We’ve all done it – many of us repeatedly. We date, cohabitate with, and often marry people who treat us like shit smeared on the bottom of a shoe. The kind that gets stuck right in the tread that you can’t get rid of unless you dig it out with a stick while swearing at it the whole time in disgust at its existence. Sometimes we end up in situations with partners who have WPS (Wandering Penis Syndrome) or we’re being abused physically and emotionally. We find people who criticize us endlessly, chipping away at us piece by piece until there’s nothing left of us but gaping holes. Our friends tell us we deserve better. We end up tired and terrified and somehow years later are surprised (or relieved!) when it finally ends.
That was me. For years I dated men who were asshats; some I dated for a few months, and others I lived with. In every one of these relationships there were common denominators; zero respect for me or my boundaries in every capacity, never making me a priority, constant criticism, stress, fighting (which for someone as peaceful as me was crippling) and never feeling valued. I was usually pretty good at turfing people who treated me badly but I kept attracting these mo fos and did end up in situations where I stayed far longer than I should have, tolerating absolute bullshit because I was too scared and tired to leave. I spent most of my time in these relationships being resentful and stressed out beyond belief.
I’ve said this before, but my cancer diagnosis was actually a gift. It was an opportunity for me to look at the life I had created for myself and try to figure out what I could do to live my best life ever. I have always believed that our emotional state contributes to our health and that it is narrow minded and foolish to think otherwise. Our bodies have physiological responses to stress and emotions. Some of those responses are positive and others are not. Consistent and daily exposure to unbearable stress can absolutely manifest in our bodies as health problems and I am sure it contributed to mine. That said – I am immensely grateful for my entire experience and would not change a single thing (except that time I drank so much vodka, 7 up and lime that I puked my face off. That was definitely a bad decision).
Cancer gave me the opportunity to view my life and the sum of my experiences through a different lens and what I realized about every shitty relationship, unhappy job or situation in my life was that it was 100% a reflection of how I was treating myself. Talk about a plot twist. In some cases it was magnified by about a bazillion percent, but I clearly wasn’t getting the lesson so things just got more intense. I was horrible to myself. I had been criticizing my body since childhood; never grateful for all it did but wished it were thinner, or more beautiful. I was never good enough just as I was and my value was based largely on my appearance that I was constantly judging myself for. People didn’t respect my boundaries because I didn’t create them, I just expected that everyone else in the world would also be a decent person and treat people with kindness. I looked after everyone else before me because I was kind and cared about people from the bottom of my heart, yet here I was not caring about myself. I treated myself in a way that I would never treat another living thing. Sure, I liked who I was – I thought I was smart, funny, kind, caring and a great person and I had lots of friends (who are freaking LEGENDARY humans!!).
But I didn’t LOVE myself, and as such, attracted every situation imaginable to provide me with an opportunity to try again and love myself so much that “not tolerating any shit” isn’t even part of my mindset anymore. I have so much love and respect for myself that I have simply created that in my life in every capacity. I am completely happy with my body – butt jiggles and boob scar and all. I look at my scar and see a beautiful and magnificent lesson instead of something to have reconstructed. It’s not a source of insecurity for me; it’s a badge of honor and it helped make me awesome.
Life is magical – every day we are provided with a clean slate and a chance to try it again and get it right. Being accountable and responsible for our lives is incredibly powerful. It’s not justifying anyone else’s shitty behaviour, it’s recognizing that we have the power to change the patterns and create a better experience for ourselves. Sometimes we trip and fall, sometimes we attract encounters with lousy humans in public, unpleasant situations or pathetic fuckbois. And sometimes we wake up and see exactly what all of those encounters are reflecting back to us and the beautiful lessons in self love and personal growth that they contain. And that, friends is majestic AF.