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You Can’t Fill a Bottomless Cup

Understanding the "storm" within after ending a relationship and the necessary steps to move forward with your life.

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The information I’ve provided below are observations I’ve made based on my experiences. I am not a psychiatrist/psychologist. I like to study people, including myself, learn, evolve, and share my discoveries, this piece is a synopsis of my experiences.

I’d like to share a story with you if you don’t mind.

A cousin, who I consider my little brother, called me one night because he just broke up with his girlfriend. He was sitting in his car, upset, hurt and his mind was stuck in a place I knew too well. He couldn’t wrap his head around why this relationship didn’t work, why she broke up with him, why things never seemed to work out for him and all I could do was listen. As he poured his heart out to me, I noticed a few things he said that brought me to my EUREKA moment, and then he said it. With a somber inflection in his voice, he said, “I’m not enough.”

He was stuck in what I call, “The Storm,” (we’ll get into what The Storm means a little later in the story). He thought he did everything right. He chose this person and made these decisions because, logically, he believed it made sense. He chose this woman because she NEEDED him. She needed him for a place to stay, she needed him for his money and car, she needed him to take care of her, and he needed her to need him. What he didn’t account for was the foundation – NEED.

Need is a fleeting feeling.

You need something until you get it, then you don’t need it anymore. She needed him until she didn’t need him anymore. Later, he told me that she was seeing someone else while she was living with him. He couldn’t believe that she would do that, especially with all that he’d given to her. While he was talking, I interjected and asked him, “Did you ever ask yourself, what would happen after she stopped needing things from you?” “NO! Why would I ask that?” he replied. “Well, you said you felt like you weren’t enough and you gave her everything you could, if you think you didn’t have much to give, wouldn’t it be a matter of time before she moved on?”

 

Photo by: Lalesh Aldawish from Pexels

I know that seems like the worst thing I could say to him, but it’s a legitimate question. To provide some cushion, I did ask this question closer to the end of our three (3) hour conversation. I believe in asking the difficult questions, saying what others may not say, not because I’m trying to hurt anyone, because I’m trying to help them heal.

He felt like he could give her THINGS like a car, a place to stay, money. He also thought that teaching her things, exposing her to opportunities and experiences she’s never encountered would be enough to fulfill her needs. It’s almost like entertaining a baby and trying not to have them cry – look at this, see the pretty bird, here’s a toy, but the child still cries. You are throwing all of these THINGS at her because she WANTS them right now, but when all of the things are gone, it’s just you and her, now what?

She left you when you could no longer fulfill her very temperamental needs, now you are left to pick up the pieces. I then asked him, “What did you want to get out of this relationship?” He said he wanted someone to love him, someone to lift him up, and what I heard was he needed someone to do something that he can’t do for himself – love him. But, the larger question was, how was he going to emotionally pull through The Storm?

The Storm is an emotional place.

When he made the decision to be with this woman, he was thinking about the emotional void she could fill, that was his foundation. Yet, when she would try to fill his emotional needs, she was met with doubt and dismissal. She would tell him he was cute, he would say he wasn’t. She would tell him how smart and funny he was, he would tell her he wasn’t. His emotional foundation was cracked before the start of their relationship.

Her foundation was based on the physical things he could provide, and emotion was secondary. When his emotional foundation for that relationship finally shattered, he did not know how to brace for The Storm. The Storm is like walking through quicksand during a thunderstorm – if you don’t have a solid foundation and an instinctual vision for your path, you will be swallowed into a pit of self-loathing, disorientation, despair, and emptiness.

As we talked, he began to spiral, “What am I going to do, why did she do this to me, I don’t know anything anymore!” The Storm was taking hold. I began to calm him down, trying to pull him out of The Storm, but the more I pulled, the more he pulled back. I soon realized he needed to go through this – he needed to shout, yell, be angry and sad, he needed to cry and hurt, he needed it all. Once he decided to calm down, I began to pull him out of The Storm again, this time I pulled him enough to see a break in the rain.

The Storm came and went throughout our entire conversation. When he finally reached the place of stability, he wanted to know how to rebuild. I told him I would help as much as I could but he would take on the responsibility of this journey. I gave him the one thing I needed to get through The Storm and breakups:

Know and LOVE yourself ❤️

This is something that a lot of people struggle to do for themselves. I still struggle at moments to love myself but I make an attempt every day, but no one can fill a bottomless cup. If I don’t love myself, I can’t expect someone else to do something for me I can’t do for myself.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know how to get there!”

A take on a famous Yogi Berra quote

This is such a famous quote and it’s the most poignant statement for loving yourself. If he knew how to love himself, he may not have picked her as a mate. If he knew where he wanted to take the relationship, she may have complied and taken action to make his goal/vision possible. I told him he needed to learn how to love himself better and he said he didn’t know how, so I told him how I do it.

This is the trick I use to understand how to love myself – look at the people you love in your life. Are they perfect? Do you love EVERYTHING about them? Would you do anything and everything you could for their happiness? That’s what love is, it’s not perfect but you will do anything you can to see it grow. Loving yourself doesn’t mean you have to be the size you want, have the relationship you want, have the money, house, clothes, and things you want, loving yourself means looking yourself in the mirror, providing yourself a space of acceptance, understanding, and no-judgment (a safe space) and saying:

“You are with me for the rest of my life and I decide that I will not degrade you, I will not put you in harm’s way, I will not take you for granted, I love you! You are safe with me!”

This, hopefully, will provide a bottom or foundation for your emotional cup. People tend to ignore their emotions because they aren’t tangible until they become tangible. 

He ignored how she was in need of things. He ignored how she wasn’t doing much in life. He ignored his gut telling him this would end soon. He ignored his longing for loving himself and instead, chose for someone else to fill his bottomless cup. He ignored until he couldn’t ignore anymore and now he’s left to deal with the remnants of The Storm HE created.

Today, he’s getting himself together and he’s taking the steps to recognize and protecting himself. These are great steps towards loving yourself.

It’s not an overnight process, there are tiny steps to take and I will share more throughout my posts on this platform. Today, I hope you take a little something away about the importance of loving yourself, creating a clear path, and opening yourself to greater possibilities because of your solid foundation.

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