I Know What I Want!

I rarely go window shopping.

When I do it’s because I have a vague idea of what I am looking for and I want to look around to help myself narrow in on what I really want.

The majority of the time when I enter a store I know the exact item I would like to purchase and cannot be convinced to get anything else.

Before making a purchase, I have done my research, I have price shopped, read all the online reviews and even know what retailer I want to purchase the item from.

Sales people have a very hard time trying to convince me into purchasing any additional accessories or picking out another item.

If it is something that I have to save up for in order to purchase I work hard at putting money away over time so that I will be prepared to make the purchase.

I’m an informed buyer, I know what I want and what I don’t want and if a store doesn’t have the item in stock, I can assure you that I will be shopping elsewhere.

My kids see me as stubborn – but I know what I want.

I have often gone shopping with friends and they would notice that I didn’t purchase any items on our outing. When they questioned me about it I will tell them I didn’t intend to buy anything and so all I did was looked around and made a mental assessment of things that I may want in the future. They would shake their head at me but like I said – I know what I want.

So today I was laying on my couch scrolling through my Facebook news feed thinking about how I struggle finding what I am looking for in love.

I playfully went over the notion that it was because as one of my friends said “I was allergic to love”, but when I became honest I accepted my truth, I didn’t know what I wanted.

Or at least I wasn’t consciously aware.

I mean ask me what I want when it came to shoes, clothes, perfume, jewelry, makeup, food, books, cleaning products, household appliances, vehicles and a home and I can tell you everything you need to know but when it came to knowing what I wanted as far as a romantic partner I had a foggy idea but it most certainly wasn’t something I was clear on.

I guess perhaps it really is true that you can’t know what you want until you know what you don’t want.

I mean of course I knew I didn’t want a partner who was physically abusive towards me and I knew I wanted someone I was physically attracted but honestly for the most part I was feeling my way out.

Sad to say it was because I wasn’t secure in who I am. I was fearful that I wouldn’t find what I really wanted because I didn’t see myself as worthy of the ideal partner I had in mind which would result in me being alone.

I’m okay with being alone if I can’t find what I’m looking for but the concept of not being good enough for the type of person I desire is pretty disheartening.

Unfortunately, I have spent the bulk of my life not seeing myself as valuable and telling myself a lie that I had to take what I could get.

That’s how I ended up married at 18, I had honestly convinced myself that if I didn’t marry him no one else would ever want to marry me.

Surprise, surprise to my 18-year-old self I have turned down multiple offers of marriage.

Thankfully, I have grown and become aware that I am indeed valuable.

I have also learned that I must have boundaries for what I will and will not accept.

By having boundaries I stopped being a doormat.

I will not be uncomfortable in order for another person to be happy.

They are free to seek someone who will allow them to do the things that make me uncomfortable but that person will not be me.

After 32 years of not loving myself I created a huge self-love deficit that I have been consciously working on for about 4 1/2 years.

While I have a lot of work to do to reverse that deficit the good news is that I have grown by leaps and bounds.

I have the strength to walk away from relationships that harm me, and that takes a lot of self-love to do.

And so I decided to use that strength to take walk away from my scarcity mentality that if I develop a criteria of what I will and will not accept then it will make it harder to find someone.

A scarcity mentality is what causes many of us to stay in unhealthy relationships because we are afraid that if we leave that no one else is coming. As I previously posted there are over 7 billion people on this planet I promise you someone else is coming.

And with that knowledge I have decided to open myself up to loving and being loved in a romantic capacity to a higher degree.

But in order for me to do that I aknowledgeI flat-out must have standards to go along with my boundaries.

There has to be standards that a guy has to meet in order for me to give him the green light. I had blogged about it before and I had created some standards but I’m going to have to raise the bar.

For one thing he has to be sure about what he wants because I have become sure about what I want.

No more attracting people who are confused all just so we can sit there together in a sea of confusion gleefully wasting one another’s time.

Much to my chargrin my low-level of self-esteem is why I hadn’t developed more standards in the past. I was afraid to reduce the size of the dating pool out of fear I would end up with no one at all.

I simply had to develop standards because when you don’t have standards or in my case very few standards for what you want you will accept darn near anything.

You have to know what you want!

If you know what you want, you will easily dismiss what you don’t want.

Once you make up in your mind people will have a hard time trying to convince you of otherwise and it will help you know what you are looking for when you see it.

Therefore, if you want someone who has the same spiritual beliefs as you and you meet someone who doesn’t you will see it as your signal that they aren’t a match.

