The funny thing about habits is that they are not only hard to break, but most often require a long and painful recovery. We do perhaps hundreds of things a day that seem meaningless and unintentional; when in truth, they are processes repeated over and over. Whether it's the harmless preference of replacing the toilet paper roll over versus under, or the quite possibly deadly decision to buy another pack of cigarettes. Humans are creatures of habit, and we will repeat actions to the same negative outcome over and over without thinking twice. Yes, that's the definition of insanity, but in a way, we're all a little insane, right?
Where are you going with this, Jenna? You see, I've recently identified a habit of mine that is actually quite detrimental to my emotional health, and it all began at 17 when my very fist 'stars in the eyes' love broke my heart on Halloween. I had moved across the country to be with my high school sweetheart and 5 months later there I was standing in a group of our friends watching him take the hand of a cute little bumblebee and tell me it was over. Not only was I humiliated, the sudden change in our relationship status came as quite a shock, I was not ready to get over him- In truth, I'm not really sure when I did, finally, let go of the pain of that breakup. Only recently did I see a status online alerting me that he was marrying that bumblee, and did I feel a little piece of contentment to know my heart had not broken for nothing.
Unfortunately, ever since my self esteem, and worth, has never been quite where it was in those golden Summer months before my teenage world fell apart. Sure, I dated again, and for quite a while. I fell in love and at one point thought I could be perfectly content living exactly how everything was for the rest of my life. There was one major roadblock, the relationship would never allow for children because only part of the partnership wanted a child. For years I thought it didn't matter; some happiness was more important than none. But I was young, and after bringing up my unhappiness and feelings on the issue for almost an agonizing year, I at last realized I was never going to be heard.
Towards the end, in the final year, I slept on the couch most nights, pleading for movement on a divorce- but he didn't want to tell his family, so I went along. I told him I was going to start dating, even though I was in conflict that I was still married I at least needed to feel human and experience another human connection, even if it wasn't physical. My self esteem on that final day was non existent. I was at my lowest low, and I may have never quite fully recovered. How could a woman in her twenties be married and not feel the touch of the man she called her husband, yet saw every day, not feel unattractive and guilty inside? My head told me these things were not my fault, but my heart couldn't understand those words.
Flash forward to yet another failed relationship- one in which I inevitably felt responsible for the person I was with. One in which I loved the other person deeply, but was not in love with them any longer. For months I had shed tears in silence trying to make my feelings known to someone who simply didn't want to accept them as real. I cared about this person and they refused to hear my unhappiness; they told me they had nobody else, that they couldn't make it on their own. And I felt guilty beyond any needs of my own. So I pretended nothing was wrong. Until this relationship, I got angry- If they would not hear me say it's time for space, then perhaps I could make them hate me enough that they would leave on their own?
Have you ever ignored your happiness in a relationship (could be professional, romantic, friendship) for the sake of keeping the relationship going?
Daughter Says: Breaking habits can be hard; but making new ones can be so much healthier.