Last week was important for me and my family. It marked five years since something quite tragic happened to us. I shared about it here in three parts: it took that many to get the story of That Day and our lives since it, out.
How encouraging and healing that experience has been and the support was overwhelming.
I shared because when we raise our voices, others will feel empowered to raise theirs…to share their stories, to encourage others, to leave their harmful situation.
Sharing helps lessen the stigma about domestic abuse. It’s important to know that verbal, emotional, and mental abuse are every bit as much abuse and, as damaging as, physical abuse. It’s just that the scars are often invisible.
Because I entered into my relationship at such a young age, just 19, I know how impressionable young women are and how easy it is for us to settle, at any age. Sometimes we just want someone. And we feel that anyone is better than no one.
But that isn’t true. The wrong person is not a good filler for loneliness. The wrong relationship can be far more lonely.
And being un-mated doesn’t have to equate loneliness.
You are a person all on your own. You are unique with interests and dreams and hopes. And coupling up with the wrong person–someone potentially unhealthy for you–could deter you from those goals and squash your interests and dreams. And hurt you.
I want to share with you some things that you may miss or dismiss that really can become a problem if you don’t address them immediately. I want to dispel some misconceptions. I want to spare you.
When someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, they don’t respect you. When a person tries to convince you to do something you’ve been clear you don’t want to do (sex, alcohol, drugs, affection, risky behavior, move, quit your job, change your tastes in music…), they’re not being respectful of you. If you’ve said “no”, then you mean no and that, should be that. Someone who continues to push your boundaries is not someone you want to explore a relationship with. I can tell you that pushing your boundaries consistently is only the beginning. This is a “give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” concept.
Possessiveness is not love. Wanting to be with you every possible second, calling repeatedly to check up on you when you’re apart, demanding to know your whereabouts and expressing disbelief even though they have no reason to doubt you, acting jealous when you’re with friends or family without him or her: is not love. That’s being possessive. It’s not something to be charmed about. It’s not loving. It’s definitely not attractive. Don’t fool yourself into thinking “Aw, he just worries about me because he loves me.” Or “He can’t stand to be away from me for a second. That’s so sweet.”
This behavior isn’t sweet. It’s concerning, at the very least. Someone who loves you worries about you, sure. But they also trust you. They trust you to go where you say you’re going. They encourage you to have healthy relationships with friends and family. They respect that you need time to yourself and have your own interests apart from them. And they have their own interests apart from you. That’s healthy.
Insults and putting their hands on you is not acceptable. We all get a bit cross from time to time. We are human. But healthy, respectful humans own it and apologize and know better than to make it habit. They don’t get aggressive with others and NEVER put their hands on another human in a hurtful manner.
It’s never “just a shove” or “He only hit me once” or ” He said he was sorry” or “He’s under so much stress. He didn’t mean it.”
You can’t change a person. Please hear me on this. I sure didn’t hear it way back when. In fact, I enjoyed the challenge of changing someone. I liked the fixer-upper guy. That kind of guy needed me. He played on my rooting for the underdog personality. Do not pursue that guy.
You cannot change a person. Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking “he’ll change once we get married.” Sure, he just might change…for the worse. Whatever trait or behavior it is that drives you nuts or hurts you now, will not get better and you cannot change it.
and if they don’t think they’re in need of changing, they never will make the effort. And no amount of begging or trying from you will make a difference.
You can be strong all on your own. A person doesn’t complete you. You need to be complete in yourself: in your confidence, your talents, your belief system, your goals. A mate doesn’t make up another half of you. You each need to be whole on your own. When you come together in a healthy relationship, then you coordinate each with the other. You draw strength from each other. Your beliefs generally align and often do your goals or at they least go in the same general direction (if one wants to settle down and have children and the other wants to travel their whole life, you may not be a perfect match).
Unless you’re really sure this person is good for you and you for them and there are no red flags, take a time out. Get some clarity. Ask what friends think. You may not want to hear it, but you need to if they have a bad vibe. Listen to them. Our loved ones can often to see things we can’t because we have love goggles on. If a relationship is meant to be, it will survive the break you take to make sure this is good for you.
I’m not the Love Guru, but I do speak from experience and believe me, I’ve learned so much that I can share so you can be spared from mistakes I made, red flags I missed, pain I felt.
You are worth waiting for. Pay attention. Don’t mate up with someone who wouldn’t be good enough for your sister, your daughter, your mother or your best friend. If you wouldn’t let them excuse away behaviors, don’t you do it either. Mr. Right will come along. Make sure Mr. Wrong isn’t sitting at his place when he does.
(Come back Wednesday when I’ll share a few more heartfelt things I’ve learned through my journey and how my new relationship is so much richer for it).