Happy Monday! Welcome to a new week and thank you for joining me today.
Last week I wrote about empathy and reality. This topic has been on my mind recently, not only because it seems I’ve heard a lot about it, but because learning the balance is an integral part of my journey.
If you’ve followed my blogs, you know I was in an emotionally abusive marriage for ten years. I was verbally attacked on every level, and I lost a lot of myself during that time. Though I’ve been out of that for seven years, the healing is a long process. I’ve done a lot of work in therapy and relationship classes trying to understand what drew me to a person like that in the first place. I’ve come to realize that my tendency to be a pleaser in relationships is an important piece of the puzzle. I suppose some of that is related to being the oldest child; we tend to want to tow the line, so to speak. And then some of it is because somehow I internalized the message that I was responsible for others’ emotions and/or behaviors.
The Christian message of turning the other cheek and putting others ahead of self has played a large part. It seems that society socializes women to be nice, to submit and even to give up part of self all to keep others happy.
Over the years, I’ve had many experiences where I ignored what my gut was telling me in an effort to be nice. This angers me. I am no longer content living in this manner. A situation came up two weeks ago that was a light bulb moment for me. I hope it shines brightly in your life as well.
Every week at church, there is a security guard who stands outside greeting people. Everyone says hi to him. He’s a gregarious sort of guy, tells jokes to the kids and helps old ladies up the stairs. As I walked up, out of the blue, he said to me, “You know, I never get a hug from you. Could I have a hug?”
Immediately I felt uncomfortable. It felt sort of out of place and unnecessary; however, I grudgingly gave him a quick hug. The thoughts I had went by in a flash, but I remember them. I wanted to say NO, but didn’t know how. I felt pressured to give him the hug; after all I was at church and aren’t we supposed to present as loving Christians? I wanted to appear ‘nice’. UGH.
Though this is a relatively harmless example, I cannot get it out of my head. I am both mad at myself and irritated that he thought this was an okay request and yet, I might stop and think, what moment in the past is colliding with now, reminding me of other times I was unable to say no?
I cannot change the fact that there will always be people who expect more from me than I am willing to give but I can change how I respond.
It is fine to have empathy for another person, but the reality is that each person is responsible for their own behavior, needs and wants. I need to listen to my gut, and find my voice. I believe that God is leading me towards a healthier way of living my life and that He will guide me on the path.
I share this because I know many of you can relate. Perhaps you too need to find your voice. I encourage you to join me in that journey.
Until next week, be blessed,