Love ain't easy: A personal insight into my relationship.
Other than the one I’m in now, I’ve only ever been in one proper relationship. And like so many women I know, it was a poor example of love. Physically and emotionally abused, manipulated, lied to, cheated on, made to question myself, made to feel like I was clingy, desperate, too sensitive, crazy. Not to take away from my painful experience, but I’m sure this is a story similar to ones you’ve heard before.
But this isn’t about that. It’s not even about love. It’s about me and what I have learnt.
After him, and one other painful experience with a guy I cared deeply for, I said enough. I vividly remember saying to my best friend that I was done with being treated like this and I was done with validating my worth by anyone other than myself. Especially by men. And so, I went on a 5-year self-discovery rampage. I started reading self-development books, growing my library from 0 books to 150 over time. I travelled the world – South East Asia, Indonesia, Europe, Mexico, America. I started a business, I found my purpose (in that order). I dated, but I was much more interested in growing and strengthening my friendships.
I was truly happy. I had discovered so much of who I was. I had dived into my past, my limiting beliefs, my mistakes, I had forgiven myself, and I began to rebuild. I got to a point where I felt invincible, where the opinions of men did not shake my self-worth. I had done it!!!
Then one day I started having thoughts of wanting a boyfriend, I stopped myself, shunned myself. “Courts, you are a strong, independent woman, you don’t need a boyfriend?!!?!?”. So I shut those thoughts down. But, of course, they kept coming back.. I saw love everywhere I looked.. And it encouraged more thoughts.. “I haven’t had a boyfriend for 7 years.. There must be something wrong with me.”. So I confided in my sister and I asked her why other people managed to get in to a relationship so easily but I could barely get a date.
I was caught between wanting to be this strong, independent, sassy woman that I was so proud of, but also wanting to find the love that I knew I was so deserving of.
My sister said that the energy that I was portraying to males was very different to what I was telling her I wanted (a loving relationship). My energy was hard, masculine, and like a brick wall. My energy was saying, “I don’t need or want anything extra – especially a man – in my life.” Whilst I was so proud of my strength, leadership, and ability to speak loud and proud, I knew there was an imbalance. And so the following year, I really worked on allowing myself to be softer, vulnerable, leaning into my femininity. I worked on letting myself be wrong, quiet, and embrace my desire for protection. It was not smooth sailing. Learning to balance my masculine and feminine energy, letting myself be loved and looked after, all the whilst still bossing it out in the gym and in business was tough. Accepting the fact that I wasn’t going to be liked by every male that came my way? Ugh. Inviting rejection into my life? Double ugh. But I kept leaning in and I kept telling myself that juust because I wanted a relationship, did not mean that I was not a powerful and complete woman.
In January this year, I sat down to write my goals. With confidence and whole-heartedness, I wrote, “I want a loyal, adventurous, and loving partner”. I remember writing this with such peace. For the very first time in my life, I truly felt I was ready to accept love into my life.
I kid you not, TWO days later my now boyfriend, came into my life. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to know the story of how we met. Mackie Love is his name and major pest is his game. Hahahaha okay just kidding, had to lighten up the mood a bit there haha. We actually met 11 years ago (11 is my fave number, coincidence? I think not). We went to the same school, went to the same parties, but didn’t grow closer until we studied our diploma of exercise prescription at NZIS in 2009. It was here where we became good friends and nothing more (although apparently mutual friends thought differently)!!! Then, 8 years ago, he moved to Melbourne. We kept in touch and sometimes caught up if he was back in NZ, but as we both got on with our lives, we drifted apart. That was, until January. I saw he was back for the holidays and so I snap-chatted him, he said we should catch up, and at 4am on a random bench on Cuba Street we caught up and chatted for hours about life. We were different (you’d bloody hope so after 8 years) and I guess the timing was right. So after 5 months of overseas trips between Aussie and here, and countless hours on FaceTime, Mackie moved back (he says it’s for his family and friends and only a little bit for me so we can just let him believe that haha).
But it turns out the learning, challenges, and hardships continue even once you’ve found what you were looking for.
