Don’t be a Back Burner to Your Front Burner!

I realize that everyone doesn’t like cooking.

But if you are a cook with a basic level of experience you know that there are certain things that when cooking require your focus and attention. These are the types of things you need to watch and cater to and you may even need to stir constantly.

Typically when you cook these types of items you will have it on the front burner.

And then there are other items like a sauce or stew that need some time to simmer.

Those are items that don’t need a lot of attention, so they can be placed on the back burner.

You can often put back burner items on low heat, and perhaps you can even cover the pot because there isn’t even any need to look at it.

You simply put it on the back burner, set and forget it because it isn’t something that is a priority.

When I am cooking I focus on what is on my front burner because in that moment I am more concerned about those items.

Well, there have been times in my life where I have had someone on my front burner who had me on their back burner.

I would find myself paying attention to these people, and being attentive, while all the while I was clearly on their back burner.

These are the types of people who whether consciously or subconsciously only gave me bread crumbs of attention.

If I am honest about my interaction in these situations, it occurred to me in the back of my mind that I was on their back burner but ultimately I made excuses for it.

At the time when that took place, the insecurities in me were screaming out, how do I get this person to put me on their front burner.

Well, I had to learn to calm those insecurities down.

Because what I have come to understand over the years is that if someone has you on their back burner it is not your job to figure out how to get on their front burner.

No, your job is to figure out how you are going to de-escalate their place in your life.

If you are not a priority in their life, then they should not be a priority in your life.

It doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, nor does it mean that you’re a bad person.

It simply means you are not matching where you have prioritized one another.

For some reason people are prone to do this weird thing where we think that if we keep trying to show people how much we care and value them that they will in turn elevate our position in their lives.

This is our way of looking for external validation.

I can tell you from hard knock experience validation doesn’t work like that.

Validation comes from within.

No one outside of ourselves can validate us.

I recognize that we want to be liked.

But it is much healthier to find this experience by liking the people who like you.

I have a person who is in my life who previously reached out from time to time to invite me to the movies and dinner.

At the time I had three part time jobs so I didn’t have a lot of spare time. Additionally, my money was funny and my change was strange so I didn’t really know how I could afford to do any extracurricular activities.

My thought was how am I going to pay for these things or find time in my schedule.

In turn I let her know I couldn’t go because I work all the time.

That didn’t have anything to do with her.

It didn’t mean I didn’t like her, or that she was a bad person.

It meant my priority was making sure I had enough money to provide for my children and that I had bills to pay and mouths to feed.

My children and finances were on my front burner.

Hanging out with her was on my back burner.

In turn she did something very smart.

After asking me maybe twice to do something and being turned down, she found someone else to hang out and spend her time with who was willing to put her as a priority in their life.

When my schedule changed and I stopped working so much, I gave her a call and we went and hung out and spent time together.

The the thing that she did right that many of us fail to do is that she found someone who prioritized her in accordance to the way she prioritized them.

When she realized I was not going to be her go to girl she found someone who would be.

Many of us don’t do that.

When the signs come that someone doesn’t value us we try to see if we can find ways to get people who have placed us on their back burner to change their minds and put us on their front burner.

The mistake that many us make is that we take it being on someones back burner personal.

And some of us even go as far as to ignore the signs that we are on the back burner.

Signs such as when you ask if the person would like to hang out and they respond with phrases like:

“We’ll see.”

“Maybe.”

“I’m going to check my schedule and get back to you.”

“I’m just so busy.”

And then when they want to spend time with you it’s always last-minute.

These are the types of people who always have an excuse for why they are too busy to set plans with you.

I had to accept that this was life’s way of signaling to me that I was not a priority in these people’s lives.

People who want to spend time with you, make time for you.

Perhaps they don’t always agree to hang out when you make the suggestion but they at least give you a counter offer for meeting up.

For example they might say, “I can’t hang out on Monday, but I am free Thursday.”

So now when I realize I have someone on my front burner who has me on their back burner I know I have some accessing to do.

You see, I have a tendency to try to justify people’s behavior and give them the benefit of the doubt when I really shouldn’t.

I have to consciously work not to fall into an unhealthy pattern of making excuses for their behavior by thinking ‘well their busy’.

Especially when I know full well, no one is “that busy”.

