"Can you take a day off?"
"Can you just tell them you can’t come in?"
No, I can’t.
These were conversations I used to have with my ex. At the time I was working weekends, and a big part of my training was student coordinating for relationship and intimacy classes. I loved my work and seeing people transform after coming in so hopeless. I was inflow. I was happy.
That changed whenever I came home. I almost felt guilty about how much I enjoyed my work life. It was almost like it was a part of me I tried to keep separate, to protect from him.
Watch: The Mamamia team confess our relationship deal-breakers. Post continues below.
Ultimately, I didn’t believe I could be a fully powerful woman in his presence. Or take up space. Be in my purpose and have a man (him) love and support me unconditionally. I didn’t think both could exist. I also couldn’t see I didn’t have the skills to navigate a demanding job while in a committed relationship.
But, he was my best friend. I had never felt more in love with someone despite all of our struggles. Being together was pure joy.
I loved that he fought for it. It touched that part of me that felt wanted and important.
So I made myself smaller.
I didn’t want to lose him or the relationship. I started to skip events to get home earlier. I would cut it close in the morning so we could be in bed until the last very minute, prying myself out of his arms, telling him we needed to stop having sex.
When he complained I spent too much time with my girlfriends, that I was "different" when I got home from seeing them, I didn’t fight him. More and more, little by little, I shrank to keep him happy.
In that process, I abandoned myself.
I didn’t trust we could be in love and in purpose. I put up with more and more fights, with his anger. When he told me he’d break up with me in a week if I didn’t get an IUD, I got the IUD. Deep down I knew to concede, abandon my own body, would be a pretty final straw.