When I was 18, I was pretty much a loser. I won’t bore you with all the details but in a nutshell I was a strung out drug addict, in an abusive relationship, barely graduated from high school, living in a less than desirable situation and I was pregnant. I had little hope and no ambition. I was resigned to a life in the gutter. Perfectly content to mete out whatever kind of awful life I could until finally, I died of an overdose or was killed in some unfortunate circumstance. Not really the kind of girl anyone was looking to bring home to mom or really bring anywhere for that matter.
Hold on! Hold on! I already know what you’re going to say. You were not a loser. You were sick. You suffered from a disease. If that’s true then it follows that there is no such thing as a loser. Arguments could certainly be made in that direction. But let’s just say, for the sake of this article, that losers exist. And if losers exist then at the tender age of 18 I met every qualification available for that designation.
Fast forward nineteen years. I have battled my demons, raised my kid, went to school and became fully employed. I pay my own bills and take full responsibility for myself and my kids. I am not looking for anyone to save me because I have already saved myself. I am a smart, funny, happy, resourceful and empowered woman. I am even fairly emotionally balanced. In other words-NOT A LOSER. I am about as far from a loser as it gets. I am a winner! And I have been for quite some time now. In fact, the one and only area that I might not consider myself a winner in is my romantic relationships.
You see, I’m what you might call a serial monogamist. I switch relationships about every 2-3 years without much of a break in between. Each time I inevitably choose a man who is completely inappropriate for me in some way. For example not one of my last four relationships was a fully self-supporting dude. They were all living off of someone in some way. For a single mom, this should be a red flag. But not for me. Paint it green I say!! Full steam ahead!
My father has been telling me since I had my first child that any guy I date should have a job, a car and his own place to live. “Bare minimum requirements.” he says. And it always sounds like good, reasonable advice to me. I mean, it IS reasonable advice. Uh. Until that cute guy with the winning smile and a sad story to tell comes along. Then it suddenly seems to me that a car, a job and a place to live might be too much to ask. Do you not see how vulnerable he is?!
There are always all kinds of red flags. They are there staring me down right from the beginning. Things like: He’s 50 years old, been married three times and lives with his mom. (I married that one! HA!) I ignore them. I rationalize them away, make excuses or use “compassion” as a tool to make these things ok. I think to myself “I’m a crazy druggie with a kid. Who the hell is gonna date me anyway? Not those awesome guys over there with their shit together. Guys like that don’t date girls like me.” In all sincerity, I married that one guy because I was turning thirty and I was sure that no one else would ever want to marry me anyway. And besides, he seemed nice enough!
And he was. He wasn’t a bad guy. Only a couple of them have been truly awful. Most are perfectly nice guys that were simply not a good match from me right from the start but that I insisted on dating because I somehow missed the part of my life where I became a winner. A clear and present lack of knowing my own worth.
Over the holidays I was laying on the couch with my new baby. I was cuddling him and looking at what a precious and perfect little thing he is and for some reason I had a very deep realization of my worthiness. I realized that I deserve, as much as anybody, to be happy. I am worthy of every desire of my heart and that includes a partner that is a good match for me. I am no longer that 18 year old girl. I haven’t been for a really long time.
I have been operating all these years from the consciousness of that 18 year old girl instead of from the consciousness of my current 37 year old self. Get current. That’s exactly what I needed to do. Current with who I am today instead of living from who I used to be. It was time to stop making choices based upon this idea that I was not worth anything more than what I had been settling for all these years. It was time for me to catch up!
I also realized that I had been causing all of these men a great harm by not operating from my current self. Doesn’t the worthiness of each of these men also demand that they be partnered with someone who is choosing them from a place of worthiness? Why should they be stuck with someone who is settling for less than what is perfect for her? They too get to be with their perfect partner and I am sitting here taking them up and keeping them from their potential happiness.
My dad has another piece of advice he likes to give me. Don’t be with the wrong one when the right one comes along. I am their wrong one and they are mine. It is up to me to release the relationship the moment I see that this is the case and not a minute later. Or else I may be robbing us both of our ultimate happiness.