This article which launches my weekly column, is an extension of my blog Tired of Men. This week I’m looking at a recurrent theme in my life, but also in those of the readers of this site. Patterns. Not the knitting sort, but the type you can’t shake off like an over-exuberant admirer who keeps rubbing his willy on your leg!

They say that in order to know where you’re going to, you need to know where you’re coming from, but how far do we need to look back and when does it become too much?

Well the past may not be something we like to revisit, but we can learn a hell of a lot from it.

After breaking up from a ‘relationship’ a few months back, a sense of unease wrapped itself around me and I realised something that anyone who is trying to understand who they are and why their love life isn’t working too well should know.

We are the only consistent character in every single scene of our sitcom called life. We don’t have our exes in each of our relationships, and the only person who features in every relationship is US, which means that we have to take responsibility for the part we had to play in things.

Don’t get me wrong, all of my exes are still dipsticks, possibly even bigger ones, but if I don’t want to find myself in the same place again, I need to break the pattern.

Everyone has a pattern, even when we don’t actually realise it, but the frightening thing is that the pattern can define your relationship history without you giving it a thought. I’ve been knitting one, pearling one, dropping the occasional few stitches but I’ve knitted myself a long-ass scarf made from a bad pattern. I am aware of it, I want to shake it off, I will shake it off, yet there are signs that I have to be so switched on to avoid falling into the trap again.

I think my pattern started in childhood, with you guessed it, an unavailable father. My parents split when I was two and apparently I was heartbroken and grieving like my entire family had never seen someone do before. I saw him quite a bit for the first few years but the rose coloured glasses became rather clear, and after a few years it dripped out to occasionally and then nothing at all for a long time, and now I see him a couple of times a year. My mum and stepfather’s relationship, great as they are, was turbulent with a capital T to say the least.

As an adult I seem to have been in hot pursuit of security, the sensation of ‘love’, but it seems that I forgot to take care of me first because a spot of self love was needed and it was evident from the relationships that I embarked on that it was missing. I think I took my father going as some sort of early warning sign that I’m not good enough and his subsequent lack of attention only reaffirmed it. At 28 years old, I’ve never had either of my parents explain what happened all of those years ago. I think something internal in me is quite childish about love and it’s uncomfortable to admit it.

Every time we perpetuate our pattern, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy which means we are setting ourselves up to fail and calling him a wanker at the end of it. If we follow the pattern that we’ve always followed, the results are our responsibility and surely we should know the outcome by now? He may still be whatever you think of him, but you chose him. You don’t deserve his actions because we’re all responsible for our own, but if we don’t love ourselves enough, how the hell do we expect them to?

Every single guy I have gone out with has been emotionally, spiritually or physically vacant (a Mr Unavailable) and it pains me sometimes to look at my track record. I have to look at me because the exes are of no use to me. I chose them, not in a conscious ‘I like dipsticks’ way, but in a subconscious, ‘I don’t treat myself like I deserve’ better way. I think I secretly wonder when someone is going to pop up behind me and say that I’m deluded and I’m really deserving of dipsticks. I tell myself I deserve better but often take worse. I’ve been afraid that people would think I thought too highly of myself if I stood my ground and told the guys to beat it. I think that I feared not having someone because I’ve always been taught that I’m supposed to have someone. But I do have someone, Me.

I was walking down the street yesterday and a loud voice popped into my head from nowhere and said “You know you didn’t HAVE to walk out the way you did”. I actually looked around to see if someone was beside me and I instantly knew what the voice meant. I had to walk away from ex fiance two and a half years ago, for my sense of self and because it wasn’t right, but I didn’t have bring all the drama to it.

It must be difficult to be the cast member that plays ‘date’, ‘significant other’, or spurned ex. I perpetuate their very behaviour by not only allowing myself to adjust to their BS and compromising myself, but also by allowing them into my life in the first place and then allowing them to take the piss. I play along and probably let them feel ultra comfortable and then I wake up one day and I have clarity, I have vision, and I rise up out of the ashes. Their days are numbered from that moment and I’m just reeling out the rope so that they have more than enough to hang themselves with. These guys don’t stand a chance in the first place because they know that something went wrong in my thinking for them to be there in the first place. Some of them have even said this to me!

I know of a lot of women who are unhappy with where they have been and are in terms of their relationships. Some are happy on their own, some aren’t, some are in relationships and unhappy, and others, like me are trying to steer clear till they figure this out. Patterns are hard to break and if you don’t know that you’re creating one, it’s even harder. They say that there is no such thing as a ‘random’ killing and that the murderer has got some sort of MO, some sort of pattern, they just have to solve it. Random things that occur do actually have a sequence. Well there’s no such thing as a random relationship either. We are all choosing our relationships and the people that are making us unhappy, and they in turn are choosing us. We suit their agenda, and they suit ours.

My mum once said to me after a break-up that I was behaving as if I was a woman without options, that my relationships were the type she would expect of someone who thinks they have limited choices because they have a few kids, no husband and little security. It stung.

We all have options and if you’re shedding tears about why everyone else is settling, why you don’t have a man, why you’re unhappy, it’s OK to say that the exes are dipsticks, but look at yourself first because you take centre stage in your own life. Don’t keep looking back though. Take your past, look at it, learn from it, get some closure on it, park it and move on. The past is a past for a reason so start a new pattern!

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