For the past few months I’ve been slowly coming to the realization that I haven’t always treated people the way they deserved to be treated. Even though people were good to me, I assumed their actions to be disingenuous, or not enough. I’ve felt guilty about this and assumed all responsibility for the relationships that failed as a result.
I still believe that I was wrong. Of course I was wrong. But it’s also wrong to respond to someone else’s negativity with even greater negativity of your own. All that has taught me is to fight fire with fire. When that happens, a chain of events is started that is very, very hard to break, and in my case, it started a long time ago, when I was basically still a child. Someone, or more specifically several someones, wronged me and ever since then I’ve only grown increasingly angry, suspicious, and defensive towards everyone in my life. Obviously, other people don’t like this type of reaction, but they respond by doing even worse things to me. I’ll yell at someone for something and then get completely excluded from something, or stood up, or cut out of someone’s life completely, for example. I’ll be at least slightly angry about that for months, at least. Where does it end?
It ends with forgiveness. I forgive myself for the way I’ve acted. I know that it was wrong, but I also know that I didn’t mean to, and that it was the result of a lot of pain. All I can do now is promise to do better in the future. And I forgive everyone else who wronged me in the first place and ever since then.
But that also means that from now on I have to respond to people’s actions the way they deserve to be responded to. If people care about you, they will prove it. And when they do, you have to accept that and respond with the kindness they deserve, and if you don’t feel the same way (in any capacity), be honest but sensitive to their feelings. If they don’t, they won’t, and you have to accept that too, and walk away. I may forgive people for our pasts, but that doesn’t mean I will tolerate the same treatment going forward.
I’m not a martyr, and I can’t put everyone else above myself. Sometimes people expect this of me because that is what I have always done, and when I get angry or upset this is somehow always surprising and unacceptable. But if I love you enough I will stand by you forever, through literally nearly anything, as long as you put some fucking effort in. I will love you unconditionally, save the one exception that you do the same for me. Love should receive love in return. I have always loved this about myself, and over the years I only love it more because I’ve realized how few people actually treat others that way. I used to just assume anyone would. But it’s caused me to get taken advantage of (intentionally or not) a few too many times. I will forgive you and give you another chance 1000 times if I think you mean it. If I love you I will make myself suffer and be silent just so you can be happy. I will be your best friend forever no matter what you do to me because I believe in the idea that the bond of a true friendship is unbreakable. But I can’t do that any more. I’m no longer an insecure 15-year-old – I’m a grown ass woman, and so the “as long as” part has taken on a much greater importance. I deserve better, and so does anyone. Those roles are still important to me, but I don’t want to only be the best friend, cheering you on from the sidelines. I want to be the leading lady, the heroine of my own life, the girl who gets the happy ending – whatever that ends up meaning for me. I want you to cheer me on sometimes, too.
I always feel guilty whenever I expect anything from anyone. I feel bad just for moving away from the people that I love, even though it’s abundantly clear that this is the best place for me currently, and it would be relatively easy for them to visit if they actually wanted to. I feel bad asking people to come stay, so I tell myself it’s okay that they don’t, and I make the trip to see them. I feel bad asking people to do things with me for my birthday because it falls near a holiday, and I feel bad asking people to respect my feelings online, and I feel bad for wanting people to be proud of me and acknowledge me in public and treat me the way they treat everyone else, and I feel bad asking for what I need at work or school, and I feel bad for wanting the people I care about to support the causes I care about and work that I do. I even feel bad just for saying anything at all when the person says no or ignores me, like I’ve bothered them, and then instead of asserting myself I back down. Just asking for these things in itself takes a huge amount of courage for me and constantly getting turned down and cancelled on and told that my expectations are ridiculous has made me believe that I am not worth those things.
But I, like any other person, am not worth less than anyone else. Everyone is equal. Fuck feeling bad. Don’t feel bad for asking for what you want. All of those things are perfectly normal things to want and think you deserve, and I could list a thousand more. No one is going to meet your every expectation, and everyone is going to hurt you at some point, but if they don’t even try or care about how you feel, then they are truly not worth your time (no matter how much you want them to be).
This goes for all types of relationships – romantic partners, friendships, family, you name it:
You deserve all of someone’s heart. You deserve someone who calls/texts/shows up/IMs/emails/facebooks/whatevers when they say they will. You deserve someone who puts in the same amount of effort that you put into them. You deserve someone who respects your opinions. You deserve someone who is sensitive to your feelings when they have hurt you. You deserve someone who is proud to have you around and doesn’t care who knows it. You deserve someone who doesn’t run away from you when things are hard. You deserve someone who remembers things about you and does nice things for you. And you deserve to be that kind of person back, and have the other person appreciate you for all the amazing things you do for them.
There’s a difference between being a bitch, and being assertive and knowing your worth. It’s okay to expect all of the above. It’s okay to express to someone how you feel, positively or negatively. If someone hurts you it’s okay to defend yourself, as long as you’re not doing that by intentionally hurting them back. It’s okay to call someone out on their bullshit. You are not worth less than anybody else.
Nine years ago I met someone who showed me that this was all possible, and maybe nothing gold can stay, but it’s possible. It exists. I know that much, at least, is true.
I am the diamond you left in the dust
I am the future you lost in the past
Seems like I never compared
Wouldn’t notice if I disappeared
You stole the love that I saved for myself
And I watched you give it to somebody else
But these scars, no longer I hide
I found the light you shut inside
Couldn’t love me if you tried
Am I still not good enough?
Am I still not worth that much?
I’m sorry for the way my life turned out
Sorry for the smile I’m wearing now
Guess I’m still not good enough
Release your curse, cause I know my worth
Those wounds you made are gone, you ain’t seen nothing yet
Your love wore thin, and I never win
You want the best, so sorry that’s clearly not me
This is all I can be
-Good Enough/Little Mix