I like to travel and go to places I have yet to explore. Sometimes I will just get in my car and drive with the intent of getting lost in the hopes of finding something new. When I go on walks I like to try to go down a road I have never been on with the desire of experiencing something I had never experienced. And in the age of GPS I have the added confidence to explore without much fear of getting lost.
There are times when I make a turn and I go down some pretty dark roads, or I enter neighborhoods that don’t seem all to safe. I have turned down some roads that caused me to take the long way round and travel further than I had intended. Then there are the moments that I have to pull out my compass because I feel completely disoriented as to whether I am traveling northbound, southbound or if I am going east or west. I have had to take unexpected detours sometimes in my quest to explore, but I have always made it back home. And each time I find something new, be it a new short cut, a new restaurant, a scene in nature that makes me enjoy the beauty of life, an interesting person, a shiny coin or the understanding that I don’t ever want to go back that way again, I always find something.
When I began my self love journey I started venturing on an unexplored route for myself. I wasn’t used to valuing myself enough to let go of toxic relationships. And the idea of consciously speaking positive about myself and breaking habits that impacted me negatively was also uncharted territory for me.
I wish I could tell you that I woke up one morning and cut off all of my toxic relationships and never looked back, but if I told you that I would be lying.
I wish I could tell you that I always eat healthy, exercise daily and take care of my body and treat it only with the utmost respect, but I would be speaking untruths.
And if my story was that I no longer put myself down, or that I refuse to engage with those who do oh how great that would be, but the truth is old habits die hard.
The path to self love is simple but it isn’t easy.
Even though my journey isn’t always easy I have to admit it has allowed me to gain some valuable tools and meet some amazing people. I have also become more self-aware. I have learned some things about myself that aren’t exactly noble character traits and I have also learned some things about myself that are wonderful attributes.
And as the GPS guides me in my car I am able to utilize the literature of amazing authors, and my access to teachings of those who have made great strides in self-love, self-respect, self-loyalty and self-worth. The work that others have done has helped me not to give up my journey.
For there are times when my journey of exploration to self love makes me feel as though perhaps I should turn back because the quest is not easy. This is all new terrain for me. And when I set standards and boundaries it meant many people who were in my life no longer wanted to engage with me – at least not on the new terms I had set.
And while I understood that the falling away of those people was a good thing, I wasn’t quite prepared for the time frame that I would endure where I wouldn’t have anyone come into my life who was willing to treat me with the love that I firmly believed that I deserved.
The scenery that surrounds me is totally different than I had envisioned. I didn’t imagine having people, situations, and things come along that would try to call me back to the way I lived my life before. I didn’t imagine the stumbling, the rocky roads, the set backs and the waiting periods. I wanted to go from A to Z without hitting upon all of the letters of the alphabet, but life doesn’t happen that way.
Despite the scenery being different than I had envisioned I knew in my soul I was on the right path. Yet despite my knowing, the void that the lack of even a prospect for a healthy romantic relationship made me wonder if I had set my standards too high. I started to wonder if maybe I should settle because no one was willing to offer me the kind of love that I wanted. I began to wonder if perhaps a relationship with mutual love, care and respect wasn’t attainable for me.
It is just something about having to turn down poor relationship offers (that mean interacting with someone on their terms while my need to be treated with love and respect goes unmet) and simultaneously having long times between the substandard offers that left me wondering if there was anyone out there who was actually looking for the kind of relationship that I was looking for. I had sincerely entertained the thought of just going back to what was familiar because the road to something better simply wasn’t yielding results in the time frame or way that I thought it should.
The road of something familiar consisted of emotional unavailability, disrespect, being devalued and mistreated but I knew how that road went. I knew all of its intricate details. This whole self love path felt nice but it wasn’t familiar.
Despite it’s unfamiliarity I had become acclimated to the concept of not accepting romantic relationship offers that didn’t consist of love, honesty, care, respect, and exclusivity. Pat on the back for me for not being willing to engage in anything less. I was patting a way just fine until life showed me a path that had what I perceived to be several of those attributes.
You see recently I had the opportunity to enter a path that taught me that turning away someone who appears to be everything you want with the exception that their terms for a relationship don’t match yours isn’t as easy as turning away someone who is clearly uncouth.
When life presented me with someone who seemed to have all the characteristics that I was looking for in a relationship partner with the exception that he didn’t want to be in a serious relationship like I desired it really made me question if perhaps I should yield to the left instead of going straight because the road momentarily seemed like it could possibly lead to something great.
But despite my loneliness, I couldn’t yield to the left nor could I bear to the right, not when I knew in my soul that what I wanted was straight ahead. I couldn’t deviate from the path. Not when I knew that deviating from my path would ultimately lead to where I had came from – a place of self hate and a lack of self respect.
