I had a disturbing conversation with a friend recently. Our friendship is rather new, we haven’t known each other for more than a month, but from the beginning we have been able to easily share things with each other that we both normally wouldn’t with someone we’ve just met. Granted I have not known her for long, but from what little I know, I was able to form a positive perception of her and I what I believe her to be. What I perceived was a very confident, successful, intelligent, well-traveled, young woman. She came from a decent family and was raised in a loving two-parent household. It’s evident that her parents showed her how to be compassionate, empathetic, attentive, and well rounded. She’s well liked, with several friends and acquaintances that seem to have a high opinion of her. She’s a good dresser too (I just thought I’d throw that one in there). Of course she has some flaws, but who doesn’t? In short, I think she is very well put together and a decent woman. That is why I was so bothered by what she shared with me during our last conversation. In order to keep my promise to her, I cannot share with you the specifics of what she told me, but she described a very troubling romantic situation that has caused her a lot of pain over the past couple of years. Listening to her unfold this heart-breaking story, I was shocked. My heart goes out to her because I genuinely sympathize, but I couldn’t believe that this woman, who seemingly had it going on, would be dealing with such a tough (avoidable) romantic roller coaster. I’ve concluded that this is a circumstance that has just as much to do with her and his mutual love for each other as it does with some serious issues she has with herself. I can only imagine that he is battling some issues as well (which is why he is contributing to the unhealthy relationship), but I don’t have his side of the story, so I can’t confirm that.
After speaking to my friend about this problem, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of sadness. I asked myself why I was so consumed with her troubles and even more so, why was I so bothered; after all I have only known her for a very short time. But, the fact still remained that I was genuinely troubled. After a few hours of contemplation, it hit me; it wasn’t her particular romantic woes and internal issues that affected me so deeply, it was my realization that if even she (someone that had it all together) is dealing with such a situation because of deep-seated internal issues, that means there is less hope for me to ever have a happy, healthy romantic relationship. Assuming that my perception of her is 100% correct, one could stand her and me side-by-side and read the biography of our respective backgrounds and easily conclude that I would be the one with the issues (self-image, self-esteem, validation, acceptance, etc…), not her. Looking back on my life, my upbringing, and my romantic experiences, I would be the obvious choice. So the fact that she is not excluded from such dealings and internal conflict means that I may be worse off than I think!
That revelation brought me to another disturbing line of thinking. I began to cry as I recounted every agonizing memory of the failed, dysfunctional romantic relationships that I’ve had from the age of 16 up until my last relationship that just ended early this year. Believe me people when I say that I’ve been through a lot! I’ve been through some things with the men in my life that were so painful, I have not even shared them with my closest friend (I’m not going to detail them now either). I found comfort in the fact that I was strong enough to get over those instances and bounce back without going crazy or sinking into a depression. But as I sat in my bedroom late that night, wiping the tears from my eyes, I realized that I wasn’t over anything! The only thing I had accomplished was tucking those horrible memories into the back of my conscious so I would not have to actively think about them. I successfully detached myself well enough to the point where I could sometimes relay these accounts to others as if I were describing a scene from a movie or a novel with little to no emotion. In other words, I didn’t deal with it. I can honestly say that I have grown a lot from some of my past experiences. You can bet everything you have that you will never find me caught up in some of the same situations I have endured in the past. As you should expect I am a different person than I was ten or even five years ago. For instance, I am now able to more easily walk away from a potentially harmful relationship than I was in the past. So some things I just won’t put up with, but that does not mean that I am “fixed”. I still have personal issues that dictate the decisions I make and the actions I take with men—some of them are NOT good! So does that mean I’m damaged? Yes, but the question is, am I repairable.
