What Love Isn’t

Love.

It binds us, it tears us apart and open at the seams, in fact, most of our adult life is based on finding it, understanding it, becoming enamored with it.

The older I get the more I’m convinced that most people don’t even know the hallmarks of what a true, loving relationship that respects emotional and physical boundaries actually is.

For me, this is quite unsettling on many levels. I think back often to things I allowed in my past relationships that I now, a more self aware “adult” if we can call it that, feel equal parts outrage and shame over. Part of me is annoyed at myself because on some level, I feel as though I should have been able to ascertain that certain behaviors and actions occurring were not only wrong, but downright abusive. Going though your phone/computer/email behind your back, withholding affection/purposefully ignoring you, blocking you/doorways/exits with their body preventing your leave during a situation, accusing you of being too sensitive after saying something deliberately mean, gaslighting, breaking items (especially if they’re yours) frequently and/or exhibiting violent behavior such as punching, kicking, or destroying inanimate objects in your presence often are ALL characteristics of psychological violence. Which leaves me with the burning question: why is this not taught from a young age?

Considering every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten, and nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively) one might think that that this information would be dispersed so much more than it is. The sad reality is that it’s not.

I started this post talking about love for a reason. Why? I’m utterly obsessed with love. I look for it everywhere in every day. The way a friend makes you smile, the long phone call to your mom that always lightens your heart and burdens, and of course the intimate partner that we all long to find. So why discuss abuse? Because the two commingle at an alarming rate.

Abuse isn’t love.

Whether it be your parents, your friends, your family, your job, or your partner that is perpetuating any form of abuse in your life, knowing what qualifies as abuse in your relationships is not only vital to your mental health, but can keep you alive.

It’s one of my hearts greatest burdens that healthy boundaries in a relationship are often found after you’ve already been in a toxic one. Which leads me to the thought that started this post: letting go.

You’re not a bad person for leaving someone who makes you feel like shit on a regular basis. You’re not wrong if you don’t want to fix all of someones problems that they expect you to. You don’t deserve to be yelled at and berated just because someone was having a bad day or you forgot to unload the dishwasher. You don’t deserve to be interrogated every time you want to leave the house or answer a text message from a friend. And you certainly don’t ever deserve someone to put their hands on you, under any circumstance.

But the most important component in all of this is believing in your own self worth. Don’t be your own worst enemy. An analogy I like is to imagine this behavior happening to your own child (even if you’re not a parent or don’t plan to be, just bear with me for a second here.) What would you say to your child if you saw any of these behaviors happening to them? You know what you would say, “Leave.” Now treat yourself with that same kindness.

As always, please get help if you or suspect someone you know is being abused. Abuse isn’t love. Love is many wonderful things, what it isn’t is any of the above. Again, love is many wonderful things, and you are deserving and worthy of every last one of them. I’m glad I know that now, and if you didn’t already, I hope you do too.

LOVE LOVE and MORE LOVE,

Jeanine

 

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