In my journey with minimalism, I’ve seen first hand how empowering it is to bare all of myself; transparently, honestly, and unapologetically. The ‘less is more’ mindset that I have come to adopt has allowed me to focus on the more important aspects of life and moreover, the importance of being at peace with myself. (See previous blog posts for more)
That being said, I’ve decided to start a “Transparency Series”, where I write openly about differing topics and experiences that have shaped who I am today. Naturally, being the hopeless romantic I am, I wanted to write openly about love first.
For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of marriage and finding the “one” who would sweep me off of my feet. Growing up, it bothered me immensely that my parents weren’t married; I even went to the extent of lying to my peers and teachers regarding my parent’s relationship status in order to not feel.. I don’t know, I guess I didn’t want to feel like something was wrong with me. I saw many of my friend’s parents married, and (seemingly) happy, as a result I wondered why I didn’t deserve that. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were amazing.. separately, but I selfishly wanted them to be that way together. Nonetheless, that never happened. I got older and accepted it.
Que sera, sera.
My first crush was Rupert Grint. Yeah, the red-headed side kick in Harry Potter, Ron-freaking-Weasley. I remember swooning over him in the 4th and 5th grade, writing his name all over my notebooks (of course replacing my last name with his), day dreaming of our life together. I was convinced that he was the “one” and that we’d live happily ever after once he retired from the HP Series. While my childhood crush is now something to laugh over, it’s interesting to consider how easy it was for me to imagine a future with someone I hadn’t even met. Someone that literally didn’t know I existed.
Anyways, flash forward to middle school. The first time I can really recall receiving male attention. Prior to that I was friends with most of the boys in my class, and none of us (to my knowledge) were “crushing” on one another. Or at least not me, I was the only black girl at a predominately white school, so I am pretty sure they weren’t checking for me, but that’s a whole other conversation.. *shrugs*. Ironically, I can remember the first time a guy “complimented” me, on my body. It made me feel…weird, but oddly validated. His remark which came from half way across our Language Arts classroom made everyone turn and look at me..
Attention, woah, that’s new..
It was like over night boys were interested in me. I knew that those Apple Bottom Jeans were a good investment!
Kidding. Kind of.. but as I was saying, after that I just became interesting, I became someone that people (primarily boys) noticed as opposed to someone people just walked by or knew in passing. I went from literally being invisible, nonexistent, a non-freaking-factor to these boys to being someone they were interested in. To my 13 year old self, it was great, now I cringe at the thought of those pubescent punks gawking over me like a piece of meat.. Most of those young men are now married or just older doing the same thing to women..so I guess some of them turned out alright.
Nonetheless, I thought I was hot stuff, and going into high school, I felt more confident than ever. I had the grades, “looks”, and was a cheerleader. Oh yea, high school was going to be a breeze.
Skkkrt. YOU THOUGHT.
High school knocked me back two pegs, because now I was actually considering relationships with these pubescent punks and had to deal with the implications of two very immature people trying to “relationship”. Ultimately it was a recipe for disaster.
Regardless of such, from high school stemmed my longest and ultimately the most unhealthy relationship. For nearly 5 years, I committed myself entirely to a relationship that was toxic, controlling, and abusive. A relationship that made me question everything about myself, and my worth. The downfall of this relationship sent me into a depression that lasted for months. No one really knew (or they knew and didn’t say anything), and most people still don’t know because I worked overtime to keep up the facade that everything was perfect. That Devin was perfect. My relationship was perfect. My life was perfect.
The more I pretended, the deeper I spiraled into depression. I was drinking frequently and heavily, not eating regularly (therefore I lost a great deal of weight), and isolating myself from my loved ones. I tried a counseling session once, but my partner at the time guilted me out of going to any future appointments. I felt trapped and as a result I started to begin to believe that this was all I deserved. This is what I was worthy of and that this was the closest thing I’d get to the happily ever after I always dreamed of.
I’ll briefly mention, that my partner at the time while verbally and emotionally abusive, often apologized with flashy gifts and bragged about me to others. So, from the outside looking in, most assumed that everything was okay. That I was “lucky to have such a good man”.. *scoffs*. Yet, I’ve learned that’s one of the many ways abusers fool both their victims and the people around them, manipulation.
Furthermore, I often made statements such as:
“I want to die”
“I hate my life”
“I hate myself”
Interestingly enough, 75% of the tine I said these things in front of others, but no one said anything or took action on those words. Coming from someone who’s been there, don’t do that. Take words of self harm seriously. I tried to remove myself from the relationship on more than one occasion, but being in such a low place and a victim of manipulation, it wasn’t the easiest task.
Flashing forward some time, I finally got out but, I was broken, I didn’t trust anyone, and I was unaware of my value. In my mind I knew what I wanted, but didn’t believe that I deserved it or that I would be able to hold on to it, if I were lucky enough to find it. I closed myself off to people and that was my defense mechanism; it was easier to assume that everyone had negative intentions for me as opposed to waiting to find out if they did or not. Whether men or women, they were bad and would use you in anyway that they could until they became bored of you and moved on to the next. And in my mind I wasn’t just making it up, I saw it first hand. I saw people openly cheating on their significant others, I saw people lie and steal, I saw people use others for their benefit and drop them like a bad habit. So I wasn’t just making this up ya’ll I was validated in my thinking.. right?
I was around bad people, or I should say, broken people. That’s the reason why my outlook on relationships was so negative, because I was around people who didn’t love themselves, who weren’t at peace with themselves and somehow expected them to be upstanding within a relationship.
So when I entered a relationship over a year ago I carried with me some damaging thoughts and outlooks. I really liked and then eventually came to love my partner but I didn’t trust him and sure as hell not anyone he was around. This was problematic, because it left me in the state of high alert; always wondering and always assuming the worst. Nothing worse than losing sleep over someone because you’re worried about their actions.
Ultimately I had to make a decision, either:
a. Trust my partner
b. Not trust my partner.
I knew that I couldn’t remain in a relationship, or genuinely love someone that I did not trust. At the end of the day I went with option a, I decided to trust my partner and said, “Hell, what do I have to lose?”
While the decision making process was relatively quick, the implementation of said decision wasn’t. I didn’t suddenly wake up and start trusting people – ha, I wish! I had to start small and go from there. Whether it was not feeling compelled to check text messages or social media, or not questioning, “Who’s going to be there?“. It took time, patience, and effort on both parts.
Now, that seems so long ago, it seems that we have grow tremendously as a unit in such a short time. Sometimes I have to pinch myself, because it’s weird being treated.. good. It’s like now that I have everything that I wished for, past demons make me question if I am worthy of the love I am receiving..
I suppose didn’t realize how damaging a bad relationship or bad period in your life could be until I went through it myself. I never thought that I would think so lowly of myself and question whether or not I was worthy of love. Yet, despite the low times, heartbreak, let downs, and so forth, the process made me who I am. I’ve never gave up on love, and even when I felt like I didn’t deserve it I gave my best to ensure that I gave it to others.
We are all deserving. We are all enough. We are all worth it.