Updated: Apr 22, 2020
If you Goggle the girl that held on too long, you'd probably find my photo. I'm not proud of it, but hey (shrugs shoulders) knowing is half the battle. Like many independent women, I had secured some season passes, I'm talking court-side seats to the relationship insanity circus. I was doing the same thing year-in and year-out. Or as I like to eloquently put it, doing pure dumbness! And get this each time, I seriously expected a different result. Lather, rinse, and repeat did not only apply to me washing my clothes, but it was me living my relationship life in cycles. I was like the dog chasing its own tail, only to bite myself in the keister. Ouch!
Can somebody, anybody, please tell me how to play the hand you're dealt, in the relationship game of life? I can't even count the number of incidences that had me on the perpetual date, break-up, and make-up merry-go-round. I nearly pulled every strand of hair from my head, and if you know me that's already very little hair. Ultimately, all I wanted to do was look up to the sky and scream, "God, that's enough already!" What kind of luck could I have possibly had to keep repeating the same relationship disasters for the last 20-years? I suppose the answer to all these questions can be summed up to a condition I like to call CSI (Children of Israel Syndrome). Yes sir, round that same mountain, like the earth rotating around the sun. All while happily singing the Micky D's theme song, "Bah dah dah dah da, I'm lovin' it!" Sidebar: In case you think that God has you on some lifetime, naughty list, no friend, it's you (just like me) that's stuck on the slow-bus, taking forever to catch the hint.
Tumble Dry, Low Temp
I've literally been dating since I was 20, and in a matter of minutes, I will be 40. Which brings me to question, "Am I the last single chick of my generation?" For a long time, I felt as though I was in a spin-cycle of sorts. It seemed like I was in a virtual washing machine. Then right when I got the proverbial clean, I somehow found myself right back in the mud, mucking around. Aimlessly having to repeat the cleaning process once more. I went through a great deal of my life misguided and rather resentful-especially when it came to my relationships, and not just the romantic ones either. I screwed up a friendship or two, maybe even burned some employment bridges and family, well that a whole other subject, in a whole other book. Let's just chalk it up to I've made more mistakes than I care to count.
"Many of us have played the blame game at one time or the other. For me, I blamed a lot of my shortcomings and pitfalls on the fact that I didn't have a mother."
In my warped imagination, I often visualize how I must have missed some rites-of-passage by being motherless. I was sure I lacked some life-defining moments. But after a while, even those kinds of valid excuses lose their validity-especially when you come of age. Still, I walked around for a long time, believing I was slighted. How on God's green earth was I supposed to navigate through life without this crucial voice of reason, yammering in my ear? Who was supposed to steer me through all life's pertinent lessons? Well, be that as it may, what is also true, is that after at least two slip-ups, shouldn't I have gotten it? Well, one would think. But nope, I became the spokesmodel of, If you love it let it kill you, Inc.
Truth is, I held on to many of my life's unfortunate events for far too long. I outright refused to let it go as if I was that lone soul in the world who had experienced any mishaps. It made me think of all the other quirks that I managed to hide behind and hold onto unnecessarily. There I was building walls of mistrust because of bad relationships, being antisocial because people aren't always as genuine as they appear. Yet, ironically, I was constantly projecting and sometimes deflecting while being just as unauthentic as the people I often judged. Most of what I internalized was me being bitter because life must have dealt only me the crappiest hand ever. Truth is, as much as I hate to say this aloud, many of my relationships failed because there was a side of me I needed to confront. And as the saying goes, 'you can't fix what you won't face.'
Winston Churchill said, "Those who don't learn from history are bound to repeat it."
Owing My Crap
I've come to learn that after you've reached the age of maturity, you can't keep blaming your disasters on the hand that fate dealt you. I get it, in some situations you didn't have a choice. Still, that doesn't exempt you from manning-up. None of us choose where we were born or who our parents are-otherwise, we'd all be rich and famous, right? No one would wish for poverty and struggle. Be that as it may, now that you've reached the age of accountability, it's up to you whether or not you'll allow the past to cripple you or if you'll use it as a stepping stone onto your next level. You can't keep giving negativity permission to fester but expecting life to be like Skittles, and you taste the rainbow. It doesn't work that way. Your thoughts, your speech, and your actions MUST all align. Otherwise, they will cancel each other out. I realize most of what I say is more easily said than done. However, if you begin with small, deliberate steps-like changing your mindset, you'd be surprised by the difference it makes.
You can't continue to walk around as the victim when the truth is we're all fighting some kind of battle. If you decide to hold on to pain longer than you need too, that's no one's fault but your own. You, and only you, are now charged with the responsibility of making the necessary changes. Once you know the difference between right and wrong, you can make informed choices. Okay, so your dad wasn't there. And your mom was always moody. You didn't go to a private school, and you grew up in the ghetto. To top it off-homeslice has cheated for the eleven-teenth time. Great! Now what? Will you let any or all of that, dictate your destination?
The sobering questions for me are, "Do I want to continue repeating the cycle? Do I want to be another statistic? The next in a long line of unfulfilled, bitter women? Or will I take life by the wheel and steer it in a new direction?" Don't get me wrong, you'll face countless lows, but you'll have many highs too. You'll have some encounters that are designed to take you out, but if by chance you survive it, then know that that in itself is a miracle. Take it from me, you'll make more mistakes than you'd care to admit too, but as long as you learn from them (even if it takes a couple of tries), then you'll be alright. I know one thing is sure, I'm not prepared to be like an Israelite-who keeps going around the same mountain. And most certainly not for another 40-years, wandering around the same problem.
"Either you'll learn the lesson and get better at playing defense, or you'll allow the brokenness to keep you on the offense."
Figuratively speaking, when it comes to the washing cycle of rinse, lather, repeat, it should stay strictly that - the process in which one cleans hair, clothes, and dishes. You can't keep dating the same man in a different suit and think you'll get happily-ever-after. There has to be more to life than encountering the same ole-G while engaging in the same repetitive routines that we find ourselves chained too. Only you can control the climate of your world. The longer you allow self-pity and sadness to envelop you, the longer you'll take to recover. The sooner you decide to let it go, the sooner you can shift the trajectory of your path. Letting go won't benefit the obstacle or the person that hurt you, its for you to gain strength and rise above your circumstance. Then and only then will you experience real freedom.
Dry Clean Only
Believe me, when I say my honey-do list of unfortunate events is long. Nonetheless, I'm not about to let them keep me from 'living' life. The only stuff I'm committed to having on repeat is prayer, good music, and my coffee pot.
As soon as you decide what you love more, you or it, you'll make a decision!
You can choose to see your time in the wash-cycle as a tedious chore, or you can see it as life handing you a clean sheet of paper to write something exciting and new. C.S. Lewis puts it like this, "What you see and what you hear all depends on where you're standing." Look, most people hate repeating themselves. You and I both know that can be mad annoying. Do you honestly like watching a re-run of your constant bad relationship choices? Why then, in the name of all that is good and pleasant, do you keeping doing the same mess? Think of it this way, relationships are sometimes like washing machines. They knock us around, they spin us, and then they wring us. And in the end, we come out a little twisted but most times better than we went in.