Have you ever found yourself in a cycle of constant battles? Whether with your spouse, or your kids, or your job. Have you wondered why that cycle won’t change? That battle has long been fought with my significant other, whoever that was at the time. I’ve been in a lot of shitty situations and was married to someone who destroyed me mentally and emotionally. He was a liar, a cheater, and manipulative. Somehow he managed to make all of our problems my fault. I spent those long five years with a shield and a sword, fighting for survival. It altered me and the way that I think. As a little girl, I idealized love and often imagined how beautiful my marriage would be; but because I experienced something so ugly and twisted I became cynical. Now anyone close to me pays the price.
I’ve finally found someone who is patient and (most importantly for me) honest; but like me, he’s been in situations where the fighting back was his only option for survival. Like me, he tends to get moody and doesn’t always know how to communicate how he feels clearly. It didn’t take long for me to become hyper aware of this and soon began noticing everything I didn’t like about him. Those natural defenses from a previous terrible situation quickly took hold, and we fought. We’ve fought hard. In the short time we’ve been together we’ve had more ups and downs than I’d like to admit, and I’ve struggled to try to make him see that I’m not the only one with these instability issues. I’ve talked myself black and blue trying to make him see his part in the arguments. And it frustrated me. Haven’t I already done this? Haven’t I already fought this battle? And the thing is that Kash is fairly good at owning up to his mistakes when it’s something he knows was a big deal. He struggles with my pointing out the small things, trying to push him to be the perfect ideal image of what I imagine in my head; and the truth is that I shouldn’t be. If you can’t love someone at their worst–when they’re projecting their feelings onto you and being sarcastic—then what is the point of loving them at all?
And then it hit me. When Kash and I first met, we clicked so easily and our energies balanced each other so well. I’ve struggled the last week wracking my brain trying to figure out why that’s changed, but the revelation came to me from something my therapist said. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Sounds cliche, right? But what if you take out the world, and simply practice being the change you wish to see? I suddenly very clearly realized that part of the reason why we got along so well before is that I was focused on Kayla. I was focused on making myself better, and somewhere along the way I got so caught up in Kash’s change. This is where our society falls short. We live in a selfish world where we believe that all of our reactions are because of something somebody has done or said rather than recognizing that our reactions are our own. They belong to nobody else but us. Conflict comes from how you react. No matter how frustrating your external situation is, how you handle yourself is what changes the outcome. It’s not my job to change my significant other. It’s not my job to worry about their growth or their change. That’s their battle and nothing I do or say will make them change unless they themselves want to. So what happens if I become the change? What happens if I become the change I wish to see in our relationship? I have very little doubt that if I take those steps and begin once again focusing on my journey of growth that our relationship will suddenly balance itself once again. “So you’re just going to let him walk all over you?” No. I’ll still let him know when something is bothering me using the 72-hour rule (if you struggle with picking your battles, practice waiting 72 hours before deciding it’s worthy of discussion). But to say “I’m not going to change if he won’t change” is selfish and quite honestly sells myself short. I should be evolving regardless of if he changes or not. Don’t let your ego try to trick you into thinking that your change relies on somebody else. In the end, no matter what happens between me and Kash, I want to be better. I want to learn to communicate more clearly, and how to remain calm and patient. I want to learn how to pick my battles and focus less on the small things that are ultimately not worth fighting over. That change relies on no one else but me. And I have very little doubt that my relationship will suddenly flourish with this new practice and mindset. I won’t be perfect. We will still fight. It’s naive to say that we will have the perfect relationship, and I don’t want perfect. I just want him. And if that means practicing our childhood cliche of treating others how I want to be treated, then that’s exactly what I will do. If I want kindness and understanding and patience, then I have to learn to be equally as kind and understanding and patient. I will be the change I wish to see in my life.
If you find yourself in a vicious cycle in your life, then I encourage you to look within and change yourself before changing anything else. Ultimately nothing will ever truly change unless you take the necessary steps to change yourself. It won’t be easy, and it won’t feel good all the time to step so far out of your comfort zone. Your ego will fight you. Your mind will try to revert back to its safe place. But the more you practice, the better you will become. I believe in you. I believe that you are capable of this journey no matter how hard it may seem. You are awesome and loved. Never forget how beautiful your mind is, or how strong your will is. You are worthy of love. But most importantly, you are worthy of loving yourself.
“Act the way you want to be and soon you will be the way you act.”