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Almost 7 years ago, I fell in love with a man, 13 years my senior, who was going through a divorce. Today, after being angry at him and the situation after we ended things, I am finally free of attachment and full of forgiveness.
I was 21 when we first met so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I don’t believe in regrets. However, if I could do it again, this is what I wish I had known beforehand:
1. You matter!
One of the reasons why I spent so much time angry at him, after we broke up, is because I wish he had left me alone when I initially denied him in the beginning. My intuition knew from the very beginning that he was bad news. So, I’m not sure why I gave in. I have a theory that it was because when I was younger, my self-esteem wasn’t the best and although I knew that I deserved better, I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know that my words matter, my body matters, my mind matters... ultimately, I matter. When you know that you matter in This World, it allows you to keep a distance from people and things that make you feel like you don’t matter.
2. Be careful who you let into your life.
When I was younger, I was not as selective with people that I allow into my life as I am now. My friend and I were joking around the other day and she said that I am like a drill-Sargent with my emotions. Which, I replied to, ‘If I am not, who will be?’It’s easy to say, ‘Trust everyone’ and ‘Open yourself up to everyone’; however, if someone shows you that they will not respect you or your boundaries once they are in your life, it’s okay to accept that they don’t deserve to be in your life to begin with.
3. It’s okay to say no.
I used to feel so badly for saying no. So, I would let anyone into my life and once they were gone, I would question how I allowed them in. The answer is that I hadn’t set clear boundaries of when I was not okay with doing something. As a woman living in America, it’s tough to say no. Because when you say no to an interested man about fundamental respect, you know that there will another woman behind you (in line) waiting to say yes and agree to whatever you won’t. I have learnt that I am happy to say no to people and things that are unhealthy for me whether they move onto someone else or don’t. At least my integrity and self-worth will stay intact.
4. You don’t have to be small to be in a relationship.
This is a lesson that keeps showing up in my relationships, I have a habit of making myself small so that the man that I am with can feel worthy. The number 1 reason that I am single right now is because I have yet to meet a man that I have not had to dumb myself down for or make myself small for. My entire adult-dating life has been making myself fit the smallness of the person who I was with, that’s why I usually do better when I am alone. Companionship consists of two equals who want each other to succeed so that there is a higher purpose for a relationship. When one person feels small, it is breeding ground for insecurity, jealousy and drama- all of which are not the foundation of a healthy relationship.
5. Stability should not cost you your heart.
One of the lures of being with this man was that he financially took care of me. I felt stable. But, I quickly learnt that his money couldn’t mend or replace what needed fixing or what wasn’t there. He would disappear from time-to-time and reappear with something as an apology. Which, I fell for in the beginning because (in the movies) every woman wants something nice to wear or to be taken somewhere fancy. The truth is that materials fade, emotions are valid and respect is golden. No amount of money in the world can pick you up off the floor when you find out that your boyfriend has gotten back together with his wife. No gift in the world can replace self-respect. And, no fancy dinner or wine can help you sleep better at night when your intuition is telling you that there is something going on that you don’t know about. It is unnatural to replace the physical world for the fundamentals of love and respect. Make your own money, take yourself out and treat yourself with love and respect. Once you start to do that, so will others around you because you have shown them that you can take care of yourself already and that all you need is presence, love and respect.