You see I loved hard once, but the love wasn’t returned
I found out the man I’d die for, he wasn’t even concerned
In time it turned,
He tried to burn me like a perm
Though my eyes saw the deception, My heart wouldn’t let me learn
From um, some, dumb woman, was I,
And everytime he’d lie, he would cry and inside I’d die.
My heart must have died a thousand deaths
Compared myself to Toni Braxton thought I’d never catch my breath
Nothing left, he stole the heart beating from my chest
I tried to call the cops, that type of thief you can’t arrest
Pain suppressed, will lead to cardiac arrest
Diamonds deserve diamonds, but he convinced me I was worth less
when my peoples would protest,
I told them mind their business, cause my s*** was complex
More than just the sex
I was blessed, but couldn’t feel it like when I was caressed
I’d spend nights clutching my breasts overwhelmed by God’s test
I was God’s best contemplating death with a Gillette
But no man is ever worth the paradise MANIFEST
~ Lauryn Hill’s verse from Manifest by The Fugees
When I was a freshman in college, I found out that my boyfriend was cheating on me with a PYT in the dorm next to him. All the while, I was sleeping across campus probably dreaming about our future wedding day, none the wiser. Eventually, I found out, confronted him, and he broke up with me to be with this girl. This was not only my first taste of betrayal, this was also the first time I looked at myself in comparison to another woman and felt less than. I wondered what she had that I didn’t that led him to stray. Was she prettier? smarter? funnier? better in bed? I became somewhat fixated with this girl and found myself comparing myself to her all the time.
This victimized line of thinking is a slippery, treacherous slope. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. “If my skin was clearer, or my hair longer, or if I wasn’t so shy…maybe he’d still be with me.” I was only 18, and I didn’t have a strong sense of self. I remember thinking that I could get him back by studying her and somehow mastering this innocent, clueless appeal that she seemed to have. Of course that didn’t work. In my mind this was a competition, and I felt that she’d won. This was the first man I’d opened myself up to, in every way, and so easily she’d come along and lured him away. By being myself and giving of myself, I’d lost. By her being herself, she’d won. This is what I thought. I couldn’t stop this comparison/competition nonsense. I couldn’t remember what was so special about me anymore and my confidence went out the window.
After three years of love triangle chaos, I eventually moved on from this situation, but I never stopped comparing myself to other women and wondering when the day would come that I would be abandoned again. I didn’t believe that I would ever be enough for anyone. There would always be some other woman that would come along and offer something that I couldn’t. I glorified the qualities that I didn’t possess and belittled those that I did possess. To some degree, I didn’t believe that I had enough worthy qualities for someone to love and be satisfied with me just being me.
Finally, I learned to turn the lens inward and take an honest look at myself. I’d been so fixated on what other women had, and what I thought men would want, that I forgot to hold fast to what’s real for me and that is WHO I AM. I had to admit that focusing on other people and feeling like a victim wasn’t working. You can’t focus on what you don’t want and receive what you do want. It doesn’t work that way. My insecurity would only draw more negative experiences into my life if I continued to pity myself.
Women, in particular, feel this sense of urgency and lack when it comes to finding love. We worry that we won’t find love, then we worry that the love won’t last. In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz said “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the options and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” We can’t guarantee that we won’t get hurt, but we can be sure that every experience we have in the name of love is a valuable one that we’ll learn from.
So, I’ve learned that everyone’s got something different – a specific combination of energies that is unduplicated. When we make ourselves vulnerable by expressing love and originality, we’re not setting ourselves up to be rejected as I once thought. In fact, we are setting ourselves up to naturally filter through the noise and haste of the world to find what truly fits into our lives. Don’t fear disapproval, criticism, judgment, rejection, betrayal, separation or being alone or abandoned. When we experience these things, what truly defines us is the meaning that we assign to the experience – did we learn from it or were we defeated by it? Did we choose to become more true to self or did we lose ourselves?