needing space from your honey can really rock the boat, but being away from them for a couple of weeks will help you land into yourself. Don’t threaten the end. This is time out not game over! Do this only if you feel totally owned/controlled by your partner. Set the boundary with them. Be firm. Have that conversation and be kind with your words.
However you choose to approach your relationship to attempt to get back your true self, remember that the purpose of your life is to be who you are and share in the celebration of that every day with someone who really wants that for you too!
Love and blessings