As I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror, turning my face side to side, my eyes met mine. At first it was the mechanical look you give yourself when you pass by a store window. Brief, shallow and fleeting. But then, I began to really look into my eyes, and a visceral feeling washed over me. My latest unavailable love interest decided it was time for us to end and I couldn’t shake my disappointment that I repeated yet another toxic pattern. I continued to want men who were not available to me.
I have contemplated the origin of my unworthiness before, but often I blamed it on having an alcoholic father. It just made sense to me. How could I ever feel like a priority when I never was one? How could I accept love from a man, when the one man who was supposed to love me the most couldn’t? Most of my relationships were built on a foundation of uncertainty, often leaving me feeling second tier. I stayed with men who didn’t prioritise me or stayed in noncommittal situations because men didn’t know what they wanted.
If I was being completely honest, though, these were the relationships I felt most comfortable in. Relationships that I could hold at an arm’s length and ones that were easy to end because they never really started. It was the best way to control who could hurt me. Feeling unimportant felt safe. Whether it was a drug addiction, another woman or instability in their life, whatever took precedence over having a relationship with me was protecting me from the inevitable hurt I would feel.
As I left the bathroom, I trudged through the mess of my apartment to find available space to sit and the “tale as old as time” epiphany hit me. I will never find someone who prioritises me because I don’t prioritise myself. I sat down and let out a quiet sigh of frustration and anguish. Will I ever learn this lesson?
I remember speaking to a therapist and making the connection that I attracted chaotic men because it let me focus on chaos that wasn’t my own. They were mirrors of how I treated myself. I was the one who was unavailable to myself. I was the one who treated myself like I was second best. It is time I stop giving this pattern sustenance and commit to actions that manifested a relationship I deserve.
Jessica Jones is a teacher living in the Manitoba prairies. For the past year she has been actively writing and sharing her experiences with co-dependency, alcoholism, and the impact it’s had on her and her relationships. Her interests include psychology, photography, and her brand-new podcast called Mulch. For more stories and articles by Jessica follow her on Instagram @from.mulch, listen to her podcast Mulch or visit her website frommulch.com.