Catching up with friends is always something I look forward to. A few weeks ago, an old friend of mine contacted me and we met up for drinks. Its almost an unspoken rule that when friends are giving updates on their lives, they must give a tell all on their most relevant love situation. As we were both sipping on our mimosas, she began opening up about her long history with her boyfriend. They had been through a lot together, and most of the memories she shared weren’t too pretty. As she sat there telling me incident after incident, detail after detail, I was just looking at her. Watching her talk about her relationship with him, I couldn’t help but notice the passion in her voice and in her eyes. But it wasn’t the passion you would expect when talking about a love interest. This passion was wrapped in a hurt and animosity. It was a passion wrapped in frustration of her efforts to make a failed relationship whole again. And she wanted me to share that same passion. She wanted me to feel that same anger, frustration, and hurt that she was feeling. And I did. I knew exactly what she was feeling, I knew the exact emotions she was feeling and why she was feeling them. Her reality seemed all too familiar to me. Which is why I told her the exact, tough-love statement that a good friend once told me…”But you stayed”. She took a second and processed the three words I just spoke to her. She glanced at the table and took a long sip from her drink as the passion in her eyes transformed into tears.
“But you stayed”. Time after time, incident after incident, heart break after heartbreak…you stayed. Even when his “I am sorry” became nothing more than a meaningless formality, you stayed. Even when his eyes became cold and his words become colder, you stayed. Even when disappointments and lies started to become the norm, you stayed. Even when his care turned into indifference, you stayed. Even when everything in his actions told you he left, you still stayed. You stayed and you tried to fight a battle that you knew was lost long ago. And because you feel that you did things that you didn’t have to do and sacrificed so much of yourself, you feel that your pain and anger is justified. And to an extent it is…. because it hurts. It hurts when you give so much of yourself to someone to only get little to nothing back in return. It hurts to have the love you selflessly give reciprocated with disrespect and disloyalty. But when you stay…you assume just as much responsibility as him. When you stay, as hard as it is to accept, you are equally to blame. When you stay you have to direct that same anger, frustration, and hurt at yourself, because you have chosen to remain in a place that you know you don’t belong in with a person you don’t belong with…and that choice was made my no one other than you.
It’s easy to want to make excuses and blame our “significant other” for why things are the way they are. And while their actions may be the cause of our heartache, we have to accept responsibility for what we choose to do after that. As much as you may love someone, you have to love yourself more to know when your stay is overdue. I believe the old saying, ”You can’t help who you love” is true. And that love makes it seem impossible to turn our hearts away from people that have shared a special place there for so long. But you have to remember that the love you have for YOU comes before anyone else. And in loving yourself, you have to take responsibly for what you choose to accept in a relationship… And that should be nothing less than the best.
Take ownership of your heart and guard it from those that don’t cherish it the way that they should. Remind yourself of what you bring to the table. Remind yourself of the love you need and deserve. Keep an extraordinary standard of love. Know what you are worth in your relationship and do not demand anything less, because when you do…you have no one to blame but you.