There’s a PSA I see played out at night while I’m desperate to sleep but can’t called, #That’s not Love. It features college students shouting out so-called phrases you may hear in an unhealthy relationships, “I don’t care if she’s your lab partner” or “Because I love you, I should smash your phone” or “You got lucky, because I love you,” they make me cringe to hear them, not because I never heard them before, in those dysfunctional and abusive relationships of my younger days, but because I heard those very same sentiments uttered, and for a long time truly believed and thought that was love. Not verbatim, obviously cell phones weren’t around when I was in my youth, but the controlling ways in which we allow ourselves to believe it is love and this is why our partner is so jealous and protective of not wanting to lose us. Oh if I could go back in time and revisit the younger version of myself I would kick the shit out of me! But, I do feel those lessons in love and life, however, painful, made me the woman I am today, and better able to dole out advice to my children as to what constitutes love and what is clearly abuse, and to see the writing on the wall as an adult.
When you are hungry for love, for someone to believe in you, and for someone to take you away from the internal madness of your soul, you are willing to put aside the beliefs you know to be lies, in an attempt to be loved. You set your sights on dismissing signs of abuse, for actions you caused, which led to him hitting you, or getting upset that you have male friends, or want to spend time with your girlfriends, or whatever the so-called action may be to cause such discourse and anger . Little things, seem to fade away, in the madness of what constitutes love, and what constitutes physical and mental abuse. It is only when you begin to get healthy and start to take responsibility for your mental health and well-being that you begin to see the façade for what it truly is, what he truly is, what you have become. Excuses seem to crumble under the heady knowledge that love does not cause one to control another and surrender one’s self, well unless we are talking submission in the bedroom, and that is for another day! Love natures and wants to see their partners thrive and grow. Love is kind, love is patient, love is understanding, as the old 70’s adage goes. Love is saying sorry when you have hurt someone, and wanting to see them smile and happy. Not knowing you are the cause of their hurt and pain. Compassion fills your heart and you see yourself in your partner as you wish to be treated, loved, admired, desired.
I think what happens to people who grow up with early childhood trauma or in dysfunctional families, is that what you come to know as normal and healthy, is truly what you see all around you. There are some people who grow up and don’t even realize they grew up in a dysfunctional family, and I know you might snicker, but this is a fact. Take children of alcoholics, or addicts who grew up with an addicted parent, they may fail to see how destructive this behavior was to the family dynamic. I think that is a bit being in denial, and a bit not understanding that healthy family dynamics to don’t have a parent passed out drunk or hiding behind the bed in a state of paranoia from cocaine. Now yes, their parent was functional in the sense that they held down a steady job and maintained their presence in the family, but I know from my personal battle with alcohol, when you drink to excess or to self medicate, you are NOT present fully. You may believe that you are, because you are not on at a bar on a stool, or shooting up in an alley, but be assured you are delusional if you believe that you are the same person sober and fully engaged, then you are when you are drunk or wasted, and I am not talking falling down drunk. I am talking when you have reached the point that you hit that “sweet spot” and you are not caring about anything at that moment because you have accomplished that mind numbing goal of disappearing into the bottle, the needle or even from the after dinner “smoke”. That is one of the ultimate lies we tell ourselves, when we teeter on the brink of social drinking and self medicating. It’s about how honest you want to be with yourself. But these behaviors, if you grow up with them have a profound affect on who you are and who you become, it may be defining if you let it, or if you are not aware of it. For you may marry a partner who has these traits because to you, they seem normal, and you will not see until you are way in it, how this spills into other areas of your life and the family dynamic is certainly affected in profound ways.
Now this is not about blame, because if you are a child, and this is all you know of your life, it is YOUR normal. If you are not aware of this from seeing what a healthy family dynamic is, you will not see the clear distinction between what is normal and what is dysfunctional . What makes a person vulnerable to being in an unhealthy relationship is a few things, low self-esteem for one is huge, it can make you believe that you have to settle for someone, who perhaps isn’t the best suited partner, but you feel unworthy of more and the first person that throws a little attention your way, gets your heart fluttering, even if they may be domineering and controlling you only see the fact that he smiled at you and accepts you. This is probably the second biggest lie we fall for. I do believe that people are attracted to a partner for the parts of themselves that are broken. Further, I believe that if we were not broken in some area, we could not attract that trait in a partner, they reflect to us what our subconscious refuses to see. Let that sink in. That is an absolute truth.
If you are, or have ever been in, an abusive relationship, you need to see it for what it is, and I say that because I know people who do not understand emotional abuse and refuse to acknowledge that it is a true thing. A partner will cut them down and insult them in front of family and friends quite often and they shrug it off and make excuses. That is not love. That is abuse and I cringe. I have sat in the presence of a couple I know well, and wanted to slap the shit out of this man, but I know that will not solve anything, I do however, being the sinful soul I am, cut him down and belittle him for her, and people just assume it’s my sassy, sarcastic funny self. Some of it is, but it’s my way of deflecting from this woman for a bit in the hopes that he will smarten up and stop being an ass, but to date it hasn’t happened, however, I believe that she is on the verge of leaving him so I am optimistic she is realizing the truth of her reality, which, by the way, is not always an easy pill to swallow, no matter how clear the writing on the wall is. No judgement by me ever, because I truly feel we are all doing the best we can at this moment. As the great Maya Angelou said, “When you knew better, you did better!” Indeed.
There have been so many songs, movies, and poems about what a good love looks and feels like. Picture it, from the depths of despair, when you’ve just about given up on finding your Prince Charming, here he comes to the rescue and sweeps you away to live happily ever after. Hell even a high paid call girl can find love with a millionaire, who strictly wanted an escort while in town, but falls in love with this half wit, sassy wannabe hooker. (Pretty Woman), and lest anyone forget the frenzy of kinky sex that 50 Shades has created. Which oddly enough, has not lead to protests of women being objectified as a means to serve a dominating man. Which, in my opinion, is certainly not what a consensual tryst resembles in this fashion if both partners are on board, and understand the importance of the sanctity and safety of the other.
I know we all want the fairytale and parts of us sometimes do need saving, but when it comes right down to it, the truth of the matter is, that the ultimate lie we let ourselves believe…. is the picture in our head, of how love is supposed to be, that my friends is an illusion we paint, to quiet the mind, for fear of being alone, the reality is, that love is going to be the way it is… painful, maddening, heartbreaking, joyful, beautiful and fucked up, and the key to it all, is to find the partner that is all of those things in your eyes, unfiltered, imperfectly, perfect.