Growing Pains

Introduction: Food for Thought

Let’s say you are cooking a new meal idea you have never had before. You cannot find a recipe so you just wing it. You think to yourself “I think I know what’s basically in it”, so you give it a try with the ingredients you already had in your possession.

Let’s be honest, it probably won’t taste very good.

I mean sure, maybe you got lucky and you just so happened to have all the ingredients you needed to make it taste pretty good.

I tried cooking that new meal. Unbeknownst to me, the measurements were off and I was missing key, high quality ingredients. I thought about going to the store but without a recipe, I probably would not have grabbed the right items. I was just so hungry and eager to make the new meal, even if it turned out nasty.

It’s funny because that is exactly how I handled my relationships. I had no initial recipe to look up to. I didn’t know the right amount of myself to give and expect from others. I did not realize I was missing key ingredients within myself, and as a result, my new relationship’s did not taste quite how I had imagined. I found out there was no perfect initial recipe when creating a new dish. Through trial and error, I finally collected the ingredients within myself, along with the proper measurements of said ingredients, to be able to relish the relationship.

Some people in my situation may give up and say “I’m never going to cook again, it never tastes good”, after just a few attempts.

That was the old me.

On the other hand, there are some who may say “I’m going to keep trying even though I know I will fail at times, until I get it to taste how I want”.

That is the new me.

Chapter 1: Survival Mode

At the beginning of any romantic relationship, it feels perfect. The laughs, cheesy grins, butterflies gliding around in your stomach. The red flags you both possess are overlooked because the thrill of the new relationship blinds you. When reality starts to sink in, it isn’t always pretty. Many mistakes are made, true colors become vibrant and difficult decisions have to be made.

Who else has been in a relationship where they I felt like it was their ex who was the problem?

It wasn’t until I got into a new relationship, with someone who was very composed that I realized I played a large role in the toxicity of my past relationships.

I didn’t know how to respond to objection without strife. I took everything personal and had a complete inability to see both sides of a situation, though I liked to think I did. I could rarely admit I was wrong and I would become unjustifiably angry when faced with opposition.

I wanted my partner to think like me because my ego, emotions and pride were truly overpowering all rational thought and action.

I continuously felt like everyone was out to get me but in reality, the relationships I had in my life were a reflection of how I internalized, and in return, externalized my thoughts and emotions.

My new partner was growth focused, with more experience under his belt and had already learned many lessons within himself that I had yet to unearth. I had been hyper focused on intellectual and physical growth to the point where I had neglected the parts of my mind that, honestly, were already malnourished due to past trauma.

Chapter 2: A Glimmer of Hope

When I began to realize how much I needed to still grow, and how much I truly valued my relationship, I did everything I could to save it. I knew even if we did not work out, I would ultimately be a better person for my next relationship so I gave it my all.

I messed up a lot

I felt terrible and beat myself up every time old habits resurfaced. I had to do a great deal of self reflection and had to have many difficult conversations. I cried so much but with each tear, I felt closer to becoming liberated from the chains of my past. I relentlessly battled myself and battled others in my partner’s life who did not like me because of who they saw me as because of my prior actions. It made it harder, but not impossible, for me to move forward because I was constantly reminded of the negative parts of myself and so was he. Those actions were not who I truly was or wanted to be. At the same time, I could not pretend to be something I am not and put a contrived smile on my face and act like I had miraculously changed. I knew I was working to become a healed version of myself and it would not happen over night. It got to a point where I was regressing a lot and as a result, our relationship almost ended.

Chapter 3: Picking Up the Pieces

We decided to let love conquer one last time. We had many conversations about my past, his past, and how it affects us now. Through these conversations we began to give each other much more grace. When I would lash out, he started to become more aware that it didn’t define who I was. Whether it was attributed to prior conditioning or my inability to handle stress in a healthy way, he knew my heart and true intentions. It doesn’t mean we still didn’t fight, but the intensity in which we fought, began to diminish. We learned to give each other space when we needed it. We slowly began to break the toxic cycle in our relationship.

Chapter 4: Positive Ramifications

To this day, we still let each other know how we are feeling. We still have those difficult conversations about our relationship. We are learning to listen to each other and hold space for each other in case one of us needs it. There is always something new to learn and a new chapter in life you will have to grow through. For me, it was about loving the foundation of who he was. For him, it was about loving the foundation of who I was and that is why he stuck around. He loved it and saw that there was hope.

A few years and a baby later, I wouldn’t change the journey for the world. I love who I am and I love who I am becoming as a result of our relationship. I am a better partner, a better mother and overall person.

Even when it feels like things will never get better, if you are dedicated to growth, have people in your life who support your personal development and learn how to maintain a hopeful spirit, you can overcome any obstacle.

This post is dedicated to Chastity Monique McClean. I love you forever my rice sista. Thank you for helping me stay sane and grow into who I am today. Rest peacefully 💖

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