I recently listened to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast with Tracy McMillan, a writer who gained popularity after her Huffington Post article Why You’re Not Married went viral.

I looked up the article, and it’s a great read — super entertaining and on-point ... although I’m not sure I agree with the insinuation that every woman will reach a moment where they suddenly want to get married. But that’s beside the point.

Tracy said something early in the interview that caused me to pause mid-mascara application and gasp. As Oprah would say, it was an "ah-ha moment". “The relationship that you’re having with another person is the same one that you’re having with yourself.”

In my mind, Tracy then dropped the mic and walked off set. Boom.

This concept that our relationships are a reflection of what’s going on inside us is not new to me. I’ve heard it before. But something about hearing it that morning was different. Call it awareness, as I’m in a very self-reflective phase of life. Or call it mindset, as we only genuinely hear things when we are ready to. Or maybe chalk it up to timing, as I embark on the journey of attempting to open my heart to a new man. Whatever the reason, this statement stopped me in my getting ready tracks.

Tracy continued, saying our relationships “mirror back our deepest, most unconscious beliefs about ourselves.”

That got me thinking — what relationship was I having with myself during my tumultuous relationship years? What did I unconsciously believe in myself?

I knew I wanted to feel a connection, but I just wouldn’t let anyone close enough, though, at the time, I didn’t see it that way. All I saw was he’s not that into me, he didn’t choose me, no one wants me, and several other self-deprecating thoughts. And so began the emergence of an underlying theme — I’m not good enough; I’m not worthy.

Looking at it through Tracy’s lens, if that was the relationship I was having with myself, it’s no wonder I then attracted my next several relationships ... and they all looked the same. I wasn’t a priority; I wasn't the one. Evidence to confirm my sense of self-worth.

I now view those years of my life as an aberration — a weird time when for some reason I unexpectedly abandoned my values and lost all integrity.

Suppose I allowed it to happen because I didn’t think I deserved better. Maybe I settled for an unacceptable situation because I wasn’t accepting of myself.

Still, it took me a while to learn.

Riddled with pain, guilt, and shame from those years, and those decisions, I shut down and put a proverbial wall back around my heart. Only this time, the wall was stronger, taller, thicker. So I guess it’s no surprise that my next relationship was with someone equally as emotionally unavailable. I dove heart first into that relationship, and gave it my all, and lost myself completely trying to make it work.

Sometime after that relationship ended, I woke up: I realized that I was attracting men who didn’t know how to love another because I didn’t know how to love myself.

Before the end of the interview, Tracy dropped one last self-reflection bomb — she said that we unknowingly seek out what we need to heal, and that’s why we can trust our mistakes. Trust our mistakes. That’s not a common thought. Instead, we often let our mistakes define us. Or at least I did.

But maybe our mistakes are signposts pointing toward what we need to work on — an opportunity to see and confront our relationship with ourselves. In that regard, are they mistakes? Or are they necessary evils? What if our mistakes aren’t meant to define us, but instead to guide us toward our hearts? And maybe true integrity is seeing them for what they are — lessons, and remember, that to get it "right" so to speak, takes practice.

Each relationship reflected the broader issues within me that I had to confront as if each layer was a layer I had to pull back and explore … until I finally got back to me.



Kacie Main is a writer, and Florida native currently preparing to drive across the country to visit as many national parks as possible. She loves the sunrise, elephants, dragonflies and finding pennies on heads. You can connect with her on her website.

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This article is part of our series on the theme of Integrity.

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