Why I’m Happy My Husband Pointed Out My Worst Quality

why i'm happy my husband pointed out my worst quality

Why I’m Happy, My Husband Pointed Out My Worst Quality

(And why it’s not a BAD thing.)

For the 12 years before marrying my husband, Luke, I jumped from one unhealthy relationship to another.

I always had something missing in every relationship.

I had something missing alright, but it wasn’t the need for a boyfriend.

I needed to find meaning in my life and work through the issues which were causing me to be so lonely and miserable.

The importance of being alone

I have had some DARK times in the past half decade.  I lost my father,  lost my sense of identity, and for a short while, lost hope that I could ever be happy or find a healthy connection with another human being.  I would push people away like it was my job, but I never understood I WAS PUSHING myself away from those people by being destructively passive aggressive, which not only brought the worst out in myself but also brought out the worst in my partners.

Why was I destructively passive aggressive?  Well, because for the majority of my relationships I was depressed, anxious, unhappy, and suffering from an eating disorder. As well, every time I got out of a relationship, I would vow that I would take the time to be alone and deal with myself.

I pledged to everyone (except myself, obviously) that I would soul search and I wouldn’t make the same mistake with the next partner.

Now, If you’re anything like I am, you would do just about anything to get outside of your head.  But in order to “deal with your own stuff” — you gotta sit with it, break it apart, work it out, and make peace with it if you REALLY want to grow.

So, if there’s one thing I have learned it’s this:  The only way you can start to soul search, is to become comfortable with being alone.

Along came Luke

When I first met my husband, it was as all other connections go.

You know what I mean, right?  I’m talking about that period when the other person can have no faults and do no wrong — and neither can you.

The building blocks for “false happiness” — according to the relationships, I was used to cultivating.

Then we had our first disagreement, and his reaction wasn’t like the others I had ALWAYS encountered in the past:  he didn’t nurture my need to feel like a victim.  

I was like…

Of course, I didn’t realize all of this at first, but my husband’s immediate call to action about my self-victimization was HUGE for me.  What I never actually realized before was this:  I NEEDED to be a victim.

Everything was always happening TO me.  I convinced myself that I had zero control over the unfolding of my life and relationships, which honestly, is funny (and not in a “haha” kind of way) considering just how much CONTROL I needed to (feel) I  had over everybody else.

At first, I didn’t know how to feel about how Luke had reacted to me, but then I reflected and played the conversation back and forth in my mind.  I realized that I turned what he had intended as a funny comment to on that felt like I had been emotionally blindsided and wounded.

Much like I couldn’t process what had happened, neither could Luke.  He immediately said (and I will never forget this),

It seems, to me, like you’re playing a bit of a victim right now, Erin.

I was like…

However, he was right.

It wasn’t immediate, but in the days and weeks following that conversation, I began to evaluate my past relationships.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t using Post-It’s to create flow charts of all my previous relationships (romantic or otherwise) trying to draw connections between my actions and why things hadn’t worked out.

However, it was a major Oprah-style “Aha!” moment for me.

I also refused to see this quality as something I forced myself into not like about myself.  I had learned to be more forgiving of my self-criticisms (and judgments toward others) on the outside.

I had learned how to be alone with myself and allow the universe to provide me with limitless possibilities (if I let it be so).

However, this victim crap was the quality that had sabotaged so much of my happiness for far too long.

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The power of knowing my worst quality

Have you ever noticed that throughout life we often end up hurting the people we love the most?

Do you ever really stop and think about WHY this is?

Or do you spend too much time focusing your battle scars on looking at the situation objectively?

The truth is, we’re all walking around bruised and battered in this life.  However, some of us embrace these scars, and some of us walk around projecting them onto others and repeating cycles of pain and emotional turmoil, subconsciously or not.

I might sound like I’m back-stepping a bit here, but it wasn’t my fault when I was projecting and playing a victim in the past.  I was only ignorant to my behavior.  However, now that I know I possess this quality, and have the awesome responsibility of not only being aware of it but also for making sure it doesn’t harm myself or anybody I love in the future.

With great responsibility comes great power.  

Yes, I said that the way I meant it to read.

