I’ve come to learn that ex boyfriend issues are like daddy issues. They won’t go away unless you make them. For me, making them hasn’t always been easy. It’s better said that I haven’t always tried. But, as life keeps trudging along I’ve come to realize that a few things keep holding me back.
My first boyfriend spent a great deal of his time controlling access to information about everything – our relationship, his whereabouts, my ambitions. Weird, I know. But ultimately, when you’ve been secretly someone’s best friend for 5 years, you pretty much end up becoming each other’s worst enemy for life. My last boyfriend spent a great deal of his time neurotically controlling his own life and, consequently, controlling basic functions of mine: what I ate, when I worked out, (shit, THAT I worked out), what I wore… What was supposed to be a relationship built around health, actually turned out to be pretty unhealthy. Admittedly, I can blame a lot on my inability to use big girl words when in frustrating situations,*one very important thing I learned about myself in those 2 years.*
Sure, there were lots of short lived crazies in between: a flaky guitar player, a writer/ band producer of some sort, a philosopher, a customs agent, but let’s focus on the big fish…
I’m realizing that parts of my past relationships are holding me back from the future I think I deserve. Better yet, the future I think my family deserves.
Ok to swim, Greece (2015)
Accepting that there was some island of good in that sea of bad, I’ve got to admit that I have been throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I’m realizing that now, while in a healthy and happy relationship, I’ve been rejecting certain behaviors and experiences for what they conjure of my relationship skeletons. I pretty much stopped working out and I threw myself back into artificial flavors and colors. Defying the controlling relationship my ex had with the food I put in my own body was a huge act of self redemption then. Now, 5 years on,I’ve got to get over it and realize that this act of defiance is no longer befitting. Actually, in his weird way, perhaps he was saving me from my own lack of discipline.
Going back even further, I realized a few years ago that my twenties were spent traveling not just for travel’s sake. I was running away from so many things. In many ways, travel was what justified my need for personal space and the ability to be expectation-less. It stopped my workaholic nature for just a moment, and it gave me some much needed distance from the excellence I was expected to exude. Like the Army reserves, “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” I could do what I wanted with my own life.
Now, perhaps, I have an unhealthy relationship with travel as escape, especially since I travel quite a bit for work – hence, I don’t get my own life anywhere anymore. So what now?
I say all this not to bash the people of my past or the memories of yesteryear but to put into the ether that some of the things I love have grown as a reaction from circumstances I hate(d). And while I’ve come out with all ten fingers and all ten toes, there’s still more to learn.
As we all gear up for the new year ahead, I’d say it’s about time we reflect before we resolve. Let’s do more than make lists about what we will do differently next year, let’s figure out what or who has stopped us all year long (or all these years) from doing what we’re promising now. Confronting the emotions those people, things,or situations conjure is important for success AND for self-correction. And we’ve got to own our role in our past, in order to reclaim direction.
One thing I’ve learned is that humility never hurts. We are never the victims we believe ourselves to be at our weakest point, but we are certainly never as strong as our best reflection gleams. There’s a large swath of lifetime in between… so let’s inch one step forward in 2016, by taking a glance back.