As I took my walk this morning, I thought about my relationship with Larry and how grateful and FREE I feel because of the way our relationship has evolved over the last 2 ½ years as a couple. I love how we DO or shall I say LIVE our relationship.
I feel FREE to be ME; free to say yes or no, free to set boundaries, free to do my own thing, free to ask for what I want, free to play, free to share my feelings, free to be vulnerable, free to change my mind and free to love him the way I want to love him.
Being in a “codependent “relationship for 30 years with my ex-husband and single for 15 years, I felt some concern about the thought of a new love relationship and what it would look like. It had taken me so many years to find myself and love myself that I didn’t want to lose myself.
As I thought about my relationship with Larry, the word that stood out for me was how we RESPECT one another. We give each other “space” to do what is right for ourselves trusting we know what we need to do for ourselves.
“RESPECT means valuing each other’s points of views even if we disagree with it. It means being open to being wrong. It means accepting people as they are. It means not dumping on someone because you’re having a bad day. It means being polite and kind always, because being kind to people is not negotiable. It means not dissing people because they’re different from you. It means not gossiping about people or spreading lies.” Urban Dictionary
Whether it is in a partnership, marriage, friendship, or parent-child relationship, RESPECT is crucial as the foundation. I may not agree with someone’s actions and may even be concerned that it is not healthy for them, but I am learning to TRUST that they are doing the best they can and they will learn what they need to learn in their own time and way.
Who am I to judge another person’s actions and think I know what’s best for them or that I am right and they are wrong? I remind myself that if I had the same experiences as they had, I would be doing the same thing.
I thought I had the answers for my ex-husband for many years. If he just did it this way or better yet MY WAY, he would be fine. I realize today that I didn’t want to look at myself and what needed changing in me so it was easier to focus on him.
It didn’t work. It never works trying to control someone, especially someone I love. That is not to say, I don’t give my opinion WHEN ASKED. I give my opinion and then let it go and let it be. I am practicing keeping my mouth shut when I want to get into someone else’s business. It is not always easy and I don’t always do it right, but I am more aware that it is almost always none of my business.
Praying for a loved one and sending them love and light is what I do to keep myself peaceful and not worry and obsess about them. It is like I am saying to the person, “I trust and respect you. I know you will do what is right for you. I will support you and I am here if you need me.” I remind myself to be patient and that it may not be in MY TIME or my way.
I recently asked myself, “Can I respect others if I don’t respect myself?” I don’t think so. I thought about the qualities I see in myself that I admire and respect. I see my compassion, kindness, honesty, trustworthiness, flexibility, generosity and my ability to give and receive love.
There was a time in my life when I couldn’t admit to myself that I had these qualities. It is probably because I couldn’t express them perfectly. I had to get to a place where I understood that I didn’t have to be perfect in order to admit I had these qualities. Perfectionism is something I have struggled with for most of my life.
For years, my self-confidence and self- respect came from what people said about me and was ego driven. Of course, living like that is like living on an emotional roller coaster, sometimes up, sometimes down, mostly all over the place depending on who I was spending time with.
In time I began to realize it isn’t important what people think or say about me. What is important is what I say about me and what I believe about myself.
Once I began to take responsibility for my life and actions and was able to celebrate some of my decisions and forgive others and myself, I realized I had some good qualities that I could claim as my own even though I wasn’t living them perfectly all of the time. Over the years I have come to nurture and respect those qualities and when I see them in others, I know that I also have them.
I was thinking about how I have given my power and respect away in the past. One way is when I allow friends or family to take advantage of me, guilt me or manipulate me, especially in the name of love, Another way would be to allow others to talk to me disrespectfully (yelling, swearing, name calling, bullying, silent treatment etc.)
I have learned that I teach people how to treat me. When I don’t set healthy boundaries and finally say “enough is enough” to inappropriate behaviors, I continue to allow myself to be disrespected. So when I allow others to treat me this way, I am not respecting myself. It must start with me.
I know how difficult and painful it is to set boundaries. At times in my life, I’ve had to draw the line and inform those who, from my perspective were treating me with disrespect. I’ve had to inform them that I would not accept that kind of behavior. Often it resulted in a lost friendship. I see that as a choice of either losing a relationship or losing myself. Really, if we lose ourselves, what do we have left to share?
It takes courage to say “enough is enough” when we feel disrespected by another’s behavior and actions. As I have learned to respect myself, I expect to be treated with love and kindness, just as I choose to treat others.
My prayer would be that you love and respect yourself enough to not allow anyone to take that away from you.
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