So below are some of the things I’ve learnt whilst being in a relationship for 6 months:
1) Expectations will kill you.
Expectations that stem from social media, parents, past relationships, other people’s opinions – they can have the potential to kill that loving relationship of yours if you don’t become aware of it. I saw other people’s relationships on Instagram, I watched movies and read books about love (I’m a hardcore romantic) and I subconsciously put that pressure on myself and Mackie. But all these expectations did was make Mackie feel like he wasn’t enough or wasn’t doing enough and it made me worry far more than necessary. When we would have arguments, no matter how small they were, I would think “this isn’t normal to be having so many fights”. But what did I know what normal was? All I had was unrealistic portrayals and one-sidedness of what it was like to be in a relationship. Thankfully, when we would have these disagreements, Mackie would explain that they were good for us – to learn more about one another, to overcome challenges, and to grow stronger together and individually. He never runs away from confrontation and greets it face on. So by removing my personal expectations and by being more present in the moment, I could be happy for what is and see that the highs AND lows were creating a healthy, strong relationship.
2) Vulnerability will save you.
If something happened in my day or even in my past that was upsetting for me and then Mackie would say or do something that triggered me, I let it blow up bigger than needed. But instead of talking it through with him about what was actually causing me grief, I let him think it was because of what he did. One night I was being stubborn about some stupid little thing. I let something small grow bigger. It wasn’t until I broke down crying that Mackie realised it was more than what I was communicating, and he persisted. So I let my walls down. I told him that what was really bugging me was that I had been experiencing feelings of loneliness in my friendships and that his small action confirmed the way I felt and made me feel even lonelier. Knowing that my overreaction had nothing to do with us but with certain insecurities, helped us both to become softer, supportive, and able to talk through the real shit.
3) Love can be challenging, but it is worth it.
Sometimes I found myself saying “this is too hard, being single is way easier”. And it’s true. When you’re single and happy, all you have to do is worry about yourself and your own desires. You don’t have any opposing opinions, nobody else to factor in, and you don’t have anybody pushing buttons or bringing up insecurities. But one thing I know about myself is I’ve never been about that easy life. Being in a relationship has challenged me. It has brought up old wounds, it has tested the depths of my self-worth, and it has been beautiful. I know 150% that I would choose this, him, over living an easier life any day. The feeling of coming together at the end of a long day and sharing words, smiles, or just a touch. The feeling of being supported wholeheartedly. The feeling of being loved unconditionally. It’s worth the risk.
4) Remember who you were before him.
Especially in this early phase, it can be so easy to be caught up in a whirlwind of happiness. Wanting to see each other all the time and be all up in each other’s space is great, until they cancel on you or disappoint you and you’re left feeling upset, rejected, and frustrated. I have to remind myself that I was ecstatic when I had time on my own. When I spent time in my own company, had space in my own bed, and had nobody in particular to talk to I was so content. I never want to rely on someone in order to be happy and I want to make sure I know and always remind myself that with or without him I am always whole.
5) How you think and speak of them is what you will continue to see.
If you are frustrated with things they do, if you are picking at things you don’t like, if you are solely focused on the things you wish they would be better at/could change, then that is all you will see. However, if you speak in a positive light to them and about them, those beautiful things will become more obvious. If someone thinks the world of you and speaks well of you, you automatically rise up to them – you strive to become the person they view you as. So be aware of your projections, because they become your reflections.
6) The better you know yourself; your needs, your boundaries, your love languages, your values – the better your relationship will be.
Never stop learning about yourself. Never stop growing. I’m still not in a place where I can communicate perfectly about what I need and what I won’t put up with, but I am continually learning, improving, and I can see now more than ever how vital it is to do the inner work. Self-discovery helps us to draw lines in the sand, to never let ourselves settle for anything less than we deserve, to have more clarity in our life, and to keep raising our standards.
I feel so scared to share what I’ve learnt to the public but of course I’m going to do it anyway because I always share what’s important to me and I never want to give the portrayal that everything is smooth sailing on board the love boat. I’ve loved this journey and I can’t wait to grow furthermore, together and individually.
Attached to no outcome, open to everything, lead by my heart.