At what age or point in our journey do we realize that we are worthy of ones love, friendship, trust, and respect. Or a better question might be at what age do we lose it? At what point in our journey do we say it’s not that important to “have it all”, and I will just settle for what ever is given to me? Why do some of us refuse to settle, and others feel like there is no other choice but to settle? Why do some of us look outside of ourselves for love, and never learn to completely love ourselves from within?
When I was completing my course work for my graduate studies, my final requirement was an internship. I chose a battered women’s shelter to complete my studies. During my time there, I performed intake, worked the phone hotline, and counseled women individually and in groups. What I found was that whether a woman comes from extreme poverty, or great wealth…is educated or uneducated…are stay-home moms or working moms…there is a common thread that binds us all and that is a feeling of unworthiness…almost an acceptance that this is “just the way it is”. This way of thinking leaves ALL women vulnerable to all types of mental and physical abuse…The mental abuse in most cases leave more scars than the physical. The abuse for many of us started at a very young age when we learned that hurt and disappointment were synonymous with ‘love’. Over the years, I’ve talked to quite a few women from all walks of life (not necessarily in abusive relationships), and again, I found a common thread that connects us all on varying levels at varying times of our lives…unworthiness…
I was inspired to write on this topic because I now officially have a pre-teen daugher who is confident, outgoing, and has a high bar of what is acceptable and what is not. My husband and I are committed to nurturing her spirit and making sure that settling for less is not an option…not from her parents, her friends, her family, or eventually boys. I have to ask this question: “didn’t we all have that spirit at one time or another? What is it that happened along the way to some of us which caused us to lower the bar. This is what I am trying to figure out, so that I prevent this from happening to my children and I am writing this so that you can look within your own journey and evaluate your worth and together we can stop the cycle…
Many times the way we view ourselves and our relationship with others comes from our own upbringing and our personal relationships with our parents. I personally came from a very dysfunctional family dynamic. My father continues to battle with substance abuse and has his entire life, which prevented him from providing any kind of an example of what a good man, good husband, or most importantly what a good father should be. For most of my life I looked to others to make me feel special. And many times this left me empty and disappointed.
For most of my life I yearned to be more important to my father than the streets, and he was never able to put me or my siblings before his habits. This was the first major heart break of my life which as you can imagine went on for decades…but I have siblings who were also greatly effected, and we have all processed the absence of a true father figure in very different ways. One of my sisters wanted love and the fairytale life so desperately; that she was willing to settle for the outward appearance of what she thought was the “perfect” life. Instead it turned out to be a similar relationship as our father and mother. In other words, she married a mirror image of my father without even realizing it…My brother who is embarking on marriage, is similar to me in that he prays daily to be the opposite of the example he had. This is dangerous also, because when you try so hard not to be something; that very “something” can sneak up on you without warning.
I decided that I never wanted to feel the heartbreak that my relationship with my father caused. This was not healthy in that at times I had unrealistic expectations for some of the most important people in my life. In fact, I almost didn’t see the “real thing” when it did come. My sister fell for her first love and stayed with him at a high cost, where I fell hard for my first love, but wasn’t willing to lose myself to gain his love. Why did we have so very different ways of processing love, and we came from the same family dynamic? Why do so many women sacrifice who they are to be with that man who completes them? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I see it repeatedly. I see it in the woman who puts all her dreams and aspirations aside to follow her true love…I see it with the woman who has been cheated on repeatedly, but somehow blames herself for not being enough for her husband…I see it in the woman who is being beaten by her husband, but blames herself for aggravating him after a hard day…I see it in women who don’t question blatant lies, because they are afraid to be labeled a nag…I see it in women who work fulltime, do all the housework, take care of all the kids needs, while their husbands are hanging with their boys, or watching TV, but never says a word…I see it in the woman that has been deceived from the beginning, but can’t give up on the hope that one day he will be different…I see it in the woman who is not really happy or satisfied, but with a man who is a nice guy, so shouldn’t she just be happy that she has someone??? I see it in the woman who is married to a man who is not interested in women, but blames herself for not being attractive enough for him…There are many more scenarios of women who settle for so much less than what they are worthy of.
I was recently moved by the Oprah interview with Whitney Houston, because my heart hurt for Whitney and the path she traveled…it reminded me of the journey that so many of the women in my life (including myself) have or are going through now. Must we go through so much pain and heartache to come “through” the journey? Are there things we can do to make the journey a little less painful?
We all have different thresholds of what we will accept and not accept along our pathways of relationships. Some of us hold the bar higher than others…The key is to have a bar. All relationships require compromise and understanding, but it is when compromise and understanding turn into enabling and dysfunction that there is a problem. As women we need to find our spiritual peace, and replace some of those old voices from our past with new voices which say, I am good, I am loving, I am special, I am a gift, I am worth fighting for, I want to be happy, I want to feel joy, and most importantly…I am worthy of all of this and more…So many people in our lives don’t do what it takes, because we simply do not ask or require anything different from them.
I challenge everyone reading this blog…male and female…to evaluate your own level of worthiness in all of your relationships. If you have children, boys and girls, start telling them each day how they were uniquely crafted by God, and how beautiful, smart, strong, amazing, gifted, unique, special, and worthy they are. Men show your girls how to be treated with respect and honor. Women teach your boys how to communicate and display love, respect, and affection. Teach them how to love themselves and everything about them. Teach this so that they will not settle for anything less than that same love they give to themselves. It is up to us to acknowledge our past and what it has done to us, so that we can help our children prosper, receive and give love, and to know that they are worthy of having it all…and so are we!
I would love to hear your comments and thoughts…Please post…
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