The very fact that we are all responsible for our happiness gives us a tremendous amount of power to cultivate it.  Being given the responsibility of owning my unsavory habit of playing the victim in emotional situations has forced me to harness the power not only to choose NOT to be a victim but also the power to have a deeper and more insightful connection with the people I care about the most.

Insight is one of (if not) the most valuable and powerful things a person can have in their life.  So, if someone cares for you enough to let you know when you lack crucial insight, it’s important to take the time to sit with it, break it apart, work it out, and make peace with it.

Has anyone you love ever told you a harsh truth about yourself?  Do you believe that sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind?  What’s one harsh truth about yourself that has prompted a significant change in your life?

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28 Comments

  1. Susie @ SuzLyfe July 30, 2015 / 12:46 pm

    A great moment for you, even if it can be a bit hard at first. We all need to know our worst qualities, as it were, so that we can be our best selves! And it my opinion, it is the best people in our lives who can deliver the not so savory news in safe way that inspires us to change!

    • Erin July 30, 2015 / 12:52 pm

      So true, Susie! I really think people who care about us and see the best in us are the ones who bother to point these things out. I know, in reverse, I have had to do this in a situation where I saw a behavior that I knew was making someone I care about suffer emotionally. I’m very lucky that I’ve got a partner who is careful, but firm with me about the things that he sees limit me!

  2. Lisa @ RunWiki July 30, 2015 / 12:48 pm

    This is so raw and real Erin. I think we can all play the victim at times. When myself or someone else starts to do that I believe it can be a cry for attention. Much of that attention needs to be dealt with from within, but if you are not living with someone, just acknowledging their feelings can do wonders. I always say that it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself, but it’s not okay to dwell in that place. My husband doesn’t point out my weaknesses very often… I wish he did– but I am notoriously a over self examiner– constantly picking myself apart and trying to improve. I think that exhaust him more than anything- I know it wears me down sometimes too! ha!

    • Erin July 30, 2015 / 12:57 pm

      Well, you’re pretty great, Lisa! Hopefully you’re never too hard on yourself. You’re right though, it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself JUST ENOUGH, but it’s got to lead to a place of change in the end to be productive! I think that my marriage has really helped me to approach emotional situations differently. I used to be a very negative person (and I still struggle) but having a positive partner has forced me to stop finding reason in always being so dark! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  3. Amanda @ .running with spoons. July 30, 2015 / 4:19 pm

    Love that quote about the purpose of a soul mate. I definitely think it’s incredibly valuable to have someone that can point things out to you that you may have missed, as long as it’s in a respectful and caring way rather than one that’s meant to tear down and hurt. And I can definitely relate to the need to feel like a victim. Sometimes that’s just the easy way out of dealing with issues from our past that we still haven’t quite gotten over.

    • Erin July 30, 2015 / 6:10 pm

      It’s a great quote! I would definitely say I used to take the easy way out of trying to figure out my unhappiness and why things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to. I agree that it does take a certain amount of tact when it comes to addressing personality issues and traits. I am very grateful that I have a patient partner who cares enough for me to help me see myself for what I’m worth in a very respectful manner!

  4. Jennifer @ A Hungry Runner July 30, 2015 / 5:57 pm

    My husband and I have been married for quite some time so there have definitely been some “harsh truths” over the years from both him and me. They’re important! And, quite honestly, I think a great sign of true and honest love. I mean, if you love someone and you see them doing/saying something that doesn’t benefit them/make them look good (and not as in “are you really going to wear that?”)/enable them to grow emotionally and/or mentally, then something should be said! The biggest harsh truth I remember is when I was struggling at work and I would come home angry and then, direct it at my family. I had a hard time decompressing on the way home. We had super harsh words one day and they really made me think. I needed to hear it. I was a big nitpicking bee-otch and it needed to stop! So glad he finally said something and so glad I figured out how to make a change. So much happier!

    • Erin July 30, 2015 / 6:13 pm

      You’re so right that these harsh truths are important to address at times. I am right with you with bringing work stress home. I used to do that too! I think it really does show how much someone cares about you and respects you that they want you to become aware of how you’re sabotaging your real self and happiness. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts on this, Jennifer! 🙂

  5. Emily July 30, 2015 / 6:14 pm

    Wow, yes. My family, my closest friends, have done this for me many times, and even though it hurts I think it has really changed me as a person and helped me to see my blind spots. . . 🙂 I <3 family. They're da best.