When someone puts me on their back burner the truth is that I simply am not a priority.

Over the years I have worked to get to a place in my mind where I’m not worried about losing people.

I don’t know what it is that causes many of us to believe that if we make a mistake that the possibility of a relationship is over, the person will never come back and that we have ruined it.

I myself have been so dramatic that I truly believed that it meant I would never find love.

It used to be that when it occurred to me that I wasn’t a priority in someones life I felt the need to do something to become a priority to them.

Thankfully, I know realize that if someone is too busy for me than I need to start being too busy for them.

That other person has come to an awareness that we are not matching and I needed to come to the same conclusion.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic, platonic, or business relationship if the other person doesn’t see you as a top priority and puts you on their back burner than by all means mirror them and put them on your back burner.

There is no need to scream and shout for them to put you at the front of their stove.

One of the ways I have been able to move away from this unhealthy habit was by coming out of the scarcity mentality.

I used to get so caught up in thinking that “this person is the person and I have to make this work”.

That’s not a healthy way of thinking and I had to step away from it.

I started to realize that there are millions of people in this world and that this one person not liking and/or priortizing me didn’t mean that everyone else wouldn’t either.

If someone is meant to be in your life and you are being your authentic self, that person is going to be in your life.

The real thing you need to be doing is asking yourself “why on earth do I have this person on my front burner when they have made it blatantly obvious that I am on their back burner?”

If you catch yourself focusing heavily upon someone, your stirring the relationship by reaching out, adding ingredients by investing your time, money, energy and effort only to realize they have you’re on their back burner with the pot covered or heaven forbid you find yourself in their crock pot by all means stop making them a priority in their life!

That action of putting someone on high priority who has us on low priority leads to overinvesting and it will leave you feeling bitter, empty and resentful.

When we over-invest and over-give it leaves us frustrated. But if we are truly honest with ourselves the other person is giving us signals by showing us and at times even telling us as hard as they can that we are not a priority in their life.

We have to realize how people perceive us doesn’t have any bearing on who we are.

We have to stop give people so much power in our lives.

Us not being a priority to a particular person doesn’t mean that we are not a priority or that we worthless.

It simply means we are not a priority in their life.

When this occurs we need to move on and find someone who does see us as a front burner item.

Someone who does see value in interacting with us the same way we see value in interacting with them.

There was a time in my life where I sought validation from others to such an extreme that it was clearly unhealthy.

I didn’t have this problem so much from women but when it came to men I really had problems.

I took things to extremes when a guy didn’t like me, so much so that I thought it meant I was unlovable.

Thankfully, I learned that it simply meant he doesn’t like me.

I came to learn that just because someone is of the opposite sex it doesn’t mean that they get to be judge and jury of what my worth and value is.

Recognize that if someone doesn’t see your worth and value all that means is they don’t see your worth and value.

You have to get to a place where if someone isn’t feeling you that you take it as a signal that you need to start asking yourself why are you feeling them?

You have to understand that it’s okay if someone doesn’t want to spend time with you.

It could very well be that they are busy.

But ultimately when it comes to dating and matters of the heart don’t give your heart to someone who doesn’t have time for you.

It’s not a good look.

You need to invest in someone who is as excited about spending time with you as you are about spending time with them.

If they are not excited about interacting with you, it would behoove you to accept it and realize it’s not a match.

Do what my female friend did and go and be with other people who want to be in your life.

Don’t wait around for people to pick you up.

If I am completely honest with myself the people who put me on their back burner who I had on my front burner should have been on my back burner the whole time also.

The thing is they simply noticed how to properly prioritize our relationship first.

You see, when I paused and thought about if I even really liked that person that much the truth is the answer was a resounding no.

It was my neediness, insecurities, red flags and ego that were showing up and making me think the person should be my front burner person.

When you come to the awareness of what you are doing it will become much easier to station people correctly in your life.

It’s okay if someone doesn’t have you on your front burner, put them on your back burner and still eat.

Don’t try to get them to give you more attention.

One of the signs that someone is meant to be in your life is that they are going to want to spend time with you.

I’m not saying that people don’t ever circle around.

But I am saying that no one needs to be breaking their neck for people.

Check your neediness and insecurities at the door.

Step back and realize you don’t need to be breaking your neck for someone who isn’t trying to see you, pick the phone up or even return a text.

