It was the day before New Year’s Eve, and I was feeling a little lonely. Both my sons were out of town and would be through the new year. I was home alone with my twin toddlers and they were wearing me out! I had a cousin in another state celebrating a birthday that day and decided to text a simple happy birthday message to my him. He texted me back but decided to use the opportunity to ask me how I was doing and to let me know that if I ever needed anything, even just to talk, to just call him. It started a daily text banter with the occasional phone call that really helped me.
However, in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think that he wants something. What could his angle possibly be? We’ve never really had a relationship before. Why now? I even talked to my therapist about my apprehensions and my suspicions. We both chalked it up to my lack of trust because of a traumatic past.
But it was still eating away at me. I wanted to believe that his gestures were altruistic but because I felt unsure, I wouldn’t allow myself to make a real connection with him. It made me feel like a horrible person. He would text me bible scriptures and words of encouragement every single day. How could I think so little of his actions or his character? But after some real soul searching, I realized that it wasn’t him I didn’t trust. I wasn’t worried about what he wanted from me. I was actually scared of a totally different dilemma.
What did I have to offer him?
I was a broken woman. I was burnt out. I was in therapy. I was a sub-par Christian. I felt mentally drained and physically exhausted. What could I possibly offer him?
That’s been my whole life really though. Wondering what I really have to offer decent people. Then surrounding myself with people who don’t value me because even they can see that I don’t value myself. And I accept their disrespectful behavior or condescending ways because I don’t actually believe I have anything to offer either. I don’t like the relationship but I’m also sure I can’t do any better.
I started thinking about this as I approach another Valentine’s Day as a single woman. What would my dating life look like? What would a relationship look like for me? What would a marriage look like for me? Do I know that I have so much to offer someone or am I still stuck in the place of hoping that they will love/respect me in spite of?
It forced me to look at the relationships I have now. My current relationships with friends, old and new, and realize that I still don’t value what I bring to the table. I still undervalue myself and so do some of my “friends”.
As much as I love the idea of dating right now, I’m not ready. It is a harsh reality. I had to accept that I would settle, just as I have in all of my past relationships. All of them. ALL OF THEM!
I still have some work to do.
Clearly, I still struggle with my self-worth and self-perception. I don’t see the intelligent woman that can add wisdom and insight to even basic conversation. I still believe that my life experiences, my journey of healing, and even my college education don’t qualify me to share what’s on my mind. I’ve convinced myself that it is insignificant. If my life and its lessons are insignificant, then I probably am too. I need to respect that I may not be as versed in the bible as my cousin, but my testimony can still be a blessing to him. I need to understand that I may be a single woman, but it does not mean that my experience in relationships, good and bad, disqualifies me from knowing how to love someone else. And more importantly, it does not disqualify me from deserving the love of someone else. I need to be the first one to show respect to myself and my place in life. I set the tone for what I receive and what I accept. Until I am comfortable and at peace with who and what I am, I need hold off on anymore new relationships.
I need to work on trusting my discernment. I need to use the wisdom I’ve gained and appreciate my struggles. I’ve grown. I’ve learned so much from what I’ve been through. I’ve even done the work to heal from the most traumatic events in my life. There is nothing for me to be ashamed of. My poor judgment in the past does not mean I am weak. It means that I was given the insight to become stronger. I can trust myself. I need to accept that I know. I know what genuine looks like now. I know what fake looks like now. I know what deception looks like now. I know what insecurity looks like now. I know what it looks like in myself and in others. I know how to check myself when necessary and I need to respect my right to check others when needed as well. Now I need to respect the process and use my training.
I need to understand the difference between accepting someone’s flaws and settling for someone’s faults. It’s all about setting boundaries. What are the things that are unacceptable to me? No one is perfect. That I know, but if I don’t like it, and I don’t want it, then I don’t have to accept it. I don’t need to settle for something I know will keep me unhappy later. I can accept a short coming that I can complement with my own strengths, but to settle for a fault that will ultimately be the downfall of us both should be unacceptable. I can have standards and boundaries without feeling guilty about it. It’s hard to break down a wall that’s been built to last, but it’s also hard to tear down a wall and become vulnerable to the pain you know exist. My therapist told me I needed a gate, something to keep out the wrong people but still give access to the right people. A simple, but effective boundary. What can I live with? Me. Not society. Not most people, but me. Accept, not acquiesce.
I need to understand my worth, respect it, trust it, and never compromise it. Then I’ll finally be ready for the love that isn’t broken, the love I truly deserve.
After spending a year in grief counseling, I started to see that my life needed a major overhaul. Yes, my boyfriend died making me the single mom of our infant twins, but I was still grieving my loss of innocence from decades of abuse. I decided to turn my pain into a new purpose and to share this journey with others that may need some motivation.