tunnel vision

It's never easy to talk about yourself in a negative light, but that's what self reflection and moving on is for right? This post isn't glamorous or going to give you butterflies. It will inadvertently projected to my fellow femme readers, simply because of my own experiences, but I think it's applicable to everyone.

Growing up, for whatever God forsaken reason, I had the unshakeable notion that I needed a companion. I needed someone. Sure, I had a couple friends, but even when before I reached middle school, I thought I needed someone to hold my hand as we walked to the playground. Someone to sit next to at lunch. Just someone. I'll open myself up to whatever and say I never got that someone. Instead I got a million and one crushes before I even hit high school. Thankfully, a lot of those crushes have turned into life long, platonic friendships or we just lost track of each other. 

Unfortunately though, that notion was still with me through high school. The idea of needing someone is even more prevalent when you're fourteen and surrounded by teen hormones and weekly couples. I never had a serious relationship in high school; looking back, I'm glad I didn't, either -- talk about disaster avoided! I made decent grades in high school and studied as anyone would; my friends were semi-popular and I clung to them. But any type of relationship that started — i.e. a PG version of friends with benefits, a Tinder romance that never made it out of the screen, and many a crush that never got passed my journal entries — never reached fruition. Call me crazy, but I think God really saved me there. I saw the most adorable, beautiful relationships begin -- and end -- between my friends, and, although I wished the same luck for myself, it never happened. Despite that, I was able to third-wheel and take pictures and fangirl over my friends and their newfound love, whether it lasted or not.

But, less than two months of gradating high school, that all changed. I jumped head first to the longest, most serious relationship I have ever been involved in to date. We were head over heels in love, planning to elope before we even reached the six month mark, up until the point where we fell out of it. Distance, due to the army, takes it toll on people, as does stressful forces. And that relationship crumbled almost as quickly as it was built -- except almost a year and half in between the two. 

That relationship taught me more about myself, love, and nearly everything in between, both in the way it blossomed and the way it ended. I'm not the one to be regretful or bitter about it, though. It was a learning process. It really honed in on the tunnel vision of 'true love' I had set for myself and my subconscious took and ran, a mile a minute. I didn’t realize the priority and pressure I had put on not only being in a relationship, but being in THE relationship — the one people say “omg goals wow” about on Instagram, or that you gush to your friends about and write almost an entire book of poetry about. I finally had it, and I was so focused on the relationship — more-so, the idea of the relationship — that I failed to see that it was failing.

The biggest problem is that we both were like this — so incredibly focused on the idea of the other person and the idea of the perfect, young love relationship — that we failed to bring ourselves, or the other, to the plain of reality. Rather, we fueled each other in our infatuation to the point where the infatuation overshadowed the real love that it was based off.

I write this more as a warning than anything — to look for the red flags, be honest and open from the start. But, more importantly, focus on the person in front of you, not one in your head; the version you wish they were or who you’re trying to make them into. Fall in love with the person, and the rest will follow. Before you’re honest with your partner, be honest with yourself; ask the tough questions and take a step back. In those moments of honesty with each other, be blunt — be real — even if it hurts, especially then. While the man is said to “lead” the relationship, I believe that is a burden that needs to be equally shared. It’s a teeter-totter that can’t operate with just one person; it takes a team.

I wish you the best in all your ventures, whether they lead to love or a trip of self-discovery.


DeAndra Merrills