Sunday, May 26, 2013

Love: Mad Respect

Something I said last week bears rewording.  Actually, it needs removal.
I asked if I loved myself.  Sound the buzzer.  WRONG QUESTION!
I’m all for gusto, but this is such a loaded question that it isn’t fair to ask it…yet.  The sum of all love’s parts are subject to change with our moods, just like perfection.  And anyway, how can I ask that if I’m still trying to figure out what love means?  All I really know so far is what it isn’t.  So I’m retracting that, I apologize, and you won’t hear the ‘L’ word out of me again except as a means to describe the peak of this mountain—not the climb.  That’s my challenge, and I’m sticking to it.
Something I touched on helps me reroute.  I said that love is in the intent, not the action.  After thinking on this over the week, especially with all the trials I’ve had, I decided that love, first and foremost, is respect.  And the basis of any kind of respect is validation.  I validate your existence as a human, your troubles, your goals.  Your pain.  It’s real to you, so it’s real to me.  Period.
I was also right to say it starts within. 
If I learn this for myself, I might be okay.  Only I never tried to until this week.
If you are like me, you’re the type to spread yourself like mustard over any situation, coating every nook, trying to make it better for everyone else.  When too much of you is being taken, instead of pulling back, you just spread yourself a little thinner so the world can’t take as much.  But they still take, and you’re still losing you.
Then, when the feast is over, you’re scraps on a plate.    Usually, the people taking from you don’t understand why you have to retreat and ‘power up’, they get upset because for five minutes you’re not there for them, and you feel worse.  So before you’ve healed, you’re back on the buffet line. 
Or they are sympathetic and encouraging of your needs, and you don’t understand why they’re not mad.  You’re not there for them, that makes you horrible, and they should be as angry at you as you are at yourself.
Or maybe nobody even notices that you’ve retreated.  That actually sucks worse, doesn’t it?
However they react, whatever they say, you feel horrible in the end.  That’s because it has nothing to do with them at all.  You do it to yourself. 
I, for one, can’t take this cycle anymore.
Everyone says it takes maturity to admit we’re wrong.  I think it takes even more maturity, more strength—more courage—to admit we’re right.  You’re feeling upset over what someone has done to you?  Accept their apology if they give you one.  But regardless of their explanation, never take back your feeling about it.  If it was real for a split second, it was still real.  Own it, then accept the apology.  Otherwise, prepare for a lifetime of self-dismissal and the world following your lead.
That was my pill to swallow this week.  But in the end, it’s truth.  I must not respect myself, to not validate something so undeniable as my broken heart, hurt pride, or exhaustion, and to allow other people’s philosophies on how I should be treated dot the line between my mind and my spirit. So yeah, I had to cut a few ties in order to save the one I have that leads back to me.  My phone might ring a lot less, but I’ll deal with it.  Love isn’t how much attention I get, it’s where the attention comes from.
Yesterday I met a prospective employer who could not for the life of her pronounce my name correctly.  Her hearing was just fine—she managed to know every time her cell phone beeped, though we were sitting in the middle of Hilton Head traffic.  After a few hours of hearing Alyssa, Melissa and Vanessa, I was at the end of my rope.  I started to give up, then I realized I was allowing someone else to change my very title.  I held fast to correcting her, and by the end she knew how to say it—sort of.  No, I didn’t take the job.  (I got another one though, so don’t yell at me.)
Do I need to work for someone who doesn’t respect me enough to recognize what my name is?  If I’m planting seeds of change in my life, do I prove it by providing my own validation, rather than seeking it through someone else?  Clearly I’m not if I am too busy validating other things.  Family drama.  Coworkers.  Men.
I’m feeling like a dropped jigsaw puzzle right about now.  Thanks to my own behavior, when I’m finished putting myself back together, I’ll find a couple pieces missing.  I own that.  But I respect myself enough to not let any more pieces of me fall through the cracks.