I’m not talking about having some inordinate list of criteria for a person to meet but I am talking about having standards for what you will and will not accept in a partner.

I realized that I simply had to outline what I wanted or else I would attract people who are just as confused as to what they want as I am.

I’ve been walking around with a fear of a broken heart since my divorce four years ago and even with that fear I ended up with my biggest heartbreak only two years ago.

So being afraid of opening up is definitely not the way to protect yourself.

Dating and just seeing where it goes without being attached to the outcome has been freeing for me, but I realize I must first do a better job of pre-qualifying the men I date before I try to see where anything goes with them.

And in addition to sticking to a higher level of standards I have also decided that the same way that I do the work of saving up so that I can afford big purchase items is the same way I need to spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally prepare myself to have someone come into my life.

And so after putting pen to paper and making my list – I know what I want!

Love,

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2018. 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 Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Thanks for the Pain

image

Photo Courtesy of Danny Spencer Thomas

I once had someone come into my life and toy with my emotions at a time when I was emotionally fragile.

I think that of all the emotional pain I have ever endured it was by far the one that caused me to grow the most.

The heartbreak came after my divorce and I was pretty vulnerable.

I believe that had I been in a better place emotionally, it wouldn’t have torn my world asunder.

But there is something about being already vulnerable that allows the winds of deception to blow you to a place where your heart just doesn’t think it will ever recover.

When this heartbreak came, I looked inward, outward and all about.

I wanted to blame him, life and anyone who passed by.

But ultimately I had to take responsibility for my role in my story.

I had to take ownership of all the red flags I overlooked.

For it was me pretending that what wasn’t okay, was okay.

It was me turning a blind eye to the obvious.

He is responsible for his actions, but I am responsible for my reactions.

I have to take ownership for ignoring my intuition, for staying when I knew I should leave and for accepting poor behavior.

And I am responsible for something else…

I’m responsible for picking up the pieces and carrying on.

And with that responsibility I looked inward.

I asked myself why I allowed myself to be treated so badly, why I lied to myself and why I was cheating myself out of the love I deserved.

I may never know what caused him to betray me at such a high level. And that is okay. His story is his own. But what I do know is what caused me to betray myself.

I didn’t see myself as worthy or lovable and so I sold myself short.

I settled for lower-level love because I didn’t acknowledge myself for who I truly was.

They tell me that hurting people hurt people.

So based on the depth of the blow I received, that man must have really been hurting.

If the pain he inflicted on me is any measure of the pain he lives with then his pain must be excruciating.

I was so hurt by that heartbreak that at times I believed I would never be able to breathe normal again.

I recall my heart being so shattered that I would often find myself reaching for Tylenol in an attempt to numb the pain.

You see, the emotional pain of that heartbreak managed to manifest itself as physical pain because it was too unbearable for me to process solely on the emotional level.

Thus, I had to relearn how to breathe because my heartache was just that deep.

On even a shallow in breath my heart would ache.

I was literally experiencing chest pains after my heart break.

I remember laying on my couch teaching myself how to breathe through the seconds.

Managing the in breath – out breath process of living through 60 seconds was harder than I care to admit.

But in through the nose out through the mouth I somehow managed.

And from the seconds I learned to breathe through the minutes.

With each breath of wallowing through the minutes, I was some how led to find the strength to crawl through the hours.

And with the shallow pant of each breath I climbed up through the shadow of the days, then with the flow of the outward breath I limped through the weeks and finally I breathed in and breathed out as I walked through the months.

I read self help books, listened to teaching tapes, and I became well acquainted with all the platitudes, but no words eased my soul.

I was in pain.

I wanted to sleep through it, eat through it, go around it, numb it, subside it, ignore it, and suppress it.

But I knew that wasn’t how it works.

And so I went through it.

The hardest part was I had to accept that “the person who broke me, would never be the one to fix me”.

How could he?

Anyone who goes about bringing pain to those who mean them well obviously have something broken on the inside of them that makes their capacity to show up for someone else void.

How could he possibly show up for me when he couldn’t even show up for himself?

People who return love with pain are the type of people who are living with insurmountable pain.

But don’t get me wrong him being in pain doesn’t make his actions okay, nor does it mean that anyone should tolerate his emotional abuse.

But acknowledging that his actions were most likely birthed from pain does help make it easier for me to forgive what happened to me.

I know what it is to lash out on someone I love because I had a bad day at work.

