Sunday, November 04, 2007

... Then Who Will Love Me?

"...the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience."
~Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Being unloved and unwanted is terrifying. I'd daresay that it is probably the reason that people put up with all kinds of emotional abuse; if you don't take it, "then there would be no one to love me", thing.


I know first-hand how scary this is, I went through it with someone that was only too happy to pull out the "we are a family" schtick when it was something they wanted, that meant a lot of extra work for me, or not in my best interests. When things went south, though... they grabbed their behind in both hands and headed for the hills (metaphorically), leaving me to deal with the fallout. When the smoke cleared, I was expected to be okay with trusting this person again, the way that I had before.

That was an unforgettable, watershed moment for me. Something inside me snapped. I had worked so hard for people to like me, to respect me, to be a stand up person, by doing what others wanted me to do, that I had lost myself somewhere in the mix. And it didn't count for anything, anyway.

So, what did I do?

I said, "No."

And trotting out "We Are A Family" didn't work this time. (Have you ever noticed that when people pull out what you have in common with them to get you to do something, it is a really bad thing for *you* to do?) No one who knew me could understand why I was "being so difficult" ... but what really changed my viewpoint was this observation:

If I didn't do this, this person wouldn't love me anymore (BIG FEAR)...
but (facing fear)
their behavior spoke loudly and clearly that they DIDN'T LOVE ME ANYWAY!!

[!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sound of bonds breaking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]

I'm so glad that my parents (who I've had my share of disagreements with over the years) were straight shooters... no emotional manipulation, guilt trips, and the like... so, once the blinders were removed, it was easier to cut the web of lies (spoken & unspoken) and machinations. Make no mistake, I don't hate this person, and life is too short to spend limited personal time with people who don't like you.

Is my life any easier?

In some ways yes, and in some ways no.

Yes, because my behavior and my feelings are on the same page. My worth is not based on the fleeting feelings of other people. I don't look into someone else's mirror to validate that I am a worthwhile human being, even though I am imperfect (just like everyone else).

No, because there is still pressure to conform, no matter what it may do to my spirit. No, because it is making the lives of the people around me more difficult. Everyone is learning about the new me, and she doesn't put up with trash from other people. And it is not up for discussion, either. I don't fight about it. I simply won't put up with it.

I will still give you the shirt off my back, just not at the expense of the things that are most important to me (the way that I used to).

But overall, I think that it has been a good thing. It has freed me to care about people, without having to take on all their problems personally. To allow my friends and loved ones to solve their own problems, without my help (which they probably didn't want anyway, lol!). Am I perfect with this? Nope. I'm still learning to mind my own business, but I'm getting a lot better at being dispassionate.

To answer the question that the post line poses, "I will." It starts with me. I have to exhibit the behavior that I want to see in other people. I have to teach people how to treat me, by walking the path.

Care to join me on the journey?


7 opinions on this post:

Sr. Heather said...

Hugs to you, Laveda. That path sounds very familiar to me right now. Thank you for sharing some of your journey.


Head Cookie said...

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Tumblewords: said...

Oh, yes. Nicely written...

Cherie said...

Yayyy, halleluljah, you're there, brave, taking no nonsense and being true to yourself - we hold the key! Thank YOU for being so honest!

Jen B said...

Wow, I just went through this over the last year. You put it into words wonderfully and clear. I couldn't word what happened, now I can. I just said, no....
Good for you and your personal growth and marking your worth on...well....your worth!
Thanks for sharing this!

richgold said...

10 years. I put up with it for 10 years. I completely lost myself. Isolated by him - intentionally or not. When I put my foot down, he called it quits and started up with some one else immediately.

It's been a harder road to walk because I've got kids and we share the rearing responsibilities and the kids show up with his attitudes, comments and influence as to how to deal with stuff, so those scars are opened and reopened.

I'm getting through it better though. Each day makes me just the tiniest bit stronger just because I'm not being eroded on a daily basis. In fact, I'm rebuilding.

LaVeda H. Mason said...

@ richgold:

Change is scary ... especially for children. All you can really do is do your best to stay true to your principles.

Your children may not say anything to you, but they *are* watching you. Children (and adults) tend to act out when change occurs because they need to feel like they are in control of *something* in their lives; to help alleviate their fear of change.

Kudos to you for having the strength to rebuild your life!!