    • Erin July 30, 2015 / 6:41 pm

      I love that you call it “blind spots”, Emily — that’s exactly what these qualities are! We just don’t see them when we look at a situation. It’s great to have people looking out for our best interests and being part of our personal growth. Thank you so much for reading! 🙂

  6. Suzy July 30, 2015 / 6:57 pm

    Erin. ERIN. Jeez, would I give ANYTHING to open up a bottle of wine with you tonight and talk about this until 4 in the morning? YES. I just adore you. I really am shaking my head at how wise you are, and how young you are to be so wise. Most 60 year-olds don’t have half a clue that you do. I love that you were able to be receptive and learn from your husband’s loving words but you know what it takes to be receptive? Strength. It’s life’s great paradox that to be vulnerable, receptive, and willing to change, we need to be strong enough to do so. So many people “act” strong to cover up their smallness (drive a big truck, talk really loud and too much, etc) but the really strong people just are. They just BE. They live it out. You’re one of those people and I have so much to learn from you! Damn, why can’t we live close? 🙁

    • Erin July 30, 2015 / 7:13 pm

      Suzy! You have just made my day with this comment. To be honest, whenever I read your blog, I think the same things about you! I just think you’re so strong and wise and I love your refreshing personality! I would love it if we lived closer to one another, you could kick my ass back into running (I’ve become such a wimp about it) and drink wine and have amazing conversations. Honestly, you really made my day — I was just sitting in bed all drugged up on cold meds watching the Golden Girls and feeling all pathetic hahaha. <3

      • Suzy July 30, 2015 / 7:23 pm

        I’ve always thought we’d get along so well. Funny how we can tell these things from across the pond, eh? So cool. <3 Hope you feel better, chicky mama.

        • Erin July 30, 2015 / 7:27 pm

          Oh we so would! It is so amazing when you know you have an instant connection with another person, even just through writing! Even more so! Truthfully though, you’re awesome, it’s hard not to feel the connection! I’m on the mend! <3

  7. Erin @ Erin's Inside Job July 30, 2015 / 7:53 pm

    My husband is great about calling me out on things. It’s something that I definitely need. I can relate all too well to playing a victim. It wasn’t until I was in jail that a counselor said the same thing to me. I learned it from my mom and once I was aware of it, it was my responsibility to change my behavior. Thankfully I no longer act that way and I am so glad bc looking back I can see how unattractive it was. Sounds like you’ve got a good one there!

    • Erin July 30, 2015 / 9:02 pm

      Thanks, Erin! Yeah, I definitely have a good one and sounds like you do too! It is interesting how blind (and numb) you can become to the victim cycle. It’s sort of like the people who call you out on it (or at the very least make you aware of it) are helping to slap you back into consciousness. Thanks for reading — I loved your post today! <3

  8. Morgan @ Morgan Manages Mommyhood July 30, 2015 / 9:04 pm

    YEESSSS. Before I dated my husband, I dated a guy who basically let me do and say whatever I wanted. he always validated my whining, never stood up to me, and let me “play the victim”. It was what I thought I would always want in a guy, but I ended the relationship when it wasn’t fulfilling me emotionally or helping me grow as a person. Then I met my now husband, and he does not take any of my crap. He puts me in my place when I’m being a brat and just like your husband, points out my qualities I should work on and I couldn’t be more thankful.

    • Erin July 30, 2015 / 9:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Morgan! I absolutely love that my hubby doesn’t put up with my whining lol. It’s always done with so much tact and care, and I always see where he’s coming from (even if it takes an hour or two to settle in lol). Sometimes we really need to be given boundaries and form that respect to truly connect with another person! I think it’s so important for a healthy relationship. 🙂

  9. Heather@hungryforbalance July 30, 2015 / 10:39 pm

    Yes to all of this!! I love love love that quote from Eat Pray Love. (I just pinned it, in fact!)
    When I met my husband I was just coming out of a serious relationship that I had (unknowingly, but purposely) sabotaged. My husband was different than anyone I had ever dated before. He was honest and blunt. And I did not know how to take him for a while, but after a few weeks I realized that he was more real than anyone I had ever known before. And I loved him for it.
    Thank you for posting this!

