I wrote in a previous blog post how important certain things are to me in a relationship, particularly that of a goodnight text.
I kind of felt insecure about it to be honest. I’m a twenty nine year old woman asking to be virtually tucked in at night. Say what? That was before I realised what my underlying need was. I even mentioned it, albeit briefly in illustrating my cute little scenario which has since dissolved. In the process of dissecting all that went wrong, and why things didn’t work, it became apparent that lack of trust and insecurity was at the very centre of my constant stress and anxiety.
Like any other person on this planet, I have baggage when it comes to all varieties of human relationships. Let’s be frank, they are complex to say the least. I was taught growing up that Jesus is Lord and sex was only reserved for marriage. Cue guilt and shame in spades. I witnessed an traumatic separation from most of my family when it became apparent to my parents that I had long departed from these religious teachings. My seemingly firm foundational source of love in the world was rocked on a fundamental level. When I entered into a relationship with an emotionally abusive man I lost my ability to trust and believe in myself almost to the point of doing something irreversible. Then came my relationship with a man who lied about who he was, as well as the fact that he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, which then shifted my ability to trust men at all. So when I was seemingly rushed into a relationship three months down the track, I was, to say the least, fragile. I was, perhaps, like a woman in her third trimester, laying on her back, unable to defend myself. This quote comes from a podcast (surprise surprise!) by Mark Groves, featuring Traver Bohm that I was compelled to listen to a few days ago. The main attraction for me was the key phrase “why she can’t feel you.”
I felt care and a degree of love at fleeting stages in my last relationship. I had to work so hard for these moments, to be noticed, to be seen, to be prioritised, to try and decode actions that refused to be paired with vulnerability but confusingly were teamed with criticism and negativity. In that process I lost my sense of worth because, I was quite literally fighting for communication, my right to hold space, be vulnerable and have open discussions that don’t end in frustration and anger which caused me to question my worth and why I apparently don’t deserve those things. I think it came down to a lack of respect, empathy and awareness. I became so focused on making another person happy that I sacrificed my own needs and happiness and hence digressed into a state of depression. I began to grip tightly to the small wins, the good night text in particular. And when it was forgotten, I felt unimportant and forgotten too.
Women have an intrinsic need to feel safe, to feel secure, to feel protected. Not only physically, but emotionally. Our bodies are constantly in a state of flux and flow, (excuse the pun) and we are very much at the mercy of a four week cycle in which our hormones fluctuate. We are highly emotional, sensitive, nurturing beings. Some more than others, to be sure. But we feel a lot, even to the extent of feeling life inside us, another point that was highlighted to me in the podcast. If we don’t feel safe to be open and vulnerable, how are we meant to feel as though we can trust men in other more intimate situations?
I think I had three orgasms in nine months in my last relationship. I didn’t fight for my right to matter and hold space. My period was late every month too, in part because I took the morning after pill several times to avoid the possibility of pregnancy, because I was implored not to get pregnant. It wasn’t a discussion, it was a command and conveyed in a way that felt as though the responsibility lay singularly on my shoulders. This was despite my sensitivity surrounding the issue due to a past history with it. My body could not relax, she could not calm down, she didn’t feel safe because details and past wounds were not given their due respect. And when she asked for help, the answer procured was “I can’t help you with that.” I beg to differ. Trust should not be handed out, it should be earned. Prove you are trustworthy to someone. Show up when you say you’re going to. Remember important shit, get to know someone’s wounds, triggers and make them a space for your love to fill, instead of viewing them as a punishment you have to withstand. Earn your place in that person’s story. Take the time to talk things through, and listen? Don’t try to fix. Validate. Understand why something is important to someone, ask them what they need, and most importantly, do what you say you’re going to do. Also, from a positive angle, celebrate that person. Be their biggest cheerleader, their best friend, their proud partner. Build them up in an honest way. Show them off, make them feel worthy and that spending time with them is a wonderful, worthy way to spend time.
I truly believe love heals. And I did received healing from past trauma from a baseline perspective. I believe he did his best, what he was capable of and it was my overdue call to end things if I needed more than what was on offer.
I didn’t do everything right. I tried to put up boundaries and transcend the hurt but it chipped away at my already shook ability to trust. I should have walked away before I became so invested. I held onto something that wasn’t good for me, because even though there were happy, squishy moments, I constantly had to shield myself from feeling as though I wasn’t enough. I abandoned myself and convinced myself that I should just be happy with what was on offer which I knew wasn’t enough for me. I was desperate to prove that I was lovable. I hurt someone unnecessarily because I wanted them to be something they couldn’t be, which is unfair and not an act of love at all. But I did love, in all the ways I could, and now I mourn the end of the love I so freely gave away, which feels harsh and unfair too. But real love is never a waste of time, (thank you SamSmith) because it shows you how much you can love, and how amazing it’ll be when the right person appreciates it.
It’s been a painful lesson and another painful separation. But when I am in my third trimester, or heaven forbid, in my first postpartum week, I want a man around me who doesn’t laugh at my wounds or claim they aren’t his problem. I’ll need one who sits in the bath with me, strong arms around me, cuddling my healing body.