So how much more does a wounded child who goes about masquerading as a grown man inflict pain on the one who dares to care?

His behavior wasn’t right, but I suspect it was rooted in fear and pain.

He couldn’t be a friend to me, because he wasn’t a friend to himself.

He took me for granted because it was granted that I would always be there.

And so I forgive him.

He was my greatest teacher.

He taught me that not loving myself would lead me to a life of pain.

He helped me see that no one was coming to heal me of my emotional wounds or save me from my problems.

It wasn’t until I interacted with him and was knocked down to the ground that I learned that I was going to have to stand on my own two feet.

If I wanted to feel valued, loved, honored, trusted, worthy, respected and appreciated then I was going to have to tap into my own resources and lace up my emotional bootstraps all by myself.

There was no man coming around handing out an external validation badge of honor that would deem me worthy of love.

And helping to bring me to that awareness was the greatest gift he could have ever given me.

He showed me that I have all the power to pick myself up.

I thank him for that spiritual lesson.

They say that as iron sharpens iron one man sharpens another, and he made me sharper than I have ever been.

I would never want to sit in a classroom under his direction again, but I can assure you that I value the lessons I learned from him.

Indeed my most painful life lesson was my biggest blessing.

I have yet to fully recover from that interaction, but I am better Renata because of it.

I think that when you really love someone, you give them a piece of your heart forever.

As weird as this may sound, I have no regrets with sharing a piece of my heart with the person who took my heart for granted because he played a major role in sending me on my self-love journey.

My desire to love myself was birthed from the unbearable pain of being unloved.

Interacting with him made me so uncomfortable that I knew I had to change the way I was living my life.

Without a doubt he taught me to NEVER place something as valuable as my heart in the hands of someone who hasn’t earned it.

And I’m ALWAYS going to love him for that.

He taught me that it’s okay to be vulnerable, but only with someone who has taken the time out to emotionally invest in me.

From him I learned there is a difference between being kind and being foolish.

He showed me that letting someone trample my heart was my way of being unkind to myself and foolish to the world.

My pain isn’t unique.

I’m not the first and I won’t be the last.

My heart now beats with a quiver, but as I previously stated she still beats.

I am thankful for that heartbreak because it made me determined to love me.

He wasn’t the one to heal me, but he was the one to help me find the ultimate path to loving me.

Everyday I fall in love with me a little bit more.

I love my laugh that people say is way too loud.

I love my hair that by some is deemed too coarse or woolly.

I love my size which I used to despise, my skin tone, my blemished skin, my inquisitive mind, my quirks, my crooked teeth, the awkwardness of my gate when I walk, my weaknesses, my strengths, my heart and my soul.

I love myself!

I am learning to be secure in my insecurities and to trust myself.

So can I forgive the man who came into my life after the heartbreak of my divorce and broke my heart further?

Of course I can.

My heartbreak was not his doing alone.

It is me who is responsible for my heart.

I gave him permission to throw my heart on the floor when I didn’t value it enough to keep it out of the hands of the one who hadn’t earned it.

Giving him my heart was the equivalent of giving a toddler fine crystal and then getting mad when they break it and then walk off without even acknowledging what has occurred.

Of course he broke my heart!

People who don’t love themselves don’t know what to do with the love from another. So like fine crystal in the hands of a toddler they are going to let your heart slip.

They don’t know the value of what they have any more than the toddler knows the value of fine crystal.

They do not know how to cradle, care for, polish or maintain it.

They may not intend to drop it, but drop it they will.

Because that’s what people who don’t know what love is do.

They don’t believe that it is real so they treat it like something that is common.

They can’t relate to it so they toss it around like it’s casual.

They may even throw it up against the wall and toss it about on the floor only to trample it in an attempt to test its authenticity.

But at some point we must realize that it isn’t our job to go about teaching grown people how to love us.

No, our job is to love ourselves enough not place our heart into the hands of the people who don’t know how to love in the first place.

I am the gatekeeper to my heart. How dare I let someone trespass and trample about on such sacred ground.

Time and time again I failed at the job of protecting my heart.

It was me who gave the men in my life my heart to break and each time it was me who scraped the pieces up off the floor and began the process of stitching them back together only to yet again place my shattered heart back into the hands of someone who didn’t value it.

Some pieces I will never recover.

But having  a torn heart doesn’t count me out. This battered heart of mine sustains me with a rhythmic beat all her own.

And so yes, I am glad he taught me what love wasn’t.

I now know that I don’t have to chase love because real love is freely given. I know that the person who sees me as low value isn’t the person for me.

