Let’s talk about red flags and our tendency to ignore them:
So, you’re driving down the road and everything is going smoothly. Green light after green light when suddenly, it turns yellow. You ignore it and speed through. Yellow after yellow after yellow and you’re just speeding through every last one until a month or two later, when you get sacked with a bunch of red light tickets and you have to pay those fines.
Pay attention to the yellow flags or they could become red flags that you have to pay for later.
I’ve been told I have commitment issues. That’s one opinion. I disagree. I commit just fine. It’s just that I commit to myself now. I don’t know. Maybe that sounds like a cop-out. The thing is, I am very much anti-other-half. I’ve had an other half on more than one occasion. For me, it’s not nearly as fulfilling as being a whole entire person all by myself. I want to always be a complete person and I want to eventually be in a partnership with another complete person. I don’t want someone to complete me. I want them to complement my life and I theirs.
Once upon a time, I was involved with a walking red flag. He told me a story once that, in hindsight, should have been my cue to dip but, for some reason, I felt I needed this to work????? I’m not saying the kid had some deal breakers. I’m talking big, sparkly, blasting fire engine siren, absolutely glaring, crimson red flags. Instead of speaking up or bowing out, I actually thought that I could show him just how ridiculous his point of view was and that, because he cared about me oh so much, he would “fix” these personality traits for me.
I have since reprimanded myself for that behavior. That is insane. You cannot adjust who someone is. If you are unhappy with who they are at their core, then they are not for you. On the same token, they don’t get to tailor you to fit their needs either. Only you get to “fix” you because only you get to choose what you want to mold yourself into.
Be honest with yourself. Be honest with yourself about your flaws. If you’re not, you can’t fix them. I had a big ‘ol flaw when I was seeing that dude. I wasn’t a whole person. In fact, I was a half a person who had just gotten out of a 7-year relationship and was frantically fighting the urge to be rescued by a new other half. So, I ignored and forgave every red flag that came my way.
“You cannot use someone else’s fire; you can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe you have it.” ~Audre Lorde
I did this a lot. In my shiny new singlehood, I dated my ass off (more to come on that). I swiped my life away and distracted myself with date after date after date. I tried so hard to stretch my first couple of bar hangs with these guys into something real but something wasn’t letting me. I just couldn’t garner any real interest in them and, eventually, either I would shoot out some excuse to not continue or they would get tired of trying to see the girl who made herself unavailable to them. I didn’t recognize this at the time though. I just thought they weren’t right for me. Honestly, looking back, they weren’t, but I truly don’t think I would have let myself get into a relationship even if “the perfect match” had come along. I just wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready but at least now I can admit that to myself.
There’s nothing wrong with being single. There’s nothing wrong with being in a relationship. However, there is something incredibly wrong with being in a relationship for the sole purpose of not being single.
I honor my current and future self by giving this time to me and only me. The truth is, there is no one for me to meet right now. Whoever I meet right now is meeting an incomplete person. I have way too much I’m working on to be giving my energy to a full blown partner and I’m 100% okay with that. I’m almost ready. I can feel that and I can be honest with myself about that but there were far too many times when I tried to tell myself that I was when I just wasn’t.
“Where you are a year from now is a reflection of the choices you choose to make right now.”
Everyone tells you to choose yourself. “Choose yourself!” I already chose myself. I chose myself almost two years ago when I walked away from the future I had fully planned out in my mind and straight into the complete unknown. I let go of something that once was other worldly and trusted that there would be beauty after the chaos. I still think I’m right about that.
They say it’s hard. It is hard. Of course it’s fucking hard. When you choose yourself, you’re choosing to see all of your flaws and shortcomings. You’re choosing to criticize yourself more often than celebrate yourself. You’re choosing to put in work. When you choose someone else (a friend, a partner, a family member, a dog, whatever), you don’t have to look inward at yourself. All of your focus is on them and helping them to better themselves. You can criticize and celebrate them to your heart’s content. They’ll tell you you’re the best friend they’ve ever had and praise you for caring so much about them. They’ll think you’re so perfect because YOU knew how to help them when they couldn’t figure it out on their own.
We don’t talk enough about how painful it can be to choose yourself. They say its hard but they don’t say it’s painful. The things you give up to prioritize yourself lead to long term pain and wonder. With every choice I make, I wonder, “Will I regret that?” I don’t right now but will I in two weeks? Fifty years? Will I ever know if choosing me was the right choice?
So, yes, sometimes it’s painful and downright lonely to choose yourself. It can feel like a long road to be taking alone and that ache can confuse you into think you’ve made the wrong choice. It hurts, so something must be wrong, right? I must have been wrong…
This was my experience until one day, it all started to make sense because it started to pay off. Suddenly, I was seeing a change and I was realizing that certain things never would have happened if I had not self advocated.
If you are busy waiting for him to text you, when do you buckle down and get your shit together? If you never get your shit together, you don’t get to feel the effects of the pride of it all. And I’ll tell you something else: If you do choose that other person over your own self, they are under no obligation to choose you back. So, what do you lose? Realistically. Who do you really lose? You stand to lose a lot more if you choose someone other than yourself. Be a little selfish. It’s okay. He, or she, or they will be okay and so will you.
Now, this isn’t to say that you cannot do self work within the confines of a relationship. Of course you can. However, you have to be mindful of where you are placing the majority of your energy. Be honest with yourself. If you need more of you for you, open up a dialogue about that and make it happen. A real support system won’t be threatened by that. Just don’t do yourself a disservice by primarily focusing on someone else’s happiness and fulfillment. It’s okay to be up and running while still under construction. Hell, even this website is up and running while it is absolutely under construction.
At some point, in some way, you have to choose you. You have to work on you. Cry if you want to. Cry while you do it. But you have to do it.
I mean, you don’t have to.
But what kind of life do you want?