Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1182577
Theme song: Pink “So What”
Sometimes, you have to meet the right person in order to know just how wrong the wrong person was.
I think it’s interesting how sometimes, we want our story to be more important than real life and so we’ll try to force compatibility out of incompatibility with others in order to do so. I’m at a point in my life where I no longer want to be someone I’m not just to get along with others. But when I was younger, I would do that all the time. You see, growing up, I wasn’t someone who fit in with the crowd. I preferred reading books to shopping for clothes, writing stories to going to the movies, and sports to makeup. I was content to march to the beat of my own drummer. I was a kid who’d read the Bible because I felt like I should know what was in there – not because I believed that it was true.
Things changed at some point. Though I was always the philosophical kid, I met someone in high school who changed me. I gave up watching The New Mickey Mouse Club – which may have been for the best, but I also gave up other things. I gave up creative writing club, Amnesty International, stage crew, radio club, acting and dancing classes, several close friends, and babysitting. I gave up the music I loved to listen to – exchanging rap for hard rock. I went from being the girl who would sing loudly to passing cars with her best friend in front of the house in exchange for being quiet. I went from being confident to being very self-conscious. I wanted a black dress to wear to prom, I wound up wearing a white one at his insistence. I began to give up the traditions I’d grown up with in exchange for his traditions. In essence, I gave up me. When the relationship ended, I had to re-define who I was, outside of the relationship. Some of it was because of his insistence that I change, but I also allowed it to happen. I’d been too afraid to be who I was – for whatever reason, and too afraid to lose the attention he gave me.
Parents stepped in, but for different reasons. We were too serious about each other too young – far after I gave up my first activity. When I look at various life events I’ve experienced, I look at that period and think, “Parents should have stepped in much sooner.”
Later in life, I met up with the same boy, only he was grown up. I convinced myself that our story would be a romantic love story – even though we had nothing in common. Once again, I found myself being changed. Before him, I had a list of reasons not to get married, denoted by random numbers I’d come up with when a friend would complain about a spouse or I’d read random marriage stories (full disclaimer here, I’m still not entirely sure I believe in marriage. The main reason I wasn’t sure marriage worked was because in most cases, the woman winds up giving up a lot of herself for the sake of the relationship. Granted, relationships in general require that we compromise on some things – and I haven’t always been willing to compromise!) Once again, I gave up many things that were important to me – graduate school, reading for fun, alone time, friends, traditions, and more.
Granted, I don’t blame him for all of that. It takes to to tango, and I was at a place, at 30, where I was freaking out about the fact that I was single. I let a lot of things slide. “You don’t like brown? I guess I won’t wear my favorite brown shirt then.” “You act strange at parties because you get nervous? I guess I won’t be going to parties anymore.” “You have a problem with the holidays I celebrate? I guess I won’t be hunting Easter eggs anymore.” “You want me to denounce the traditions I grew up with and embrace yours? –
but wait, I can’t. I never considered myself so, but I cannot give up the ideas and traditions of Christianity.” When I realized that, and realized how much of myself I’d been letting pass by – I was the sort of person before we were together who always had to be doing something, out in the world. With him, I was the sort of person who worked all the time. I no longer had balance. I started to reclaim who I was.
But, when I started to reclaim myself, and the things I wanted out of life, I started to realize that there was no way in which we were compatible for one another. And things, eventually, became crystal clear that they would not work out.
Why am I writing all of this? Publicly? I don’t know, I suppose it’s because I want to save other women (and men) from making similar mistakes. It’s not the only relationship where that happened, but it is the only relationship where it happened to such a degree that a year later I’m still undoing the “not-mes” that had occurred. I finally once again have a wardrobe that reflects my personality. If you find yourself forcing incompatibilities into compatibilities, it’s like putting too much stuff in an already overflowing closet. At some point, that door will open, and it will all fall out. You’re not alone – others I’ve talked to have done it, but if you’re doing it, don’t marry the person. At some point you will want to be you again.
The truth is, you don’t have to like the same music or the same people in order to be with someone. Why do we fool ourselves into believing that we have to meet some sort of imaginary checklist the other person has? Moving forward, if being around someone makes you uncomfortable, and you find yourself saying you like things you don’t like or acting in a manner that goes against who you are, think hard about what that other person really is adding to your life. You should be able to be yourself when with your partner. My current partner is supportive, and I can always be myself around him. I never have to pretend to be someone else, and more importantly, I never have to pretend to like anything I don’t like. It’s so important to find someone you love who loves you for exactly who you are. And with all the crazy stuff that happens in life, there is nothing more important than being yourself. Sure, that means we don’t always agree, but it also means we respect and love each other completely.
Have you ever compromised yourself for someone else? What happened?