Yesterday on a social media site a young woman posted a question to her “followers”. She had gotten back together with a boyfriend after she had lost some weight. She wasn’t at her ultimate goal, but she was on her way. She was enjoying being back in his arms, but he got honest with her about the reason he broke up with her in the first place. He told her he couldn’t deal with her weight problem. She wanted to know if she should overlook this since she was losing weight AND she really thought they got along together on so many other fronts.
One of the things that has most surprised me about dating is that people really do tell you who they are. They will especially tell you who they are when you are first getting to know them. I’ve had guys tell me they were “pricks”, emotionally unavailable and workaholics as if this was some moniker that would cause a woman to be drawn to them. Or maybe with the problems they have, they were trying to push me away. It’s hard to know what’s in someone’s head, but I know that they very clearly tell you who they are.
After I divorced and was in counseling, I decided to go back and read my journals. In my mind, we’d had a good stretch and then it gradually turned really bad. I found a different story entirely from the strokes of my own hand. The picture I painted of the man that I eventually married was the exact image of the man I came to know. But a different woman excused every message that was inherent in that image. I was stunned to see how I took ownership for his sarcastic insults. “Maybe I need to be more forgiving and less sensitive,” I’d write. I laughed when my words excused his inability to be concerned about my needs and feelings because he’d had a rough past. And I felt really sad when I penned comments about how I needed to eat my feelings in order to make this relationship work. He not only told me who he was, he showed me in spades. Love is most certainly blind.
These days I listen to what people say about themselves. We have this tendency to “correct” people’s stated assumptions because it makes us feel like they are being hard on themselves. “I don’t take care of myself” is met with “YES! You do!” followed by a litany of things that we see them doing for self-care. It would be better to listen to them and realize that in some area of their lives they may not take care of themselves. I like to ask for more information. They may be itching to talk about it. I don’t want to shut them down.
The inauguration speech yesterday told us what our new President thinks of America. I laughed when I read it. It’s not the America I see at all, and his speech says more about him than it does the actual state of the country. Just read one fact-checking article to discover the truth. I know that he’s telling us who he is. And he’s been telling us all along. I’ve been listening, and I’ll continue to listen. But I’m also listening to the America I know and love. She is speaking loud and clear that we may be flawed, but we are a great country that has all along been making great strides in making it a great country for all citizens. I can’t go back to the woman who ignores the very real message when a person tells me who they are. And I pray that this country can’t go back to where we came either.
A counselor once told me that I have a responsibility to tell people who I am. They shouldn’t have to guess. I had never thought of it that way. I wanted them to look for it. I wanted them to see through my silence and my hurt feelings to understand how I felt. I wanted them to make room for me instead of realizing that I had to make room for myself. I was a stewing angry victim. This was a thought pattern that kept me stuck in every relationship and interaction that had any meaning in my life. I did not develop the courage to stand up and say who I was. Hell, at some point, I don’t think I even knew who I was. How could I say it? Telling people who I am is a great gift for me and for my relationships. It saves us all time and energy. And it helps me own my power.
“Thank him for telling you who he is and move on,” I responded to the social media post. It is a gift to know now rather than live with it later.