I feel like I’ve always been fairly hyper aware of those around me. Just off of saying a couple of words I could tell before finishing my sentence whether to change what I was going to say to something more favorable. I would even play dumb despite knowing an answer even at an extent so that the one who came to me with their info or fact didn’t feel dumb or like they weren’t offering me something valuable knowledge wise. I can’t think of a time where I existed and put myself and/or my needs before someone else or theirs. (I probably have but I cannot recall it)
I know some of the contribution was my siblings. There was much emphasis on how “normal” my parents saw my vs my siblings and their needs always came before mine. It was easier for my mom to get me to give my sister a toy to stop her from throwing a fit than it was to put effort in teaching her patience in that moment. My mom was lead to believe she had to develop more to understand those concepts so those life lessons were thrown on to me despite being younger. (as I’ve always said but feel like I need to say, I’ve grown past my experiences and I’m not angry that it happened, my siblings, or even my parents. They made mistakes but I genuinely believe they thought they were doing the best they could in most aspects but knowing that doesn’t also nullify my right to speak about my experiences in hopes it could make a situation better for someone else). Even my schooling suffered from the various appointments and procedures my siblings have had (it was already suffering though, as mentioned in my education blog). I remember struggling to make and keep friends as a kid and I remember some of the excuses I received then I was “too pretty, too kind, too smart” but these weren’t sound reasons for me as a child. I even got thrown into karate in 5th grade cuz the bullying was so intense for so long without standing up for myself at all. It took til the last day of 5th grade to stand up for myself and the beginning of me no longer being a doormat.
Standing up for myself was just a stepping stone though and once I navigated having people from physically attacking me, I began an almost 20 year journey into emotionally standing up for myself and that has been quite a chore. The way I grew up in my house was parents were in charge, dad works and pays the bills so anything he says, fair or not, goes. There was no time for explaining sides and most explanations were just “excuses”. Being outspoken makes you a trouble maker, a bitch, and rude in my family so falling in line is essential to being accepted and loved (and what I thought was respect). Emotions mean nothing and any reactions based off of emotion are frowned upon and punished and one of the things that lead me into believing crying was weak until I learned that it was a normal human emotional response and nothing to be ashamed of. Even when my son’s biological grandfather was sexually harassing me (and attempting assault), I was forced to apologize to HIM by my father who I called for help and ended up forcing him to move out my home.
Ever since I moved out my parents house a second time (moved out at 20 the 2nd time), I’ve not asked them for anything outside of sending any mail I get there down this way and I’d paid for it. I was the only relative who has and will pay full price on auto repair without asking for a discount. I’ve handled everything on my own and now that I’m in my 30s, I’ve realized a lot. Things like asking me who I voted for and being pissed off when it’s not their candidate, is not respect. (I was over 25 at that point too). Only getting involved in disagreements if my siblings have an issue with me, is not respect. Preaching to me about making sure not to bad mouth my son’s father in front of my son but turning around and talking shit to my son about me is not respect.
For so long there was always a reason for something. “You’re choosing to feel ___ way cuz you took what I meant differently” or “that’s how you interpreted it” or “okay you can be mad but saying something about it is an issue” and constantly being accused of “going to beat someone up” were all used to belittle me and take away the power I had over myself. It’s taken me so long to not only understand but appreciate myself and these emotions. It’s always healthy to make sure you’re expressing yourself in a healthy manner. It is beyond harmful to feel shame for feeling these emotions and it is unproductive and unhealthy to not love yourself enough to let you express and process these emotions. It’s imprisoning and you constantly feel shame and guilt for expressing anything even too much “joy” because you don’t want that joy to make someone else feel bad.
It is okay to want to shield your loved ones from every bad thing you wish you could avoid for them but it is not okay to do it at your expense… Plus, shielding them from too much keeps them from experiences (even the bad) that are sometimes necessary for us to grow. So please, if you are hard on yourself especially emotionally, stop. You’re not going to stop overnight and it takes a lot of work, mistakes, and forgiveness (mostly to yourself). In this journey, I have expressed myself poorly and probably still do at times… But nobody is perfect and as long as I can recognize that and grow from the experience, those that will love me and forgive me too. Being more firm in myself and my beliefs has lead to losing some relationships in my life, some I spent so long do everything I could to avoid ever losing them. I was nice to people who didn’t deserve it in hopes they’d change or id be liked and let me tell you first hand, it won’t work. Anybody who’s got anything negative to say no matter how hard you try to say the right thing are ALWAYS going to have something negative to say so you might as well not emotionally pummel yourself for them. You don’t have to be an asshole either, there’s obviously positive and negative ways to stand up for yourself… But trust and know yourself to keep your intentions in mind and keep your love for the person your speaking to in your heart… Even if you’re mad at them. If they are upset, don’t hesitate to reassure them that you love them and you want to work this out but you need to feel like you’ve been validated and respected too.
I’m still working on being assertive. I’ve spent so much energy on being a peacemaker that I’ve noticed it’s been challenging with my tone when I’m saying something. There’s a lot of frustrations and when I’ve said something 100+ times, it makes it even more so that by the 101st time I’m blunt and more firm than I normally would be. It’s still not wrong but it’s not how I want to handle my loved ones especially those that haven’t done me wrong. My goal is always to work shit out in a healthy and respectful way to involved parties but I’ve also learned what peace is if I don’t… And it’s still new but it’s so freeing.