I’m about to share words with you that, if you take them to heart and heed my advice, will change your life. Ready?
“When someone shows you who they really are, don’t try to paint a new picture.”
Please take a moment to let that statement sink in. I’ll wait…
Did they sink? Good.
Now before I proceed, I must give you a bit of back story.
When Billy and I started living together our fights were frequent. Frequent and explosive. There were issues involved that I won’t go into but to bottom line it all I’ll just say while he and I have quite a bit in common, our life approach was vastly different. We found ourselves fighting simply because we wanted the other person to react and/or respond in such a way that WE felt was right. We wanted to dictate one another’s words and behaviors. There was a lot of “YOU said that wrong thing” or “YOU did the wrong thing.” Why was it all wrong? Because we expected each other to follow leader – do it my way, say it my way or NO way because your way is wrong! Instead of finding solutions we were creating more arguments. Instead of accepting that each of us has an opinion, a method, a brain of our own we were attempting to force behaviors and reactions that weren’t natural to us.
Then one day I read those words and BAM! It was like a lightening bolt has shattered my world but in a good way!
I gave our rough beginning some real thought and realized we needed to stop being enemies and simply ACCEPT. If he did something I disagreed with that did NOT make him wrong. It only made him different. If I said something he did not agree with that did NOT make me wrong. It only made me different. Different is okay. Different is good. In fact, I firmly believe different is necessary. Otherwise, imagine the boring world we’d live in if everyone felt, thought, did the same things!
I took my concerns to Billy and we talked about it. We agreed something needed to change if we were going to make our relationship work and we agreed we did want it to work. The love was there but the blinders were on and it was at that moment we removed them. We decided the smartest approach was to stop working so hard to try to change each other but to change the way we reacted to one another. Makes sense, yes? I think so, too.
See, when relationships are new there is a period, albeit brief, where we think we’ve found the PERFECT mate – this amazing person who will fill all of our needs, say all the right things and make all the right gestures of affection exactly the way we want them to. Then that moment happens when you realize the person you’re in love with does not fit into your Fantasy World of Perfection. You panic. If you’re an idiot like me (I’m not scared to admit it), you think to yourself “It’s okay. I can make the necessary changes.” You set about this effort of trying to change the other person and (again, I’m an idiot) not giving one iota of thought to what YOU are doing wrong and how YOU can change.
I believe it is Stephen Covey who said something like we immediately become more effective when we realize we must change ourselves instead of expecting things to change for us. My apologies if I’ve not quoted him verbatim, but you get the gist. He uses this quote in a more business-like manner but the same logic applies. For us to become the mate we want to be and speaking for myself, I want to be a good (make that great) partner then we need to search within ourselves, admit our mistakes and decide what needs to change. It takes a lot of courage to face our own adversity. It’s easy to sit around and point out troubles in others but to point out our own faults? That is quite a challenge.
For me, it took deep soul-searching. I had to go back and examine past relationships. I had to give serious consideration to how I reacted to various situations from my past. It was necessary for me to admit that I ALLOWED men in my life to affect the way I viewed myself and yes ladies (men too), we ALLOW others to muddle our perception of ourselves. Once someone has made you feel inferior or insecure then it is absolutely crucial to recognize that we only feel that way because we have allowed it by giving a person permission to control our self-worth. Once we understand that then it’s time to get to work on making changes because the truth is only we should have the power to dictate how we view ourselves. Unfortunately for Billy, he had to witness my ugly self before I had the ability to show him my not so ugly self and let’s face it, our ugly selves can’t have a successful relationship.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe all relationships are destined to be great. The thing to remember is that while we all have our breakups they can serve as valuable lessons. Instead of harboring bitterness or anger towards someone who has broken your heart, resolve to use that heartbreak as a tool for making you stronger. Don’t carry around guilt or anger at yourself, most importantly. Use that ugliness to make yourself more beautiful and instead of worrying so much about someone else’s behavior, work on your own. Once Billy and I made the agreement to stop trying to change each other and work on ourselves our relationship became a bit more peaceful. Granted, we still have our moments mostly because I can be horribly bitchy sometimes (I always ALWAYS blame hormones because I’m a woman and I can) and he’s human so he has his icky moments but the bad moments don’t last a fraction of the time they used to last. We acknowledge the bad then move on. There is no more harping on mistakes. There is now more time for love and talking instead of yelling, there is more time for happiness instead of going to bed angry and there is very little finger-pointing and blame. Why? Because we made the simple choice to keep our eyes on our own picture.