In the chapter preceding the first of the Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz shares an idea that was so powerful for me to read, as it shed so much light on my past experiences.
As I referenced in my book First Comes Self-Love, Then Comes Marriage, in the essay, “Why Disney Princesses Suck!” the effects of being in an unhealthy relationship are long lasting. It is not as if one simply steps out of such a relationship into a happy-go-lucky reality. It can take years to heal the emotional, and perhaps physical, wounds from that relationship.
A question I have had in my mind ever since my first unhealthy relationship, and one that only grew as I found myself cycling through more of them, was: Why?—What was it that made me open to being in a relationship where the man didn’t respect me? Where he didn’t love me for who I was, and I was endlessly trying to be who he wanted me to be, and do what he wanted me to do, in order to stay in the relationship?
Reading the beginning pages of The Four Agreements, truly helped to elucidate the “Why?” It put into words so clearly what I had been experiencing all those years. It enhanced my vocabulary with which to process these difficult previous experiences.
The first point don Miguel Ruiz makes is that humans self-abuse for not living up to what they think they should be. “They become very self-abusive, and they use other people to abuse themselves as well.” Indeed, I have always been hard on myself.
But this was the real kicker, as he goes on to say:
“…the limit of your self-abuse is exactly the limit that you will tolerate from someone else. If someone abuses you a little more than you abuse yourself, you will probably walk away from that person. But if someone abuses you a little less than you abuse yourself, you will probably stay in the relationship and tolerate it endlessly.”
Whoa. Okay. So basically, my internal negative self-talk and how I felt about myself was WORSE than how these alleged d-bags treated me?!
Over the years, I came to realize that I couldn’t push the blame onto them, that I was accountable for accepting their disrespect, and through my acceptance, encouraged it. But don Miguel Ruiz’s words are so crystal clear and sharp, that they pierce my heart and give me further clarity as to what was going on during the murky years of my twenties where I cycled in and out of unhealthy dating relationships.