It's no secret, partnerships take a lot of work, and good ones require even more effort. We all know a little sacrifice is necessary to keep a relationship strong. But... where do you draw the line?
Once upon a time, I spent a handful of years with an amazing man who deserved every ounce of my adoration and effort. At least, that's what I thought at the time. Blinded by "love", I was happy to give up whatever might be necessary to Keep Us Together. Here's a short list of my foolish sacrifices...
1. My friends. "Friends are a lot of work," my ex once said. "You always have to feed and water them." He was right. In comparison with the exquisite bliss of our relationship, my friends were a bit of a nuisance.
Instead of looking forward to my girls' nights out, I looked forward to coming home when the festivities were over. I thought I was lucky to have such a happy home life and a wonderful partner who was also my best friend. In hindsight, I realize this was the result of my insecurity within the relationship. I didn't feel complete without him. And, if I'm being honest, I didn't trust him to be without me.
2. My family. Like my friends, my family was an inconvenience I didn't want to deal with. My ex and I spent a lot of time with his family, and I grew very close to them. As the years went by, I spent less and less time with my own family members. I came to feel as if they were somehow obsolete.
3. My aspirations. I held myself back a lot in order to protect our relationship. I flat-out forgot some of my childhood dreams. I put off many of the things I wanted to do and places I wanted to go. I shrunk away from the spotlight and was sure not find any kind of success that might rock the boat of our life together. I thought it was more important to support my partner's desires and maintain his comfort. I believed I was doing the right thing, because love is about sacrifice, right?
4. My dignity. For several dark months in our time together, I knew he was cheating. Yet, I stayed with him. I forced myself to believe his lies. I allowed myself to feel ashamed when he twisted my questions into accusations of control and manipulation. I knew better, but I felt as if I needed him too much, so I didn't leave. And... odd as it may seem, I didn't want him to be mad at me for knowing the truth.
5. My voice. He was older than me. He had more complications and stress in his life. He often seemed annoyed if I expressed certain needs. I didn't want to bother him, so I learned to keep quiet. I was afraid to challenge him in my regular tone, let alone raise my voice in anger or frustration.
I shrunk. I kept quiet. I cowered. I permitted the subtle manipulations. I thought I wasn't as important as he was. I thought my friends weren't as good as his. I thought my family wasn't as valuable. For years, I was hopelessly devoted to what I thought was love. And at the time I thought my actions were noble.
Years later, I realize how wrong I was. I wasn't noble. I was clingy. My sacrifices didn't come from a place of wholesome love, but rather a deep-seated insecurity which I wasn't completely aware of. It was a painful path, but I'm relieved to have learned the difference. From this day forward, I vow to love and honor myself over my lover.
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