Credit: Storage Warehouse, Cambridge MA, by Sandra Salamony
Years ago, in a desperate attempt to get out of limbo in our seven-year revolving-door relationship, my boyfriend and I decided to get some professional help. Our counselor was an older, gentle giant of a man who listened to our weary situation with soulful compassion and much head nodding. At the end of our second session, he slowly and calmly made a declaration about our obvious, perpetual dilemma.
“Well, if I were Joy right now, I think I might be thinking something like—[he took a significant pause, seeming to carefully find his words]—well, something like, ‘Fuck you!’”
Those words cut through my trance of self-pity. I sat bolt upright, my vision cleared, and I felt a hot surge of energy flow through my body. In that moment, I woke up to how numb I had become to my boyfriend’s criticisms. Somewhere along the line, I had come to believe that it was my duty to listen to, even validate, his judgments of me. I left our session finally ready to face how I had been futilely trying to prove myself worthy of love—suddenly understanding that trying to earn his love was inherently flawed. …