Teaching people how to treat you….
If you have any friends worth their salt, you have heard the phrase “you deserve better than that.” But here is my question, when it was said, did you believe it? Did you believe it on a soul level? And if you did, what did you do about it?
In my life, I have been terrible at believing I deserve the bad things that have happened. There were disturbing things that happened to me in childhood that I always felt I somehow invited. There was the high school boyfriend who cheated on me and I believed that I somehow neglected him into the action. The same boyfriend who was jealous and controlling and I thought that was somehow okay. Looking at it through eyes that are very removed from the situation, it is easy to see that people who cheat, often project.
There were bosses who didn’t see my worth. I see now they were so concerned with their own worth, they did not know how to mold and develop their employees. There were friends who saw me as a different person than I am. I thought I deserved it because I did make some mistakes (because I’m human). There was an ex-husband who did not treat me like a woman, but rather someone to take care of him. I thought, I made the choice to marry him, and that’s that. I made my bed, and now I live in it.
But here’s the truth; I had some responsibility in all of those things. Truly. It just wasn’t the way I saw it at the time. With that high school boyfriend, I should have refused to be treated that way. I should have told him to deal with his own feelings of guilt and stop projecting on me, or we were finished. In the workplace, I should have been more confident in my abilities and more forceful with my ideas. And if I couldn’t be in that company, I should have been willing to leave for other opportunities. With friends, it is difficult because the easiest thing to do is walk away, which is essentially what I did. But I should have let them know why and how I saw the things they were doing and saying behind my back and their attitudes toward me. Maybe then I could have ended things with cleaner conscience.
The marriage is harder. I thought I was clear about how I wouldn’t be treated. There were several times I refused to be treated certain ways. In the beginning of our relationship, he got jealous for no reason and I told him that it was his problem and he was going to have to get it figured out, and he did. And he never threw another jealous fit again in 17 years. I stood up for myself when he told me to shut up, and he never did it again. But I don’t think I told him what I needed enough, but it is also possible he just wasn’t capable, and sometimes we have to be smart enough to know that too, and to accept that and walk away.
But when you find the people you know you want in your life, you have to be willing to teach them what you need and what you will not put up with. You have to be willing to say, when I act like this, I need a little extra patience. You need to be able to say, I will not be spoken to like that, I don’t deserve it. But most importantly, you really have to believe that you deserve it. It boils down to you really having to believe you are WORTH it. And you are.
Stronger Than Yesterday,