I recently read a book for my book club called Behind Closed Doors, which I chose and profusely apologized for afterwards, in which this (idiot) woman is basically being held prisoner by her psychopath husband. Spoiler alert, this (idiot) woman marries this man before she realizes he’s a lunatic who murdered his mother and is pretty much kept locked up in the basement 3 days a week. Anyways, this resulted in a long talk about people who stay in bad and unhealthy relationships in general. We’ve all done it, we’ve all been there and we’re not all idiots. I can hear it crystal clear: ‘You can do so much better.’ So much time spent justifying and defending to faces of poorly disguised disappointment as if they have any idea how intricate the ties are that hold the two of you together. In the words of Dane Cook, “You don’t understand! He has my CDs, ok?!” But real talk, there’s a bond that holds us to them as if we owe them some part of ourselves, as if we haven’t given enough already, as if we still have anything left to give. So we stay.
My friend called me one morning and I may or may not have still been feeling the effects of the 4 acres of agave plants I consumed the night before. I don’t even remember what exactly she was talking about, something about the guy she was dating and his texts or his hair or how he was acting weird, who knows but before I could even stop myself, I burst out “He’s not shiny enough for you!” And he wasn’t. She knew it too. And that’s the thing, we already have the answers. When we ask other people for their opinion, we aren’t really soliciting advice but more confirming what our mind has already declared. I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again, if you ever have to question where you stand in someone’s life, you already know the answer. Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. I mean, if every single one of your friends has confronted you with concerns, maybe notice the giant red flag in your face but if your Aunt Carol and Uncle Marshall don’t give you a plus one to your cousin’s wedding, they’re just trying to save on a dinner plate and maybe your last significant other ruined the family photos, ok? Nobody wants to have to explain to the grandkids who that is in 40 years – stop acting like everything is about you, sheesh.
I, myself, have stayed in relationships far longer than I should have. Like, epically long. Turns out I’m more loyal to love than I am to myself. I want to believe in the best of people and I choose to believe that what they’re telling me is true…so maybe that does make me naive afterall. I don’t know if we choose who we love. Sometimes I wonder how much of a say we really have in any of this or if it’s all fate and destiny and bippity-boppity-boop pulling the strings. Can you control your feelings? My years of dumb decisions would suggest not. Maybe I worry I’ll never find it again, so I hold on far longer than I should. What if no one ever loves me that hard again? What if that’s the most love I’ll ever experience? I seek permanence in temporary people because I know how rare it is to find someone who truly sees you. So I keep holding on and I cling to notions of who we once were rather than believing in the disappointment we’ve become. Like those pants I’ll fit back into again. I’m also stubborn, so maybe I’m just trying to prove I was right, that my feelings are valid and that it wasn’t a mistake.
We pine for people we shouldn’t and develop feelings for individuals that even confuse ourselves. I’ve felt things for people in the past that I think about now and it’s like – what on earth was that all about? Sometimes I feel things for other people I can’t even explain. I have no idea how that works but it’s a definitive clash of the heart and mind. I’ve fallen for people that were only supposed to be momentary. I’ve fallen for people I’m pretty sure I don’t even like. I’ve fallen unexpectedly and unintentionally. I’ve fallen for pretty much every kind of wrong. The co-worker, the ex, the friend’s ex, the boss, the friend’s brother, the brother’s friend, the ex again, the groomsman – so many groomsmen, the taken one, the one with a cat named Princess ( #fact )…my track record is giant trainwreck. You have no idea. There really isn’t a common denominator – believe me, my friends don’t even understand my decisions half the time. People ask what my type is, I’m like…dudes?
I will say this. If you are one of those people in a relationship where you aren’t getting what you’re giving, get out. No one is perfect, but if you find yourself constantly making excuses for them, open your eyes to the reality of the situation. If you’re constantly feeling inadequate, underappreciated and invisible, you have to make the choice to love yourself more and to put yourself first. This is not to be confused with the ebbs and flows of being in a relationship. I think too many people give up too quickly. But I do know that when you’re more in love with the memories than the person standing in front of you, it’s time to reevaluate or put in the work. Love should make you happy more than not. You are never stuck. Love is a choice. Love is hard. Love is rare. If you don’t treat it as such, it will slip from your fingers. And for those of you who have given up hope, my cactus came back from the dead. Anything is possible.