By Guest Blogger Lisa Halter
While growing up, I devotedly watched and replayed all of Disney’s princess themed movies, and the message I took from these sugar coated love stories, was that some day I will meet a man who will rescue me from all of my sadness and make me happy. I would like to quickly explain the reason why I put so much hope and energy into this idea as a little girl– my childhood was tumultuous, to put it mildly, and when the world around me seemed so out of control, I found it easier to escape into a daydream about how and when things would one day be better. Today I look back upon this naïve philosophy and shake my head at myself. It had never occurred to me that I didn’t need a man to rescue me, but rather, I could save myself.
A few months ago, I ended yet another long term relationship with someone whom I had lived with for 3 years. He was not sure if he wanted to marry me, and I thought that after this long together, he should know. Clocks are ticking here, biologically speaking (I am 32), and why should I waste the last bit of my youth waiting to see if this particular boyfriend would have a change of heart in a couple years?
About a month after I broke up with him, the self-abusive gears started to turn in my head, and my mean spiritedly inner voice demeaningly asked “What is wrong with you!?” It refused to be silenced. My sister, who is 2 years younger than me, was married at 21 and now has 3 children, a cat, a dog and a house to share with her soulmate. I have all of the things on this list except for the love of my life and kids.
A few month ago, I sat slumped on my therapist’s couch ashamedly crying my eyes raw, and confessed to her that I do not want to keep repeating my past relationship mistakes. I am fully aware of the self-destructive pattern that I have formed over the past decade of my life, in my redundant search for THE ONE. Dead-end partnerships have always been the conclusion to this cycle.
I went over my situation on that couch yet again. It goes something like this: meet someone new, experience a period of elation, overextend myself by making this person the center of my universe, then curiously begin to feel this nagging sadness at some point during the relationship (even though he claims to love me, shouldn’t this be enough to make me happy?) and inevitably the relationship ends. At this stage in my life, I am completely fed up with myself.
At one point in my therapy session, my counselor smiled at me compassionately and knowingly, and she handed me a book. She told me that she has experienced this same type of inward conflict with which I am struggling, and that this book changed her life. I began reading it once I get home, and an internal light bulb snapped on.
I know that I am ultimately responsible for actualizing my own happiness, and this much has been apparent to me for years. The burning question is how in the world do I do this?! Finally, I see the tip of the iceberg, the big realization; I am not an assertive person! I allow people to walk all over me, because I desire so intensely to be liked by everyone. I am a pleaser. It is my attempt at gaining self esteem from external means: if everyone else likes me, then maybe I can like me. In doing this, I lose a part of myself. Subconsciously, I put myself last in relationships whether the people involved are family, friends or lovers.
After my AHA moment, and after I identitied what it is that poisons my relationships, I wanted to make changes. Changing a behavior pattern is easier theorized than done, no doubt. I am still a work in progress, but the modifications that I have made to pursue happiness, have helped beyond measure.
- I have changed careers. I earn a bit less than I did at my previous place of employment, but my new job allows me to utilize my creative side, which consequently gives me a feeling of fulfillment. It gives me greater self esteem. Sometimes you have to sacrifice one thing, in order to gain in the overall picture.
- I am reading self-help books. They sit on my nightstand, and are there as a constant reminder to keep me on the right path. My therapist recommended the self-help book When I Say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smith to understand how to become a more assertive person. It has helped greatly.
- I have been taking Zumba classes! Joy and positive energy can not help but seep into your soul during this hour of Latin American inspired dance/aerobic routine. I dare you to try it once!
- I make dates with my girlfriends, no excuses. I make it a point to go out on the weekends with my friends. There is nothing worse than sitting home alone on a Friday night armed with a Ben & Jerry’s pint in one hand, a spoon in the other wallowing in self-pity as you watch Say Yes to the Dress on TLC.
Honestly, it’s terrifying at times, but I know that I can not keep going down the same path that I have been following up until this point. I have been embracing change during this winding journey. For the time being, I am working on accepting me as is, and should I meet someone who intrigues me, I will be open to giving love another try. But only once I am fully comfortable living in my own skin again.
Getting off the fence and reinventing myself has been the toughest but greatest gift I have given myself. You too can change directions at anytime, and you owe it to yourself to push yourself, challenge yourself, not give up on yourself, and find the inner happiness you deserve.
About Lisa Halter…
Lisa Halter is a lifestyle and travel writer for Excellent Hotels. When she’s not blogging, she’s living up the single life by throwing dinner parties with her wonderful friends and rocking out to the beat in Zumba.
I’d love to know your thoughts. Can you relate to anything Lisa has been through? Have you been though something similar? I know that when I am not in a good place, it effects all areas of my life, including my relationships. Have you had to reinvent yourself? Are you single and have experienced destructive relationships, only to keep seeing the same pattern occur? Share your story with our community. It just might help someone.