The Relationship Game

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I am without a doubt, unquestionably, 100% a relationship person. There is just one small issue. I hate relationships. I’ve been single now for 10 months which is the longest time I’ve been unattached since I was 14 (that makes a total of 12 years of relationships for anyone counting). To be fair, the only reason I am is because my last partner shattered my heart into a million teeny, tiny pieces then stepped on them until they were paste. My heart was paper-mâché trodden into the carpet, so, I’ve been working on that. It still hurts, I won’t lie, and it’s definitely been a part in some bad decisions over the last few months (although luckily, they’re becoming fewer and far between). It’s also been the best months of my life in so many ways. Doing what I want, when I want to without the obligation of explaining anything to anyone is a real freedom I have never experienced. When you have an intense relationship with someone like I have always had, you tell them every moment of your day. If there are minutes missing, then there are questions. That doesn’t mean I wanted to cheat, or even flirt, but it’s given me the space to have that extra pint or extra-large pizza, or even take an extra shift at work without repercussions. I have always had my own bank account and my own money but I still felt a weight of pressure to spend my money wisely so we, as a couple, could work towards whatever common goal we were working for. That pressure has been lifted and now I own too many pretty outfits and shoes that I don’t need. I can date who I like and because of that I have met many good friends who I would never have even met before before. I can dance in my underwear and take selfies to send to no one.

It’s not all roses, that’s true. I get lonely. I’ve stayed out all night drinking when I should’ve been looking after myself better and I’ve spent nights with men who have no respect for women in general, let alone me. When I struggle, I have to ask for help. There is no one there to pick up on the minute changes in my posture or attitude. Even when I do ask for help, sometimes people aren’t free or willing to listen to me ramble about my issues once again. When I feel chubby and my skin is bad, there is no one there to tell me I look pretty. I’m a cuddler and right now my bed is empty of a spooning partner which I aggressively make up for whenever I share a bed, to the annoyance of my friends (although, to be fair, that’s nothing new). Of course, there are bad points to being single, but this is true to any situation and right now, I’ll take the lonely nights over the stifling pressure of a serious relationship that’s not working.

The first problem with relationships is they seem so shiny from the outside. It’s all drinks and adventure and flirting and sex in the afternoon. It’s learning everything you can about each other and the optimism that you’ve found your “soul mate” (whatever that means) . You both make an effort with your appearance and get a thrill out of noticing every crease on your sparkly new partners face. You play with each others hair and give each other shoulder massages that last longer than 15 seconds. Then comes the trigger moment. In hindsight, it’s these moments, these decisions and sacrifices that make things change. For me, in both of my serious relationships, I guess you could pin point that moment as the time I agreed that my partner can fart in front of me. Fatal error. And from that second, the romance and wonderment wafted away with the methane.

Despite my solid 10 years of serious, adult relationships, I’ve not yet learnt how to be my own person when I’m in one. I am the kind of person who will throw myself in front of a bus for someone I love (friends and family included). My expectations are immense, and it’s taken a lot for me to learn that just because my other half wouldn’t take that fatal dive, doesn’t mean they don’t love me. Love is a difficult mistress to define and everyone reads her differently. Since I’ve been dating, I have had more than one man tell me that they like me or even love me while I sit there bewildered, feeling like I don’t even know the person sat in front of me, absolutely sure that they don’t know the real me. Being able to sync that with the person you choose to be with is important. So far, I don’t think I’ve experienced this and I’m thankful for that. If I had been with someone who feels feelings as strongly as I have, I may have drowned myself in them. I have been lucky enough to have my heart torn up which has allowed me to come up for air. In that air I found things that I didn’t know were important to me, because before they weren’t important to the person I loved. I’ve found things I detest and things that make me laugh and people that I connect with on a completely unexpected level. This time is a gift and I am grateful for it. I don’t want to be single forever. I still get that rush when I meet someone I think I could really fall for. The difference this time is I am more cautious. I am in love with my life, I am excited about the future and I’m only just getting to know myself. I’m not ready to give that up for someone who isn’t without a doubt, unquestionably, 100% the right person.

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Forgiveness

It’s a concept that we’re taught from a young age. An action that belongs to the strong and the good and an action that I’m not sure I am capable of. Maybe I am capable, maybe I choose not to act on that capability, I don’t know. But I do know that it’s something I’ve always felt pressured into doing and something I’ve lied many times about. Like everyone, there are so many people who have hurt me in life. Sometimes small mistakes that are easier to let go of, sometimes huge, intentional movements which have stuck with me for years. Some of these wrong doings I have had a part in, some of them were done to me with no input from myself at all. I have accepted apologies, acknowledged that the perpetrator feels guilt and moved on. I have also held people accountable when they have refused to understand their heavy-handedness and I have made it clear how they have impacted my life in an ongoing and negative way. In every case I have never forgiven.

Now don’t misunderstand me here, I can accept indiscretions and continue relationships with those who have hurt me. I’m not made of stone. I can step forward with my life and leave it in the past. But in my understanding, that is very different to forgiveness. Forgiveness is a religious ideal. It is one that holds the victim responsible. We are told that it is good to forgive and that it’s toxic to carry around anger for the people who have harmed us (personally, I think anger is a powerful and necessary emotion, but that’s for another day). It’s our job as the “bigger person” to forgive and forget. The guilty party can be absolved and it’s as if all their sins and immorality is wiped clean. Back to square one. They can go on to sin another day. Perhaps they learn from their mistakes, if they indeed believe that what they did was wrong. Perhaps they don’t. Many people treat others badly for a reason. Surely it would be more beneficial to acknowledge what you have done and choose to look at the reasons behind that to ensure you understand yourself better at the end of the ordeal, rather than receive a pardon from the victim and pretend it didn’t happen?

Someone once told me that until I forgive these wrong doings, I am suffering. Life is painful, bad things happen and, in those moment, you feel pain. It’s inevitable. Suffering is a choice to hold onto that pain. It’s an interesting way of thinking and I am very aware of my penchant for suffering, which is something that I am trying to work on. There are some things that people have done to me that I have not got closure for yet and I am not ready to let go of. So, I suppose in that sense, I agree that I am choosing suffering. I do know though, that one day I will be ready to move on and on that day, the people that hurt me will receive no pardon, they will not be excused, and they will not be forgiven. There are many other things that I have accepted and moved on from, that although they once shaped me, they don’t continue to contort my emotions and thoughts. One thing I am very clear on in those circumstances is that I was not responsible for their actions then, and I am certainly not responsible for their future actions. Forgiveness is just another way to blame the underdog, the trodden down and beaten. A way to hold them accountable for what happened to them and what happens in the future to others. I encourage acceptance and understanding. I refuse to be a part of another aspect of a victim blaming society so just to be very clear, if I have ever told you I forgive you, I lied.

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