I have been in a number of relationships. Most of them toxic, suffocating, and detrimental to my mental health, to my bank account, and to my overall well-being. Usually not all of those things at once, but at some point, whether they started off happy, or ended in plea, since the age of 16 I have engaged in these consistent webs of lovers that make me feel like shit.
I have a number of girlfriends and male friends that admire my strength to break free from these binding relationships and start fresh. Sometimes I do that in different continents, completely alone, and sometimes I do that while writing ridiculous amounts of poetry.
I also have a number of friends that scold me for inevitably engaging in another impossibly romantic endevour with another man who seems perfect but once again, leaves me gutted. This is my achiiles heal-love and my inability to run away from it. I am a romantic. I am a lover. I am a poet. And I feel the strongest when when I have broken free from love, or when I am coddling it endlessly. My adult life has been a vicious cycle of loving, and hurting and that spell has been on repeat for the better part of seven years. Seven very long and arduous years.
Finally, I feel that I have dipped my calloused feet into a healthy, loving, and beautiful relationship. I have thought this before mind you, but in the past, I was used, I was condescended, and I was suffocated. I was not Brittany Tiplady, writer, dancer, and dreamer. I was Brittany Tiplady who cares nauseatingly for her boyfriend, and all of his whims and fuck my own because being a girlfriend means being an obedient house pet. Right?
And so, after ending a long distance pseudo marriage with a man I truly believed would be my husband someday, I had a lot of reflecting to do. And by reflecting I mean I needed to re-learn what it means to be a woman, what it means to be me, and what it means to be a partner in a healthy relationship that suits both my lifestyle and that of my partner. It was a long road that beat the shit out of my self-esteem, and after talking emphatically to all the right women and all the right men, and being encouraged by all the right friends, I rebuilt myself into the woman I want to be. The Brittany Tiplady that is a strong and confident 23 year old human being finishing her degree, hustling three jobs, struggling with a shopping addiction, planning a year long trip to Europe, writing impossible amounts of poetry, and loving a new partner that has fuelled all of those things, and more. Instead of taking them away from me.
I did not know that being with a man, in a healthy way, was supposed to encourage all the things I dreamt of and then encouraged me to dream a little more. I did not know that my wants and dreams and wishes, were not supposed to be suppressed or entirely sacrificed. They were supposed to be encouraged. They were supposed to be the reason why someone loved me. I didn’t realize that I shouldn’t be loved because I gave up everything I wanted for that person. But that I should be loved, because having my own goals and ambitions, and keeping them, is all the more sexy, and all the more beneficial to my partner and to the beauty that is honing a personal life and personal goals and getting to stay up all night sharing them with your lover.
I still struggle everyday with keeping my identity and staying strong in myself, and most importantly with my self image, but I feel exceptionally lucky to have someone sleeping next to me, that helps me do that. Early in the year, I had beers with a very important male friend in my life who lives in New York and was visiting for the holidays. It was his first time seeing me post-pseudo marriage break-up and I was feeling mightier than ever. He told me, that without realizing it, I had really lost myself in that relationship. And I finally had my traveling, loving, writing, self back. I think it was that conversation that kept me on the hike back to my self discovery, self empowerment, and self worth.
And I feel really good to finally be getting there.