I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”
Brené Brown

PPToxic relationships. Is it the chaos we miss, when we finally muster the strength to let them go? Maybe it’s the company that keeps us hanging on. Any company is better than no company at all, right?

My brain says NO, while my tattered heart continues to hang on; the blood from my fingers tasting of denial and persistence.

No matter how high the rush, when involved with a toxic partner, the lows always follow. Orgasms aren’t supposed to be succeeded by tears. Trust in our partners  isn’t something we wish upon like mythical stars floating above the darkness.  It should be a mutual, well-earned feeling shared equally – like the sun kissing the trees in springtime, nurturing them back to life.

My addictions have spiraled me down the rabbit hole of need, desperation and shame more times than I care to admit. And yet no matter how far I claw my way out of the darkness, with each new relationship, I dive head-first cloaked in a thick film of “this time will be different.”

Head: Zero. Heart: I don’t believe we’re in single digits anymore, Toto.

I’ve been repeating the same dysfunctional love-pattern of “I Hate you, don’t leave me” ever since slow-dancing to Earth Wind and Fire’s Reasons with my childhood crush, Mike Ruben. Even then, among the crepe paper and smelly gym lockers lining the walls, I believed true love was percolating. The reality that Mike felt his way through all the girls in the class that night eluded my desperate heart.

Damaged people always find one another; two wrongs making a right, misery loving company, that sort of thing. How we navigate our way out of the chaos without craving it boils down to self-worth.

Unless we dig deep within our stories – and re-wire our thoughts about what we deserve, the revolving door of toxic love will continue to poison our hearts.

We’re not bad people, us toxic folk. Everybody has a story. We just need to work through ours without the beautiful, chaotic and alluring distractions of land-mind relationships.

I’m really gonna miss those.

Christine Macdonald

Saying no, to say yes

There’s no easy way to break up with someone. Regardless of who comes to the point of realizing the relationship isn’t working – even if you both agree – someone always gets hurt.

While going through my first, [significant relationship] break up at the age of 28, I cried so hard my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I whaled in agony on the shoulder of one of my closest friends.

“I can literally feel my heart being ripped apart.”

Kimmy was all too familiar at the time, as she recently weathered a divorce, which often left her curled up in her walk-in closet, while her toddler was at day care. If anyone knew heartbreak, it was Kimmy.

“I know, honey. I know. What do you think all those songs are about? All those sappy movies? Everybody goes through this – and it sucks.”

I appreciated her trying to talk me off the ledge, and taking me in when I couldn’t bear sleeping alone.

The months following my newly found single status were a mixture of tears, alcohol, and sleeping way too much. Too depressed to eat, I dropped a few dress sizes, and lost an insane amount of energy. I don’t recommend the Heartbreak Diet to anyone.

Fast forward fifteen years, and it isn’t any easier. Sure, we’re wiser in our older age, but when it comes to matters of the heart – aren’t we all just as fragile?

I don’t have much experience playing offense in a relationship. I’ve always been the one on the receiving end of the news that I wasn’t the one. As I work on myself in therapy, I’m learning that my love patterns make perfect sense. I chose unavailable men to avoid getting hurt. It’s an emotional oxymoron, I know, but if you’re dealing with trust issues or come from a long line of unhealthy relationships, you’re probably nodding in agreement.

Self-esteem is something that happens when we take care of ourselves. We stand up for what we believe, protect our hearts from abuse, and surround ourselves with people who live their lives with dignity and respect.

As I write the chapters in my story, the low self-esteem is so apparent, it sometimes jumps off the page. I’m often frozen in my typing tracks, hovering between tears and head shakes, realizing, with every story, just how obvious my choices were.

Sometimes it takes looking back, to realize just how much you want to move forward.

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My relationship rear view mirror has never been clearer these days. I am learning that for me to say “yes” to myself – for my own personal growth and self-esteem, I sometimes need to say “no”. We don’t have to allow ourselves to be in unhealthy situations. We have the choice to walk away.

It’s far from easy, and the tears still fall, but the reward for knowing we are worth saying “yes” to, far outweighs the reasoning of why we’re in unhealthy relationships in the first place.

“Sometimes the hardest part of the journey is believing you’re worthy of the trip.”

_______

Here’s the part where you tell me – have you ever said “no” to someone, to say “yes” to yourself?

Christine Macdonald