Before I faced how I felt about my childhood, my relationships, and myself due to these and any choices I’d made in adulthood, I was avoidant. People asked what I was looking for in a relationship, and I’d make wisecracks. I’d regale them with tales of shadiness and unavailability. My past was very much in my present.

Because I didn’t know myself and what I ultimately needed, wanted, and expected within a relationship, instead of articulating who I was and my hopes and aspirations, I expressed what represented my pain and, in some respects, my nightmares. And then I used humour as a distraction so I didn’t have to feel my pain. Really, how could I expect to move forward when I was so immersed in my past? Living it, thinking about it, going out with variations of my parents. Trying to right the wrongs of the past, holding onto hurt and even grudges, plus believing I was experiencing an extended run of bad luck and that something ‘about me’ provoked everything that wasn’t right about my life.

If the past keeps calling your attention and efforts, it prevents you from enjoying the present and moving forward.

You don’t experience ‘now’, and the future isn’t regarded as unwritten. You veer between predicting doom based on the past or speculating about whether you can make the past different in the future. The past dominates. Until you put the past into a healthy perspective where you can live in your present, you feel disappointed. The past keeps showing up in your thoughts and actions, which, of course, affects your beliefs and your choices. And so round and round you go on The Disappointment Cycle.

Let’s also not forget that if you’re using the same thinking and actions, life keeps throwing similar lessons your way via your experiences. You move on from a lesson when you truly learn and heed it.

My takeaway lessons tended to be centred on my worth (‘I’m not good enough‘) and homing in on a few things in the relationship. Looking back, my focusing on these distorted the thinking behind subsequent choices, especially because concentrating on someone’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ points reduces them from being a whole while also giving the impression that these points tell the entire story.

If I thought I’d been ‘too outgoing’ in one relationship, the next time, I’d try to water myself down, only I wouldn’t recognise myself anymore. The net result was the same; I wasn’t being myself in either of these relationships. I felt controlled in one relationship with a significant age gap. So, the next time, I went out with someone younger and seemingly passive but who was actually quite passive-aggressive. The net result was the same: jealousy, possessiveness, and Yet Another Toxic Relationship.

It’s The (Polar) Opposites Game.

You try to escape what you focus on and wind up with the same or even worse, even if it feels like you chose someone different. Different qualities and characteristics (or assuming there were), similar dynamic.

It’s like going, ‘My last ex drank too much, so I’ll be with a teetotaler’. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t end up in a similar unhealthy dynamic. Take it from someone who has tried out each type of unavailable relationship for size!

‘My last ex didn’t call very much, so this time I’m going to prioritise getting someone who calls’. While calling is good, it’s not the whole picture. 

‘My last ex didn’t want to do enough exciting things in bed. This time, I’m going to be with someone wild.’ That doesn’t mean the relationship will be better; it’ll be sexier.

Sometimes we avoid responsibility and seeing the bigger picture by making someome else the solution to our internal dilemma.

Let’s be real; many people have shagged around or had an emotional affair with The Person Who Understands Me Better Than My Existing Partner TM behind their partner’s backs and yet not left that relationship. Or they were in for a short, sharp surprise about what they’d focused on to the exclusion of. The affair showed them that neither the affair nor their existing relationship was the solution to their own avoidance and lack of self-awareness about what they need, expect, and want in a relationship and where they need to step up for themselves.

Something you become more aware of when your thinking, actions, and choices are rooted in healthy self-awareness, including knowing your values and what you need to experience to know you’re in a mutually fulfilling relationship with all of the ‘landmarks‘, is that unless you lack self-awareness and are even in denial about your contribution to relationships, out of respect for each partner, you don’t choose partners based on what one has versus what one doesn’t.

When we enter into relationships in the present, we are self-aware enough to get a reading on our feelings and to ensure we’re ultimately stepping up for ourselves. 

If we choose partners based primarily on being past-focused, not only does it become about comparing instead of the merit of the relationship and what we want, need, and hope for right now and in the future, but it can also result in us not truly learning from our experiences. 

We have to evaluate and process how something has affected us, which takes a willingness to have an honest conversation with ourselves. We need to have enough self-compassion and good boundaries to not focus on blame. Instead, we concentrate on taking away growth lessons from these experiences so that we can move forward. We don’t forget the past, but it becomes about being here now and talking about what we do want and need as a representation of who we are, not as a response to the pain we continue to be in. 

I used to cart a lot of baggage around with me, but it was offloading the excessive baggage, the pain, the distorted stuff, and repacking while ‘reclaiming’ myself that freed me.

Your thoughts?

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