I’ll never be loyal.

And now for the second post in a series that should probably be called “Why I Suck at Relationships.”

I grew up in a home where loyalty meant suppressing your fight or flight response in dangerous situations. Loyalty was the difference between accepting abuse and running away. Loyalty was the difference between me and my sister.

My mother used to grab anything she could find to physically abuse us. Hangers, shoes, billiard sticks, extension cords… My sister would crouch and hide her head behind her arms, but she’d endure it.

I ran. Even if it meant sleeping outside in 20-degree weather, I just ran.

When I talked about it with my sister years later, she identified the difference between us as our sense of loyalty. She was always loyal to my mother. She stayed close to home throughout her life, even after we were both taken away. There were probably some benefits, too. My mother put her through a private high school and bought her first car.

From my perspective, those benefits came at too high a cost. She endured so many more years of abuse, control, and manipulation. It’ll take much longer for her to heal, if she ever does.

And yet people talk about loyalty as though it’s a source of pride. I literally don’t get it.

To me, loyalty means standing with someone despite factors that might lead you away. Factors like logic, or even just feelings that have changed. From what I’ve seen, loyalty is dangerous. And sort of unhappy.

From a relationship perspective, which is what I thought I was going to talk about in this post when I first wrote the title, loyalty might mean holding back from doing things you want to do because you’ve committed your romantic feelings to someone. But how can you commit feelings? Feelings are the most capricious things in the world; they change all the time, especially as you continue to grow and change as an individual. Loyalty seems synonymous with settling. I don’t want to settle. I’ll always want something better. The goal post will always move further.

Or maybe all of this will change, as feelings often do.

I’ll never be loyal for the same reasons I’ll probably never commit to a relationship: I don’t see the benefit or the value in going against logic and reason for…wait, so what exactly is the purpose of loyalty?

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2 thoughts on “I’ll never be loyal.

  1. There is a vast difference between loyalty and misplaced loyalty.

    Loyalty is remaining faithful because the person you are with is not worth losing because of succumbing to someone else trying to tempt and lure you away. Loyalty is standing by someone not only when things are going well but when they are struggling. Loyalty is proving yourself trustworthy when someone confides in you enough that you won’t betray them. Loyalty is acting in such a way with someone’s vulnerability that you protect it even though in your hands lies the power to abuse, misuse, and destroy. Loyalty is upholding your end of the bargain and maintaining your integrity even when you have no guarantee everyone will do it for you.

    Misplaced loyalty is something that is not appreciated by the other party, whether the person is a friend, a co-worker, your partner in life, your sibling, or your parent. They will take your loyalty and abuse you with it to the full. They will hurt you, and expect you to stay because “you’re their daughter.” They will says things like, “I can’t help it. You know I would never hurt you on purpose.” They will lie to you, cheat on you, put the burden of work and responsibility on your shoulders and then when it’s time to collect their credit, they will rip it away from and stake their claim.

    At the core of everything, your issue is not truly with loyalty itself. I may not have known you as long as some of your closest friends have, but the Jessica that I know and love does act with loyalty in her friendships. This is not something that is impossible for you. I think the problem is the example you had growing up, that those closest to you decided to show you that the only way you could be rewarded for staying was to endure mountains of pain…. to be labeled “loyal.” Their definition of loyalty is wrong. In fact it’s dangerous. You weren’t being disloyal by running. You were acting to protect yourself. This wasn’t disloyalty. This was survival. To be loyal to someone is not to sacrifice yourself up to including to the point where you could be killed. To be loyal is to demonstrate trustworthiness and integrity. I’m pretty sure you have shown this to me on multiple occasions in the year plus that I have known you.

    Instead of going so far to say you aren’t loyal, maybe acknowledge you still have emotional damage you need to work on. Maybe you either aren’t ready for the responsibility of being in a committed relationship or you just don’t want one. It doesn’t mean you are disloyal. It means you are you.

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    • I guess I just have a different definition of loyalty. If I value someone enough then, of course, I’ll do what I can to keep that person in my life. If I care about someone then, of course, I hope to be able to trust and be trusted. I think trustworthiness is different from loyalty.

      Loyalty, to me, is withstanding something — whether it be a feeling, a temptation, a conflict, or whatever — just to show that you’ll still be there, because you’re loyal.

      But I won’t; I’ll be there because I value you.

      I meant to go on and extend this to relationships with people who weren’t abusive, but I didn’t really finish this post. I don’t want to be loyal to someone just for the sake of loyalty — both in friendships and romantic relationships. I want to be able to look at every situation and say, “I want to keep my friend/partner more than I want ______.” Does that make sense?

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