I know that if a person’s actions and words don’t match up then that person doesn’t match up with me.

It hurts when you find out that you meant nothing to the person who meant the world to you.

But you can ALWAYS take your heart back!

I decided to love me and nurse my heart back to wholeness.

No one else might value my heart, but I do and that’s what matters!

Some days are better than others.

I think my hardest moments are when my mind flashes back to the pain and I have to remind myself I’m not in those moments any more.

What happened has happened.

I also have to remind myself that my story isn’t unique.

I am not the only one who has known betrayal.

Others before me have had and others will have pain as a bedfellow.

There are the times I have to remind myself that I survived heartbreak before and therefore I can survive it again.

There is a purpose for my pain.

My pain made me so uncomfortable I became determined to change.

For the first time I am experiencing  regular doses of self-love and it feels amazing.

I have been pampering myself and I am making plans to take myself on trips around the world.

I now speak highly of myself and choose not to engage with those who put me down.

I respect myself and call myself beautiful.

I take better care of myself mind, body and soul.

I spend time with myself alone – just me and no one else and I cherish that time and see it as sacred.

I am no longer looking for someone to come into my life and make me feel loved, because I realize that I am the love I am seeking.

If it took massive heartbreak for me to realize that I am the love of my life then I can assure you that despite the pain and the tears I have no regrets.

I previously wished someone would have come along and healed me of my pain, because I thought it would be faster.

I wanted them to come simply because I doubted that I had the capacity to heal my own broken heart.

But I mustered up the strength not to take a short cut.

I decided that I was going to have to heal this heart of mine the long way round.

Diving into another relationship or looking for a rebound has never been my style.

I am glad I took the time out to love on myself because for the first time in my life I understand that it’s okay if I never have a romantic relationship with someone.

Valuing myself is all I need.

I am an amazing woman and I don’t need anyone outside of myself to see that for it to be true.

So yes, I am so thankful for heartbreak, because it made me fall in love with me!

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Smith 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 Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

I’m Ready to Heal!

imageHave you ever had a cut and didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out to you?

It is weird how until you look down and see the injury you can walk around exposed and bleeding but yet feel no pain until someone draws it to your attention and then you look down and your brain processes the situation and instantly you feel pain.

Lately, I have been feeling much better about myself and life in general.

My broken heart that seemed as though it would never heal is beating stronger than I recall it beating in years.

I have been building positive healthy relationships and an increased sense of self-esteem that has led me to start making moves to get my professional career back on track.

Things are looking up!

While I could definitely stand to refocus myself on my fitness and nutrition I can assure you that my emotional well being is in a far better place than I recall it being in a long time.

So with that said, imagine my surprise when I realized that a place of pain in my life that I thought was most surely healed is still wounded.

Iyanla Vanzant says, “When you can tell your story and it doesn’t make you cry, that’s when you know you’ve healed”.

I believe that statement to be true.

And with that said, I recently found out an area of my life where I am most certainly not healed.

My wound came to my awareness while I was speaking with a gentleman about male and female interactions and dating. During our conversation the subject turned personal and I explained to him that it is very rare that men ever ask me out and that I can go months or even years without a guy showing interest in me.

All was going well with the conversation until he looked at me and asked, “How does that make you feel?”.

The question took me by surprise.

But what was even more surprising was the emotions that stirred up inside of me upon hearing the question.

I remember I chose not to make eye contact with him out of fear that I would start crying and that I quickly diverted my gaze.

I immediately found something to distract myself so that I could fight back the tears that were forming and then I told him a lie.

I said, “you know it used to bother me and make me feel like I was ugly or that something must be wrong with me but now I know better.”

My lie wasn’t a conscious lie, it was a cover.

The cover was so good I almost believed it until I realized that had it been my truth then I would have cried when I spoke it.

This is because even though my words came out with ease inside I felt unease.

There was a mismatch, therefore it could not have been my truth.

I was hurting inside at the question and yet my response felt smooth, and easy and I most certain it dripped of false confidence.

I wish what I said was my truth but the fact that his question triggered pain let me know that there is still a part of me that isn’t pleased with myself.

It isn’t so much that I believe I am physically ugly.

And it isn’t the great distance of time that lapses before a man expresses interest that I find alarming, because I have had enough of my female friends share with me that it isn’t often that men ask them out either (and I have some stunningly beautiful friends).

No, it is because deep down I think the reason men don’t ask me out that often is because I am overweight.

