In light of recent scandal with baseball player Danry Vasquez, who was caught on video abusing his girlfriend, a thought I often struggled with immediately came to mind: What causes women to stay in tumultuous relationships?
When I was younger, I could not understand it for the life of me. I use to judge women who stayed in these kinds of relationships and viewed them as weak. There ain’t that much love in the world to keep me in that kind of relationship, so I thought. My mind fuck moment came at a random time, but I had to sit and be real with myself. Tezhula, what made you any different from these women?
In my past relationships, I was used, manipulated, lied to, and cheated on. You see, people like to associate abuse with physical harm, but emotional and mental abuse is just as harmful. It was then that I understood the psyche of a domestic violence victim because the cycle isn’t much different than what I had once experienced. We stay with men who mistreat us because we love them and want them to either change or return to who they were in the beginning. The reality is, 90% of the time, the chances of that happening are not likely, but rather than loving ourselves enough to walk away and knowing we deserve better, we stick around and take the mistreatment due to our lack of self-worth.
Do you really know your worth or do you think you do? When I was in my early 20’s, no one could not tell me that I did not have my shit together. I was self- assured and confident about what I brought to the table. I was a recent college graduate, had a job, and believed that I was attractive, but beneath all of that, I had some insecurities. I use to question my place in this person’s life. What did the other women who he use to play me for have that I did not? Did I have whatever it was to keep him satisfied with only me? When I realized I was not enough for him, my insecurities increased. I started to feel unattractive and compared myself to some women thinking that it was the standard he judged me by. If I had truly known my worth, however, he would not have been able to make me feel insecure. I would have recognized that the way he treated me (his inability to commit and feeling the need to have multiple women) was a result of his shortcomings. I would have understood that his behavior was a reflection of him and had nothing to do with me.
While many of us like to think that we love ourselves, true love and understanding of worth entails finding the strength to walk away from someone who mistreats us or is simply not good for us. It’s understandable to think you’re incapable of leaving because it takes a lot of pain, tears, and struggles to get to this point, but it’s like you wake up one day and everything clicks. You finally won’t take all the bullshit you once did. You know your worth and won’t accept any less than you deserve.
Have you forgiven yourself for the mistakes you made prior to truly knowing your worth? Often times, we are our own worst enemy. We are not kind to ourselves. We do not forgive ourselves for the poor decisions we made and despite letting go of bad relationships, we hold on to the experiences that played into our low self-esteem. These thoughts can manifest, resulting in actions and behaviors that are out of character. If I had forgiven and thought enough of myself, I would not have allowed my past experience to influence my poor decision-making. I would not have sought out the love and attention I should have given myself from other people. But as the famous saying goes “everything happens for a reason.” The journey to self-love is one paved with mistakes, heartaches, trials and tribulations. With every experience, there is a lesson learned. There are some lessons I regret and wish I did not have to learn the way I did, but it was necessary for my growth. Only at your lowest point can you find the strength to heal and move forward. I had to break myself down and rebuild myself back stronger and wiser. I had to learn to forgive myself and knew as long as I learned from it everything would be OK.
The love you want begins with you. If you want someone to respect you, respect yourself. If they do not respect you, respect yourself enough to walk away. Remember that you teach people how to treat you. Never settle for less than you deserve and if by any chance you do, forgive yourself for what you did not know. Once you know better, make sure you do better. Do not allow anyone to judge you for your situation. People (some who have accepted or will accept something similar) judge what they do not understand and their opinions could have a way of making you feel worse. Sometimes, you have to take the road less traveled to end up where you need to be. At the end of the day, everyone at some point in their lives has struggled with knowing their worth. You are not alone. If you are in a situation where you are being mistreated in any capacity and you feel like you are stuck and cannot move forward, take a leap of faith and make sure you put yourself, your feelings and your interests first. Do not rely on anyone to love you or to make you happy. You are the one who is in control and responsible for your life.
Editor: Sweenie Nicole; Instagram: Sweenie.Nicole; Twitter: @simplysweenie; Blog: Relish N’ Rise