Call me old-fashioned, but like Ms. Franklin said, “A little R-E-S-P-E-C-T” is what is needed here. I find that relationships can manage to recover from many problems. Anger is bound to happen from time to time. Miscommunication is par for the course. Sometimes feelings will be hurt. Part of the price of being in a relationship is understanding that you will feel hurt and angry and misunderstood from time to time. But lack of respect is a non-starter for me. I’m willing to accept (though not always gracefully) friends and lovers who disagree with me. I’m willing to accept friends and lovers who have somewhat different values than me. But I aim to respect those folks as human beings and I aim to have them respect me as a human being too.
It is very difficult to respect yourself as a person if you are surrounded with people who don’t respect you. So as you get a stronger sense of yourself and start to feel better about yourself, you may find that some of your relationships feel a little differently than they did before. You may start seeing some of the ways people mistreat you not as something you deserve for being less than perfect and not as simple character flaws to be accepted and worked around. You might start seeing some of this mistreatment for what it is: harmful. You may feel compelled to stand up for yourself and say something. You might find yourself letting people know that it is not okay for people to treat you that way. And this self-defense can feel EMPOWERING.
But sometimes a friend or a lover just can’t bring themselves to change the way they treat you or even admit there’s anything wrong with it. And sometimes that means you simply have to let that friend or lover go. When it comes to spring cleaning, this sort of decision can be tough going. It can be a lot easier to let a sweater that you never wear go than to discard a hurtful or harmful relationship. But like cleaning your closet or your drawer of things that aren’t working for you any more, cleaning your life of toxic relationships can help you make room in your life for the RIGHT relationships to come in. You can’t find the right partner if you are currently with a partner that exhausts and belittles and depletes you. And it’s pretty hard to find time to spend with awesome friends when you are busy with folks who make you feel ashamed and unworthy.
So I’ve left the hardest, but most powerful spring cleaning for last. If you find people that are disrespecting you, let them know that it isn’t okay any more. And if they don’t believe you or don’t want to change, you may need to consider gently letting them go. Because, my little chicklettes, you deserve better than that.
The Fat Chick