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.

Let Go of People Who Hold on to Your Past!

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Photo Courtesy of: Linda Pittman

“You must let for to grow.” – Byrd Baggett

When the time comes, how do we go about explaining our past to potential dating partners?

And what do we do about trying to get that “friend”, family member or romantic partner to stop throwing our past in our face?

I say we stop trying to justify ourselves to other people.

Either they accept us for who we are, or we send them love and let them go on their way.

It took me quite some time to arrive at this conclusion.

Because there are most certainly the people who remember me for the person I was in high school and attempt to interact with me as if I am still her.

Then there were the potential dating partners who frowned their nose up at me because I had a child out of wedlock 18 years ago when I was 16 years old.

And furthermore, there are the people who have ridiculed me for a variety of decisions I have made during my past.

So it is no surprise that from time to time I think about how I can best reframe my past and highlight my lessons learned.

But what was surprising was that this time when I was mentally coming up with a new script to justify myself a thought occurred to me….

When it comes to my personal life, not only do I not have to justify my previous actions to people, I also no longer care to personally engage with people who frown upon my past.

My ultimate reason for no longer interacting with people who cast dispersions on me because of who I was isn’t simply because I am making a decision not to be around people who try to make me feel small.

No, I assure you it is goes much deeper than that.

I take the position that we can’t give other people what we do not have for ourselves.

Thus, I have decided to let these people go because I surmise that the type of people who go about judging others based solely on the decisions that the other person made in their past while neglecting to give any credit towards a person’s long held current behavior are the kind of people who have yet to make major transitions in their own lives. And furthermore, if they have made some steps towards the transition, they haven’t completed the process of forgiving their past mistakes.

So, the reason why those people frown their face up at my past, is because there is some aspect of their own life that they frown their face up at.

The reason that they cannot see me as an improved person is because they cannot see themselves as an improved person.

And the reason they keep throwing my past up in my face is because internally they keep throwing their past up in their own face.

It is not possible for them to see me as an improved person when they have yet to make or acknowledge their own improvements.

Now of course I have no evidence that my line of thinking is factual.

But what I do know is that I have decided that people who ridicule me for my past automatically disqualify themselves from being a part of my future.

I want to surround myself with people who have actively done the necessary work to heal their past wounds as much as they know how to.

I want to be in the company of people who have made advancements in becoming their best self and who challenge me to continue to do the same.

This isn’t about thinking that I am better than people that have made no or limited progress or thinking that I am better than people who refuse to let go of their past (I am doing inner work and need improvement myself).

This is about the fact that I have made a decision to keep shedding my old skin and I cannot allow people who are not trying to do the same to keep me from becoming the woman I was born to be.

I fall in love with myself more and more with the passing of each day, and I don’t see any positives to being around people who don’t accept the things that made me who I am and therefore fail to love me as I am.

I am actually thankful for the lessons that I have learned due to my poor professional and financial decisions, my failed relationships and my other life choices.

I have grown so much from who I was and anyone who cannot acknowledge the woman that I am today is someone I don’t care to purposely engage with tomorrow.

I simply will not consciously allow anyone to hold me back.

If this means walking alone then alone I shall go.

People have a right to remember me for who I was, and people are free to judge me as much as they please, but I also have a right to release those people from my circle.

Whenever I decide to date again, I will not allow a potential dating partner to make me feel some type of way about the fact that I am 34 years old and my oldest child is 18. If they find that bothersome then they are not the person for me.

Additionally, I will not have someone constantly throw my past in my face only to find myself continually pleading my case that the event occurred five, ten, fifteen or twenty years ago.

Nope!

If a person cannot see the woman who I am sitting before them then that clearly says more about them than it does about me.

When it comes to my personal life I will not worry about how to highlight my negatives in a positive way so that people will find me more attractive.

Because the truth is, like them I am flawed, I have made mistakes, I have grown from many of them but I can assure you I will make some more.

I, like everyone else am simply doing the best that I know how.

Does this mean I will try to hide my past from people?

-No, of course not.

But what it does mean is that I will not try to justify it.

My past is what helped to shape me into who I am today.

If my past is not palatable and unforgivable to someone then they are not the someone for me.

I understand that to some this may come off as haughty, but it is just where I am at this juncture of my life.

