Many of us dream about finding a deeper connection with someone special. Once you find the person that makes your life “complete” you begin this new journey together. We all love that fresh feeling of love and intimacy. But a relationship takes a lot of work and sacrifice. It’s only natural that all of the time you spend with someone, molds you into someone different from when you started. So what do you do when you get so lost in a relationship that you can’t seem to “find”yourself? What if that version of you now becomes toxic and unhealthy? Can you ever be YOU again?
This is my journey of self-love.
Compromising and sacrifice at a big cost
Everyone says to make a relationship work, you have to learn to compromise. For the most part that’s a fair assessment, but it can easily be abused by one partner. It starts out with a little request and then it grows deeper with time. In my experience, once I’ve been with someone long enough to fall in love, I compromised something that I may not for anyone else. I let the fear of loss take over my wants and needs, all in the sake of love right !?
It’s natural to want to please your partner. In the beginning if you look at them a certain way it can make their whole day. After some time it only gets harder and you start doing things to please the other person, forgetting to look at your own value but seeking approval, because the more you give, the more you get, right? Sometimes the giving never really ends on one side and you begin to feel it, but one day the resentment sets in. I find more often than not the burden is one sided in a relationship.
I noticed for me, this one sided compromising came slowly. It started innocently like me asking my partner what they wanted for dinner then always settling for what they wanted despite my own desires. Then it turned it to bigger things, like when we had our daughter, I took a step back from my ambitions, so that my partner could pursue his. No questions asked really, at that point he expected the compromise from me and I so willingly gave it. Then the tension builds and the once intimate relationship I worked to hard to keep just become WORK. An unhealthy environment grew while stiflingly all the things that made me, ME! I smiled through it because I wanted this right? But I didn’t even recognize what that meant anymore. I feared so much that I would lose him and what we had if I didn’t continue on that way, but the thing I ended up losing the most was myself.
“Finding Yourself Again”
There’s this great quote about how finding yourself is not really how it works... that you are not lost and that finding yourself is actually returning to yourself. I began to examine this idea on my journey back to me. I started by taking and embracing a healthier lifestyle, taking interests in the things I once loved, and dedicating my focus on goals that were important to me. Learning to let go of all things that brought negativity to my life was a much needed cleanse for my soul. Most of all I stopped caring about what he wanted, because I realized he was interested in the version of me that wasn’t truly me.
A healthy lifestyle is not just about going to the gym everyday and eating quinoa or what ever the next diet craze is. Though that is part of it, the biggest part for me was getting my mind and heart in the right place while letting go of the negative toxins in my life. That was also the hardest part for me, so I started with my body. I started working out regularly and eating healthy consistently. Progress was slow at first but I gave myself goals and when I met them, it felt great! I noticed my partner’s reaction was not so supportive, he kept trying to put me down and make negative comments that I would never stick to it. But I kept going and decided to make new goals that were about me and the things I wanted.
I tried to remember the things that were most important to me before my relationship turned so unhealthy. For me it was a number of things, but mainly, my independence, my drive and focus and my passion for writing. Each day I found little ways to get my independence back, I set goals again for my career, my side hustle and gave myself a clear idea of what I wanted out of life. I started keeping my journals, writing poetry or posting something on Instagram just to put my little positive vibe out into the world. It made me feel good so I did it. I also started talking to a therapist to help me sort my mind and it’s a work in progress. Finding the things that give you joy and making them a part of your life will slowly bring you back to being you and you will even grow from it, but beware not everyone is a fan.
Self love = selfish but that’s OK
When you are in a relationship changing yourself to please someone else can start out small. You forget that what you wanted in the first place, was to find a real connection with someone who wanted the real you and not just the idea of you. Learning not to get lost in it is key and Self love is necessary! But if you should find yourself in a dark place where you barely recognize the person you have become, don’t worry, that bad b-tch (or male equivalent) is there under somewhere. Some people may not care for them the way they loved the version of you that was always aiming to please, but I promise you, that the “new you” won’t GAF!!!
One of the first things you have to do is admit you let your own light go out. Admitting your responsibility is important and essential to your growth. After all, losing yourself is a stifling of your growth. Once you take responsibility for your part in it, you can start to move on. Another way to get back to a place of self love is to remember who you are and what makes you happy. You were someone before you got caught up in a relationship. Remember that person, I think you may have really liked them. It may help to set goals, write lists, take up hobbies or start journaling. Honor yourself and make yourself a priority. Either your partner will choose to nurture this part of your journey or destroy it.
Perhaps the reason we compromise so much of ourselves in a relationship is fear of being alone or rejected. So it’s natural that one of the risks of changing to become your true self is that you may lose people that you once held close. Some people can be threatened by someone who loves themselves enough to know what they truly deserve and not stand for anything less. Especially when they were so easy to bow down before. For me, returning to the self I lost meant finding my own identity again which lead me to the personal growth that was being stifled by my unhealthy lifestyle. Doing the things I love and sticking to my priorities has deeply changed my progress towards my goals. It took a lot of self love and discipline for me to get to a positive place. The journey is far from over but I am excited to see where it takes me. So the next time someone says in an accusatory tone “you’ve changed”, I’ll simply say “Thank you, I’m a work in progress.”