If you’ve visited my blog before, you’ve probably noticed I don’t use it as a selfie of my life. Rather, I prefer to share my observations and what I’ve learned in my many years on this planet.
Today, I thought I’d share why I have chosen to become a single woman once again. It seems to be my way because I’ve been married twice, engaged and lived with my most recent partner for very near five years. And with each of those relationships, I’ve been the one to pull the plug.
But this is the one I want to talk about. First, I will say that I still love him, and he still loves me. My problem is I have a ‘relationship flaw.’
My Relationship Flaw
My flaw is that I give too much. I’m aware of the problem, but it’s such a deeply embedded part of my DNA that it’s become a part of me. As the Dung Beetle (my second husband and what I call my ‘moment of insanity’) used to say, “Kara, you’re too nice.” He meant it as an insult and learned to take advantage of it…big time.
My relationship flaw began to develop when I was a toddler. My mother was a fearful alcoholic. She was a single mother of two when divorce was shameful. She’d left my dad because he slept around and stole from every family member.
Raising two kids on a secretary’s pay was scary, but she did it. She was an amazing woman and loved by everyone she knew. But her fears were palpable. As a little girl, I remember feeling like I had to take care of her. I became an expert at ignoring my needs and focusing on her needs. So much so that it became a significant part of my way of dealing with people.
If You Moved In With Me
If you moved into my home I’d start stocking the kitchen with your favorite foods and drinks, I’d cook for you, and make sure you were comfortable. It’s what I do. Most of the time it makes me feel good. I like that I’m ‘too nice.’
But in a relationship, I focus too much on what my partner needs and forget to take care of my own needs. When I was engaged (the relationship before this most recent one) I spent half of my time in Los Angeles at his place, then drove back to Santa Barbara. Read: I did all the driving. He rarely drove to Santa Barbara.
When I broke the engagement, I remember saying I’d never live with anyone again. I thought it was because I didn’t want to lose my freedom.
My Big Ah-Ha
When I was pondering ending my recent relationship, I remembered thinking that. But then it hit me, like a bolt of lightening. It wasn’t because I’d lose my freedom, it was because I’d lose myself.
That’s when I took an inventory of myself and saw that I had allowed Stephen’s needs to become more important than my own. Yes, I loved doing things for him, cooking meals, making sure he had fresh razor blades and the face cleanser he liked. But after a time, it took over.
When the real reason I swore not to live with anyone again became clear, it was time to end my relationship. I had to get back to being me. On many levels, it was time, and Stephen understands why I needed to be on my own.
Some might say I just need to do some therapy. I’m a soul searcher by nature and have grown in many ways. Most significantly has been to go from being shy, insecure and uncomfortable in my own skin, to being outgoing, confident, and joyful.
But my ‘relationship flaw’ is such a part of me that I can’t help being thoughtful, and nurturing. Here’s a perfect example of being ‘too nice.’ I’ve been driving for Uber to add to my savings so I can move to Costa Rica in July. (I’ll talk about that in a future post.) Yesterday I got a request for a ride that was 20 minutes away. I called her, and I told her it would take me twenty minutes to get to her and to cancel the request so she could find someone closer. She was quite upset because she had been unsuccessful at getting a ride from the train to her dorm. So as much as I didn’t want to drive twenty minutes to take her on a 7-minute ride, I did it because I didn’t want her to be stranded. It cost me more in gas than what I earned. But she was very grateful. I was happy to help, but I would have preferred not to make that drive.
So for now, I’m happy to be single again. I love Stephen dearly and want only the best for him. We communicate regularly and will always be friends. He and his girls became part of my family and family sticks together.
If you find you give too much and lose sight of your own needs, maybe reading this post will help you take care of yourself. I’m not advocating leaving your relationship. Not everyone has my same deeply embedded need to do for others. Instead, maybe it will help you remember to keep your needs equal to your partner’s.
So am I destined to be alone for the rest of my life? I’ll talk about that in my next post.