I can say without any fear that anyone who doesn’t like me, is more than welcome to leave me, because at the end of the day I am going to be me.

Ultimately, I cannot live this life for anyone else and I have to stay true to me.

And staying true to me means accepting who I was, embracing who I am and striving towards who I am to become.

People who throw past mistakes in my face are people who could potentially hold me back.

People who judge me for decisions I have made in my past, are people who I am better without.

The question is not “if I am good enough to be in their life”, the question has become “are they good enough to be in mine”.

People who reject me are helping me out tremendously!

I thank them.

For they are flashing lights showing me the direction that I am supposed to go and that direction is most certainly not near them.

I used to wonder how I could get them to see me differently, how I could get them to understand me, and see me for who I am.

Now I couldn’t care less what they think of me.

I am just thankful that they showed me that trying to interact with them would be a waste of my precious time.

It took a long time for me to get it, but thankfully I finally got it!

My time and energy is sacred and I can’t just go off giving it to everyone who comes across my path.

I have spent decades chasing after people who didn’t love me, because I spent decades not loving myself.

I have decided not to do that any longer.

To the people who choose not to forgive their past, it is my sincere hope that one day they break free from that choice.

And to the people who have not grown and learned from their mistakes it is my hope that eventually they will advance in their life journey.

But as for me I am going to be on the next level and I hope that I will see you there as you choose to do the same.

Love,

 

Renata Nicole

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

The Screening Process

 

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Photo Courtesy of: Haley Hickman

I was on the phone with one of my cousins who explained to me that a guy whom she had went out on a date with had told her that he was going to call her at a certain time, but he never did.

After hearing her say this, I immediately retorted, “I don’t like him”.

I do not know him as a person but I know that I do not like him to fill the role of romantic partner in my cousin’s life.

And this is why…

At the beginning of the relationship his failure to call when he said he would signals his inability to keep his word.

Recognize that it is at the beginning of the dating process that we put our best foot forward.

Therefore, his best foot is him showing that he is not a man of his word.

If this is him on his best behavior then what in the world would he be like on his worst behavior!?!

I will be honest there was a time when I have given guys a pass who obviously didn’t deserve one.

They went out of their way to show me that they didn’t really care about me, but due to my insecurities and low sense of self-worth I would tolerate their poor behavior.

When they didn’t call when they said they would I would think well maybe something happened.

You know something? Maybe something did happen or maybe it didn’t, but I have decided that when it comes to my life I am no longer accepting excuses.

Do I believe that a freak accident could happen?

Of course I do.

But I also know that if a person doesn’t show up for a job interview on time a potential employer who is well skilled will tell the candidate that there is no need to conduct the interview as they failed to show that they have the ability to be punctual for something as important as an interview.

Does it mean that the applicant is a bad person?

No, not at all.

Should the employer give the applicant the opportunity to explain why they were late?

Possibly.

But, if the position is of quality a good employer will give it to the candidate who took the time to not only arrive on time but who arrived early, fully qualified and well prepared.

So if it is unwise to give a job to someone who fails to show up on time for a job interview then why do we give a second chance to someone who fails to show up or call like they say they will in the early stages of dating?

I think we do it out of fear of things such as no one better will come along, feelings of loneliness, desperation for a partner and low self-worth, which results in low standards and a lack of boundaries.

The way I see it is that many of us when we date are looking for someone to spend the rest of our lives with. We want to share our time, energy, vulnerabilities, body, money and in many cases our children with this person.

Think of it, you are going to invite a person into your home and more so your bedroom and your screening requirements are more lenient than what a hiring panel would require for someone to work at a company that may not even belong to them?!

I have hired people to work for companies before and when it came to finding an employee I would start out by reviewing the position and then I would create a job bulletin to be advertised in order to properly market the position.

However, when it came to my own life I didn’t really take the time out to figure out exactly what I was looking for in a partner.

I didn’t do any soul searching I just wanted to be wanted.

Also, before you can hire someone for a job you should make sure that you have the wherewithal to pay them.

But when I would look for a romantic partner I never took the time out to see if I had the time, energy, love or skills to maintain a healthy relationship.

Moreover, I spent a lot of time creating a well thought out job bulletin because I realized that I wanted to attract the best person for the position on behalf of my employer.