And sadly, my self-esteem is so low that when someone shows interest in me I am often surprised that they are okay pursuing someone my size.

And yet in a twist the reason my response to him was able to come out with ease is because I have not always been overweight.

So my statement that I used to think it was because I was ugly wad a half truth at best.

There was a time in my life when I would tell myself that the reason men don’t pursue me was because I was ugly.

But I started seeing myself as beautiful and I immediately replaced the reason with it being because I am overweight.

When guys try to talk to me I don’t know how to process it.

Because somewhere in myself I simply refuse to see myself as good enough to be worthy of romantic love.

I have blogged about the subject of my weight and how I want to reach a place where I love myself no matter what I weigh.

Unfortunately, I clearly am not there yet because as much as I try to be okay with things I am still ashamed of my weight.

I have this false belief that my weight defines me.

I look at myself and I think that I am beautiful but I can’t shake the thought that my weight makes me look disgusting.

While I definitely need to eat healthy and exercise I don’t like the fact that I have this false belief that I am disgusting because I am overweight.

I think that my weight is actually a symptom of something deeper than me eating my pain.

I think that I use my weight as an excuse not to open myself up emotionally because I have a fear of getting rejected.

Don’t get me wrong I know there are men who will love a woman who is my size and larger and see her for the greatness that she is.

But I have been living with myself long enough to know that my weight is about so much more than the fact that I love eating simple carbohydrates.

I am using my weight as an excuse.

I don’t really want to get in shape because if I did I would already be in shape.

I am overweight because I have convinced myself that it serves me.

It serves me because I am afraid that if I am in shape and a man still rejects me then what story do I get to tell myself as to why the relationship failed?

What do I get to blame him leaving or not loving me on?

I am afraid that if I look amazing and he still doesn’t choose me then that means that instead of him rejecting my body that he is ultimately rejecting me?

He would be rejecting me the same way my father did, the same way that the other men did.

And I am still making fruitless attempts at gaining my self-worth through the love of a man.

A man who will stay in my life when my father chose not to.

And so being overweight is my twisted way of not allowing the authentic version of myself to show up in a relationship out of fear that yet another person will find my core being unappealing.

I am trying to protect myself from the pain of rejection.

Because, I can change my body but I can’t change my core being.

And there we have a bit of my truth.

My truth that I am afraid to allow a man to see my character flaws and so I hide behind visceral fat.

Sadly, I have done a marvelous job of letting the world convince me that something is wrong with me.

I have gotten so good at seeing myself in a negative light that I even make negative comments and jokes about myself in the hopes that I could beat people to the punch.

I know all too well that people make jokes about themselves due to low self-esteem but  it wasn’t until I recently heard Jaime Primak Sullivan explain that when you exhibit a certain type of behavior such as making self-deprecating jokes about yourself that you are teaching the people around you what you are comfortable with. This means my self-deprecating jokes are inviting people to mistreat me by essentially setting the standard for what type of comments I will and will not allow to be spoken about me.

She further cautioned that you should never say anything about yourself that you don’t feel comfortable with other people saying about you because what we speak becomes our reality. In essence my self deprecating jokes were an open invitation for people to speak as negatively about me as I spoke of myself.

Coming to an understanding of this unhealthy behavior I am fully convinced  that something is going to have to change in my life because as much as I have grown in the self-love department there is still a gap.

I don’t fully believe that there is someone out there who will love all of me.

Because I don’t love all of me.

I don’t like the me that is blunt,sloppy, forgetful, harsh, irritable and withdrawn.

Those negative aspects of me that I had from my associates and the world out before but the my close friends and family members are all too familiar with.

You know the real me that my children and other loved ones critique me on. 

I have convinced myself that a guy will find me too much of something and not enough of something else and I am terrified of not being good enough.

And I have virtually given my power over to this nonexistent guy to deem me as worthy of love.

Along with some childhood demons to include abandonment and daddy issues I am also clinging to society’s false notion that if you are not in a relationship that something is wrong with you.

I know logically that a relationship doesn’t speak to my self-worth but I must say that grasping that mind, body and soul has been a challenge.

I am going to have to refocus on my fitness and nutrition.

Not because it would make me more attractive, but because I need to face my fear.

I need to make myself vulnerable.

I have come to realize that I don’t give anyone a chance to reject me because I reject myself before they ever even get to know me.

I have even been guilty of showing all of my negative traits in the beginning of a relationship out of fear that if the a person was going to reject me that I wanted them to do it sooner rather than later.

