I wanted this entry to be about something that’s been on my mind the past few days and it has to do with how we value other people’s feelings compared to our own. I think we all know about narcissism and have either had to come to terms with our own self-centred ways or been subjected to someone else’s.
Today is about the people in our lives that we are trying to keep “happy.” The ones that we care about and that we feel care about us, but there are so many hoops to jump through for them. Life starts to feel kind of like a cage or a game of Operation. For me, this has happened in some of my most important and foundational relationships.
What we forget to ask ourselves is: when did their happiness become more important than our own? When does compromise swing too far on the pendulum? Isn’t a healthy relationship a give and take and both people should be allowed their own happiness?
This came up in a conversation recently with a family member and it didn’t have the warm and fuzzy response that I was hoping for. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you look at it, I have already had some experience with this with other family members. I spent a lot of time containing my thoughts and curating what I could say in order to keep the peace. This began over small disagreements but eventually grew into wars when my parents divorced.
What I’m learning through this process though is that my happiness and how I feel is just as important as anyone else’s in my life. What I think of something and my opinion is equal weight to theirs and is actually more important when it comes to my decisions. One of the hardest and biggest decisions I have made was to quit talking to my father. I realised that we were not going to be able to have a healthy relationship and so I ended it. This was not a popular decision with my other family members and they let me know it.
I was already struggling with the decision and what kind of person I must be to do this, but I knew it was right for me. Instead of standing my ground, I let others influence how I thought about myself and postponed my decision. It was disastrous and much more painful than it had to be. I was uncertain and in a lot of pain and so I let people make decisions for me like they knew me better than I knew myself and that was a huge mistake. I had already contemplated this relationship, I knew how bad it made me feel, I knew it was better to let go, and still, I waited.
Our relationship remained one of fear, I was scared of him getting mad and borderline violent, I didn’t know how he would retaliate if I didn’t do certain things. He would go into a rage if he knew I was spending time with my mom and threw me out, he tried manipulating me into signing things I didn’t want to, and he lied to my family about things I didn’t do.
Later I couldn’t take it anymore and let the relationship go. At the time I was pretty broken and the relationship had become so tumultuous that I got out. Separating from my dad was really painful and the aftermath of what I faced from my family was pretty brutal. I had to live my own truth and accept that some relationships just can’t be what you want them to be or what you need.
Currently, I still battle with relationships that have a tendency to be very one-sided. I am learning a lot about better communication, setting boundaries, and coming to terms with the fact that this may mean I will lose relationships. I am no longer willing to accept a rigid role that I have to follow that is decided by another person. I am someone that believes in fighting for relationships, but I have learned my limit. I will work so hard and I will try what I can, but I’m no longer willing to accept conditional love because that’s not what I give.
You have to learn to uphold your self-worth in relationships. It does not matter if these are friendships, familial, work, or romantic. You are worth hearing, You are worth working with. You are worth loving. There’s a time to put energy into a relationship and self-reflection, we can always improve our selves, but there is also a time to acknowledge that some of the responsibility is that of the other person. Sometimes you can’t discuss enough, try more strategies, or compromise enough. What you do in the relationship is only half the battle and you have to be careful not to lose yourself in the process.
Relationships are about two different people that love and respect each other and grow together, not one person deciding the rules and stifling the growth of the other person.
A fact of life is that you do age and change and you aren’t carbon copies of your family members. You may want to live differently, have different religious views, or morals and that is valid. They don’t have to agree with you one hundred per cent all the time, but you need space to be your authentic self as much as they do. They should accept you for where you are in your life and relationships and want to grow with you when you realize you want something different.