The man was not offering me what I wanted so I had to move forward without him. It wasn’t an easy decision because old me was used to settling for poor relationship partners who I knew were not my best fit, so I had to die to self in that respect.
And also I had to reexamine my thought of ‘I like this person’. When we first meet people they are often are putting their best foot forward. It takes time to truly get to know a person and the truth is I did not know him.
I liked what I saw of him, but I didn’t know him.
But what I did know was there was a huge red flag waving in my face saying he wanted something casual whereas I wanted something serious. That red flag was bright enough to shine light on the path ahead and let me see that he couldn’t possibly be the person that I needed to be journeying with because he was not offering me the kind of relationship that met my standard. The path a relationship with him would have brought me was really a U-TURN to where I had left and I am about forward movement.
So he wasn’t the one.
I thanked him for his honesty regarding what he ultimately wanted out of a relationship with me, but the truth is I was a bit upset that life even presented me with that path.
I thought what was the point in having me interact with someone, get my hopes up only to have him turn out not to be looking for what I am looking for.
You see I just wanted to either meet a guy I could have a relationship with or just be left alone.
Life doesn’t work that way.
I needed to meet him. He was one of the best things that has happened to me.
He showed me that I am shedding away the layers of my old self and making progress.
He confirmed that I truly am serious about wanting healthier relationships.
He helped me to raise my standards because even though we were not looking for the same kind of relationship he treated me very well during our courting process. I now have a higher minimum level of treatment that I am willing to accept because he raised the bar.
He helped me to expand my vision for what is attainable for me. He had positive character traits that I had not previously encountered. And he showed me that there were better relationship partners out there than what I had imagined.
The fact that he and I wanted different things out of a relationship simply means we are not a match. It doesn’t mean he is a bad person or that I am better than him, it simply means that he isn’t the one for me.
Him not wanting a serious relationship with me simply means just that. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with me and it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with him. It just means we want different things out of a relationship and therefore are not a match.
And as I travel on my journey I find people, places and things that aren’t a match for my best self. There were the jobs that I thought I would like to have that didn’t quite fit my personality. There were the places I moved to that I didn’t thrive in. And there were the people I hung out with that brought out the worst in me. I learned from them but it is best that I don’t continue done the road with them. In the same way that I can’t stay with people, places, situations and things that are obviously not healthy for me, I can’t let what looks eerily similar to what I want cause me to stray from my ultimate goal.
And my ultimate goal is to be my best self.
On a deeper level I think that relationship opportunity was a test from life. I think life wanted to know if I really wanted the kind of relationship that I talk, write and dream about or if I would settle for something that is close but no cigar.
You have to know what you want and not settle for less!
It can seem like you are never going to get to anywhere. But that is when you fall back on the teachings of the wise, increase your faith, set your face like flint and dare to believe that your dream of a better you is no fantasy.
I had to reach a place where I understood that if I stay single until my dying day that it doesn’t mean that I am unloved or that I don’t have value. I had to recognize that my love for me means that while I may be physically alone I am not spiritually lonely.
His desire not to have the type of relationship I wanted didn’t mean anything was wrong with me. Alternatively, it simply meant that at this juncture in my life that he was not right for me.
Old me would have tried to fit a square peg into a round hole in an attempt to find a way to make the relationship work. I would have thought maybe if I stuck it out long enough he might come around to my way of thinking. Indeed he would have been perfect for old me. The old me who was used to having someone not give me what I need out of a relationship and who felt the need to be validated by a man would have been the perfect relationship partner for someone who wasn’t interested in a serious relationship.
But new me recognized that God has something better in store for me. New me understood that I do not need external validation in order to feel lovable.
My self-love journey has never been about finding a relationship partner who could love me to wholeness. For I had ventured down that path more than once before and found it to be fruitless time and time again. No my self-love journey is about loving myself for who I am.
And so I sent him love, bid him adieu and got back on track.
I have to believe that even if it turns out that no one is out there who will meet my standards and who will respect my boundaries than that it is better to journey alone than to go down a road that I know will lead to heart ache and pain. I have traveled down roads of putting me last. I have ventured the way of doing what makes others happy in the hopes that one day maybe they just might return the favor. And I have purposed in my heart that I will not consciously go down those roads again.
So I travel alone without a romantic relationship partner, but I am not lonely because I have learned that I will always have me.
Love yourself enough to know that just because a relationship doesn’t work out the way you had hoped it doesn’t mean that you are unlovable. Don’t settle for less than what you know in your heart you deserve. Believe that you are valuable and that you are worthy because it is true. Even when things seem dark and lonely and you feel like turning back to the path that seems more familiar I urge you to keep the faith and continue traveling on the road to your best self.
© Renata Pittman, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.