I don’t give a guy a chance to know the real me because deep down I don’t really like me and I fear that if I show him myself he won’t like me either.

While I am loving myself more I started from such a deficient that my gains leave me with much room for growth,

But that is okay because I am growing

So no, I don’t truly love myself completely.

Not the way I need to in order to show up fully in a relationship.

I am going to have to keep working to change the way I think, speak and feel about myself.

My decision to make a conscious effort to no longer engage in self-deprecating jokes is because I need to stop believing them and I don’t want to give other people permission to mock my insecurities.

And my realization that my weight is about so much more than me eating my pain but that I use it as a way to protect myself from having men reject my core being means that I am going to have to let the weight go.

While my goal is to be confident in who I am whether I am a size 2 or a size 22, I have to reach a place where I realize I am not my body and that this self-love journey is about so much more than loving my physical appearance.

When I say I want to love myself, I mean I want to love myself character flaws and all.

Is there something you are doing to cause people to reject you before they get the opportunity to know you the real you? If so, I hope you will join me in my journey to doing the work it takes to accept yourself fully.

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith, 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 Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

 

Pattern Breaker

Photo Courtesy of Tara Blue

Red, Yellow, Red, Yellow, Red, Yellow, Red …..Circle, Square, Triangle, Circle, Square, Triangle, Circle, Square….

Oh don’t mind me I am just stuck in a couple of patterns.

It has been a year since I started this blog.

I have written about my journey and have become more aware of who I truly am.

Publicly sharing my path to things like self-love, self-respect, self-worth and self-awareness has made me vulnerable while simultaneously allowing me to grow by leaps and bounds.

Today, I am ready to make a new leap.

I want to delve more deeply into what is going on inside me that caused me to allow myself to be treated so poorly in my romantic relationships.

Saying that I had low self-esteem is not enough.

I have reached a point where I want to gain a better understanding of why, so that I can take active steps to change it.

I often have flashbacks of things that happened in my past and I find myself cringing as I think to myself ‘why didn’t I love myself enough to say this is not okay’ or ‘why did I allow myself to be treated like that’.

I want you to know that when I say cringe I mean I literally bawl my hands into fists, draw my shoulders in towards my chest like one does when going into the fetal position and I close my eyes as if I am bracing myself for impact.

Sometimes it will be a thought that I stored away so deeply that when it rises up I will think ‘oh my that really happened to me, I lived through that ‘.

Over the years I suppressed a lot of things.

I guess I did it as a coping mechanism to deal with what my younger mind wasn’t ready to process.

However, when the thoughts come up I sometimes get mad at my former self and am often embarrassed by my past behavior.

Then I have to remind myself that I was doing the best that I knew how to do at the time.

The one thing about working through the process of why you think the way you think is that you uncover some ugly childhood demons.

I have been aware that I have some unhealthy limiting beliefs.

But when did they start?

And more importantly why did I accept them as true?

The reason I want to explore these questions is because I want to pluck the lies out by the root and eliminate them from my life.

My limiting beliefs of unworthiness have led me to live a life that is less than what I have been called to live and to settle for poor treatment from people (especially my romantic relationship partners).

I don’t want to continue a path of settling for relationship partners who I know don’t value me. And the only way I know how to make that change is to understand my pattern so that I can break it.

I recognize that many of my issues with my romantic partners are rooted in my relationship with my father and other behaviors I learned from my childhood.

I so don’t want to be that person who has daddy issues, but right now if I am completely honest that is exactly who I am. And the only way forward is to accept where I am at.

This post is not easy for me. It involves publicly admitting my issues in a way that makes me feel ashamed of my past and furthermore, the notion of speaking unfavorably about my father is unsettling. I love both of my parents very deeply and it is uncomfortable for me to publicly cast them in what may be perceived as a negative light. My parents like everyone else have always done the best they can and they shouldn’t be frowned upon for that.

But I know that I am not the only person who grew up learning poor relationship skills and if I can help one person by sharing my story then it is worth me becoming vulnerable.

With that said, let’s start breaking some unhealthy patterns.

I haven’t had many romantic relationships but the few that I have had, have all been dysfunctional.

In my teenage years I accepted lies as truth when it comes to men.

A major start in my dysfunctional pattern started when I was 14 and my parents separated.

I was glad they separated because my home life was very stressful.

I love my dad very dearly but after he returned from the Gulf War his behavior simply became unbearable for me.

When my father moved out he made the decision that he no longer wanted to be a part of my life.

