The Girl on the Side

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

The Girl on the Side was originally published @ Beating Trauma and has been syndicated with permission.

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