There will be, and maybe already have been, men you date that won’t love you enough to tolerate your baggage.
They won’t be patient enough to listen (actually listen) to the story of what happened to you: the way you feel about growing up without a dad, or the long road you walked to heal from domestic violence, or the struggles you’ve endured for being a minority, or being cheated on, or being bullied. And after not listening, he won’t be compassionate enough to take those stories to heart, and to act accordingly. He’ll continue to do that one thing that scares the shit out of you, turning you into a raging, estrogen-filled nightmare, and makes him (and you) dislike you for your behavior.
Maybe he’ll come home late, drunk, and send you into a screaming rant. Or maybe he’ll text another woman and make you want to rip your hair out while you’re packing up all his belongings. Whatever it is, if you have a trigger, this guy will find it. And push it. With vigor.
My baggage is obvious. I can’t count you how many
men boys I’ve dated who were terrified by the fact that I’d had cancer, and just how serious that cancer was. Some were too chicken shit to even listen to the details, or have a conversation about what our future would look like if I ever got cancer again. It’s not a fun conversation, but it’s one that needs to happen. I’ve even dated guys who couldn’t look at pictures of me bald, which is especially ridiculous because I looked beautiful bald.
A great partner, conversely, will listen to your story. But be ware: he will only listen once. That’s all he – and you – should need.
Being a strong woman and a strong partner means admitting to the baggage your carrying, but it also means not letting that baggage, those stories we tell, become excuses for bad behavior or for controlling your partner. If you have a personal battle he needs to know you overcame, let him know. The right partner with the right kind of love will listen to the story, do his best to avoid the landmines (bad behavior) that set you off, and be proud of what you’ve overcome.
The right partner will also ask that you don’t let these past struggles hold you down. Neither of you in the relationship deserve to have you constantly digging up old graves and reminding you both of the situation or person that ‘made you this way’. That’s an excuse. That’s a story of pity, not a story of victory.
You are infinitely easier to love deeply and truly when you aren’t pitying yourself.
At some point, thanks to some director or writer (et et em: The Notebook), the idea of highly dramatized communication, or lack there of, became the accepted norm of ‘exciting romance’. True, daily fights over trivial facts can be exciting; after all, it transforms communication into a game in which there is a winner and a loser. Plus, reconnecting to ‘make up’ can be a rewarding feeling. But this isn’t the kind of excitement that is healthy, sustainable, or profitable. It has a very definite and remarkable limit, one that your relationship can’t get past because you’re constantly fabricating arguments for the thrill of it. Tumultuousness, no matter how whirl-windingly sexually intriguing, does not help you be your best. It stops you in your tracks, takes up all your time, and keeps you as a couple from doing anything worthwhile. Except each other.
The kind of communication great love brings is the kind in which you share passions, and creates avenues for collaboration to build your dreams. The kind of support great love brings isn’t the kind that coddles. It empowers. It inspires. Find someone who inspires you to be your best, most passionate and alive self in your work, in your home, in your heart, and in every aspect of your life. And once you find him or her, do your thing. It will inspire him right back.
The difference isn’t that he tolerates your baggage. It’s that you don’t tolerate your baggage. When it empowers you instead of holds you down, you won’t need a man to carry it around for you.
You are not a fixer-upper.
Your story doesn’t lessen you, it greatens you. It’s proof how incredible you are, and thus just how incredible he needs to be to keep deserving you. Don’t ask him to be your everything. Bring him everything, and he’ll do the same for you.
Because love should never be an equation of how much you receive. You have infinite amounts of love inside you.
Because you don’t need his love to see your own worth. Your worth is infinite, bigger than you can see, brighter than the stars, deeper than the sea, deep inside you, all around you, staring directly at your beautiful face.
Because love is not a game of take but a game of give. Your infinitely expansive heart could give and give and give love, to yourself and to the entire world, and never run out.
Because not matter what happened to you, you are still perfect.
Because you didn’t use up any of your ‘good love’ on your past relationships. You don’t have a limit. There is no quota. You don’t have to be careful what you give or to who now. Your heart will provide more endless love for your to give out.
Because love is the only currency we really have.