Trust, Self Esteem, and the Blame Game. A Red Flag I Will Never Ignore Again.

Since I, Flat April, am in a dating lull, I felt it would be prudent to share some about myself, my past, and what I will be looking for in a partner when the dating scene picks up again.

I think some people just sail through life without a care in the damn world, and others are taught lesson after lesson after lesson. The latter people just want to scream at the world, “I don’t need anymore life lessons bitches! I have had my share of them!? I should be fucking Gandhi by now!”

I know this because I am one of those “learned life lessons” kind of women. I often have questioned: Where is my big house, white picket fence, man who loves me eternally, 2.5 kids, and a golden retriever named Sandy?

It’s my fault really, or maybe it’s karma. I was married for nine years to a man who led me on about having kids, and who was a cat lover (no golden retriever for me). Around half way through my marriage, it all just kind of stopped, and I don’t think my ex or I knew how to put it back together properly. I tried to get affection and attention from him, and he just closed up like a clam. He was actually, in retrospect, very selfish and my wants were rarely, if ever, taken into account in the relationship.  Needless to say, eventually, I left, he didn’t take it well and I made him flat like I am right now.

It’s been years since then, and I still talk to my ex, Lenny as friendly acquaintances. If you ask him he will say that I am not a jealous person. If anything, Lenny was more jealous than I was. Looking back I think Lenny and I, for the most part, respected the relationship. It’s like we had a code of honor when dealing with other men and women within our marriage.

Now, that doesn’t mean there weren’t times either of us strayed (and were caught), but day to day, we knew what to say and what not to say. How to show the other one that there was no one else without actually needing to bring it up. Neither of us had a plethora of friends from the opposite sex, all of whom we had slept with at one point. Neither of us regularly kept in touch with anyone of the opposite sex outside of our marriage. When we were together our phones weren’t on our minds, and we were both content that the other was faithful.

Ya see, the one time Lenny wasn’t faithful, I knew it. It was as clear as the daylight through a clean window. He was obvious about it. I knew it could happen again when we worked things out, but I knew I would know when it did, so I just crossed my fingers and hoped our life together was enough.

When I left Lenny, it’s like I shut down robot style. I think a lot of “Dumpers” will tell you they just turn off all their emotions.  I felt absolutely nothing, and it was nine months before I properly grieved the relationship. The break up really had nothing to do with trust issues on either side.

In contrast, my recent ex fiance, Cal, whom crushed me, was always telling me how jealous I was.

There is nothing worse that trying to control a gut instinct about something and failing miserably, and that is exactly what I was trying to do the entire relationship.

Cal was right, I didn’t trust him. No matter how much I tried to trust him I just couldn’t. When I couldn’t get a hold of him I had a knot in my stomach. When I went away for business or a girls trip, the entire time I was freaking out inside about what he was doing.

I seriously felt that there was something wrong with me. Maybe residual feelings from my marriage ending? SOMETHING?  Why was I so messed up?

In my defense, for the purposes of this blog, I was NEVER the girlfriend who would come out of no where yelling at her boyfriend about “Fucking someone else.” That kind of crazy jealousy simply never happened. For me, it was questioning things from time to time, and getting upset when he actually did do something perceived as shady. A few times I was out of line, and in retrospect, a few times what he did was just wrong. Even so, he put all the blame for these things on me, and I took on all the blame.

While we were together, I even went to counseling for my jealousy issues at Cal’s behest. My counselor, Michelle, who I went to during my divorce was amazing and I trusted her whole heartedly. After hearing our story she looked me right in the eye and said:

“Oh [Flat] April, it seems like you have been given a  lot of reasons not to trust Cal, but you’re sitting there wondering why you can’t trust him. You don’t see anything wrong with that? Why are you putting all of the blame for your mistrust on your own shoulders? If you could know ahead of time that a relationship would have a bad ending like your marriage, do you think you’d want someone to tell you that? Or would you rather be blind to it?”

I know what she was trying to tell me or “make me see on my own.” I didn’t want to hear that though, so I never went back. I didn’t want to hear anyone telling me the truth about the things that happened with Cal.

Maybe, in some ways, it was easier to put the blame for our issues on myself and my “jealousy issues.” I knew if I faced the truth, I’d have to leave him or else I was just a doormat.

Of course, at the end of our relationship Cal threw the fact that I never went back to the counselor in my face as a flaw of mine. He doesn’t realize the counselor was far from condoning him and his actions. He wouldn’t be able to handle hearing that anyway.  His bruised ego would have went into a bit of a rage.

When Cal broke it off and left me flat, “my issues with jealousy” were a huge part of the reason according to him.

I LET the situation with Cal strip away a huge part of my self esteem while I was trying my best to just trust him, the entire time blaming myself and beating myself up, no matter what he said or did.

In retrospect, with distance from the relationship, I didn’t trust Cal because he had proven himself over and over again to be untrustworthy. I stayed because of all the amazing things he said and did otherwise, but trustworthiness was not part of his amazing qualities.

I would have rather avoided this lesson, but yes, this was a huge life lesson for me. Trust or lack there of is a huge deal breaker.

The lesson I learned was several parts. Once someone show’s you who they really are, believe them, and always trust your gut. Don’t eat someones shit just to keep someone loving you, and when something goes against your values and moral compass, walk away before you are in so deep that you change yourself to stay in that situation.

You see, as I go forward, the greatest thing I will be looking for is someone who is trustworthy and someone who deserves my trust. If someone shows me that they are not trustworthy, and doesn’t share my values, I will have to force myself to move on. I’ve seen how this all plays out, and getting involved in it again is just self destructive. Hasta La Vista asshole.

Ladies, put yourself first. If you are in a relationship where you are constantly needing to question things, then there is probably a reason why. Take a cold hard look at yourself, and if you don’t like what you see, you better start questioning what you are still doing there. Moving on from a long term relationship is hard, I get it, the withdrawal sucks, and giving up on all your hopes and dreams with that person is excruciating. Living a life where you are constantly on edge though, that is far worse.

If you don’t have trust in your relationship, it is simply not going to work. Once trust is shattered, it can never be glued back together perfectly, so start from day one with a strong foundation and don’t get caught up with someone you can’t trust. I would be lying if I said i didn’t see the warning signs within my own relationship. I saw them all and did nothing to prevent the relationship from moving forward.

Never again. I am worth more than that.

Walking away from someone who shows me their true colors will be telling the universe, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” I’m ready for something real, good and true. No more fuckboys, asshats, and douchebags please. Granting yourself permission to find better, will free you up to hopefully, eventually, find the perfect man for you.

 

 

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