And yet when it came to something as sacred as my heart, thoughts, energy, time, space, body, love, trust and care I didn’t put much thought or detail into how I was representing myself.

I am not proud to say that my self-esteem was previously so low that if I had to describe how I advertised a position to have my heart it wasn’t a far cry from:

“Hungry for love, will love for crumbs of attention and scraps of affection”.

The type of people who are attracted to that kind of position in a person’s life are not high quality. Because the kind of person who would hold that sign doesn’t know they are quality.

It took a lot of tears and a massive broken heart but I now know better.

I now understand that just like I made the position that I was trying to fill at my place of employment attractive I have to make the position to be my romantic partner attractive.

This goes so far beyond physical appearance.

For example I wasn’t happy about what I was doing with my professional life. If I wasn’t happy with it, I wasn’t going to find a person who would be happy with it, so I had to make some changes.

I didn’t feel comfortable with my physical appearance so I was going to have to learn to accept myself as I work to become my best self.

I was depressed and so I had to take steps to lift myself up from that depression.

And moreover, I have not created a space for someone to come into my home. Before I can start back dating I have to open up that space.

For example, I am not emotionally ready to get married and move in with someone. The idea of combining my life with someone else makes me uneasy.

I am aware of that and for this reason I am not open to the idea of dating at this point in my life.

There are some changes that are going to have to be made before I could bring someone into my life at that capacity.

Once I have made those changes, then and only then can I begin the dating process.

As for me and my heart, to date before that time would be like those places that take applications for a job but aren’t hiring.

They are wasting everyone’s time.

They are not actively hiring and should simply say so.

I recall that before I would have a new employee start work I had to clean out the work space that they would be working in and remove all traces of the previous employee.

This is similar to how I have to take steps to make sure my heart is completely healed before I try to date someone new.

It would not be fair for me to expect someone new to come in and have to clean up the mess that the last gentleman made.

Before I can date I am going to have to figure out what the minimum requirements are to have my heart.

I don’t have a full list but honesty, faithfulness, shared spiritual beliefs and moral values are definitely minimum requirements.

I recall the amount of time I would spend creating a well thought out bulletin including a brief background of the company, what the job duties of the position entailed what character traits an applicant needed to be successful at the position, the minimum qualifications, the preferred requirements, the benefits and the compensation.

But when it came to my own life I didn’t spend nearly as much thought.

While I had some level of standards my subliminal advertisement for a mate most likely was equivalent to this:

Female with trust, abandonment and anger issues looking for someone to fill a void in my life because I don’t love myself enough to realize that I am the one I am seeking. I am not looking for someone to share my life with because I want to make someone else my life.

Applicant must have a high school diploma, little to no experience required, I will train you and try my best to change you because I have yet to learn that I can’t. I don’t require much, I simply don’t want you to physically abuse me. I don’t want you to cheat on me either but if you do I will forgive you because I don’t realize that I have worth, so I kind of expect to be cheated on.

I prefer someone who I am truly physically attracted to but I will settle for someone who I find mildly attractive because I don’t realize I am beautiful and I figure someone like me has to settle.

With regards to compensation I am a people pleaser so I over give $$$$.  I will let you emotionally drain me. Sure, I will cry and lament telling you that I want you to give back in return but no worries, you will quickly see I am all talk as I will stick around and be your doormat.

By the way previous applicants please feel free to reapply because even though you have made it clear that you really aren’t the best fit, I am scared that no one else will take the position and I am afraid of being alone.

There I was walking around giving off this kind of energy about myself then I wondered why the only type of men who were interested in me were of low quality.

I was behaving like a low quality woman!

So of course Boo Boo the Fool filled out the application for the job.

Men of high quality felt the energy I was giving off and thought ” oh no I don’t want to work there let me see who else is hiring”.

I was so desperate for love I was making excuses for peoples poor behavior.

A person not calling when he says he will is not a quirk.

That is them showing you that they are not a person of their word.

When someone sets off alarm bells at the beginning of your interaction with them, you have to stop allowing them to proceed.

I know for myself there was a time when I would allow others to make me feel uncomfortable because I didn’t want to seem too harsh or overly judgmental.

I wanted people to like me and I figured being “nice” was the way to go.

But I wasn’t being nice, I was being irresponsible.

I was not taking responsibility for my life.

However, I now realize that I am the gatekeeper for my life.

