I’m not a psychologist, but I can venture a guess and say that we’re all a product of our upbringing and our environment.
Our life is a compilation of experiences and factors that were either present or lacking in our childhood. All of which conditioned us to feel, think, and behave in a particular manner—thus, setting up our behavioral patterns.
Late last summer, after another episode of my so-called dating life—“We’re not in a relationship, relationship”—a friend casually pointed out to me that my dating pattern was unhealthy. She said, “You date narcissists and then wonder why they treat you like crap. What do you expect?”
I slowly let her words wash over me for a moment, and then I began running a mental list in my head of character traits shared by these men. They all turned out to be emotionally unavailable, self-centered, and, despite being middle-aged, they played childish mind games on social media. Her words had indeed hit home.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family/household, where love was either withheld or used as a manipulation tactic. While support and approval were not de rigueur, emotional games were.
My family’s special brand of “love” was the perfect foundation upon which to build a self-destructive pattern that had me not only looking for love in all the wrong places, but also bending over backward trying to please individuals who could never be pleased.
Yes, the men I dated were proven narcissists, and as such, it would never have worked out. Obviously, their behavior was a problem, but such men had become my pattern. I was accustomed to their toxic ways, because as a child, I was taught that such behavior was acceptable. In other words, to be treated poorly, while craving love and affection from individuals who would rarely give it to you, was the norm in my world.
Well, not anymore! I had my awakening and realized many things, one of which was that it is not excessive to ask to be treated with respect, consideration, and basic human decency—and if your person thinks that it is, then you’re with the wrong person.
My toxic pattern may have begun at home, but I also played an active role in the choices that I made. I was a contributing factor to my perpetual unhappiness. I’m the one who opened the door for unhealthy relationships to enter my life, and I allowed these men to treat me as they did. At some point, we have to own our BS and admit where in our lives we are the source of our own unhappiness.
Yes, it’s not an easy thing to do—to take responsibility for the parts of your life that aren’t working out. I know, because I spent most of my adult life figuring this out. But I finally had to admit that my pattern was destructive to other areas of my life, and if I didn’t change it, I would continue to make the same choices over and over again, yet remain in the exact same place, while wondering why my life wasn’t getting any better.
It’s so easy to point the finger outward at everyone else, but it can’t always be someone else; sometimes, it’s actually you. This applies to all areas of your life, be it your personal life, work life, family life, and so on. Until you acknowledge and take responsibility for your behavior, which may be the underlying cause of the issues in your life, nothing will ever change.
Once we open our eyes, and see things clearly, and own our part in our story, it will not only transform our way of thinking, but it will also direct us to make better choices. In turn, these choices will lead us in a more positive and rewarding direction.
In the last few months, I made a conscious effort to see, own, and change the negative patterns I’d been harboring for years. I took my power back, and everything changed.
The moment I made the decision to change things, every other area of my life was also affected; it was like a domino effect. As a result, there was an overall shift toward a more positive and peaceful path, putting an end to a vicious cycle that had kept me unhappy for a long time.
The past no longer has a hold over me, and I’m looking forward to a new beginning, along with everything that comes with it. It is sad that it took so long to come to this realization—but better late than never.