After experiencing my first heart break, I found myself instantly grasping at the “better” and “wiser” advice of the women in my family. I thought I “did everything right” as if it were my responsibility to hold a relationship together. I would soon realize the truth behind the relationships between the men and women in my family.
“But granny he was my person. I would do anything for him, and he told me to my face that he wouldn’t leave me,” I said, “He didn’t even want to try to go to couple’s therapy. I don’t understand.”
“I know baby,” my granny said, “they never do want to go to the counseling.”
I knew from the look on her face that she was as serious and empathetic as she could be in that moment. It didn’t settle my thoughts though. I cried for another couple of days before wondering over to my auntie’s house.
“Men are selfish, Aura,” my auntie said. “It doesn’t get any easier.”
I realized that my first heart break would be my wake up call to breaking generational curses that have stunted the growth of the women in my family. Many women in my family are in a long-term relationship where only their basic needs were being met. Food is being provided. Bills are being paid with occasional hugs and I love yous. All things that every human being needs to physically survive was on the table but nothing more.
The thing that was lacking the most in my family members’ relationships was emotional availability and empathy. Considering that women are more emotionally in tuned and intelligent, the men were often emotionally shut off, selfish, and misogynistic. They had low patience and/or time for the woman in their life because beer, the boys, extracurriculars and/or work took up most if not all of their energy and time. These couples argued against each other instead of resolving issues as a team. I realized that with a lot of the long term relationships the women in my family were in were more so “survival mode partnerships.”
A “survival mode partnership” is a phrase I have created to describe when two people come together because they need each other. They may fall in love during the honeymoon phase of the relationship, but as time progresses, and the couples start to reveal the sides of them that aren’t the sunshine and rainbows they were used to in the honeymoon phase. Because there isn’t much intimacy, there isn’t much communication about these differences. Then after a while, that’s when hearts are broken or the women in my family settle for “what they got.”
I can’t blame the women in my family for falling for the first, second or third handsome fella that says he wants to love her and take care of her. That was the standard for women for years. A woman would spend her entire life learning how to be a poise sex toy for a man so that women can be able to have their basic needs met in this world. I fell into the same trap.
When I first met my first boyfriend, I was 19 years old and living in an unhealthy environment, my mother’s house. When I first started hanging with my first boyfriend, everything was always peaceful in his home. It was something that I had never had before when living in my mother’s house. It was something that I needed so desperately in my life. He and I would go into his room, light a candle, cuddle, and maybe indulge in deep conversations and I’d leave feeling like I was in heaven on earth.
My mom didn’t like how much time I was spending with someone of the opposite sex, so I decided that the way that I could spend more time with the person that brought me peace was to move out and in with my father, who would give me more freedom. It’s still not the best environment for me currently, but at least my father was less of a helicopter parent, and I could spend more time with my then boyfriend. To me, his chill demeanor and peaceful house were all I needed to keep me afloat at my father’s.
Then, a year and a couple of months came around and our relationship started to shift over time. More arguments were happening. Less effective communication and more build up occurred. I had no idea how to properly communicate and neither did he. But when things were good, they were so good it made me forget about the bad that was looming unaddressed.
One year and a couple of months in and I was moved in with him and finally able to get away from my unhealthy parents. Things were peachy until life got real. I was starting to get hit with the grief and depression that came with my life changing. I lost the relationship I had with my mom after trying to uphold boundaries and seek healing. Before moving out, I argued with my Dad, an argument that broke my spirit and my hope of building a relationship with him. I was a full time college student and working several jobs part-time. The friends that I had in Memphis, I no longer felt connected to because of how much I’ve grown throughout the years. And my then boyfriend packed his schedule with activities that were fulfilling for him.
I felt completely alone. My self esteem started to decline because I was gaining weight and losing sight of where my relationships with people were going. I lost sight of who I was. Symptoms of depression and anxiety started to creep in. I felt that I was boxed in. My boyfriend at the time, I would find out later, was not emotionally available and actually quite avoidant. He wasn’t the person I needed anymore, but I kept imagining that there would be a day that came and he would be. He ended up breaking up with me and that completely rocked my world.
For some reason, as the nurturing woman I am, I thought it was my responsibility to pick up the broken relationship and piece it back together. I found that the women in my family would do the same thing. They’d sacrifice their own happiness to keep the relationship together, to “keep their man.” That relationship was something that I thought I needed to keep me sane and for a while it probably was. But it didn’t have all the qualities I needed in order to be completely happy. I knew I deserved more but my self worth had become so low with all the hits I’d been taking through out the year, I couldn’t see that he and I had began slipping into a survival mode partnership.
I realized the reason this man was put into my life was to help me build my foundation for love, something that didn’t happen in my childhood. I realized that our relationship was not the relationship I deserved long term, but I was too blinded by love to see it.
After deciding that I would finally move on from him, I’ve done a lot of research on love and relationships and realize that things like emotional availability, quality time, and communication were mandatory for a healthy relationship. I realized what I thought was “asking for too much” was actually the bare minimum. I would learn that a relationship does have arguments but that they should always be the couple verses the problem not the couple against each other. I learned that talking to your partner everyday about the things that go on in their day is important in order to keep up with their personal journey, their growth. There are so many seemingly small but very important things that come with relationships that things like childhood trauma and lack of maturity are preventing from happening.
I don’t write this blog entry to shame anyone. I write this to bring awareness.
I write this now for the women who are with men that don’t value you. I write this for the women who are with men that value their own happiness over the soundness of the relationship. I write this for the women who are with men that don’t actively listen to you when you are talking. I write this for the women who are with men that don’t your leadership in the relationship. I write this for the women who are with men who are insecure and childish. I write this for the women who are with men that pay the bills but don’t pay you any attention. I write this for the women who are with men who secretly resents their woman for not being able to make enough to help with bills, or for the women who are with men who don’t pay a bill but still disrespects you in your own home. I write this for the women who are with men that value other men’s opinions more than that of their woman. I write this for the women who are with men that don’t like to talk to you at the end of the day because they don’t want to talk about “girl stuff.” I write this for the women that find themselves alone even when their significant other is sitting right there. I write this for the women that are fantasizing about a dream man but are committed to a man that doesn’t even know what your life goals and dreams are.
If you find yourself unhappy in your relationship, and you’ve tried to make things better but he’s stagnant, this is your sign. The man that is in your life is a stepping stone for you to get to something greater. For me, he was a stepping stone to launching me into a new version of myself.
Ask yourself, “who would I be if this man wasn’t in my life?” Ask yourself, “why am I allowing him to stop me from becoming that person?” The only way you will be able to see the truth about your survival mode partnership is to turn off your imagination. Stop seeing him as the man he “can be” and see him for who he is and ask yourself could I be with this man where he is now and still be fulfilled ? If the answer is no, then it’s time to move on.
Join me sister as we go from heartbroken to a break through.