Those words basically epitomized my 41st year on earth.
Last year I saw a therapist for a while (stop your laughing and fist pumping, it wasn't my first time, and likely won't be my last--and if you've never been, you should try it. It's amazing.) and he did something life changing for me. Literally, it changed the way I live and think and breathe and exist....
He gave me permission to remove people from my life.
Right?? I know. It seems like as a 41 year old woman, whose been through a divorce and was estranged from her father when he passed away, I would've already known how to do that, but alas, it was something I still struggled with significantly. It didn't make sense to me, either. But still. There I was, keeping people in my fold who were not kind or accepting of me. Usually because of shared DNA, or out of loyalty or respect and concern for other people's feelings, or because I had a history with them, etc, none of which actually did anything for me, except create more drama and unhappiness, but still...I did it.
Until one day I was told I didn't have to anymore.
It was magical.
One day, in one of our sessions, he said to me, "You keep asking people to do things for you that they aren't emotionally capable of doing." And it hit me like a ton of bricks! I really was doing that. I was asking for things from people (somewhat benign things like love, acceptance, respect, inclusion, etc...) who weren't equipped emotionally to give them to me--and then I was destroyed when I couldn't get it. But through that therapy experience, I was able to realize that I was the one who was setting myself up for failure. I was the one who kept going to the watering hole, only to see it was still dried up and empty, and then falling apart because I was still thirsty.
See?? Therapy. It's amazing.
I've spent the better part of the last year--with an emphasis on the last six months--doing what I call "cleaning house."
I've removed people from my life who aren't accepting of me right here, right now, as is, flaws and all. If they can't accept me as I am today, then they can't stay in the boat. Period. Because even though I'm always working on being a better person, learning how to conduct myself better, learning how to communicate better, learning how to shut up better.....I am still me. I will continue to make mistakes, continue to believe the things I believe, and will continue to be the person that God made me to be, again, flaws and all. If that doesn't work for someone, then why stay connected?
If someone's instinct is to change me, or to require me to be anything different from who I am, then they're probably not someone meant to be in my life--and vice versa. The cleaning house movement isn't just done for me. It's done for me and the folks I'm removing. Cripes, if we bring out the worst in each other, then why would we stay connected? If all I do is aggravate you, and all you do it hurt me, or the other way around, then why? Like honestly? Why?
My ex husband and I were smart enough to see that we brought out the absolute worst in each other, and therefore knew we didn't belong around each other. Now we generally just stay away from each other. Kudos to both of us for seeing that, and doing what was right. (Look at me, complimenting my ex husband? Progress!) I just wish it hadn't taken me forty years to realize that I could apply that mentality to any relationship in my life?
Guess I'm a slow learner.
I think that over time, and with the help of some leaders and teachers who have significantly changed me for the better, I have learned to listen to what people are telling me through their actions. Actions speak very loudly and clearly. You just have to pay attention. If someone insults you, or makes fun of you, and it's not done in a mutual, silly-bantering sort of way...they might not be meant to stay in your fold. If someone gaslights or scapegoats you, they might not be meant to stay in your fold. If someone hurts you, or makes you feel "less than" or unworthy, they're probably not meant to be in your fold. If they lie or spread rumors about you, they're not meant to be in your fold. If they regularly ice you out, or stop speaking to you, they're not meant to be part of the fold. If they stipulate changes you need to make, in order to be more lovable or desirable, they shouldn't be in your fold.
Yes, even if they're relatives. Even if they're old friends. Even if they've done nice things for you in the past. Even if it'll tick your family off. Even if it's not socially acceptable.
If the relationship makes you feel anything less than accepted and valued, get out. It's allowed. It really is. It doesn't mean you wish them ill. It doesn't even mean you dislike or hate them. Sometimes you even love them. It just means you're incompatible. And that's okay.
There are some people in this world that I simply do not like myself when I am around, therefore I no longer go around them. Period. I want to be a nice, kind, loving, person, and if a person brings out the worst in me, I'm allowed to stop putting myself (and that person) into ugly situations. I want to be nice, because....
|Nice is the new cool, yo.|
I'm finally listening to what people are saying to me with their actions. It's frightening, making these changes. Downright terrifying sometimes. I won't lie. But if you're ever made to feel like you're hard to love as is, I strongly recommend you do this.
And go get a therapist, stat. It's worth it. They're amazing.