He didn’t attend any of my graduations, he wasn’t there when I got married or for the births of any of my children. There were no birthday cards and no holiday wishes.

To be honest I went from 1996 to 2014 without spending any special occasions with my father.

I probably saw him three times in that time frame and maybe spoke to him less than five. But when I did speak to him he told me he loved me very much.

When my father briefly came back in my life in 2014 it caused me to start dealing with my childhood demons in a way I hadn’t before.

But I am glad he came back because it helped me to realize just how much my interaction with the men I fell in love with mirrored the behavior of my father.

While I love my dad, I have grown to accept that the way my father shows love is not the way I want to be loved.

And yet I have engaged in a pattern where I go years without a romantic relationship only to find myself dating someone who I know from the beginning of the relationship doesn’t really care about me.

I will consciously ignore red flags.

That’s right I said consciously.

For example I will literally sit there and think ‘wow this guy is lying to me I should get away from him’ and yet I will remain sitting there hypnotized like Boo Boo the Fool and let him lie to me some more.

Everything in me will be screaming he is not treating you right and then later I will be bawling my eyeballs out acting all butt hurt because he keeps mistreating me.

To make matters worse I will tell the person that I don’t like being mistreated, but then stay there and allow them to continue.

I will say it nicely, I will go off on them, I will hint, then I pretend not to notice until finally they do something that wakes me up enough for me to realize their behavior is unacceptable.

Sadly, it took me until very recently to accept that the old adage is true – actions speak louder than words.

The guys in my life only mistreated me because I let them.

If I wanted the mistreatment to stop it was my responsibility to walk away.

Yes, they are responsible for their behavior but I am responsible for staying.

It isn’t their fault that I told myself that if I just kept showing them how much I loved them then they would realize that I deserved to be treated better.

No, that was a lie I was telling myself.

Just because they asked for another chance didn’t mean I had to give it to them.

Yet amazingly, even though it was me that was inviting myself to be mistreated by acting like a doormat, I would find myself resenting the men who walked all over me.

I would find myself angry at them for wiping their feet on me when all the time I was laying there saying please do it again.

Well, how on earth did I get to the point where I thought doormat was my name instead of Renata?

I didn’t want them to leave me like my dad did. I interpreted my dad’s decision to not want to be a part of my life to mean something was inherently wrong with me.

I believe I subconsciously thought that if I could just behave in a way that these men who behaved like my father would find acceptable then it would mean that whatever was wrong about me was made right.

I hadn’t accepted that my dad has his own issues that have nothing to do with me.

But to further explore my unhealthy thought pattern I want to look at a few lies that I believed which ultimately set me up for major relationship failure.

I believed all men cheated, that men don’t have any emotions and that all men mistreat women.

That false belief system allowed me to call dysfunctional behavior normal.
Additionally, the fact that my father said he loved me but didn’t want to be around me caused me to believe that love meant a relationship where someone’s actions didn’t match their words and where someone who loved me wouldn’t care to spend time with me, and would constantly disappoint me.

Thus, the perfect guy to fulfill the pattern of emotional unavailability that felt familiar to me was as follows:

  1. One who is not only a liar but an obvious one.
  2. A man who says one thing and does another. He never follows through and constantly lets me down. He is consistently inconsistent.
  3. A man who is unfaithful.
  4. A man who treats me poorly.
  5. A man who doesn’t show his true emotions to me.
  6. Someone who is verbally, mentally and/or emotionally abusive.
  7. One who is a poor communicator
  8. One who makes it clear that they don’t want to hear me/understand me and who laughs at or ignores my pain.
  9. Someone who takes advantage of me.
  10. One who made me a low priority and didn’t have time for me.

As pitiful as that list is, it was my truth.

I had convinced myself that all men were abusive unfaithful liars who didn’t value women or have emotions. And even once I started to realize thatthere are good men I had accepted the false belief that they wouldn’t want a relationship with someone like me.

I hear stories where people say women have nice men who they turn down for men who mistreat them, that isn’t my story.

I have never friend zoned a nice guy. The only men who approach me are the men who fit my belief system about men. I think that is a testament to how strongly my belief system is. I attract men who prove me right.

So when people say simply pick a guy who doesn’t do those things, for me it means being alone, because guys who behave otherwise do not show interest in me.

Why would they?

I don’t mean that as a put down of myself.

I mean I have been subconsciously clinging to a self-fulfilling prophecy that doesn’t allow me to attract men who run counter to my belief system.

