Why His Growth Should Not Mean Your Pain
I love a good Beyoncé song. Actually, Love on Top is one of my favorite records. But one day I was listening to the lyrics. I mean truly listening intently to the words penned and I had a few questions. The crux of the song in my opinion details a seemingly tumultuous relationship that has taken a turn for the better and the writer’s better half has finally seen her value and has placed her first in his life. “Nothing’s perfect but it’s worth it after fighting through my tears. And finally you put me first….FINALLY you put my love on top.” This makes me wonder where she was on the list before. Don’t get me wrong, I will be the first to tell you that relationships take work. And tears. (I’m the epitome of a Cancer so yeah…tons of tears). But, something to me about this song sends a message that it’s okay to be put through the ringer, discarded, placed on the back burner then to be rewarded with first place. Kudos to him finally getting it together, but I am hesitant to applaud his glow up if it means she experienced a great deal of pain in the process. Love is…not THAT!
My thoughts were thrust back to this song recently after seeing John Gray’s interview where he describes his relationship with his wife. He boasts about the amazing woman she is, in part because she endured 8 years of pain and heartache as she helped to make him a better man. The man that he claims he is today. In summation, she’s amazing because she put up with his shit for so long. He went as far as to say that she endured more pain birthing him than she did birthing their children ::insert confused Nick Young gif:: Listen, I truly believe that one of the best parts about a relationship is the ability to HELP make your partner a better person. And sometimes, unfortunately you lose bits of yourself in the process. I’m okay with that if we both succeed in the grand scheme of things. However, spending 8 years rebirthing a grown ass man seems problematic. I can only imagine how much of herself she lost ensuring he was everything he is today. Somewhere along the way we have decided that making a woman suffer for a man’s growth is commendable. We’ve been conditioned to believe that part of a woman’s worth is measured by how much pain she can endure to make him into the prefect man. That is not a badge of honor. The real reward is in knowing that you cannot pour from an empty cup. It’s in knowing that relationships are give and take and that you all should be helping each other grow together. And that although growth can be painful, that burden should not only be carried on one set of shoulders. This is not only directed at men. As cliche as the phrase is, it holds tons of truth. People will do as much as we allow them to. As women, we have to stop being okay with accepting heartache all in the name of someone else’s growth. And don’t let anyone make you feel as if you are less of a woman because you chose you over giving birth to a grown ass man.
Modern and even some past portrayals of love will have us believing that a real, successful relationship has to be this rocky experience that takes us through every emotion possible but ends up beautiful in the end. 20 somethings (and those 30 somethings who have yet to discover it), hear me out. You will go through some thangs in your quest for love. Yes, THANGS. But don’t you dare believe for one second that you have to sacrifice so much of yourself just so a man can say he is a better person. Real, true love will be both challenging and rewarding for both of you. But you should not have to experience immense pain to get your happy ending. Especially if that happy ending is one sided. In college I endured one extremely painful relationship. My young, immature self believed that the more pain I experienced, the better the love story and that he would later put me first because he saw all that I went through to help him be better. Oh young naiive, ATL. It took a while but I didn’t even give him the opportunity to put me first. One day something just clicked. I packed all the frat ‘nailia, Naruto video games, and crap he had accumulated at my house, placed an Aaliyah length letter in his duffle bag, dropped it off to his roommate and didn’t look back. Unpopular opinion: Pain is not love. (sorry Ja Rule).