Lesson From A Photo: Red Flag White

A few years ago I consciously and willingly fell in love with the wrong man. I fell hard and warp speed fast. I became engulfed in the romance and fell so deeply in love with the idea of who I thought he was and what he could be that I didn’t see him for who he was. Love was truly blind, and our love story and inevitable breakup would turn into one of the greatest and most humbling lessons of my life.

In Tenille Arts’s song “Red Flag White,” she sings:

I got lost just trying to love you
Make those black lies look like the truth
Put the band-aid on my heartbreak
Turned a blind eye at the warning sign
I’ve bleached every red flag white

The truth about my last relationship is that the writing was on the wall and the warning signs were everywhere. I made a million excuses for his behavior and his shortcomings, and I put him on a pedestal that he had not earned. I, like in Tenille Art’s song, had painted every red flag white. It wasn’t till months after our break up that I was confronted with the proof of the proverbial painted red flags when I found this old note I had written in an old work notebook two years before our break up.

Reading this now even gives me pause. My heart hurts knowing what I know now and recognizing that was just the beginning. The red flags were always there, and I wish the woman I am now could tell me then to listen to my gut, to quit making excuses for him, and to quit painting those damn red flags white because there is no use — that the truth will always wash the paint away and the crimson will always come through.

I know this story is not unique. I know thousands of women and men who have ignored the red flags they have seen. I just hope this serves as a reminder to not ignore them, to not paint them white, and to stand up for themselves.

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