All through my growing up years, I was in a string of bad relationships.
I entered these relationships with absolutely no standards whatsoever. I had no walls – anybody could walk in and out my life as they pleased. As long as I was being “loved” by another, it didn’t matter that I was treated badly.
Risks were rarely calculated — or not at all. So I settled big time for being mistreated with hurtful words, emotional blackmail and sudden periods of detachment. Nothing mattered as long as this person was still with me.
But really what I was looking for attention. I wasn’t getting it from anywhere – at home, in school or at church. My family seemed far too caught up in their own lives to ever be interested in mine and I felt like my friends never cared enough to know who I really was as a person.
So I dissociated myself from the people who were supposed to be my support system and sought attention from all the wrong people, whoever was willing to give it to me. And no matter how dysfunctional their expression of attention was, I’d take it.
Being in a dysfunctional relationship feels a lot like skydiving. The nature of the sport makes you feel limitless and your heart is racing. It’s also horribly dangerous but you get hooked onto the adrenaline nevertheless.
In my personal experience, people in dysfunctional relationships — contrary to popular belief — rarely remember the bad parts. The only thing they’ll remember is the excitement that comes from being in such an intense relationship.
To me, my partner would be the epitome of perfection — he could do no wrong. And because my heart reigned over my head, exercising my better judgement wasn’t as important as the fact that somebody could actually love me.
My relationships took precedence over everything else. It didn’t matter that I had to maintain a proper job or that my health was deteriorating. I would stay up all night to talk to my boyfriend at the time, even if that meant it was at the expense of my sleep and health.
I brought over whatever baggage the previous relationship left me with into the next, and the dysfunction continued like a vicious cycle.
And when he did something awful, it was like having the ground come up from beneath me. Suddenly, I was skydiving without a parachute, because I didn’t have any standards or willpower to protect myself to begin with. And by that time, it was already too late. I found myself exactly where we’d always been heading – the monumental crash, the inevitable breakup.
That’s when the pain hits you. Everything hurts, your lungs feel like they’re collapsing after your constant sobbing. Your chest feels like it’s caving in.
Sometimes, you get good doctors – strong friends, family members who support you – to help with the healing. But if you don’t, you’d be left alone to deal with it yourself. And because I felt all alone, I jeopardised my own healing by convincing myself that it was what I deserved.
I never processed my hurt, so I brought over whatever baggage the previous relationship left me with into the next. And the dysfunction continued like a vicious cycle. I also stopped going to church.
When you’re used to a discounted version of love, you either keep falling for people who treat you badly or for someone who has been hurt the same way you have. Since their scars are shaped the same as yours, you recognise that there’s a deep hurt that you both can share — and that’s just another type of dysfunction altogether.
Your similar history acts as an indestructible link between the both of you; you’d think you belong together because hurt is the only thing you both know.
Over time, I got better at protecting myself and pulling the parachute. But I also collected a lot of scars in the process. My baggages would only get heavier and heavier as each relationship ended. In the end, I was just so hung up over my own brokenness and insecurities that I couldn’t see myself ever being truly happy.
When I hit rock bottom, I only had one direction to look: Upwards.
It was only a matter of time till I hit rock bottom. And when I did, I only had one direction to look: Upwards.
In my desperation to be rid from all the turmoil I was feeling, I told God, “If you take this pain away from me, I’ll start going back to church.”
God took me very seriously even though I had no right to make any demands of Him. Every time someone new came into my life, I felt more and more inclined to talk to God about it.
And whenever I felt the familiar feeling of getting emotionally invested in someone who was obviously bad news, I was somehow able to steer myself away from him. I’d like to believe that it was God’s way of preserving my heart.
One day, I found myself praying, “God, you know my limits. I cannot take this anymore. Help me to turn a blind eye to the men who are no good for me.”
Initially, I’d blamed God for the state of disarray my heart was in. I questioned why He even allowed me to go through bad relationships in the first place — and I always wanted an immediate answer.
But in hindsight, nothing we put into God’s hands is ever wasted: Despite my bad decisions, I saw how He used the heartaches I encountered for growing and maturing me into the woman I am today.
This man would end up being someone that God would use to teach me how I was to be loved.
I’ve learnt that when God says no, it’s always for a reason. And even when there isn’t an explicit “no”, His silence may mean the same thing. And whenever that happens, I’ve learnt to wait.
In my waiting, God was preparing someone for me. This man would end up being someone that He would use to teach me how I was to be loved.
I used to struggle with feeling like I mattered. But with God, I finally feel like I do and He has made it abundantly clear to me thus far.