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?