And in order for a person to hold the position of romantic partner or even friend in my life they must go through a screening process and thorough background check.

Sadly, I have begged people to stay in my life who I knew in my gut did not mean me well.

I settled for poor behavior from men who treated me badly because I didn’t see myself for the greatness that I am.

My time, heart, energy, body, thoughts, emotions and space are sacred.

I wasn’t aware of that before but I am now.

I have decided that when it comes to something as special as my heart I will not be giving anyone else the benefit of the doubt.

Does this mean I might end up overlooking some great guys?

Perhaps, but no more than a company would lose out on a good applicant because they refuse to hire someone who is late for an interview, interrupts the interview to use their cell phone, doesn’t dress for the interview, doesn’t know why they want to work for the company, doesn’t meet the minimum qualifications, shows up unprepared or who isn’t a good institutional fit.

And by institutional fit I mean the person may read well on paper and they may score high during the interview but something in the interviewer’s gut tells them the person just is not the best fit for the work environment.

This is akin to when you are dating someone and you can’t put your finger on it but something isn’t quite right.

Our friends and family may tell us that we are just being too hard or operating out of fear.

But no, if you feel like something is wrong it’s because something is wrong.

After years of heartbreak due to not listening to my intuition I have decided I would rather error on the side of being overly safe when it comes to who I allow in my space than I would to error on the side of being reckless.

I have heard that one of the best ways to yield a different result is to do the opposite of what you are doing.

So when it comes to my life my previous behavior is no longer acceptable, I simply must be more protective of my space.

I have had a bad habit of giving my time, space, heart and energy to people who I knew deep down did not mean me well.

In an effort to prevent that behavior I realize that I am going to have to set some boundaries and have some standards.

We have to start seeing the position of romantic partner in our lives as a high value position that can only be filled by a high value person. And in order to do this we must recognize that we ourselves are of high value.

The reason distinguished companies can turn away applicants who fail to meet their minimum requirements and not look back is because a good company knows that while finding high quality people may take time, they themselves are in high demand and another high quality candidate will surely be in the job pool.

We have to stop being afraid to set boundaries and of having deal breakers.

Walking around in fear that if we have boundaries that it will turn people away is not the way to go.

This is because boundaries are designed to turn people away.

The wrong people.

But you want them to leave!

Boundaries and standards saves you from wasting time with people who are not the best fit for you.

Just like assessments prevent companies from wasting their time interviewing people who don’t qualify for the position.

Even though I am on dating hiatus, I do have men approach me. They often ask what I am looking for in a relationship and when I tell them I am looking to be in a mutually exclusive relationship they immediately stop inquiring. I don’t even have to get to the fact that I am currently not dating because the men who currently approach me are only looking to date casually.

Once I start back dating, mutual exclusivity is a minimum requirement for me to be in a romantic relationship with someone. If someone doesn’t want that then we need not waste one another’s time.

Doesn’t mean they are a bad person, but it does mean they are not the right person for me.

You have to have deal breakers. For me I have decided that if a guy says “I am not looking for a relationship right now” he is automatically disqualified from being a contender for my heart. I wish him the best of luck but it won’t be with me.

Am I suggesting that you should make someone feel like they are on a job interview when you date them?

Not at all.

But what I am asserting is that you are the CEO of your life and you have to properly vet people.

Do a background check and have a tough screening process on all applicants who are vying for a position in your life.

And also if everything seems above board but your gut tells you something is off then don’t proceed.

When it comes to your heart if it doesn’t feel right it’s because it isn’t right.

 

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.

 

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.

Single Time

 

image

Photo Courtesy of: Leslie Walker

Today was the first day that I said, thought or wrote it without tears streaming down my face.

Every single time I talked about it in the past I cried.

And yet today for the first time I admitted that for me the idea of finding a man who loves me romantically and who cares for me and values me for who I am, the way I am, is something that I struggle to believe.

Oh I believe romantic love is possible for everyone else, but for some reason I doubt it for myself.

Every single time I think about finding a good guy who will treat me well I immediately go into doubt.

And with that in mind I have decided that it is time that I take a time out to have myself a bit of single time.

Ultimately my single time will consist of me purposely choosing to be alone and enhancing my relationship with myself and God before I go back out into the dating world.

