For almost four years I was in second. Now I’m finally putting myself first.
I’ve been on this fence of writing this blog for quite sometime, but was always worried about putting a person I loved so much in a negative light. They had power over me in that way, I would always bend to their will until I found myself broken. I didn’t want to tarnish the divine image they’ve created for themselves. But no matter how much you love someone, it is never an excuse to let yourself be emotionally abused. And now I’ve fully come to understand that lesson.
In the beginning I played the role of the other woman, regrettably. It was the possibly the worst situation I had ever put myself in. But I was young and easily manipulated into believing that behind the shadows I actually meant something more. I longed for the day I would be the only woman.
“You came along and showed me everything I was missing,” are words I would hear. I held onto these words with everything I had, giving them more depth than what they actually meant on the surface. It didn’t seem real. For months I was full to the brim with guilt and anger. This is the last time I would tell myself over and over again. But I couldn’t stop. I was an emotional crutch to this person, at the cost of an emotional wound for myself.
Then the other woman left the picture. But I still wasn’t enough. I was still treated like a secret, told I was something more but was given nothing to show for it.
“Hopefully one day,” I was told. But I still acted like a girlfriend. I spent many nights by this person’s side as they cried, several days listening intently to their struggles and hopes. I dropped everything in my life to make certain I did whatever I could to make them feel important and special. I wanted them to see all the qualities I saw in them. In return I received hollow hopes.
They’ve lead a difficult life, so I sympathized with them. It’s okay he is this way, I tried to justify everything, trying to make myself the love he was missing in his life. He’s just confused, everything will work out.
I spiraled into a major depression, beating myself up over why I wasn’t good enough, what I was doing wrong to be in second place. Second place to nothing. I constantly asked myself what I could do better, what would make me the woman that this person, who I loved so intensely, would want to be with?
I devalued myself. And not only that, but I was harshly judged on every mistake I made over the years. Despite the fact this man didn’t even want a relationship with me, he still judged every action I made. He made me feel smaller than anyone could.
I’ve spent years trying to build myself and fight through that pain. I studied abroad, focused on school, and now moved to New York, all as distractions to push myself forward. If I couldn’t have the love I desired, success was the next best thing.
Right before I moved something clicked for him. I was actually leaving, moving on with my life, and suddenly he wanted to hop on board. After three years of hoping, crying, fighting for this person I longed for, for so long, I was finally the person they wanted.
Finally, I was good enough.
But things were rocky when I left. In another blog I wrote about how I struggled to balance work in grad school and my relationship, and I folded for my career. I shutdown emotionally to focus, but I never truly stopped loving this man. After a few months of learning to live life in the city, I thought about trying again.
I reconnected with him. He told me “wanted to miss me.” He wanted to see if his “feelings would come back,” come back while he pursued another woman with me waiting in the wings. I was in the situation I started at over three years ago. I was second, again.
But this time, I’m cutting the rope that I’ve been so scared to sever all this time.
I can finally see this man for who he really is, and see myself for more than I ever have. Regardless of how much you love someone, how much they’ve been through, how much you want them to feel special, there is no justifiable reason to let them walk all over you. There is no reason to devalue yourself for the sake of someone else. There is no reason to endure that kind of emotional abuse.
And now I feel free. I feel as though shackles that have enslaved me for the past three plus years have been lifted. I feel strong. I feel like a fighter. And I feel like I can finally learn to really love myself.
I can put myself first.
And I will never let anyone make me feel like I’m in second, again.