Self Respect

If you don't take your own feelings, beliefs, needs, expectations seriously-- why should your partner? If you have a bad feeling or something is making you uncomfortable-- honor your own intelligence, and do what it takes to feel safe. Respect yourself enough to believe you deserve to be respected-- your concerns, your interests and your body-- by others as well. Live by example. Show respect for yourself. Even if it means leaving a relationship with someone you dearly want to build a life with. Taking the responsibility for ending an unhappy relationship is better than being dead because you stayed in it, or spending your whole life hoping for some hazy time in the future when you finally get to be happy together.

Living miserably isn't an absolute, it's a choice. You can almost always choose to make a better happier life for yourself. We never want to give up on love when there is even a sliver of hope that things will get better. But if you are looking for changes outside of your relationship or marriage to make the marriage itself a better happier place to be-- you are looking away from the real problem. If you catch yourself in a situation where you find happiness in daydreaming about how it will be after he gets a new job, after she stops drinking, after you move to yet another house or town, after there is a baby to make you feel more connected to each other... then you are daydreaming about a life you DON'T HAVE. Today is the day you are living. Are you glad to be where you are today?

If not, make a change. It does take hard work, and it does hurt horribly to leave someone you love (however hurtful that person is toward you)-- but the hurt fades in a way it never can do while you are living a hurtful life. And there is amazing freedom in realizing that you are happy-- TODAY! Realizing that you have good reasons to like and respect yourself. Realizing that each person (once they reach the age of about 7 or 8 years old) is responsible for making themselves happy. No one else can do that for you-- not your partner, not your parents, not your kids, not your job.

Now, we all need to learn HOW to make ourselves happy, and we all need help now and then with finding and appreciating the happiness that is right in front of us... but that is different from expecting someone else to make us happy. This works both ways-- if someone else is holding you accountable for making them and their life happy... it's an unhealthy and hopeless expectation. It's not your job. Beyond that, it's not possible. To be honest, it's manipulative and controlling to give someone else that responsibility.

And don't confuse this conversation about self respect and personal responsibility with the give and take of a healthy relationship. Partners means you both chip in, you both sacrifice a little, and you both take responsibility for your contributions (good and bad) to the relationship and to each other. Supporting each other while still being individuals. It's a delicate balance. If you are out of balance, or your partner is, it takes more than hope and words to get back on track. And if only one of you works to GET back on track... well... do you really want to be responsible for maintaining a two-person relationship all by yourself?

Just a thought, inspired by a friend who continues to say "I'm sorry" to the man who hurts her, hoping that if the words are said, everything will be okay again for a little while. I want to ask her-- "When will you apologize to yourself for allowing the hurt to continue?" But she is blind and deaf in her fear that if she fails in this relationship, she will always be a failure. She can't see that she (and only she) is responsible for herself-- and in the area of self respect, she is already failing. I wish I could ask my question. I wish she could hear it. I wish things were different, and I didn't have to watch her suffer over and over again. I know that she is the only one who can change her life for the better. I wish I could help.

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