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There I was, flying high on love, dazed by the unbelievable feeling of connection and magnetic attraction.
Until that night, one I will never forget, when my love story became a sickening twist of lies, shock, and utter betrayal.
I felt the blood drain out of my head. Every fiber of my being was riddled with a nauseating dread. My body felt like it was melting into a pool on the floor. I could not think of anything else at that moment. I was blinded by excruciating mental and physical pain. I wanted it to end—I wanted to go back in time to when things were good.
Unfortunately, instead of learning, I did everything I could to repair what was broken. Someone stepped out on me in a way no person should experience, and I, heart-crushing, soul shaken, let this person back in.
After some time, I wondered why I ignored the signs, to begin with. But more importantly, why did I always have to go through this in my relationships? Why did someone else’s cruel actions become my suffering?
Why did I fall for people who showed me love in doses—pretending to be someone they are not?
Throughout a large portion of my life, I only knew of one type of love—a love that is inconsistent, unreliable, fearful, and controlling. One that cheats, lies, betrays, hurts, yet knows how to flatter and plays on emotions.
On the rare occasion, they gave me attention and love, but they quickly took it away from me. I recognized the pattern of men I dated—emotionally unavailable, battling with their inner demons, here one minute and gone the next.
The “bad boys.”
People would often comment, “You have a type. You choose men who are unsure of themselves and who are not giving you the love you deserve.”
They resembled what I knew—the only love I knew. To me, they were giving me love; I just never understood why love had to always come with fear. Dishonesty. Selfishness.
It took me a long time to understand that I was drawn to certain types of people because of what I knew love to be—attention, flattery, a wild chase—not because it was a true indication of love.
I hardly ever challenged the concept of connection and love. I didn’t know I needed to and blindly accepted it well into my 20’s. I thought love was something you fall into—not something you choose.
The same types of dynamics showed up time and time again, and along with them came disappointments, despair, and loss.
I had seen men who were highly respected in the church community, betray their wives and family, ripping apart friendships and other families too. They preached morality and integrity, taking care of your wife and children, and commitment. People I looked up to with my faith and morals were found to have committed acts they spoke strongly against, from a stage in front of thousands.
From a young age, I developed a fear of being cheated on—which also happened on many occasions in my relationships later on. It’s probably why I evaded marriage and waited it out before committing to a life with someone who could do the same to me.
I found consistent, reliable, conscious people—boring. Men who were safe, reliable, and kind showed up in my life, and were immediately “friend-zoned.” It wasn’t about them; it was me—my idea of love was thwarted.
My experiences, and what my eyes have seen, gave me a view of the world that love is not safe—and that I would be lucky if I found someone who was loyal, faithful, and diligent. Deep down, I never thought I would ever find someone like this. Did they even exist?
I remember as a young girl feeling uncomfortable around a preacher. My instincts screamed, “Stay away from him.” He had a way with words and his posture, an arrogance that made me feel like I was a nobody. A kind of, player vibe?
Part of me wondered, “Why doesn’t he like me?” (the thought process from a girl with no self-love) but another part of me couldn’t shake the pit in my stomach—he’s not who he says he is.
When I found out many, many years later that my instincts were spot-on—I noticed a trend throughout my life. I had always known when people, and men, were not quite the people they proclaim to be. Whether unconsciously or consciously, they waltzed about masking something insidious, while portraying to the world they are anything but.
I never voiced my gut instinct to anyone as a young girl. I can only imagine the shame and ridicule I would have experienced if I said, “Watch out for that one.” No one would have believed me. And yet time unmasked the truth.
Was I forever to watch my back and be wary of people I get myself involved with? Even with friendships and other connections, was I doomed to forge relationships with people who would parade their mask, and flaunt a fraudulent version of themselves?
Until I realized—this is how I also showed up in the world.
Maybe my mask didn’t result in betrayals and broken families. But I showed up in the world, afraid and watchful. I walked through life with a protective barrier. I sought out refuge and acknowledgment from people, and the men I dated.
If they choose me, I must be worthy.
If an unavailable man chooses me, sees me, then I must be someone worthy of love—and attention.
To acknowledge this, and see this about ourselves, is incredibly uncomfortable. But it also shows how ego-driven my relationships were, and how my concept of love was tainted.
When we are conditioned from a young age to see love as something we have to earn, beg for, plead for, and chase after—is it any wonder that our future relationships will be at the mercy of such conditioning?
These patterns, hardwired in us from a young age, can be the most challenging habits to transform. It almost feels like we have to “reject ourselves” to break free from this conditioning. When what we are doing is rejecting false beliefs or skewered forms of love.
A pivotal change came about when I embarked on a journey within myself—to uproot my past, face my grievances, and look my fears dead in the eye. It hasn’t been a walk in the park. I’m eight years into the new, untravelled, unfamiliar path—and it’s shown me how when we are conditioned a certain way, it’s hard to change.
But it is possible.
The more I show up for myself and love myself consistently, the more I open up to a love that is constant, steady—and peaceful. Not just from people but also from life in general. I’ve noticed my lifestyle change too. Where I used to seek out pleasure in speed, busyness, and external measures, I have now grown to love quietness, calm waters, and soundless days. I enjoy gradual wins, a steady climb, rather than the high peaks and low valleys.
I appreciate a drama-free life with not much to report other than a good week at work, walking, playing with my dog, and appreciating each day as it comes.
My concept of God has changed too. I no longer see God as a dictator. Rather, a spirit or energy of transformative, unconditional love that leads us out of a life of impulses, ego-driven tendencies, and selfishness and into a beautiful path of self-reflection, kindness to ourselves, and tranquility from within.
When we become a little less broken, our attention shifts. The people and situations that we once gravitated toward, no longer appeal to us. It’s not that we are better than others. We just want different, and we allow ourselves to choose differently because what we were familiar with is no longer our standard.
We begin to understand that we can choose the love we want in our lives—we’re not at the mercy of our past.
I often share (with anyone who will listen) about how amazing our brains and mind are. If we decide we want a new yellow car and the thought excites us, suddenly, we start noticing yellow cars everywhere. How many times has this happened to you? Is it a sign? Does it mean we’re meant to get a new yellow car? Has our brain worked in our favor to draw our attention to our new desires?
Or—is it highlighting new possibilities?
When my dog came into my life, it was the first time I experienced love in a connection in contrast to what I was used to. There are also friendships in my life that have consistently grown over long periods of time. Slow and steady, kind and loving.
As the yellow car analogy, experiences like this have shown me new possibilities and opened my eyes to a different kind of world than the one I knew before. Showing up for myself consistently, as hard as it has been, has also shown me that with time and commitment, we start to believe there are people who want the same thing we do—to be reliable, constant, and forever present.
Changing this belief has also healed my fear of being cheated on—one that pervaded my mind for so long.
Sometimes, my mind does allure me to darker days and tempts me to roads I am familiar with. I’ve encountered people who appear to radiate this new kind of love, but upon scratching the surface and listening to my gut, I realize it’s part of life to encounter people who don’t have the same intentions we do.
On those occasions, when I go off track and find myself in situations that resemble that old conditioned way of thinking—I learn to give myself grace while I step back into the lane of steadiness and this new perspective of love I am beginning to adore.
I continue to hone my instincts and listen in, and act accordingly, even if my mind hasn’t caught up yet. It’s saved me many times.
Just like with any addiction or hardwired mental pattern, our desire to keep moving forward, no matter how many times we fall, is what creates lasting change.
The world as we know can be transformed daily by the continual renewal of our mind.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2