I struggled with this decision for quite some time because…well…. I want a guy to come into my life and prove me wrong sooner rather than later.

And I also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t taking a time out due to fear or bitterness.

It isn’t my goal to put up walls to keep people out.

Once I affirmed that I wasn’t giving up on the idea of love I reach the decision that if a man is meant to come into my life and love me for who I am then he will come when my hiatus from dating is over.

So you want to know what happened after I decided to stop dating and have some single time?

Two things:

  1. I immediately ran into a handsome gentleman (I think life has a way of testing us to see if we genuinely mean what we say whenever we talk about making a change).
  2. Upon deciding to let life know that I was indeed sticking to my decision and waiting until I was no longer looking for a man to validate me before I dated again I instantly felt empty inside and had an overwhelming urge to eat in order to feel full.

Ugh!!!!!

There it was that empty feeling that I previously wrote about!

You know, the one that causes me to engage in emotionally overeating.

This time it came because I was experiencing fear as I started accepting the gravity of my decision to purposely choose to undergo a year of not seeking a man to give me a stamp of approval.

So why was I so afraid?

Yep you guessed it…. Because it meant I am going to have be my own self the stamp of approval!

I am going to have to do what I advise others to do….. I am going to have to do the work of loving me.

So what did I do when I swallowed the thought of having to face my fears?

How exactly did I handle it?

I can tell you how I handled it!

I  walked to the grocery store and I bought a bag of clementines and a gallon of water.

I decided to fill myself up with fiber and clear fluid in an attempt to find a healthier alternative to gorging on something unhealthy.

I wish I could tell you that I didn’t eat and I was able to do something else to distract me but nope I ate.

I am glad that I made a healthier eating option and I have chosen not to beat myself up for still using eating as a coping mechanism especially since it was a better food choice that would provide actual nutrition.

But then a couple of hours went by and I thought about the concept of not dating and yep you guessed it…. the urge to eat came back again.

But this time I didn’t care to have a drink of water or to eat another clementine.

I tried to convince myself mind, body and soul that even if I don’t ever have a healthy romantic relationship that I would be okay.

Yeah well that pep talk pretty much ended with me walking to the nearest restaurant and ordering a medium fry and a chocolate chip cookie.

I ate the cookie despite not being hungry.

Okay that isn’t entirely true…

I engulfed the cookie.

Then I proceeded to eat the fries.

After I had a few of the fries that had fallen to the bottom of the bag  I sat and thought about what I was doing to myself.

Not only was I not hungry, I was actually full so why was I eating?

I was eating because I felt emotional  pain and I wanted to distract myself from it like I had previously done many times before.

I thought about my actions and I gave my fries away to my coworkers and I sat there with my thoughts.

I sat there and I realized that if it takes a month, a year, a decade or a lifetime I have to reach a point where I stop expecting someone to fill the void that I have within me.

And I also refuse to keep eating my pain.

I have to accept that it  is not fair to the men I date for me to come to them looking for them to love me whole. First and foremost it is impossible for them to do so. Also, it’s actually my job not theirs.

I am being lazy and I want them to do the work and then I get heartbroken when they fail. When they fail to do the impossible I feel rejected.

But of course I feel they reject me – I reject me.

When I go on a date I try to play it cool.

I think just be yourself, if he doesn’t like you it’s okay – just be you.

That is always a great start.

I come to the interaction being my authentic self.

I try my best to refrain from being anything else.

But then what happens….

If I decide I like him then I go home and become anxious and the subsequent dates are not as smooth as the first.

I start wondering if he is going to like me flaws and all.

I go from cool, calm and collected to entering a realm of fear anticipating that if he is a good guy that he won’t love me or that he will simply  be a jerk. I don’t give myself room for in between. I have convinced myself that I either attract jerks who love mistreating me or nice guys who don’t want to treat me at all.

I spend so much time thinking about if he will like me that I forget to make sure this is a quality person and to keep seeing if this is a person that has shown himself worthy of a place in my heart and I just start wondering if he is going to hurt me.

I prepare myself to be hurt.

I anticipate that he will let me down.

Before I even get to know him I make the assumption that he will be overwhelmed by the complexity of my life and that we won’t connect.

I forget all about trying to determine if I like him and become afraid that he won’t like me.

