Relationships | Mental Health
Red Flags ‘a Flying
In my early thirties, I finally left an abusive relationship and found myself struggling to figure out my life.
I went to a meeting at the women’s shelter one day and was floored at what I heard.
I had absolutely no relationship skills. I left home so early in life that I never learned what appropriate behaviour was and what was not. I’m not sure if I would have learned much else — they pretty much had their own problems by then, but who can know.
I had no idea what a red flag was.
Or that it was even something that you would look for and avoid. Or what they might mean. I didn’t know it wasn’t OK to tell me who I could talk to. I didn’t know it wasn’t OK that I wasn’t allowed to go out on girls nights. I didn’t know that it wasn’t OK that he didn’t introduce me to his family, or that I only met certain friends.
This was around the time the Beatles song”Oh Darling”was popular.
I didn’t realize that my feeling uncomfortable with a situation was a good signal to listen to. I didn’t know that I should listen to my inner voice, I’d been forcing it to be silent all those years.
If he says weird things about his ex, or women in general, or about you, even in a sarcastic way, it’s funny, right? I’m just not getting the joke.
I thought it was ok that he didn’t care about what I liked, or wasn’t interested in what I wanted to do. After all, it was probably a silly idea of mine, right?
I always thought it was OK that he was always right, and even when he wasn’t, he wouldn’t apologize, or it was somehow my fault and I’d end up apologizing instead.
I didn’t know it wasn’t OK for him to tell me what to wear, or not to wear.
I thought it was sweet that he was interested in how I looked. I was fine with doing things to please him, without thinking about whether it pleased me.
And if it didn’t, it was OK, I could put up with it for him. After all, you give up things for people you love, don’t you?
I was lucky. I could have ended up on the street, working for a pimp, or an addict, or dead.
The first year after we broke up, I went to a lot of workshops and read a lot of books about healthy relationships.
Hearing an alternative, talking about red flags, realizing I had just been taking what came in life instead of deciding what I wanted, and asking for it changed my entire perspective on relationships.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Maya Angelou