We get told all the time that crap stuff happens for a reason (as does the good stuff), and that we should look for the lesson. I’ve said that myself enough times. Sometimes though, the lesson isn’t all that easy to find. Sometimes it’s buried so deep you don’t realise for months or even years afterwards what the lesson was, and in the meantime you’ve repeated those same patterns time and time again. It’s like the Universe sent you a memo, but you ignored it, so it sent a letter on headed paper….then a courier….then it knocked you over the head and finally came with a huge storm that knocked you completely off your feet and to your knees and you scream, ‘Why did I have to go through this?! Couldn’t you have just told me nicely?!’

Take me for instance. I have good self-worth. I know my value. It took me a good few years in therapy but I got there. Yet the last three boyfriends I’ve had have been completely emotionally unavailable. The first was a manipulative narcissist (as was the last), the second wasn’t even official, but he cheated nonetheless, and the last one (narcissist number two) cheated on me with his ex-fiancé, then lied to my face about it when I confronted him with the proof. They’re now back together and he continues to cheat on her with different girls. Being cheated on and lied to was never about me. I picked men who are on their own journey but choosing to behave in appalling ways to people they claim to love. Picking these people forced me to acknowledge something about myself: a niggling gap in my self-worth.

We can be super confident in lots of areas of our lives, and not so confident in others. It’s natural. I’ve never been good with boys (men now really, but I refuse to believe I’m in my thirties). I was the awkward goody-two-shoes in school and never really changed. I felt ridiculous flirting and have always been quite introverted. Whilst many claim I’m one of the nicest and funniest people they know, I also used to be told that I seemed quite unapproachable at first glance (maybe because I’m 5″9 without heels and often avoided eye contact with strangers due to the afore-mentioned awkwardness). I had quite a few long-ish term boyfriends, but there was only one who I look back on and think, yea, he was really a great guy. My friends agree. I picked emotionally unavailable men, or just complete assholes…or both (last boyfriend – case in point), because somewhere deep down, I didn’t think I deserved a great guy who loved me unconditionally.

It was only this last relationship that really made me acknowledge what I’d been doing for years. It took getting cheated on, and hearing about it from friends, for me to really see what I’d been doing to myself; what I’d been allowing to happen. My ex has his own problems, they’re not mine and not for me to speculate on, but it took quite a lot of courage for me to look at things and ask myself, ‘Why have I let this happen? What part of me thinks this is what I deserve?’

If you’ve had some crappy things happen to you and struggle with that question, I don’t blame you. It’s a very difficult pill to swallow. It’s one I ignored for years myself. At some point though, if you can see a pattern, you have to acknowledge that the ‘problem’ is you. The Universe has a lesson for you, and you alone can learn it. If you’ve looked deep and you don’t think it’s a self-worth issue, it’ll usually mean there’s an opportunity for you to step up. Can you use your experience to help others who aren’t so enlightened?

There are two ways to grow – constantly look at every situation as an opportunity, or wait for the proverbial to hit the fan and figure it out in retrospect. In reality, we’ll probably all miss some cues along the way, and have reminders sent out to us in some not-so-nice ways, but the more aware we become of how our lives reflect our inner state, the easier and more gentle the lessons will be.