So ultimately I was dating for the wrong reasons. Therefore, I decided to stop dating until I am at a place where I can date for the right reasons.

I want to be an emotionally healthy romantic partner and currently I am not in a place where I can offer someone that because I lack self confidence.

While I truly believe that I love myself far more today than I have in my entire life. I also know that I love myself enough to admit that I have some childhood demons that I need to battle before I choose to date again.

Doesn’t mean I won’t maintain or form relationships with men, but it does mean that at the present time I will not be pursuing one of a romantic nature.

I want to fall in love with me and once I have done that then I can share me with someone else.

The fact that I felt the urge to engage in emotional eating at the thought of having to do the work of loving myself without the safety net of trying to find a guy to do it for me was my signal that I definitely need to stop dating.

If there is indeed someone out there for me (and I have a feeling in my soul that there is) I think I owe it to him to work on becoming my best self so I can add to his life rather than detract from it. Especially since that is what I would like for him to do for me.

In my mind I am thinking a year hiatus should be sufficient.

A part of me is excited to the discover the woman I am when I am unafraid to love and be loved.

But then there is a part of me that is scared to take a time out because there really are a lot of nice  attractive guys out there and a lot can happen in a year.

I have decided that God knows that I have purposed in my heart to take a year to love myself and deepen my relationship with Him. I have enough faith to believe that I will not miss out on any life altering relationships in that time frame.

God has already seen my story and He knew I was going to take a break from dating before He formed me in my mother’s womb. If I really believe God is all knowing and all seeing and that He has a good plan for my life which includes giving me the desires of my heart then I can believe that I won’t miss out on my opportunity for a healthy relationship all because I am making the deliberate decision to take the time to love on myself and to enhance my relationship with my Creator.

I acknowledge that I am not at a healthy place when it comes to why I seek romantic male companionship and therefore even if a suitable partner came along now my lack of self worth would most likely cause me to sabotage the relationship.

It is for this reason that I have decided to work on my emotional, physical and spiritual well being, focus on being a better mother to my beautiful children, nourishing my relationships with family and friends, and focusing on my career.

I have never been one who is afraid to do things on my own. I go to the movies, out to dinner, for walks and all sorts of activities alone quite frequently.

So being physically alone is not my fear for I am quite used to it.

No, my fear is more so because I am afraid that I will always have to do everything alone because no man will ever want to do any of those activities with me out of sincere love for me as a human being (as opposed to because he views me as a sexual object).

That is an unhealthy and untrue thought.

I have never been able to go from one romantic relationship immediately into another.

I always need time to think and heal between relationships.

And so I decided that I am breaking up with the relationship that I previously had with myself. A relationship of self loathing and purposely choosing to take some single time and get to know myself in a whole new way.

I want to grow to be confident that the woman who I am is lovable and that a man would be happy to be with me.

I would like to genuinely believe that I will be enough for someone, and in order to do that I have to become enough for me.

I have to step away from this scarcity mentality that it is hard to find a good relationship partner. Otherwise it will make it hard for me to spend this year focusing on loving me because I will constantly be in fear that I will be missing an opportunity to be with a great guy each time I turn a guy down for a date over the next year.

I have to do this for me.

This is my route to self discovery, self awareness and self love.

I understand that everyone has to do what they have to do the way they have to do it. I considered the get back on the horse method to dating but I know that after things don’t work out in the romance department I become an emotional mess. I battle the false thought that something is inherently wrong with me and totally throw logic out the window.

So I am going to take a step back and just be.

Could a man walk into my life and love me right now? – Absolutely.

But I am not ready to date and I love me enough to put my relationship with myself above all others.

Please do whatever you need to do to love yourself. If it means spending time alone with yourself – do that. If it means letting people in your life – do that. We all have to do things the way we need to do them. I don’t think there is one set way to self love. Yet, I do encourage you to find your way.

In the meantime I will be blogging regularly as I become more aware of the greatness that I am. The words I write I want to believe them mind, body and soul.

The truth is that the reason why the tears don’t flow when I talk about finding someone who will love me for me is because I for the first time ever am daring to believe that I will find a special someone more than I believe I won’t.

I am going to prepare myself for a healthy relationship partner by becoming one myself.

Renata Nicole

© 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.

 

 

Close But No Cigar

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Photo Courtesy of Ron Frazier

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 Nicole

© 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.