“True love.” Those two little words still make my heart race. Don’t we all dream about the day when we meet that perfect someone and live happily ever after? Astonishingly, no! Or at least not when needing that person would exclude our own individuality, as I learned the hard way but also the wonderfully transformative way! This life-affirming experience literally changed my entire outlook on life and human relationships.
My former life.
When I was 21 and my relationship ended, I was devastated. I couldn’t function for days and ached for my boyfriend Frederic to come proclaim his undying love for me. And I wanted him to come tell me that he couldn’t live without me either. Then we would be soul-mates.
But instead, Frederic decided to enter another relationship, while I slowly died inside. My already faltering self-esteem was crushed, and I became depressed. Depressed to the point that I swore off all relationships and became angry inside. How could he do this to me? Wasn’t I good enough?
I simply could not fathom how my friends and family members could go through breakups and not be as devastated as I was. Truthfully, I just thought they couldn’t love another as much as I could. In my relationship, I had given my all and more.
My aha moment!
Then one day I was talking to my friend Cassia who had just recently broken off her five-year relationship. I thought for sure she would be as devastated as I had been. But while she was a little sad, she clearly didn’t feel devastated. I needed to pick her brain.
I asked Cassia how she was still going on every day like nothing had happened. Here’s what she told me that later changed my life, though it didn’t do much for me at first. She was sad but life still goes on. Although she would miss some of the things she and her boyfriend did together, there were still a lot of things that she wanted to experience and succeed at.
Hold on! What?! There were things she wanted to succeed at? So what, compared to no longer having a partner in life?! Or did I need to remind her about that? Okay, so I reminded her. The look she gave me pretty much said I was crazy.
Cassia went on to explain that although she had been happy with him, she was just as happy without him. She was her own person and did not need to be in a relationship to be happy. And she wanted to move on in life and fulfill some of her own dreams.
I’m pretty sure that was when a bolt of lightning struck me that I still feel the zap from today. I did not need to be in a relationship with someone to prove my own self-worth. While in the relationship, I had wanted to accomplish some things of my own. But because my boyfriend hadn’t thought they were important, I’d pushed them aside.
So after my visit with Cassia, I did some soul-searching and realized a few things.
I did not need to be in a relationship with someone else to be a whole person.
There were many things that I had wanted to do that I gave up because of the relationship. I’ll do them now.
I am a good person and a great friend.
I am a daughter and I am loved by my family.
My self-esteem has grown enormously since the day I spoke honestly with Cassia. It’s like she planted a seed within me that continues to grow with each waking moment. I wake up happy each morning, knowing that I love myself.
Why did I (and most of us) have to learn that lesson?
So many people go through almost the identical problem in relationships that I did. It’s not just me. So if my happy friend got over her breakup fine, why don’t most of the rest of us? As it turns out, we’re born that way!
As infants and babies, we need love. We need the touch of and interaction with those who love us. Babies who don’t get that can develop what’s known as “failure to thrive.” Human interaction is a need that must be met in our early years. Fortunately, most of us have that need met, and we naturally continue needing it in life.
Some feel it more than others, as I did. There are people who would give anything to feel the love of others. There may even be people needing it so much that they essentially die of loneliness. Again, I think that love is a basic human need that we each have in our own way.
We all make mistakes in our lives and our loves. The thing about making mistakes is that they give us the chance to learn and grow from them. Looking back, I understand why my boyfriend left the relationship: it wasn’t him, it was me. I was smothering him. Truthfully, I was more like a puppet than a human being, totally dependent on him for my direction.
The line between need and love.
A healthy loving relationship is when two individuals bond. They base their relationship on unconditional love. Unconditional love is when we love our partners and will put their happiness before our own needs and wants.
But in a healthy loving relationship, we are still individuals. We seek out those things that make us happy and pursue them with the blessings of the ones who love us.
There will be times when we are sick and needing help and needing to be soothed. There will be times when our partners will need to be held when they’re dealing with grief or another life-altering event. This is a basic need that humans have.
When we’re needing another person too much.
When we’re needing someone to fill a void within ourselves, we’ve become needy. We haven’t learned to love ourselves and consider ourselves worthy of love. We become dependent on the love of another to make us feel worthy. This is not where healthy relationships come from.
My future of loving.
I am happy to report that I now know how to have a healthy relationship and show unconditional love. I have learned boundaries, and I respect myself. And I won’t stop chasing my dreams and accomplishing the goals I have. I want to bring life into a relationship instead of drain another person dry of his emotions.
Being happy in any relationship means learning to love oneself first. It’s not our partner’s job to make sure we’re happy and have our personal goals.
No one knows me better than I do. No one can possibly know the dreams and aspirations I have for myself unless I tell them.
Loving myself has become a game changer, and I smile because I’m happy, not because I’m trying to impress someone. I have to admit that it was a life lesson that wasn’t easy to learn. But it was so worth it. Now I shine!
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