In my previous relationships I was always very selfish. I put myself and my friends first before any relationship I had, even if I was very much in love, I was so afraid that I would make it all about my relationship that I ended up doing the opposite and my relationships suffered as a result.
When I met my partner, we were both looking for the same thing, we didn’t want anything serious, just someone you could hang out with, someone to talk to, someone to have fun with…. And over time, we fell in love, 3 years and 10 months on, he’s my whole world and he’s mine. Aside from the many obvious difference to other relationships I’d had in the past, the one thing I decided to do in this new relationship was make our relationship my main focus. I was dedicated, I made him my priority, and whilst it was great for sometime, the euphoria of this didn’t last… Well it couldn’t, I was no longer selfish, I no longer thought about myself, I made him my number one, all the while putting him on a pedestal that he couldn’t feel secure on… I didn’t realise this was a huge mistake.
I was so convinced that the only reason the other relationships didn’t work was purely for how selfish I was, so I reinvented what relationship me was like, overnight I became selfless, and this didn’t work either. Because of my belief that the only way to keep a relationship was to dedicate every living breathing minute with and on your partner, I stopped thinking about my own happiness and begun to neglect all my friends or interests, not realising I was letting go of everything that he fell in love with in the first place.
I became a completely different person and just as quickly as I had changed, my passion for my relationship and my happiness came crashing down. I stopped everything I loved, I gained weight, I stopped caring about my appearance (I don’t care what anyone says, this was a big part of me, it was a great way for me to keep myself away from my anxiety and depression) I lost all interest in my previous life, friends and hobbies. When my partner moved to London to begin preparation for our big move from Stoke, I remained behind whilst finishing my College course as well as my degree. For three months I was living in our house on my own, and whilst that wouldn’t be a problem for a normal person, it amplified how isolated I had become. My only human contact during that time was when I had to go to classes, then I would come home straight away and it was a cycle that I couldn’t escape. Each day blurred into one and because for so long I had decided to make my life all about living in the shadow (literally and figuratively) of my partner I had neglected to do anything to keep myself happy without him. I lost my identity. I wasn’t me. With him leaving, it just highlighted the extent of my loneliness but it wasn’t until I was around people living normally again that I realised this.
So during those 3 months I spiralled into a relapse of depression, loneliness and it went to the point where social occasions and being out in general public gave me such bad anxiety that I couldn’t face having to be outside or around anybody.
You see I was in this stage where I couldn’t live without my partner, the problem was, my partner had had very little relationship experience so he treated our relationship just as he would any other relationship, he came in as himself and remained himself just making room for me. I reinvented everything about myself even though it was me, simple, basic me, that he fell in love me. I had told myself so many times that I couldn’t be loved that I thought changing myself was the only way to keep him with me, in doing this I lost all independence that I had worked hard to earn.
When we reunited I found that our relationship had changed. I no longer felt happy putting him first. It was like the pretend happy, and obedient me was kicked to the side to make room for the me that had been hog tied and hidden in the basement of my subconscious, finally she was free but she was ANGRY.
I resented him for letting me put him first all the time, even if it was my idea and choice in the first place. Of course he had no idea this inner battle had been going on so he couldn’t understand what had happened.
Try explaining to your partner that your subconscious wants to make up for all the years of putting yourself last… It makes no sense but for some reason my mind just wants to do that and it isn’t fair. It was my choice to put myself where I did, not his, and there’s no time to make up for… I could easily just pick up where I left of and still continue to be in a happy healthy relationship but also happy in myself…
The thing is, I realise now that in the battle of ME vs. WE no one should loose, it’s one of the very few things in life where both parties have to win in order for everyone to be happy.
In a relationship it shouldn’t just be “me” nor’ should it just be “we” of course when you’re in a commitment you want to do your best for your partner but it won’t make you happy in the long term if you make it all about the the other person. They won’t thank you for it either because eventually they’re all you’re going to have and you’re existence will only have meaning with them, but they will have their own life and you’re going to end up putting too much pressure on your relationship and your partner, the expectation from you will grow until your partner can no longer live up to your standards and soon enough there won’t be a relationship.
Retaining your identity separate to the relationship will help you have an escape from the hum drum of relationships but you’ll also know that you have your partner to lean on for support when you want a break from your outside life too! The hardest part is keeping a balance but as long as your putting your priorities in the right order then you’ll manage, there are going to be times when you need to make yourself the priority, sometimes your partner will be the priority, the important thing to remember is, when all is said and done, you are the only person who is going to make your life the way you want it to be, and that you’re incredibly lucky to have someone by your side, coming along for the ride.
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday and you proud everyday!
Peace and Love,