Thursday, January 17, 2013

Respect: It's Not Just for Other People

I've never been a patient person, and when it's not work-related, I have no problem expressing my feelings.

Having said that, I used to have no problem taking the blame, either.  For X's drug addiction, for not being a better wife, for not being a better mother. Contrary to what Dr. Phil would have us believe, sometimes it really IS other people. Sometimes the only inner change to be made is to stand up and say, "enough!"

The girls don't necessarily like or appreciate this side of me. Even -  actually especially when it's on their behalf. Good or bad, it doesn't stop me. Nor do I feel that bad about it. Sometimes I wonder if I should feel bad about it, but I can usually shake that off just fine.

I remember the moment X no longer had any power over me. We were on the phone, I was mad at him for some valid reason that I don't remember anymore, but he tried to deflect. He tried to make me question myself. He made some snide comment about how I must be in a bad mood because I wasn't dating anyone.

Something clicked in my head at that moment. I realized just how many times he'd gotten away with that with me; where my insecurities would overshadow my self-respect and I'd spend more time wondering what was wrong with me instead of staying focused on the issue at hand. I didn't get upset, I didn't yell or start crying, I just said, "my personal life isn't the issue right now. The issue right now is ___."

And in that moment, he was the one flustered. He was the one who realized his sharpest weapon against me was now dull and worthless. He had to deal with me on my terms now. And he has ever since.

It took me even longer to find that kind of strength within when it came to teachers and other authority figures in the girls' lives. I still had many concerns about being that parent. No more, though.

They didn't necessarily like it in the moment when I stood up for them. They were embarrassed, they were afraid my actions would be used against them, but they have also learned that there's little they can do to stop me when I'm fired up. And in their hearts? I don't think they want me to back down.

Because, in each case, I accomplished what needed to be done. I had my say, and the problems were resolved. Not that I had all the answers, mind you, but by having the tough conversations, conclusions were made and actions taken.

Maybe it's just because I'm getting older, but I don't put much stock in other people's opinions of me if they haven't earned my respect. I feel free to be myself almost all of the time now.

I hope that my girls end up learning earlier than I did that their concerns, their opinions, and their feelings are just as valid as anyone else's. That their insecurities can be overcome and their voice can be heard.

Even if it doesn't resolve a problem quickly, even if others try to pat us on the head dismissively, our self-esteem will rise whenever we just try.

I hope my girls learn to treat themselves with respect.

1 comment:

BigLittleWolf said...


Sometimes, "It's not me - it's you" is exactly right.

Here's to raising our kids with the self-respect we all deserve.