I created an unrealistic expectation in my relationship years ago. Maybe more than one if I’m honest. Fine, a ton of expectations. I romanticized a lot as a child and I had this dream vision of what my partner would be like, what he would do. It functioned with a combination of a princess being rescued and being the light in the dark for a guy who in turn wants to do everything for me. I wanted to be the tough independent woman who didn’t NEED a man, but then realized she wanted a partner and he would be the guy to make me realize that everyone deserves a chance. Again, it started when I was young so I will give myself some leeway. Reality, as we know, is very different. Not in a bad way by any means, but reality gives us what we need, not what we want, and that shapes us into who we are meant to be. That impacts our choice of partner as well as the partner we attract.
I’ve been thinking long and hard over my relationship. I’ve been with this man for over two decades now. We’ve been together longer than we were alive when we met. We’ve been through the gamut and I’ve stuck with him and he has stuck with me—and I started to ask why. Comfort? Familiarity? Real love? Was I holding on to the hope of something all this time? Well, the truth is layered and complicated. I had such unrealistic expectations that simply aren’t my husband and it created a rift. While I know he was capable of those things, he was missing the “wanting to be/do that” part. It was even worse with each actual transgression he committed. I kept hoping after each incident that he would learn and change and see things my way. I thought I was owed something for what he did to me, for what he did to us, to our family. I was still looking for him to validate what he felt and to prove to me that he knew MY worth by shaping his actions and making better choices.
But the universe gives us what we need. I got a man who taught me that I am not a princess, that I need to remember my own worth, and that I am capable. I thought I would learn those lessons through supportive talk and shared experiences. Instead I learned them through frustration and heartbreak and necessity, and more time alone that I wanted in a relationship. But I learned that I can carry my own bag. I wanted to be the woman who didn’t need a partner, and I got someone who taught me that. Yes, we all need help at times, but we can’t expect a partner to carry our way through and we can’t carry them. I expected my husband to do that for me because of the things he had done, like some penance. But it gets too heavy and it creates an uneven relationship for each other and around expectation in general. Like, I carried you, now you carry me. And that was exactly what I did to him.
I was never helpless, I was angry and hurt for a long time. And in learning to love myself, I developed this understanding about projection and expectation which is what we talked about yesterday. No amount of loving him will show him how to love me and it will never make him love me if those feelings don’t genuinely exist already. The reality is relationships fluctuate and change and grow or they collapse depending on the growth of the people involved. That is why it’s key to know who we are and to learn to be whole in ourselves before we enter a relationship with someone else. A partner isn’t meant to fill our gaps to make us whole, partners are meant to complement who we are and we work toward something together. But we need to be able to hold our own on our own first. Once we can carry our own bag, things get a little easier.