07/22/2010 12:51 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Working It Out Vs. Tossing It Out: Persevering Through Relationship Ups and Downs

As a young girl, I the events of my childhood created a perception of reality that became part of my primary belief system growing up. A reality where you can't count on anyone really but yourself, and that if you are in a position of "needing" someone, you'll get hurt or disappointed in the end. This way of thinking has likely been a driver in my career, as I was relentless in my pursuit to become independent and okay "on my own."

My mantra was to always have a back up plan in case the first plan or person you are counting on falls through. In other areas of my life however, this has caused me to be closed in relationships and extremely afraid to commit or be in the position of needing someone. Whatever it was, whether it was a job, a friend or the budding of a potential relationship, my attitude was if it wasn't working. Or if I was being mistreated, I could easily get up and walk away. Tossing something out was my method of staying in control, albeit a false sense of control that was really rooted in fear and insecurity.

A few years ago, I entered my first adult relationship. It took me a year to get to the point where I was able to fully allow the person to come into my life. And when I reached the point of saying the words "I love you" -- it was my verbal commitment. They were words that came with promise and my usual pattern of quitting when the going got tough would not be part of my thought process. Through the thick and thin of it, I would always try to work it out. As some who have followed my blogs previously will know, that relationship came to an immediate end one day, and I felt that the person I invested my heart and energy in to abandoned and quit on me. It was extremely difficult for me to handle as I felt that the one time I changed my pattern and allowed myself to be vulnerable; I got hurt and punished for taking the harder road.

It was a time of my life where I felt so out of control as there was nothing I could do to make the painful feelings go away. I felt emotionally crippled, and I told myself that I would avoid any future possibilities of me ending up in the same scenario again.

I dated and met different people, and each dating experience was a failure. Perhaps it was that I just never came across the right fit, but more likely it was because of my relentless effort to cut things off with anyone who showed a sign of potentially causing me pain or hurt. Consequently, things would never pass the dating phase because I'd cut things off usually before it could go any further than that.

In recent months, I met someone, and while it's taken me some time, I'm comfortable applying the label of being "in a relationship." To me, the "relationship" title comes with commitment and a decision of entering a partnership with someone with a certain mentality. It means that instead of "tossing it out" when a hiccup or obstacle appears, to approach with the attitude of working it out and moving forward. It's a complete mental shift for me. Getting to this point has taken time, self-reflection and a conscious quieting of my brain to shut off the stories that play in my head that are rooted in fear.

And while I'm in a healthy and positive relationship, to tell you the truth, the stories of my past and my insecurities of being left alone, being disposable, or my partner one day getting bored of me, still exist (although quieter some days than others). To be honest, I'm so scared of being vulnerable again, and to have faith in someone who holds my heart is actually something I have to work hard at. And so far, each time a hiccup has occurred, my ego wants to react but then I make a conscious decision to go against it and do what will work for the relationship. As my friend J.M. put it eloquently, "think of what is a deal maker versus a deal breaker."

Relationships, whether romantic or platonic, are works in progress. The closest ones will never be a completely smooth ride as these relationships are part of your world to help you evolve and grow. Some relationships won't make it, but some are worth putting aside the ego, the fears, insecurities and pride and working it through. The challenges are an opportunity for growth. And we have the power to choose whether we take the road of growth or the road of defeat.

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