All my life I have enjoyed relationships: friendships, romantic relationships, relationships with pets and children… I was born a very sensitive person who could feel the energy of those around me. And because my purpose felt as though I was here to make everyone live in joy, helping others was all I wanted to do. Of course when you are young, you are also naive and immature. We haven’t had many life experiences to learn from either. This caused me to be taken advantage of, bullied and become broken-hearted more times than I could count. And although I placed blame on everyone else and felt I was the victim, with hindsight I realized that I made myself the victim. I made myself the victim by not having a voice, by not taking care of myself (because I was too busy trying to please everyone). I made myself the victim because I was hurt, angry and had no self-love. When you are young, you do not see this. Even adults make themselves the victim because they refuse to take time to learn about themselves. We tend to get into relationships to fill a void; that void of the love we should be feeling for ourselves. When our mate stops filling that void our relationship starts to go south.
It wasn’t until 1992 that I finally had the courage to break off a very abusive relationship with an alcoholic man who used my insecurity and lack of self-love against me when I started to gain some self-worth. He was abusive in every sense of the word and my friends and family knew it. I had lost friendships and the strong connection to my family during my time with him. He was just as broken as I was, and all I wanted to do was help him get better. I was neglecting to take care of me. The lesson for me: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Once I filed a PFA against him I was finally free. After some time, I realized that I was free from him but I was not free from my self-doubt and all the inner demons I wasn’t even aware of. The question I kept asking myself was, “Why wasn’t I enough?”
More broken hearts came. I broke a few of my own. The journey with relationships was so hard for me. Why was it so hard to find that mutual love and keep it? My biggest broken heart happened in 1999 when my grandmother passed away. She was my best friend. My heart was so broken that I never thought I would be able to pick up the pieces and put them back together. And I never again wanted to love and lose like that. This caused me to get into relationships where I knew I would not fall in love and get hurt. I settled.
After two divorces and a 4-year relationship with a person I have known most of my life, I was done. My heart was tired. The funny thing is that I am stubborn, which is why I keep trying no matter what. Relationships can be difficult, but I still loved being in them. It wasn’t until I took two years of being single and filtering out negative friendships that I realized my biggest issue was the fact that I didn’t love myself. When we do not love ourselves we tend to attract people who also do not love themselves. We stay in relationships for the wrong reasons: money, fear, kids, loneliness and the simple fact that we are comfortable being uncomfortable. People think it is easier to stay in a miserable relationship because of the risks they have to take leaving it. I have learned that the risks are totally worth it.
Taking that leap of faith forces us to work on ourselves, unless we choose to stay in a place of misery and blame. I wrote an article a while back about the spiritual elevator. Sometimes we are going up and some are not coming with us. This life is about growing and evolving into the person we are meant to become. When we stay stuck, we cannot grow. If you are a sensitive person like me, you will know that staying stuck isn’t an option because it physically and emotionally hurts you to stay, even if you truly love the person. Eventually, you will get sick if you continue down that path. Sometimes life even hands you a huge sign when you do not move forward and it can be in a very negative way.
One major lesson I have learned is that a lot of relationships that seem difficult for us are because the other person is mirroring a behavior within ourselves that we either do not see or that we refuse to work on. Once I made the conscious decision to ask myself, “What is it about that person that I do not like about myself?” is when I stopped judging and started digging within me to truly evolve. And while this helps tremendously, if we do not love ourselves, no relationship will ever work out. It will for awhile (sometimes a very long time), but not forever. What causes us to not love ourselves can be so many different things, and different for everyone. We take things personally, we focus on a painful past–maybe we felt unloved and not nurtured by our parents and family, maybe we were in situations where we felt very controlled and unable to be who we felt we are. That is something that each individual needs to find out for themselves.
In my relationship with Jay, we are evolving together. This wouldn’t happen if we didn’t love ourselves before loving each other. There was a time when I needed some time to work on me. I wasn’t going to date since he was the one I loved. When I asked for some time, he very gladly and willingly gave it to me stating that he would be ready whenever I was. It was only a matter of three days when I contacted him and was ready to move forward. Just his response and his willingness to allow me to grow without him, even if only for a few days, showed me that he truly knows what love is and that he truly loves me. When we love someone without fear and without conditions, it feels free, safe and we are content and yet filled with joy. There is no need to be jealous, possessive and scared. Relationships are meant to help each other grow. In no way am I saying that we shouldn’t work on our relationships before bailing, unless it is in some way abusive and/or toxic to your spirit. There are so many therapists out there who can help. Just know that you are the only one who knows what’s best for you. You may need to shut out the guilt that the other is trying to make you feel. Know that it is not out of love but rather out of insecurity, fear and loneliness. Most do not want their boat rocked and rather just keep things as they are. Do whatever is best for you. Life is short. If I would have stayed stuck, I wouldn’t be with Jay, the one person who accepts me as I am, gives me wings to fly, supports everything I do, lets me be me and stands by me through everything. In order for us to find each other, we had to love ourselves first.
Amy Musser, a Hellertown resident, is a spiritual adviser and owner of The Angel Whisperer based at Sacred Space in Hellertown. She was diagnosed with grade 3 astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer, in 2016. She documents her progress fighting the disease and shares inspiration on Facebook.