    • Erin July 31, 2015 / 9:13 am

      Oh… what did we do before Liz Gilbert? I am so glad so many of you can relate to this. Honesty and even bluntness are really great qualities when we’re sharing our lives with another person. When I think back to my previous relationships, I can see so clearly now that it was never going to work, but it takes getting to a point of clarity with the right person to really see all of that. I am so glad you enjoyed this and could relate! 🙂

  10. Jen @ Chase the Red Grape July 31, 2015 / 11:21 am

    The day I realised I was the one who was responsible for my own happiness was the scariest day of my life! Scary because it was true and only I could do something about it. It was up to ME if I wanted to react badly to a situation, up to ME if I wanted to be offended by something and up to ME if I wanted to allow something to make me unhappy, sad or ruin my day. Then I learned to let go, let all those little things that used to make me so unhappy flow away and not control my happiness. It wasn’t up to anyone else, husband, family or friends, to try and make me happy. Only I could open up and allow happiness in.

    • Erin July 31, 2015 / 12:16 pm

      I definitely agree that we are each responsible for our own happiness. I know my life isn’t perfect now, but whose is, really? (You and I have talked about this in more depth…) I just know that it helps to have somebody who doesn’t allow me to beat up on myself so much and act like I’m not capable of being happy and living a rewarding life. However, yes, I agree, it is totally up to ourselves to truly be happy.
      P.S. You must BE beyond excited for your move now! x

  11. Ashleigh August 17, 2015 / 6:38 am

    Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Erin I love this post. I love how you chose to seek insight over getting defensive. That is HUGE and often super hard to do.

    What you said about how playing the victim is a sort of self-sabotage resonates with me a lot. (Story time!) For a very long time, I saw myself as a victim – primarily of depression. While I never would have thought to use the word “victim” before reading this post, that’s exactly what it was – I felt totally helpless in the face of an illness that wasn’t even there all the time! This sabotaged me hardcore (haha see, even *that* is victim language! what I mean is I was unintentionally sabotaging myself by believing everything was out of my control). Anyway, I’m saying all this to say that this is something I’m still working on. It’s extremely difficult for me to take responsibility when I know that there is a genetic/chemical component (aka, a piece of the pie that’s out of my control). It’s only been relatively recently that I’ve realized that I’ve been shirking responsibility almost altogether. And I don’t just mean over my emotions (although that is certainly a part of it); no, apparently I’m terrified of responsibility in general. But yes, over the past couple/few years I’ve started working to shake off this victim mentality. I love love love what you said: “with great responsibility comes great power.” How empowering it has been when I’ve finally started taking responsibility for my thoughts and actions (which then influence my emotions)! The depression component really is tricky, though. I’ve applied for disability due to it, but something about that hasn’t been sitting right with me. I’ve had so many mixed emotions. I’m trying to start a business despite the fact that I can’t work more than part time hours without falling apart (or at least, not yet anyway). I think this whole topic of victim mentality/seeming lack of control/lack of responsibility is now making me realize why I’m struggling to wrap my head around the idea of being on disability. Oh my gosh. Me starting a business despite my limitations is an example of shedding the victim mentality!!

    Oh my gosh. Girl, you have no idea how happy I am to have read this. Your description of the victim mentality, and that statement about responsibility and power…they’re all making so many things click in my head! That previous paragraph consists of a lot of things that are just coming together in my head as I ponder what you’ve written.

    Anyway, one last thought: I agree with this statement 100% —> “Insight is one of (if not) the most valuable and powerful things a person can have in their life.”

    Thank you for listening to my sort-of stream-of-consciousness rambling up there. This post has given me so much food for thought. Thank you thank you thank you!

    • Erin August 17, 2015 / 11:03 am

      Hi, Ashleigh! I’m so glad that my post resonates with you. I think that you’re really right about some aspects of depression and mental illness being a bit more to contend with than just making breakthroughs about specific insights (or lack of). I have just learned that sometimes I have to stop being so sensitive and accept that maybe when somebody who cares about me tells me something about myself, I should listen and not get so defensive about it. I think those who love us do truly care enough to let us know that we’re making our own lives harder by not trying to work on our stuff! I do hope that you are able to work through whatever you’re struggling with. It seems like you’re taking the right steps. Just keep filling your life with constructive and uplifting information to help you build back up. I’m so glad this post helped you! 🙂

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