Relationships have always been hard for me and I never really knew why. Recently I gained some insight that is giving me courage and peace as I head into my today, and my tomorrow...
The insight is this: if I do not value myself how can I expect others to value me? I have put too much responsibility on others to make me "feel" valued and wanted. No, I am not entering the self-absorbed, narcissitc bandwagon shouting "Me! Me! Me! My way or the highway people!" I truly believe this new value I have found in myself is actually making me a better friend, wife, mother, daughter, neighbor, community member - overall a better person.
Let me explain.
At 45 years old my life is sprinkled with broken relationships. Dysfunctional family relationships, broken friendships, burning bridges it seemed as I left churches, work places and organizations. I thought I was a victim. Thoughts of "I was used", "now that I am not needed to volunteer they toss me aside", "I no longer fit - maybe I never did", "maybe I really do suck as a person" - you get the idea. My mind was overflowing with victim minded self-talk.
One day I realized I didn't even value myself.
I used to enter into relationships with my head held down thinking "I am so lucky these people even want to associate with me." "I better not mess up or they will throw me aside." I was always working so hard to "keep" connections and relationships. Thinking I was being humble always putting myself down. Jumping through hoops to meet other's needs and serve, volunteering countless hours at churches or organizations, setting aside my own needs or my family's needs for the purpose of trying to keep people happy, trying to "keep" relationships. Thinking these were real, deep connections. Hoping they were relationships that would last. They didn't.
How you feel about yourself affects every single aspect of your life.
I came to the sad conclusion that relationships and connections where one side (in my case, me) doesn't first see value in themselves cannot have healthy boundaries, and where there are no healthy boundaries there is no mutual respect.
Without mutual healthy boundaries and respect, strong, lasting relationships and connections are not possible.
I now see value in myself and as a result amazing things are happening! Freedom to be myself. Freedom from trying to fit other people's mold. Freedom to forgive. Freedom from shame and regret. Freedom to say no to things. Freedom to set healthy boundaries.
I truly am facing the reality of the broken relationships in my life, if you have read any of my poetry you can see and feel that process. That is a process - a long, complicated process. However, as I no longer constantly focus on the negative, hurt, or abandonment. I now realize somehow, even at 45, life is not over I am enjoying a new beginning.
Let me encourage you - value you. As you do you will actually value others in a healthy way AND if you are not being valued in return you will have the confidence to walk away in peace and not in turmoil. You will have courage to kindly set boundaries without apologizing for them.
Here are some tips to help you value yourself:
Thankfully I actually do have a handful of relationships in my life that are genuine, healthy and strong. The most important one being my husband of 23+ years. This list also includes my children and some friends. Through all my messed up thinking and low self esteem (both relationship killers!) I am so thankful for family and friends that have stuck with me and I can actually now see why they did!
Let me know how you do with valuing you. I would love to hear from you.