***Original post by Joy Pecoraro on Medium.com***
After all the pain and heartbreak, I would have assumed the overall lesson would have been to only trust my dog, Frankie. Yes, Frankie is more loyal and emotionally aware than any male I’ve ever encountered, but the lessons my past relationships left taught me more about who I am than who I am not.
Before this article starts a revolution and causes unsoliticed emails from ex boyfriends believing this is the beginning of a “Tell-All” memoir, let me clarify my intention:
To highlight the positive aspects from situations that were once only filled with darkness and regret.
1. Never compete with another woman. Ever.
In my 20s, I fell madly in love with a man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. That is, until he broke up with me the day after my birthday without any reason whatsoever. Six months later he admitted he had cheated and that the guilt was too much to deal with, so he came clean via text message. What a day that was.
During that six month period of not knowing what happened, I became aware of other women he was courting and which woman would hold the title of ‘Rebound’ (thank you, MySpace). I compared every single thing about me to her; from her hair to her mannerisms, I wanted to know why she had been “chosen” next. I assumed that naturally, he had to upgrade because it made logical sense that you’d go from something great to something better. So by default, she had to be better than me. No one is better than anyone, we are all unique and different. As I often say: different strokes for different folks.
I overanalyzed her to death at the expense of my self-esteem and self-worth. I learned that being in love with a man did not justify having to expose my best sales and marketing abilities. When a man chooses to be with another woman that is not you, that in itself is enough of a motivator to let go. Let go as fast as you can because there’s someone else in the world waiting for a woman just like you. And if you’re holding on for some reason while they’re galavanting with another woman, I suggest you explore which part of you needs healing because no one should be okay with that scenario.
Ladies, don’t sell yourself to anyone! The only time you should is when you’re trying to close a business deal. I learned that when two people choose to spend their time together it is because they both find value in the other individual. It’s that simple. If he/she wants to live without you, let them. If you don’t value yourself enough to expect the bare minimum, what makes you think someone else will treat you like the queen that you are?
2. You have to be whole by yourself if you want to be in a great relationship.
In the words of Julia Michaels: we all have issues. If your issues are related to self-esteem, work on them before becoming someone’s partner. The person that you’re with should be an added bonus, not a requirement. You should want to be with him/her, not need them. Otherwise, you subconsciously base your worth on what that other individual says to you or how they treat you. You think things like: “He forgot to give me a gift for our anniversary. He must not love me.”
Having a high self-esteem means knowing yourself enough to define your non-negotiables and having the strength to walk away when you know you’ve given the relationship your best effort. When I was younger, I was okay with giving up spending time with my friends in order to spend more time with my significant other because my self-esteem dictated that come in any place, but first.
Recently, I caught myself in a similar situation when coincidentally, my depression was at its worse. Sacrificing what was important to me for the sake of someone’s approval only led to resentment and anger. In both of those situations, I wasn’t whole and therefore, expected my partner to fill the gaps within me that were solely my responsibility to address. Your partner is not responsible for your happiness, you are. Find joy on your own, know who the hell you are when no one is watching, focus on the things that make time feel invisible, and watch how the people you begin to attract complement the wonderful individual you were before they walked into your life.
3. Your pain will be purposeful if you’re ready to receive the lessons.
At times it has felt like I’ve dated the same people with different physical traits. Similar men showed up in my life to teach me the same exact lessons. It wasn’t until I was ready to face the pain head-on that I absorbed what the universe was trying to tell me for the past 30 years of my life.
My heart has felt like it’s breaking even when I’ve initiated the separation. Pain is scary because it’s accompanied with uncertainty. At one point, your partner was the only person you could envision yourself with and now, trusting your own judgment is a foreign concept. For a long time, it was easier for me to pretend the pain didn’t exist by occupying my time with anyone and anything that served as a distraction.
But when you’re ready to learn from life, you sit with the painful emotions as if they were your roommate. You learn why you have certain reactions and what the true cause of your attachment stems from. Whether you’re attached to the idea of what the relationship once was, anger, resentment… all of it serves no purpose and actually drains us of energy that could be allocated elsewhere.
For me, discovering unresolved childhood wounds was the catalyst that led to a positive personal transformation. These wounds were the root cause of my severe depression and lack of creative initiative with The WOWW Campaign Podcast. The pain I accepted into my life took me on a complicated journey, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Knowing where things went wrong with the intention of making it right allowed me to move forward in every aspect of my life with a sense of ambition and determination that I didn’t even know existed.