When I look back on my relationships I can see that I started abandoning myself right from the very beginning. For this I take full responsibility. I spent a lot of time pretending that everything was ok, not confronting the issues, sweeping them under the carpet until the point that I felt so far from myself and so far from my truth that the only option I saw was to end it.
You can put your feelings aside in order to please your partner only so many times. As time goes by you become more and more disconnected from your authentic self until you can take it no more and you either explode, break down or have an affair, just to be seen. This rock bottom is painful but it is also a return to self. The process can take months, weeks, years or decades and in some cases it doesn’t end until one of you dies but there is an alternative.
It takes bravery to speak your truth and to show up authentically in your relationship. This inability to speak your truth is rooted in low self worth; ‘If I tell them how I really feel, they won’t love me anymore’ but the short term pain is worth the long term gain as you develop a connection with someone on a deeper level and a relationship that nourishes your self esteem rather than chipping away at it. Though it will feel uncomfortable at first, if you can begin to communicate your needs in a loving way, it will create a bridge of connection that will deepen your bond with your partner.
To articulate your needs, first check with your partner that they have time and space to discuss the thing. If you blindside your partner in the middle of them putting the kids to bed or when they’ve just walked in stressed from work it’s not going to go down well. Once you have their attention, make sure that your sentences start with ‘I’. So where you may have previously said ‘you always..’ ‘you never...’ ‘you make me feel..’ say ‘when you do x I feel y’. This approach means that they will feel less attacked and you have much more chance of being heard. When you have said your piece, hear them out in return without shifting into blame. Make a suggestion for an alternative approach from them. Maybe suggest a trial period to see whether things improve. Schedule a revisit/check in to review the changes and the impact that they have had and stick to it. It’s too easy to slip back into not talking. If the discussion descends into an argument, take a time out and give each other some space until you have both calmed down.
The more consistently you can have these authentic conversations, the more you honour yourself and the relationship, the more that your self worth will grow. This takes courage, I know. It takes courage to show up and be seen but it is worth it.