It will probably come as no surprise that I have struggled in relationship for most of my life. Until I had children, I never felt like a priority to anyone.
And I can hear that inner part who tells me that my children have no choice in the matter. So I guess the real statement is I have never felt like a priority to anyone who had a choice. That sounds pitiful. And I am not looking for pity. I am just being honest because let’s face it, somebody has to be honest about this stuff. And I’m going to be very honest. This discussion feels a bit risky, and for me, that is saying something. But risk is becoming a part of my daily life these days, despite how much my controller hates it.
My relational life has revolved around this concept of “low priority”. When I have truly fallen for someone, they have always been unavailable. By unavailable, I mean they were either involved in a relationship or healing from a previous relationship. I was an afterthought. I was someone to pass the time with. I was the person who would get them from one real relationship to another. But I was never going to be that real relationship for them. I was never important enough to them. And the most significant problem was I didn’t know this. I would tell myself they would focus on me soon. I would tell myself they were going to leave that other relationship anytime and make me the priority. I would tell myself things would get better.
But that was never going to happen. In those few cases where someone decided to make me the primary partner, I lost interest pretty quickly. Deep down inside, I knew something must be wrong with them if they picked me. I wasn’t good enough to be the priority. I knew it without a doubt. And in reality, these people did hold a tremendous amount of pain. Their pain rivaled mine as it does in relationship. They were addicted to something and it wasn’t me. And I was addicted to the running, the busy, the people-pleasing, whatever it took to distract from the lack of connection I felt.
And because of my repressed memories, I never understood what was happening. Why was I always the “girl on the side”? Why was I never the priority? I was successful at my work. I was persistent. I wore my perfection mask well. I fit the mold of what society thought was right. I knew what to do in all areas of my life except relationships. And relationships were always a nightmare. So what was the problem?
But then my questions were answered. And while the answers were good to have, they were also painful to have. I was the “girl on the side” because that was my pattern. I was always the “girl on the side” from the time I was born. (And here is where it gets cringe-worthy.) I was never someone’s daughter. I never had parents. I was involved in one affair after another from a very young age. I was “the other woman” when I was 8. I was competing with my mother and my grandmother for attention from my father and my grandfather. And this was not good attention. This wasn’t even attention I wanted. This was sexual attention.
And I was shamed for it. I was treated as though I was the problem. I was a horrible person for creating this triangulation between myself and the marriages around me. It was shameful what I did to them. I created a strain in their relationship because I was the shameful little “girl on the side”. I was the shameful little secret in the family. And when it came to the public image, it was my job to pretend. I had to pretend I wasn’t the “girl on the side”. I had to pretend I was in a different role, a role I didn’t play on a daily basis inside the home. I had to act like they were the couple and I was just the daughter, the perfect little daughter.
But in reality, I was learning a toxic relationship pattern. I learned how to compete with women and accept my role as the low priority in the love triangle. I learned I only mattered for one thing and I should be ashamed of it. I learned that I would never win the competition for priority in relationship. I learned that my needs would never matter. And of course, that became my life pattern …
until I woke up.
And now I am learning something new. I am learning I will never be a low priority again. I am learning my way to a better life is in breaking this pattern. I have said “enough is enough” to this relationship pattern. I will not live it anymore. I will no longer accept that kind of love because I am worth more than my parents showed me I was worth. And I am willing to walk away from this kind of “love” until the universe gets my message.
No more will I be the “girl on the side”.
Written By Elisabeth Corey, MSW