First Attempt In Learning: Challenges in Love
My new boss does these periodic check-in meetings to get to know each of us as individuals on the team. I have left every meeting with some new learning and goals to strive toward for myself professionally. This past week I left our meeting with a lot of unexpected emotions and realizations about my current mindset on life and love.
It was a simple question but in my general fashion, I took it to another level. He asked me what is something that I accomplished that I am proud of and what is something that was a First Attempt In Learning (F.A.I.L.) that was not successful. It was a more positive way to frame something I am not good at even after I tried.
It was easy to rattle off things I am proud of. I am a determined person who puts her all into making things happen in my life. Once I set a goal, I work towards that goal all the while fine tuning and reflecting on how to improve. That has worked out for me in my professional and creative endeavors. It’s even helped me learn to be a better mother. But when it comes to F.A.I.L.s there are two things that come to mind: playing sports and being in a romantic relationship.
The question was than followed up with “Why do you think you have not been successful in this?”. And in that moment I had sudden clarity about myself and the ways I was never prepared for and successful with the men I involved in my life. So, when he asked why, my response was simple but layered. I didn't know who I was. It boils down to this one mantra I began to say when I started my healing journey in 2019. I didn't fully uncover the impact of this statement until that moment in the office this week.
“Remembering who you are is how you take your power back”
I was unsuccessful in love because I did not know who I was. I couldn’t see my light or my strength. I didn’t know the power I held by simply being my authentic self. I could not see my own worth. When we do not know ourselves and what we possess without anyone else, we accept the bare minimum and treat it like it’s a precious gift we are grateful to be handed. When in fact the men I was with knew my worth, but benefitted and held control because I did not. I needed to know who I was to recognize when what was placed in front of me was not worthy of my time, energy and effort. Not knowing myself led me to overgive, make excuses for poor behavior and accept less than what I deserved.
When I didn’t know who I was, I was weak and could easily be pushed over and persuaded to mistrust my own intuition. I was fearful that I couldn’t survive or be strong enough to leave the person I cared for. I believed that all I deserved and would ever experience was dissatisfaction, inconsistency and breadcrumbs of affection and love. I did not know or acknowledge my resilience and strength to overcome and walk away from things and people that created chaos and uncertainty in my mind and heart.
Remembering who you are is how you take your power back
Secondly, I didn't own my own faults and behaviors that created chaos in my life. To fully remember who I am, I have to know what I do that I am not proud of. Codependency was a huge part of this. I don’t date a lot, and am highly cautious with whom I give my love to. But once I open myself up and fall for someone, a whirlwind of emotions arise and I have the tendency to become overly focused on that person. That meant I needed validation from them to feel worthy.
It led me to blindly walk past massive red flags and obliviously trust men I should not have because I was intent on being loved and winning that love. Which brings me to another way I didn’t examine my own faults. I like to have control over my life and outcomes. That’s strategic in goal setting in the professional and creative aspects of my life, but can be off-putting or at times manipulative in relationships.
This manipulation is not one with ill intent, it’s my actions or words that steer or influence others towards the direction I hope they would also move to that aligned with my vision of what we could be and accomplish. But I now realize I did this because I wanted to have control of the outcome and my ego led me to believe if anyone could change “him” or my situation with him it was me.
Not an uncommon trait in many of us, but when we don’t know about the flaws we possess, we repeat the same patterns with different people thinking we have evolved when we are just running in a hamster wheel of the same dangerous cycles we've been trying to escape.
Remembering who you are is how you take your power back.
The final piece of how my lack of knowing myself was the reason I have been learning lesson after lesson in love is that I had to couple my knowing of my strength with my ability to be vulnerable. I could not do that when I was hyper focused on codependent behaviors or constantly trying to prove my worthiness to a man. So knowing who I am was also allowing for my soft feminine vulnerability to show through when it was safe. If I was unsafe emotionally or mentally, my guards were up and you would get sarcastic, stoic and partially present Marya. I had to know myself so well that I was safe enough to let down my walls and trust someone else to lead me. Through that, I would have been able to then have empathy and hold space for the man I was with to be open and emotionally present.
But in all the past relationships, situationships or whatever titles they have or have not had, I did not know myself in the ways I needed to. First for myself and then to be a strong partner for the men in my life. Undoubtedly, part of that was my intended path because those men did not deserve that side of me and that energy, but for some of them I wonder how that knowing could have impacted our trajectory differently. I also know that all of this and the fact that I think about it and in turn write about it, makes me a complicated and challenging (in good ways) person to be with.
So now I remember who I am, and have taken my power back and done the exploration to grow. It complicates and narrows the number of people who are equipped and willing to push through the complexity of that. It might just boil down to this; men may love talking to me, and will also hate talking to me. They love the way I make them feel and think or see things from new angles, but it also means they walk away from me having to think and push themselves outside of their comfort zones. My knowledge of myself will hold you accountable to being true and honest to yourself. Not all men want to nor are capable of doing so.
What I am starting to believe and understand is that the man who realizes that every new perspective and layer I share of these complexities with him is actually how he gets closer to me and unwrapping the unconditional love I am craving to share with the right person and not something to be fearful of. That is the man that will be prepared to put forth the work and build a partnership that supports our continued individual and collective evolution. And I am prepared with the knowledge of who I am to change the category of romantic relationships in my life from the first attempt in learning I keep missing to an accomplishment I am proud of.
Remembering who you are is how you take your power back.