If I was given a dollar for every time I have had my heart torn by a person with whom I was romantically involved, I'd be sunning myself in the Bahamas right now. Sadly, no one ever did come good with that fortune. So instead, I'm here writing this frank (albeit fairly bitter) piece.
For a period of years in my early-to-mid twenties, verbal and emotional torment came with each and every relationship I entered. Back in those days, if there was a cutie at the bar who came with a slightly less obvious touch of mongrel/arsehole, I was sure to stumble over them.
The only commonality I could come up with about those I was involved with was little old lonely and unsuspecting me. This meant that after some time, having been witness to a pattern emerging where I was the only common denominator, I naturally blamed myself. You want to know something? F**k that. You must believe my older, wiser self when I say: "It was them, not me!"
If you ask me now, ex-lovers are like pizza with salmonella-laced salami -- they serve their purpose momentarily, but then repeat on you, over and again. Despite pleas for mercy, once consumed, it's all too late. You suffer harrowing consequences until that phase of your life fades and passes.
Sure, I'm not perfect. And in hindsight, I may just have been a little too keen to find love. But I blame my gaggle of former 'lovers' for the train wreck of low self-worth I was in my early-to-mid twenties. To be honest, the only tangible things I learned from any of those love interests was that I was, in fact, unlovable, unworthy and in some cases, barely tolerable. Who needs enemies, right?
I know my fair share about ex-lovers, because I had a few of them. I had the boy-next-door types, the toothless tigers with stalker tendencies, and friends who should have stayed friends. If previous relationships were a pissing into the wind contest, I would have come home with the biggest gold medal imaginable. That said, I'm older than I once was, and arguably stronger and wiser. I know a lot more about life than I did in my early twenties.
Nowadays, if I could chat to my 20-year-old self, I'd call "bullshit" on those people who told me I was unlovable, because I am and always was worthy of unconditional love. If I could go back all those years, I'd shake myself until I awoke from the coma of misery my former lovers had created.
My ex-lovers had me firmly believing I had more issues than Women's Day. I was the crazy one, the jealous one, the needy one. Actually, no. At that time, I was the sane one who knew a few too many home truths for comfort. To be frank, the issues were theirs, not mine.
While I second guessed every single thing about myself, it was actually them. They were the sh**ty ones, the ones who slept with other women while committed to me. It had nothing to do with me and how ugly, unlovable and unreasonable I was. I know this now. And it was further indicated at the time when, true to form, they would come crawling back, like rock-spiders, to attempt to trap me once more.
There was one lover who seemed okay to outsiders. Someone helpfully told me I'd never find another one as good as him again (thanks buddy). However, in private he condemned me for being a feminist. At the time I was too young and naïve (and probably lacking self-confidence by this point) to know that a guy who is threatened by an ideology of equality most likely has some fairly unshakable and deep-seated issues. So believe me when I call out Lover X (my Dad always did get their name wrong, anyway) and say: "It wasn't me, it was definitely you."
I'm not saying I'm perfect now and I certainly wasn't close to perfect back then. It's quite obvious I wasn't any good at backing a winner in the love stakes, but I'm pretty sure I didn't deserve the hard-luck stories that came my way, one after the bloody other.
Some of them would have done well with a word to the wise like: "What goes on footy trip, actually beats you back to your home town." Or, "Hey matey, if you are going to cheat in front of your missus' best friend, it's safe to say she will find you out." I went to my only place of employment drunk once when I was at uni, and that was still was a better choice than some of those 'suitors'.
I've seen a meme doing the rounds on the internet which says: "You know what's better than a bad boy? A grown ass man with his shit together!" In my own experience I have found that it is actually that simple.
Once I started dating men, as opposed to boys, my woes went out the window as quick as those 'other' girls in my ex's lives. I'm grateful that my husband took me from zero to hero in the love stakes. As you can imagine, I had a fair bit of baggage to unpack by that stage. However, with time and some tender loving care, that crap all dissipated. It's only now that I mention that time in my life in order to offer others hope for a brighter future.
The right one is out there for you. They will eventually treat you as you deserve. You must believe it, and never settle for the easy option of Mr or Mrs Wrong, or any of their motley crew of affiliates. It never was me who was faulty, defective or unlovable, and it's certainly not you.