Happy belated Valentine’s Day! I hope that everyone is taking advantage of the discount chocolate and candies being sold in stores right now. This past Valentine’s Day had me thinking a little about my relationships – with friends, family, colleagues and of course, romantic relationships.
My first serious relationship was when I was 21, and fresh out of my fourth year of university. It wasn’t a great relationship, but I don’t regret having it. It taught me a valuable lesson that I will never forget – to never use my partner’s acceptance of my hearing loss as an excuse to stay in a toxic relationship.
Before my first relationship with – let’s call him Tom – I was an independent person focused on my studies, I had a lot of dreams that I wanted to make a reality, and I was very secure in myself and my own values…or so I thought.
When I met Tom, it was at school. I disclosed my hearing loss naturally in conversation and he had no problem with it. Knowing that he had no issues about it warmed me up to him pretty quickly. It was enough for me to turn a blind eye to a lot of other things, like his offhand inappropriate comments about other women, his constant pressuring to do things at a faster pace than I was comfortable with and the fact that he made no initiative in the relationship – at all.
If there is one thing that I remember from the relationship is that all I did was wait. Wait for him to text me. Wait for him to make plans. Wait for him to show more than a passive interest in me. Wait. Wait. Wait.
I don’t like waiting. But I waited for him, for four very long months, because he had no problem with my hearing loss.
Then, one day, I decided to end the relationship because I was frustrated and tired of waiting for someone who was not worth my time. It was clear that we were not compatible at all.
But it should not have taken me fourth months to realize that. I was using the fact that he accepted my hearing loss and did not have a problem with it as an excuse to stay with him.
‘How many people would be so accepting?’ I had reasoned with myself.
Before Tom, I had never been in a relationship, and I genuinely did think that I couldn’t afford to be picky in who I chose to be with because I had this ‘big flaw’. I thought that I had to sacrifice what I valued in a relationship just so I can have some companionship, however poor it was.
What a terrible reason.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I was ready to easily give up my own values and self-worth because of something that doesn’t define who I am and what I want as a person.
That’s when I told myself that until I come to terms with my hearing loss, and how it makes me act in all of my relationships (romantic or otherwise), I wasn’t going to commit myself to another person until I committed to myself.
It took a full two years of self-reflecting and writing to get to that point.
Now, I know to never ever use my hearing loss as an excuse to stay in a toxic relationship or as an excuse for anything else for that matter.
I am more than my hearing loss.
Now, in my current relationship, I’m mindful that I’m not compromising my core values because I know what I deserve and what I want – hearing loss or otherwise.
Readers, if there is one thing you could tell your younger self about relationships, what would it be?