For I have done a wonderful job of convincing myself that if the only guys that are interested in me act poorly then that is what I have to accept if I want a relationship, because better may be out there but it isn’t out there for me. Therefore, if I want a man in my life I have to accept being mistreated.

In my soul I know that isn’t true but my subconscious says it is.

That’s why my pattern has to break.

My belief system is so outrageous that I was in my early twenties before I realized men could feel. I know that sounds shocking but it’s what I thought.

That belief was so heavily ingrained that when I would see a man cry instead of recognizing it as proof that men feel I would doubt the authenticity of it.

It simply ran contrary to my belief that they couldn’t feel. When I finally accepted that men do have feelings it was such a shock to my system that I remember I called my mom on the phone to ask her if she knew that men could feel.

She laughed and said yes.

I am not sure if she even knows how big of an epiphany that was for me.

To the men reading this post, I don’t mean to offend you, I was very naive and didn’t know any better.

And to make matters worse I also thought yelling and screaming was normal. So my relationships consisted of me being mistreated, yelling and throwing a fit about it, saying I was going to leave and then staying for more mistreatment.

Yeah that was crazy I know.

Believe me my ex husband wasn’t crazy all by himself I brought my own dose of crazy to the table. (I never want to give the impression that my ex husband is some horrible person. I wasn’t the worst wife but I was far from perfect and I played a role in that marriage failing as much as he did).

And to make matters worse a few months after my divorce I repeated the pattern of allowing someone to behave badly then complaining only to stay in the relationship that caused my heartbreak.

I knew from the beginning of the relationship that the person meant me no good but somehow I felt drawn.

Every time he lied, I knew it and tolerated it.

But why?

Because I had convinced myself that all men lie.

He would tell me he was going to do something then he wouldn’t do it and that felt painfully normal.

It was all too familiar to how my father would tell me he was going to do something and not do it, so this guy’s failure to follow through was uncomfortably comfortable.

I had a false sense of normalcy because my idea of normal wasn’t healthy.

To be honest I am not confident that my problem is so much that I didn’t think good men existed as much I thought that they did’t exist for me.

I felt too unattractive to attract a man that could love me in a healthy way.

As I explained earlier the mind has a wonderful way of making itself right.

Perception truly becomes reality.

That is why I started telling myself a new story. And why it is imperative I break this pattern. I want to create a new reality because my old one no longer serves me.

I am taking a break to work on me so that if I enter another romantic relationship it won’t be about me trying to subconsciously seek my father’s love and approval from a poor relationship partner or for any other unhealthy reason.

No, when I finish my dating hiatus I want to come to the table with a healthy self-esteem, sense of self-worth and with healthy relationship skills. That way I can add to someone’s life and have room for them to add to mine.

I had previously said I was taking a year off of dating. I recently decided a year is my minimum. I will take as long as it takes for me to go from an unhealthy belief system to a healthy one.

I have to stop believing the thought that no one will want to be with someone like me or that I have to settle.

Because it isn’t true and I have to know mind, body and soul that it isn’t true.

When my gut tells me to exit or to not enter a relationship I need to listen and stop thinking that being mistreated is the best treatment I will ever receive. And when I am approached I cannot allow myself to think that he is my last chance at love.

Dating is a screening process.

From my standpoint it shouldn’t be about proving that I am good enough for him, but rather if he is someone who would be a positive compliment to my life.

No one is going to come along to save me from my childhood hurt or emotional issues. I have to take active steps to work through my pain.

And I have to be patient. Waiting for someone who values me as opposed to settling for someone who mistreats me simply has to become my new pattern.

It’s either being in a relationship and emotionally healthy or alone and emotionally healthy there is no longer room for any alternatives.

When people feel comfortable letting me down I don’t need to see that as normal but as a sign that they don’t value me and that it is time to value myself enough to leave.

I need to stop trying to teach grown men how to love me.

If they don’t know how to love that is their issue and not mine.

So today I remind myself that my dad is my dad. The men I date cannot erase my childhood hurt. I have to make peace with it and stop breaking my own heart.

I am currently reading self-help books and articles as well as listening to teaching tapes so that I can find avenues to heal my pain and stop subconsciously seeking engagement in unhealthy relationships.

I want to thank you for allowing me to share my truth with you on yet another occasion. As I previously stated this isn’t exactly easy, but it is helpful. In the meantime I hope you are able to break any unhealthy patterns in your life.

As for me my new pattern is:

red, yellow, red, yellow, red, yellow, LOVE!

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith, 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 Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.