It’s time to stop self-abandoning and start showing up for yourself.
A while back, I was in a situation where I had to choose. I had to choose ME, and that also meant choosing “not-you”… which is never an easy thing to do.
I wanted something that wasn’t available; a version of what I wanted was available but not the actual thing I wanted. I wanted a committed, intimate relationship; an opportunity to build a real partnership with someone. And when it came down to it, he wasn’t available for that.
The tough part was that he kept saying he was open to it! I really liked him so I wanted to believe what he said… but his actions never lined up with what was coming out of his mouth.
In previous situations that were similar, one strategy I’ve tried is to pretend I didn’t know it wasn’t available. You know, convinced myself that if I could just be a little more of ‘this’ and less of ‘that’ he’d come around.
Basically I would deny my intuition, the inner knowing that this wasn’t going to become what I wanted because they weren’t available. Instead, I’d cling to/focus on any little sign that I could read as progress toward what I wanted. You know “proof” that if I could just be a little more patient and forgiving, eventually things would turn in my – I mean OUR – favour.
Man, denying that inner knowing can be painful, can’t it?
The number of times I’ve ignored that inner knowing or just completely blocked it is too many to count. Until that moment, it was really the only consistent pattern in any of my relationships.
Self-abandonment. Abandoning myself in service of something else. In my case it was always trying to get someone else to love me. Tell me I was good enough. To choose me…
This time I chose me.
It wasn’t easy it wasn’t comfortable, but that was the beginning of the road to me finally choosing me on the regular.
All that time I’d spent trying to get other people to validate me and make me feel like I mattered and like I was worth it, was never going to ‘make me feel’ worthy. That could never truly come from someone else. Until I believed it myself, it would be impossible to believe it when it came from another. It wouldn’t ring true, because it wouldn’t align with my beliefs about myself.
This pattern of allowing another’s needs/opinions to carry more weight than our own, and then doing whatever we need to, to keep the other person happy and engaged in the relationship is called self abandonment or self betrayal, and it sucks.
The trouble is, until we start to do our work, we don’t see that we’re making this choice to abandon ourselves. It just seems like ‘that’s how it is’ and I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong…
It seems normal or ‘just the reality of it’ that we have to take what we can get or compromise and settle.
If you look further into your life, you’ll see that this doesn’t just apply to your intimate relationships. It’s rampant in your life; friendships, family, money, sex, career….
If you abandon yourself in one place, you’ll do it in other areas too.
And you’re not alone.
In our culture most of us have been conditioned to acquiesce, to yield to another:
- Don’t talk back
- If you can’t say something nice
- Don’t make a scene/embarrass me
- Children should be seen and not heard
- Quit being so bitchy/grumpy/rude/etc.
- You should do this instead of that
- Don’t rock the boat
You get the gist. You’ve likely been receiving messages like this your whole life, and those messages are telling you that how you feel is less than how someone else feels.
A couple of caveats here: first, I get that was unlikely the intention of the people sending those messages, for you to believe your feelings and needs were ‘less than.’ Second, I agree there are times when that message is simply required. There are definitely times and places where how you feel does take a backseat. The trouble lies in the consistency of that message over a period of time.
When you’re constantly being told in one way or another that your needs and feelings are less than, and then being rewarded for adjusting yourself to meet their needs/desires/expectations, you’ll internalize that as the truth; how you feel and what you need is less than another.
This is one of the key ways we learn to avoid conflict in order to keep the peace.
When we’re ‘rewarded’ for adjusting our behaviour to suit another’s (especially when we’re young) we learn that making someone else feel good is better or more important than how we feel. We can internalize someone else’s praise for ‘being a good girl/boy’ as love, the thing we need as little ones.
That then becomes part of how you view the world -> when I’m a ‘good girl/boy’ and take care of someone else’s feelings, I receive love.
In other words: in order to be loved by others I need to quiet my voice and myself.
Inevitably we learn to get our needs met in and around everyone else’s and it just becomes the norm to put other people first and abandon ourselves.
But ask yourself how this message perpetuates itself in your life; what are you:
- Not saying?
- Keeping quiet?
- Not asking for?
- Pretending you don’t need?
- Taking care of on your own?
- Working around to avoid conflict?
- Saying yes to when you don’t want to?
Now ask yourself what results you’re getting; are you:
- Feeling truly valued?
- Empowered in your life?
- Confident in yourself and your worth?
- Trusting you’re wanted and loved?
- Comfortable in your own skin?
When we put our needs second (or last) we’ll never fully feel any of those things, like feel it in your bones as truth.
Choosing YOU isn’t easy or comfortable. It will likely rock some boats but at the same time the end results will rock your world.