My new friend made me realize that everyone (and I do mean everyone) has internal complexes and/or issues. But there are a few factors that separate us from each other. First, some of us are able to identify our issues, either work on them and accept them, then move on to be happy. Then there are people like me, who are all too aware of their internal issues sometimes to the point that they know when they are doing something ridiculous and potentially harmful to themselves as a result of those issues, but they are unable to stop themselves from doing it. For example, I tend to seek out and pursue the same kind of man repeatedly. My line up of men may look very different in physical appearance, background, and career choice, but they all have one thing in common: They have some quality about them that tends to cause me to develop an unjustified admiration for them and in turn, put them on a pedestal. This causes a dynamic between the two of us that triggers my issue of needing acceptance and validation. I have to prove to him and myself that I am good enough to be with this wonderful man. I don’t know, maybe I have an inferiority complex when it comes to men that may be a result of my dysfunctional relationship with my father. Yeah that makes sense doesn’t it? I am able to recognize this when pursuing or starting a new relationship and I also recognize when my actions reflect my need for acceptance, but again I don’t know how to stop it. Grrrrr! If that isn’t a recipe for insanity, I don’t know what is. Then there is the third group of troubled people who have just as many internal issues as the next man or woman, but they are completely oblivious to the issues that they have. Therefore they go on to live in blissful ignorance, thinking that their failed relationships are a result of their mate’s inadequacies instead of recognizing those of their own. Now, you can say what you want, but I think I’d rather be oblivious than to be the one to watch her own train wreck over and over again, knowing that all I have to do is step on the brakes to prevent it from happening, but my foot just can’t reach the pedal.
Okay, so I’ve had this epiphany. Now what? How in the hell do I know? If I had the solution to the problem, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post to get this huge weight off my chest. I can tell you what doesn’t work though–wearing a mask to disguise yourself and hiding your problems instead of confronting them. Several people that I’ve encountered have told me that I give the impression that I am hard-core, meaning nothing and no one can hurt me. It’s either get with me and my way of doing things or get gone. They also seem to think that I am overly confident (maybe arrogant). I have to constantly fight off several potential beaus at a time and if one man does not properly meet my needs, it’s quickly on to the next one. Basically, people who don’t know me that well think I have a “Queen Bitch” attitude. I almost laugh when I hear this, bewildered by how they could get it so wrong! I am nothing like that. Let’s go down the list: I am extremely sensitive and emotional so my feelings are hurt rather easily. I may cry at the drop of a hat. I am very open to compromise and can be easily swayed into your way of thinking (if you’re making sense). Although I am confident about some things, i.e. my writing ability, my level of creativity and intelligence, and my looks, I have many insecurities. Most people do not know that I have suffered from self-esteem issues for several years (I’ve only come to that realization myself over the past couple of years). For a long time, I did not like the way that I looked, I questioned my level of intellect, and I held back a lot for fear of rejection. Only recently have I come to love my sleepy, bedroom eyes, my fat feet, and my thin hair (well I don’t love the thin hair, but I no longer hate it). Accomplishing my life long dream of becoming a published novelist has greatly assisted me in securing my confidence in my intelligence and my comfort level with myself so I no longer fear rejection as much as I did in the past (it’s still a work in progress). I do not appoint and dismiss a lot of men with dating potential. In fact, most of the time I will only date one guy at a time and I wish I had the “get with my program or get gone” attitude with those that I do date. Actually, I often compromise myself and my happiness to get with him and gain his approval (we already covered this in the previous paragraph). So just where oh where do these people get this false perception of me from. Easy, they get it from me! The “Queen Bitch” persona is one that I have subconsciously developed over the years to protect myself. If I act this way, I am able to keep people at a distance. If they get too close they may get to know the real me – the fragile me. Experience tells me that they will take advantage and hurt me. Sad right? Now this is a cool little temporary fix, but nothing that is going to help me in the long run. Like I said, hiding behind the mask of a hard-core persona is not the solution to the problem. What is? Like I said, I don’t know. Maybe you have a few suggestions.
I said a prayer for my friend that night. I asked God to deliver her from this painful and dysfunctional relationship. I asked that God give her the strength to leave so she can heal her wounded heart and eventually find true happiness. Then, I said a prayer for myself. Three simple words, “Fix me Lord”. Now I wait…
Thanks for reading my rants. This blog post was therapeutic and effectively stopped the tears. I hope that it has helped at least one of you too. Peace!
Monique D. Mensah
Author of WHO IS HE TO YOU