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When I was meditating the other morning, the idea about relationships and how mine had often been fraught in the past popped into my head.
But now, since I started meditating six years ago, it’s been the opposite. It’s a thought that led to me writing my article, The Most Important Toxic Relationship to Deal With is the One we have with Ourselves. But I’ve continued to explore what has come up.
In one relationship, I was with someone who had strong narcissistic tendencies, for almost a decade. I tried my best to make her happy, but it was like riding a wild and unpleasant rollercoaster. One minute she adored me and I felt wonderful, and the next I was some awful, selfish person whom she couldn’t bear to look at—and I felt like dying.
The negative was far more often than the positive. I put up with it because I pretty much well hated myself, and in those brief moments when she showered me with her fake love, I forgot about that hate. So I worked hard to try and make her love me and not despise me. But whatever I did, no matter how much I tried, it never worked, and my mental health collapsed.
In the end, I left her to save myself. Whilst I still didn’t like myself, at that point, I also felt proud that I had the strength to make that decision and walk away with nothing else on the horizon.
I didn’t realise it then but that was when I stepped on to this mindfulness path.
Sooner afterward, I got into another relationship with someone with a narcissistic inclination who played the same twisted “now she loves me and now she doesn’t” game, and again I tried do anything possible to make her love me all the time. But something was different. I could step back and witness what she was doing and also see how I always tried to fix things—almost like I was watching a film. It didn’t mean that it wasn’t tough; it was, and my mental health suffered yet again. But somehow, being able to see what was happening meant that I began to practice what I had learnt from the previous relationship and it didn’t impact me in quite the same way.
Of course, I left her too, not to save myself but because I no longer believed what I was being told about myself. I wasn’t some selfish waste of space. I had and have value.
I had started meditating toward the end of that brief, toxic affair, and once it was over, I started to meditate every day. Whenever difficulties arose, I would face them head on, look them in the eye without any judgement, and see them for everything they were. The more I looked, the less these thoughts had power over me. Also, insights occasionally appeared that taught me huge amounts about myself in almost flashes of knowing.
I had used relationships to fill my life because I didn’t like who I was. I used them to block out the pain, but because of that, I was easy to take advance of and the pain became worse. During those years, I never looked at my own relationship with myself; I always looked externally for escape.
The more I faced these emotions that came up, the more I learnt about myself, but more importantly, I started to stop judging myself. I stopped attaching to the thought that I wasn’t good enough for this world or thinking that I was worthless. These are just thoughts that I didn’t have to believe, so I neither pushed them away nor pulled them close.
In the end, meditation taught me to be at peace with both my past and also who I am right in this present moment. I discovered that my relationship with myself fed everything else. When I hated myself, the world hated me back, but once I learnt to love myself, the world started to love me back.
My life may have less people in it today, but those friendships I do have nourish both me and the other person (I hope), and that is because I now like who I am because I understand that we don’t have to listen to every thought that enters our heads. I also have a partner who doesn’t play games and who loves me for who I am—warts and all. And I love her in the same way.
And that is the power of the mindfulness path. I won’t pretend that it’s easy; I still have many moments in life, but life definitely changes for the better once you take that first step on the path, whether it’s intentional or not. Once you’re on the path, you can see that everything, every minute of your life, was building to this point of knowing and peace.
All you have to do is have a regular practice, have no expectation of results, and always without any judgement.
It’s that easy but also that difficult to do.
So, if you haven’t already, why don’t you set the intention to start a regular meditation practice and see what changes you can experience in life?