I have been told on multiple occasions that I can be loyal to a fault. It’s like what does that even mean? Isn’t that what you want in a relationship—someone who’s ride or die? Okay, I’m not sure if anyone even says that anymore, but it’s still pretty accurate with what I’m trying to describe here.

My sister once told me she was amazed with how I’m able to see the good in people, even if it’s only a little, TEENY-TINY bit. This was actually a backhanded comment as she was commenting on the love/loyalty I had towards my ex-husband (who turned out to be one of the worst people I’ve known in my entire lifetime—no joke). My sister and I can laugh about that comment now, but I never told her that it actually stung a bit.

I thought we were meant to love unconditionally and with abandon and a sort of blind loyalty. What someone failed to mention was that view is based on living with a narcissistic parent, and is completely untrue. Love, as does loyalty and respect, goes both ways. Love is never meant to hurt you or make you feel small in any way. It doesn’t take and take until there’s nothing left. It will never leave you feeling abandoned nor like it’s okay to feel like you’re left with scraps of a person while they have all of you.

The hurt was in the realization that I was playing the game of Life all wrong. Life isn’t some live action movie of The Giving Tree. Life is a dance of giving and taking freely, but also equally and respectfully. I couldn’t stand how the little boy in the Giving Tree grew up. All he did was take and take from the tree. I know some people liken the premise of the book to a parent’s unconditional love for a child, but seriously, that little boy in the book couldn’t trouble himself to water or prune the tree? Don’t even get me started on that dopey look on his face at the end the book as he sat on the remains of what was once a beautiful tree, who definitely got the shorter end of the stick (um, more like stump!). Screw that little punk, and screw the idea that love means undying loyalty towards people who don’t deserve it.