If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship for an extended period of time, then you know where I’m coming from.
It’s like going through a tunnel. The beginning is full of working lights, clean air, and the end looks close and bright as can be. As you walk through, however, the lights begin to flicker, the air becomes dirty, and the walls filled with graffiti. These changes happen so gradually that no step seems that much worse than the last. It’s like when you slowly increase the temperature of water. You can’t really feel any changes until, all of the sudden you’re scolding.
As you get closer to the end, you notice the clouds have rolled in and it’s storming. At this point, you’re scolding hot but the weather outside is frightful (da da da dadadaaa).
Do you remain in this toxic environment?
Do you venture out and try your damnedest to weather the storm?
I spent 3 years with only my ex-girlfriend. The red flags I should have noticed early on were overshadowed by the novelty of the relationship. We spent most of our time with friends, so the lack of commonality and communication wasn’t apparent. As we withdrew from our social circles and got a place together, having time alone was great. Until it wasn’t.
I knew exactly who I was during the time I was single before we started dating. I was happy. I was social, I had an abundance of friends, I was confident in my abilities across the board. I knew where I needed improvement and had plans to get there. I also knew exactly the girl I was looking for.
Now, years later, a scar-laden version of myself has emerged. It’s been over a month now, and, honestly, I had been preparing for this day to come for the past 9 months, whether I realized it at the time or not. The fact is, we both knew what was coming but neither of us wanted to face reality and take responsibility. Finally, after the catalyst of multiple painful ordeals in a row, I did.
I felt fantastic. I had what felt like 1,000 pounds lifted from my aching back.
I am single for the first time in 3 years. I am surrounded by younger women at a large University with whom I have trouble relating to.
I thought I found the someone I hoped to find over the years. The type of girl I can see myself getting married to. The only type of girl that those thoughts have ever entered my mind over. I found a girl that matched everything I wrote down in a journal entry during the time when I was at my happiest. I wrote that entry 3 years and 2 months ago, right before I met my ex-girlfriend. I knew she didn’t match what I felt I needed to best compliment not only who I was as a person but who I wanted to become.
I fell in love anyway, and those differences snow-balled into a toxic 9 months.
I lost a chunk of my identity throughout the course of my last relationship. The toxicity made me miserable, and I fear that it’s lingering effects have had quite an impact on me. I know what I want, and I have tried as hard as I can to get there. I want to be the guy that can have a fulfilling, healthy relationship with a girl as intelligent and ambitious as I am. I want more than anything to create this world I can share with someone who wants as much out of life that I do.
I have to do a lot of soul-searching in the meantime. I know what I like, and I thought I knew what was best for me. Those questions and answers can be absolutely beautiful or utterly dangerous. I have been meditating and journaling a lot lately to try and figure out what I need on a fundamental level.
For me, according to an excerpt of my journal entry from June 2013 entitled ‘My Ideal Girl’
–articulate, can hold a conversation…values her health and fitness…has drive and ambition…has healthy relationships with her friends and family…has a good sense of humor/doesn’t take herself too seriously…outgoing…enjoys reading…intelligent so we can talk about things not related to reality TV or other TV shows…confident in her own abilities
After spending the last 3 years single, meditating regularly, building a social circle, excelling and kicking ass at my job in the Air Force, building my self confidence, and studying psychology…this is what I want in my life.
I have a great suspicion that the lack of the above in my previous relationships is exactly why they have not worked. My needs haven’t been close to being met, and my girlfriends have always gotten all of that from me but not given any of it return.
I wrote that then, and I feel just as confident about my desires now. I know that in order to earn $1,000,000 you have to provide $1,000,000 in value. Just like any transaction, you get what you put in.
Right now, I have to figure out how to be the guy that truly deserves to have that kind of person in his life. Taking responsibility for things that aren’t how you want them to be is the first step. I talk about taking ownership of your life in this article.
That is one of the hardest truths to face. I do know that I have the ability to be that person. I know what I bring to the table and I’m not afraid to eat alone for a while. Being alone doesn’t scare me. Not living life to my best ability does.
Right now, this is my priority. (Along with my studies of course)
I have to reevaluate my strengths, identify my weaknesses, and determine what it means to be the man I truly want to be…