Talking to people about relationships was never supposed to be my schtick. If you were to ask 6 year old Janae, she would have told you she was supposed to be a veterinarian.
But, through a long road of hurt, trauma, & stubbornness, I cannot seem to get away from conversations about relationships. My thirst for purity lead me to research, watch, & study thousands of hours of content concerning relationships of all kinds which has lead me to question the ‘norms’ I see in my daily life. This mass consumption of knowledge lead to deep conversations with myself and God that left me with an abundance of information. What do most people with a lot of information do? Share it! And I did. I shared with family and friends all that I had learned. Some of those conversations sparked more questions about relationships that lead me to ask questions of elders and people in positions of leadership that I trust. In fact, navigating relationships have become somewhat of a passion of mine.
I could spend hours in conversation breaking down why societal norms in both platonic and romantic relationships are the driving cause of the mass unhappiness and mental health issues that plague both my generation and the one after it. My goal in life is to counteract that by spreading the knowledge I’ve gained in hopes that people will choose to do better when they know better.
“GOALS!” “#RelationshipGoals” “Does Chris have any brothers?”
These are all questions and comments I have been fielding and answering since it became public knowledge that Chris and I were dating. They hear our story or hear how we talk about/to each other and this is usually the response. Chris doesn’t mind this as much as I do. I’m far from comfortable being someone else’s gold standard in relationships. Also, no one else outside of the two of us know and fully understand the inner workings of how we got here. They don’t know how it looks under the hood.
No one knows that a few short months ago, I was almost ready to throw it all away…
See, when you are a church kid like me you grow up hearing certain sayings that you don’t always understand. For example, a common phrase in my church growing up was, “The devil is attacking my _____.” The person using this expression could fill that blank with anything from their physical health to their mind and emotions.
I’ve even been known to use this phrase when requesting prayer or assistance and even to explain the week I was having. But, that’s not always true. See, we humans are the only species that will self-sabotage and play the victim simultaneously. We have all done it and sometimes we don’t even know it.
Have you ever been angry at yourself for not starting or finishing a project? While you beat yourself up for the bill you didn’t pay on time you also go through your list of everything that could be responsible for your disappointment. The kids were rowdy and you forgot. Your spouse was supposed to do it. Your car broke down. Your boss got on your nerves.
No matter the excuse or reason the common thread in all of those are YOU!
We even let this mindset infect our relationships. We blame our partner for not knowing our love language or our best friend for having other friends. We tell ourselves that we have a ‘good heart’ and our ‘intentions are pure’ and therefore when something unfavorable transpires in a relationships, it is almost impossible for it to be OUR fault.
I read from psychiatrist that human beings have a harder time empathizing with the suffering of others than with our own suffering. Which means for you non-Bible believers reading this….we are not naturally wired to love. Love requires empathy & compassion
The Bible uses the word love approximately (depending on your translation) over 300 times. Most of which are in reference to actions we need to perform. For example: ‘Love Your Neighbor as you love yourself’. It also defines it by saying ‘Love is patient, love is kind.’.
Humans are historically BAD at all of those things. Which is why God had to tell us in the Bible to do them. The Bible doesn’t tell us to use our lungs to breathe…why? Because it comes naturally to us. No one had to teach you how to use your lungs and it would be foolish of us to require another organ in our body to breathe for us instead of our lungs.
Yet, we are arrogant enough to believe that our hearts and intentions are pure. They are not. If God is love, the best we can be is a reflection. We can never be the definition of love.
I said all this to say that all of the reasons listed above about why human beings are naturally trash is the reason I was almost ready to throw away my perfect seeming relationship.
Because of this pandemic and the state of the world as it is. It has been hard for Chris and I to continue a normal life routine. At the beginning of our relationship, it was normal for us to have random work dinner dates during the week. We would stay up until midnight on the phone having a friendly debate about social issues. Or send each other funny memes throughout the day.
This was the way our friendship started and it was great that it could continue into our romantic relationship. So when these things changed, I became insecure.
No, I didn’t think Chris was cheating on me. I began to tell myself that the devil was attacking my relationship because we no longer did any of the things we enjoyed. The pandemic forced our time spent together to go from multiple times a week to once a week to once every blue moon. My phone calls would go hours unanswered and I was beginning to feel isolated and alone.
I thought, surely something else was keeping Chris’ attention away from me. Was it his changing businesses which now had to shift plan because of the pandemic? Was it his family who were self-quarantining for safety? Or was he simply just losing interest in me?
