Do You Like You?
- Liz Dawn Donahue
Do I like myself?
Do I like myself in this relationship?
Two very similar questions, but at the same time, very different.
I remember being in relationships and looking in the mirror only to think “who is this person?” I could barely recognize my own reflection because at times my behavior was the anti-thesis of who I am and who I wanted to be. It had gotten to a point in one relationship that I could not believe who I had become. I was this woman putting up with behavior from my partner that I would go screaming into the night if any of my friends would do this in their lives.
I liked myself, but I did not like myself in this relationship. I did not like the person who I had become and most especially that I could not seem to control my reactions to his “bad” behavior.
After hours, actually months, of therapy, I realized that if I was going to come out of this even half alive and the person that I knew myself to be, that I had to figure a way out of this dysfunctional abyss. It was a matter of my mental sanity that I embarked on a vigorous journey of self introspection to understand why I was in a relationship with someone that brought out the worst in me instead of the best in me.
Was this concept an impossibility or just a cliche? Can you really be with someone who brings out the best in you or is it your responsibility to always be your best no matter who is in your life? These questions haunted me. I really felt that no matter who was in my life that I should be able to stay centered at all times and be my best. This is wonderful in theory, but not so great in reality when dealing with intimate relationships or dealing with those things that trigger us.
I have heard story after story about people sharing their disappointments about themselves because they would find their lives intertwined with someone who brought out the worst in them. Why?
Here is what I discovered, and this is just one woman’s opinion. We absolutely have to take responsibility for our own actions at all times; however, there are those intimate relationships that trigger old deep-seeded issues inside us that we might have thought we resolved years ago or even issues we never knew we had in the first place. In other words, if I am in a relationship with someone and I am acting out of character, I have to sit and ask myself, what is happening around me that is triggering me into this behavior? Then I need to reflect on what does this remind me of in my past.
More times than often, there is an emotional trigger that has nothing to do with the person in front of you, but has everything to do with past unhealed trauma. The person in front of you is just a reminder that there are areas of your life that need a little work. Having said this, it does NOT mean that you stay with a person who continuously triggers you. If you sit back and take an objective look at their behavior you will probably see that their actions are dysfunctional as well. Their behavior is a perfect match to tap you on the shoulder and not only see unhealed areas of your life, but to also recognize what your relationship red flags are for the future.
I challenge the concept that in order to grow it is good to be in relationship with a partner that challenges your issues. Thank you very much, but I can grow and learn very nicely without the drama of being thrown into all that dysfunction. It is taking a stand and being able to walk away from those relationships that trigger you, a willingness to work in it on your own, and then get into a relationship with someone who does not have the same behavior.
After many years of playing this game and being hit over the head with this lesson I finally got it. I am in a marriage with a man that brings out the best in me, not the worst and I bring out the best in him. It is not just cliche after all.