When The Ones We Love Become The Ones We Lose
Stop destroying those relationships and learn to love yourself
I can safely say that I've destroyed more romantic relationships than anyone I know. From my late teens, when garden variety immaturity played the biggest role, to my last failed relationship in 2018 when I no longer had any excuses other than the need to fuck things up.
The first order of business is letting you know that I am currently in a very good relationship with a woman I love dearly. I have every intention of not fucking this up. I'll keep you posted. It's important to know because that's how I want this story to end. An ending where I've learned from so many mistakes that I couldn't help but get this right.
Self-Sabotage is nothing new, but it seems to have gotten a resurgence lately. Some of my favorite reality shows (Love is Blind and Married at First Sight come to mind) showcase damaged people who can't seem to get out of their own way to find true love. The term self-sabotage is used in psychology to define a behavior that interferes with a person's goals. For me, it refers mainly to my love life.
While I don't have any sort of degree in psychology, I did spend 17 years behind a bar (as a bartender, not a criminal). This gives me at least a small bit of expertise when it comes to human behavior. I've studied it behind bottles of booze and buckets of beer, but it that doesn't diminish the things I've heard. Most of the behavior was friendly. I met good friends that I still connect with today from those years. But what you learn about people, is that we all have damage.
Mine is typical: parents divorced when I was young. This happens to a lot of kids across the globe and I'm going to guess that half of them turn out just fine. I turned out just fine. But the scar tissue of that piece of my youth left me unsure and unable to keep a relationship. So we damage those around us.
Self-sabotage can come in many forms. Some of us destroy relationships, others damage their bodies through cutting, drinking, drugs. Anything you do to hurt yourself falls under the umbrella. And in the beginning, you'll use every excuse in the book to rationalize your behavior. You want to seem normal, aware, conscious.
Put down the needle, put down the spoon- The Love We Make by Prince
A drug addict can't get clean until he decides to get clean. That starts with recognizing he has a problem and then deciding to fix it. That's the easy part. Quitting any bad habit is hard. Very hard. And it can feel like an impossible hill to climb. But there is no other way to start the journey to recovery. The damage I did felt like protection.
None of us wants to get hurt in a romantic relationship. It's hard enough to open yourself up and let someone in, let alone feel betrayed or deceived. But what if the relationship was healthy and strong? What if it was going so well that you couldn't believe something like that is possible?
You destroy it. You find a reason why it's not working and you break it. You take a hammer to the glass and you shatter it like so much debris. Why? Because you won't allow yourself to believe that you won't get hurt. And the only way to mitigate the pain is by dictating how that relationship ends. On your terms.
She was going to hurt me eventually, so I may as well get out now- Me, on several occasions.
Pretty fucking stupid, right? You can say it, I did. But this was the pattern that I used over and over for twenty years. Until now, when I made it clear from the opening dialogue of our conversation.
The moment I start acting like an asshole, I want you to call me out on it
This is destructive behavior, I said. It's been almost a year, and she's only had to call me out a few times. I'm still here. I have every intention of fixing what's wrong.
Recognize there's a problem
Address the problem
And then stop hurting the ones you love to protect your own heart.
Communication is the key to getting better. You have a support group all around you, even if you don't see it right away. There is a place to get help, but it all starts with recognizing that we no longer want to lose the ones we love.
I feel blessed to have had so many chances to get this right. So this time, I'm going to get it right.