If there’s one thing I know about men is that if they want to do something….they will. And because he wasn’t calling or texting as often, he didn’t want me. Right?
I spent night praying devils and demons off of Chris. Praying that God would intervene and I would wake up to find our old ways of communication restored. I begged God to save my relationship and finally after prolonged silence from God, I begged Him to take the relationship away. Is that what I should be asking for?
Were all the confirmations about Chris that I received at the beginning of our relationship just a concocted fantasy I had made up?
I was confused. I was conflicted in every sense of the word. I would spend hours distracted trying to validate either side of my argument. All the research I had done on relationships and I could not figure this out. I tried every angle I could think of. And worse of all, God was silent about it all. He would NOT speak to me concerning Chris. Yes, I trusted God but do I trust myself?
Was it me?
Was it something I had done or not done to deserve this? To finally meet someone I could see myself raising grandchildren with only to once again misinterpret what was in front of me?
This caused anxiety and anguish like you wouldn’t believe. I couldn’t sleep. I was emotionally eating all day everyday. My skin was acting out, my eczema came back full force and I felt ugly, fat, & lonely.
I couldn’t talk to Chris about it. Every time I tried it seemed like nothing changed or it got worse. I was trying my hardest to regain control of my life & my relationship. It was like I was falling down a dark hole and couldn’t find the sides to grab onto.
I squeaked. All I wanted was help getting out of the hole. No matter if that meant that I would get out of the hole single or not. I just want out!
I’m not sure what caused the shift but it happened. About 3 weeks ago, I began focusing on my fruitfulness. I started seeking opportunities for myself and it spiraled into honing my crafts. I started taking myself more serious about my brand and asking myself what did I want it to be? Do I just want be a girl with WIFI forever (which is not a bad thing) or did I want more?
Even though the titles of influencer and entrepreneur make me want to gag nonstop, I have been feeling God pulling me to operate like them. Although I am not where I want to be yet and I’m still not clear as to where this all will take me. I’m clear that I have to keep going and in order to keep going I need to be organized, disciplined and educated in the areas I’m already a part of.
The weight of what I thought was a failing relationship shifted. I didn’t feel the responsibility to make it work alone. I gave Chris the space he needed and it took a large weight off my shoulders and a target off my back. He felt like a less crappy boyfriend and overall both of our moods increased.
I realized that I was the problem. I was the common thread. I was the one self-sabotaging my own relationship by trying to use the past to validate my future. The devil wasn’t attacking me, I was attacking me. Yes, the ideas that were plaguing me definitely came from a lie the devil had planted in me years ago but I was the one allowing that same thought process to destroy my life. The reason God wasn’t talking to me directly about my relationship was because He had already given me validation. He was trying to teach me that His validation is enough. And that in this case He was not going to repeat Hisself.
We all know the quote from the late Mya Angelou that says, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” But why did I never apply this quote to my relationship with God. God has shown Himself to be good in my life. He has shown me countless times that He won’t allow anyone to hurt me. Yet, I was taking the lack of love expressed in the way that I wanted as a reason to leave a relationship that was handcrafted for me.
I was once again trying to control my world by destroying myself.
I was telling myself that if Chris was unable or unwilling to express his love for me in my primary love language (quality time) than it wasn’t good enough for me. How selfish! When I realized the selfishness on my part, I was immediately reminded that not once during our time of prolonged separation did Chris go more than 24 hours without telling me he loved me.
He told me every time we got off the phone. Sometimes through text. But it wasn’t enough for my selfish flesh. I was using the lack of time in the same physical location as a weapon against the man I love. Who would want to be in a relationship with someone like that? Not me. And yet, I could easily use the excuse that my intentions were pure.
My intentions were selfish not pure.
When I realized all these things, I secretly vowed to do better. To be a selfLESS partner and not a selfish one. I finally understood what it means to truly sacrifice my own well being for what Chris needed which was space. He needed me to self validate. He needed me to remember the promises he gave me in our previous alone time. The promise to not hurt me. To be a man I could be proud of calling my own. To be a man that earned my respect and love everyday. A man that would create a life for us that our great grandchildren will benefit from. He was that man. He is that man. But I have to remember to be that woman. Because love is not our natural language we have to grow in love and most importantly learn in love.
If I was to be the kind of woman who could love and support a man like that then I first had to continuously practice validating myself with what I was already given.
K, good talk