There are moments in life when things unexpectedly shift from a deep, gloomy shade of blue to a lighter shade of sky, and then eventually the gorgeous pinks, reds and oranges of a sunrise.

When a light bulb flicks on in your head and you see something that you’ve been missing for days, months, possibly even years, it doesn’t change what caused the sea of blue, it makes it look more like a calm lake than a raging ocean.

I have had those moments many times, but one in particular stood out. After the breakdown of what I thought was my first “real, healthy” relationship, I fell into a deep dark ocean where I could only tread water, and I stayed there for what felt like an eternity. I didn’t want to get out.

After what happened, happiness seemed short lived, and left me as quickly as it took me over. I felt as if I would never feel any better. I had fallen deep into a depression that would come and go, and a false sense of healing.

However, what I failed to realise is that I hadn’t addressed the real problem. The real problem was that I didn’t want to get out. I didn’t want to feel better. I just wanted to continue to feel bad about myself – be the victim.

And then, I met someone new.

He is nothing like my previous partners. In retrospect, I have never been with anyone like him.

He is gentle, understanding, supportive, and at the same time, kicks my arse when it’s needed.

And honestly, I didn’t know what to do with him. I still don’t know what to do with him, sometimes.

Because, here is someone who doesn’t want to use me in ways that my previous partners had. And I don’t know how to handle that.

One night, after a particularly tense time with my current love interest, I broke down, and I couldn’t understand why I resisted a real relationship so fiercely.

I couldn’t understand why this was so hard. I couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let myself be cared for by someone. I was treading water again, the same water as I had been in for so long, and I was frustrated.

I just kept asking myself: What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be whole again? Why do I feel so empty and unloved?

I stayed that way until a friend of mine asked, “Do you think you deserve something so good?”

This was something I had never asked myself. I was so caught up in what I was feeling that I never had the courage to truly look inside and see why this was so hard for me.

It was because I was afraid. All I had known was the deep dark blue of abuse, and I had fostered the false belief that I didn’t deserve anything better. That I didn’t deserve love and care. Because of the abuse, I felt dirty, unworthy of love.

For years, I found myself and put myself in situations with people who didn’t mind using me. I let them, because I wanted to be part of them. I wanted to be liked, loved so much that I compromised myself. I was used, abused, and hurt and thrown away and after a while that’s who I thought I was. A woman in her late thirties, stuck in the body of a young girl, spinning wildly in the same circles over and over again.

I had kept that feeling as an integral part of who I was, and how I related to people. I had created my whole self-image around the belief that I didn’t deserve love.

And because of this I had attracted people who didn’t want to love me, and I seemed to repel people who truly cared about me. And this happens over and over again.

Then, through endless (late night) talks with my current partner and psychologist, I realized that in order to reverse this flow of people and energy I had to redefine how I see myself.

One day, I couldn’t remember when, but the light bulb popped in my head – the waves of emotion started to calm down, and my sun started to rise.

Suddenly, I could understand why I felt like this, and though I couldn’t undo years of this type of thinking instantly, at least, these days, I am able to see it for what it really is.

Since “waking up”, I know how easy it is to unconsciously repeat patterns, and how frightening it is to break them. Repeating these patterns is easy, comfortable because I just want to feel worthless / hopeless. As if I can’t be loved and cared for.

I know have a long journey of recreating myself ahead of me. And that’s something that I probably should’ve done a long time ago, but I believe I needed to tread water for a while to truly understand.

And that’s totally alright. It really is. And I shan’t let anyone else tell me otherwise.

And let’s face it, I’m not out of the water yet, and the sunshine hasn’t completely bathed me in its enlightened glow. I know that it may take many more months to understand why I do the things I do in relationships.

However, I will try to take baby steps because NO ONE should feel like they don’t deserve someone who can love them for exactly who they are.

Because, everyone deserves to love and be loved, even if that means they have to tread water for a while first.

 

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