Settling for crumbs
I spent an obscene amount of time figuring out why my marriage failed, the what ifs we all torture ourselves with, because let’s face it rejection sucks. Those immortal words ‘I don’t love you anymore’ resound still; they are the words you never want to hear, ever. I have been on both sides, the rejecter and the rejectee. In all the three long term relationships it is only my ex, the last serious lover who ended it. Karma? We can all come up with justifications but nevertheless hurt was inflicted, intentional or not; certainly I know the rejection caused a lot of pain to my first boyfriend. But I thought it would cause him even more if I went through with the wedding unsure if I really loved him, enough to want to spend the rest of my life.
Now I have progressed to thinking about why I put up with the emotional abuse. The tragedy and irony are I would still be in this soul destroying marriage if the abuser hadn’t got bored and pulled the plug. In other words why did I settle for crumbs when I could have had the whole cake and ate it and the most delicious of cakes at that.
I am not a stupid person. I am not a genius but I can think for myself and I do have opinions and am articulate. I am a professional who has always been in education and I love that moment when you are explaining something to a kid and the penny drops and he gets it. I am a feisty person, if I know I am right and you are taking the mickey I will fight you and get what I am entitled. I am a very fair person, I believe in justice and I will even fight for others, strangers, for their rights.
So how was it that I ended up a doormat, a silent and depressed one lacking self confidence and esteem? To shut me up is virtually mission impossible but he managed so you can imagine how awful the putdowns and constant criticism in private in public were. The drip drip drip effect is very powerful especially over a long period of time and because the doses are so minute but frequent you are not even aware. It’s a form of brainwashing. Why did I allow it? After all I wasn’t held hostage and chained or locked in a room. Love. What I thought was love but was only crumbs thrown my way now and again so that that light bulb moment would not happen. No road to Damascus epiphany for me.
I was grateful for the crumbs, it was better than nothing. Freud would be proud. Yes let’s talk about my childhood and my mum and dad and siblings, because that is where this settling for crumbs started.
I am the baby of the family, you’ d think I’d get all the attention, be spoilt rotten, no chance. All that was given to the sister above me who was a sickly child with asthma and they were terrified of her falling ill and forking out for doctor’s bills. It didn’t help either that my birth heralded the poorest time of their lives and I’m talking about sharing a bowl of rice between all the kids and Mum going without kind. And I’m not exaggerating.
Bless my cotton socks I was a perfectly healthy, robust, contented baby; I never cried or demanded anything so they basically forgot about me. I assume they fed me now and again and did the necessary. Apparently when I was old enough to walk they tied me to a post in front of the ancestral home so I wouldn’t wander off and drown in the stream and they could get on with the business of putting food on the table. That is how I got the nickname. ‘Little Crocodile’. Every time someone passed by I lifted my little head, that was the highlight of my day.
Perhaps that is why I didn’t expect much and was prepared to put up with a lot of shit during my marriage. I’d never been showered with love, made to feel special and finally there was a man who was willing to marry me and start a family, my own happy family which I have always craved. It all seems to make sense now but none of this was conscious at the time.
I swore I would marry by the time I was 30 and I did. I fell in love with K at first sight and knew this is the man I’m going to marry and I did. Tall dark handsome over-rated. What you really need is a man who will go the distance, who will stick by you not just once through cancer but twice and as many times as it takes. Now if I ever have a relationship, and that is a big if, all I want is a a good man and one who will treat me well and think I’m the best thing since sliced bread. One who accepts me warts and all, honest and faithful. I can share everything but not my man.
I’m learning not to settle for crumbs because I deserve better. We all do. Don’t accept second best out of fear: loneliness, rejection, abandonment, old age, not being able to cope, make it on your own,