How Being Neglected in a Relationship Turned into My Greatest Gift
The day my relationship ended and he moved out, is the day a new relationship with myself began.
In the days full of grief that followed our split, I experienced wave after wave of hurt, neglect, anger, rejection, bitterness, resentment and emotional abandonment that came with his internet addiction. I was tormented by feelings of not enough, inadequacy and unworthiness.
Until one day, it hit me.
I saw that he couldn’t possibly love me as I wanted to be loved.
For one, he didn’t love himself. Plus, I DIDN’T LOVE MYSELF.
This profound realization coursed through every cell in my body when I came face to face with knowing, it was ME who caused my own neglect, rejection and abandonment, because I rejected and abandoned myself.
I did this by not standing up for myself. By tolerating behaviour that didn't work for me. I allowed our relationship to play out as a charade. In so many ways, our relationship was great. We were good friends. We got along well. I was so deep in justification and rationalization of how he treated me, because that’s the way I grew up. My past experiences had me thinking I was somehow obligated to stay and tough it out, or that there was something wrong with me.
Because I wasn’t good enough...to love.
Well that is just B.S.
And now I see it clearly.
After I had this profound discovery of not loving myself, I made it my mission to learn how to truly love myself. I knew I couldn’t go through the rest of my life blaming lovers for not loving me if I didn’t love me. I also became very clear that I don’t want to EVER experience that kind of loneliness again, whether in a relationship or not.
So what does loving myself look like?
I first had to accept myself exactly as I am. It took a lot of forgiveness exercises, which led to compassion not only for myself but for everyone. I now see we are all experiencing life through the same long list of shame, fear, unworthiness and doubt.
I stopped criticizing and started speaking to myself as I want to be spoken to. “Good morning gorgeous, I am so happy and blessed to wake up to you!” “I am so proud of you!” “Whoa, look how hot you are!” “Oooh, you are so smart!” This felt awkward at first, and I had some old thoughts of “You’re so conceited!” come up. The reality is though, if I don’t speak to myself the way I want to be spoken to, how can I expect someone else to? The more I do this, the easier and more natural it is to acknowledge myself in a positive way.
I stop and hug myself throughout the day. I reach round my back and FEEL into the safeness of my own arms, giving myself love and strength I used to think I could only get from someone else.
I did a lot of work on letting go of my past and forgiving my parents, finally. The deep work is integral to learning how to love ourselves. We attach to our stories and they become our identities and define who we are.
The reality is, our stories are NOT who we are.
They are made up versions of ourselves and we love to suffer with “I’m not good enough loops” that play over and over in our minds convincing ourselves of this “truth.” We choose partners, jobs, situations and friends that confirm we aren’t good enough. Until we wake up and realize that we are the common denominator in all our situations.
To move beyond this, going within and being brutally honest with yourself, is key.
I gave up tolerating bad behaviours and created new boundaries. My relationship was a big wakeup call to see I didn’t have boundaries. I didn’t know how to say no. I had a lot of "shoulds" and feelings of obligation that allowed me to stick with situations that were wrong for me. This was past stuff recreating itself over and over in my relationships.
I learned saying no isn’t so much about saying no to the person/situation, as much as it is about saying YES to me. This was a game changer for me.
I now live my life through the question, “Is this loving myself?”
In every decision I make, whether it’s a person, event, situation, job, or invitation, it’s got to FEEL GOOD and ALIGNED with my soul, or I won’t do it. I’ve been to that place of doing things I don’t like...pleasing others, not rocking the boat, rationalizing, and ignoring my inner voice...too many times to count. No more. It’s my life. I get to choose who I want to spend time with and how I want to spend my time.
I started doing things I enjoy!
This may sound obvious, but when I look back, often when I was in a state of suffering and neglecting myself, I wouldn’t do things that I liked to do. Now I do! I’ve discovered ecstatic dancing, which I highly recommend for the pure freedom of expression, without judgment. It’s amazing! I walk in nature, often. Nature is so healing. I go to drum circles and meet women who have become my soul sisters. I paint, write, read, eat food I love by candlelight, buy beautiful flowers, go to local artisan craft sales, knit, nap and have long hot baths with essential oils. I stopped going to parties or gatherings with people I don’t have much in common with.
I stopped needing to be validated by anyone outside of me.
This is a BIG ONE and is still a work in progress. How someone else thinks of me does not define me. I don’t need approval or acknowledgement in order to feel good about who I am. Some inner work was needed for this step. It took going back to my past to forgive and let go of the originating circumstances that created the need for validation or approval. It also took looking at my ego who wants me to feel bad (unloved, unworthy, not good enough etc.) if I don’t feel loved or appreciated. Ego can be nasty and I am learning to put her in the back seat and let her know I’m driving!
Multiple modalities of cutting cords, deconstructing patterns, energy healing, visualizations, meditations, dance, journaling, angel therapy, screaming inside my car, crying oceans of tears, letting go of past beliefs and behaviours, setting new intentions, coaching...all supported me.
There is no one quick fix where you do something once and you’re done. Wouldn’t that be nice?
It’s been worth every painful moment to get to the point of really honouring and appreciating who I am. I feel a new calm I didn’t have before. Instead of feeling happy, which is great, I feel BLISS, which is a whole new level!
There is a new contentment that comes with no longer exhausting myself inside out, only to be loved. I feel expanded and open from having learned some hard and deep lessons. Spiritually, I feel conscious and awake, and life occurs in a much different brighter, light.
We are all on our own individual paths, with our own lessons to learn and our relationships are the mirrors that reflect to us what we need to let go of in ourselves.
Marianne Williamson comes to mind when she says,
"A relationship is more of an assignment than a choice. We can walk away from the assignment but we cannot walk away from the lessons it presents. We stay with the relationship until a lesson is learned, or we simply learn it another way."
My lesson from this painful relationship was to learn to love myself. As much as my ego wanted to blame him for the hurt I experienced, when time passes and we are long done, I will be left with me. The degree to which I love myself will determine the level of love I receive in my next relationship.
And, that's a game worth playing.