I saw a quote this morning that read, “I will not lose me to keep you” by cwpoet.
I felt that quote.
I felt it because I have finally come to a place where I understand the importance of not sacrificing who I am or what I value in order to fit into a relationship.
I believe that we have a cultural epidemic of people acquiescing to relationships; diminishing themselves to give someone else more space; giving up true values and fundamental wants and needs to bring happiness to a partner.
First, I would say most people do this so innately that they do not even realize their own pattern. It’s as if our culture teaches us to suck it up, make it work, fit in and stop having such lofty standards.
That process usually starts when someone sacrifices a core value fundamental to who they are, and what they do. I know, because I did it in my marriage for 22 years.
So, I say – bullshit. Wake up, know yourself, stay true to who you are. Fundamentals are important. Core values are important.
What does giving up a core value look like?
Here’s what I mean.
I was raised by a dad who was a workaholic; then, I married a workaholic. As much as it was my normal, it never sat well with me – especially when it came to my marriage. I fought with him about his working constantly; but, more so, about his not being present – which was an important value to me. But my ex could not see it. It was all he knew as his father was a workaholic, as well. The aha! moment for me came years later when I finally let go and saw the truth of our disconnection largely because of his workaholic tendencies. I will never forget that day; I was folding laundry with my then 19-year-old daughter when I said to her that I finally realized her father was who he was, and he wasn’t going to change. In that moment, I knew I had two choices – accept him and be at peace with who he is with me and us or I can let go. She said something that I’ll never forget, ‘Mom, I am so proud of you.’ She had witnessed the disconnect and the struggle; she had experienced me pushing him to be more present – something he was just not wired to be. His personal life was on fire, yet he was emotionally checked out and could not see this truth. I – nor anyone else – could make him see it until he was ready. That truth, that emotionally disconnected workaholic was not what I needed – that was not a value that was important to me and my life – and the lives of my children. So, I made the gut-wrenching choice to let go. In turn, I ended up more present in my own life – something that is vitally important to me.
People are who they are. If they do not want to see the need to change, they will not change until or unless they are ready.
We think we can change people. So, we do things like this or make decisions like this all this time. And then we wonder why shit falls apart. We stand befuddled scratching our heads in surprise, when the wheels come off the bus, wondering how it happened.
Here’s what really happened – you didn’t stay true to yourself. It has nothing to do with him; it has everything to do with you. You’re trying to trick yourself – how’d that work for ya?
My first sales manager used to say to me, “Cath, is this a really attainable goal or are you tricking yourself and setting yourself up to fail?” I love that she said that, and I often ask myself, is this scenario real or am I only seeing what I want to see and “tricking myself” and ultimately setting myself up to fail because I am in blatant denial of the truth?
And that’s what I see far too often. We diminish who we are all the while thinking, maybe that need of mine, be it marriage, having a baby or not, monogamy, religion, or other character core beliefs, is not really so important after all.
As Matthew Kelly writes poignantly in his book The Rhythm of Life when someone knocks us off of the fundamental values of who we are, eventually we do come back to our true center, and we move away from the person for whom we chose to lower our bar.
It’s not so easy to catch ourselves inadvertently lowering our bar. When we do catch ourselves, we justify it with multiple reasons why what we wanted was not important after all.
Here’s my advice – stop lowering the bar in the first place.
Find your core. Understand what is negotiable and what is fundamentally who you are, and on those fundamentals, stand firm. Stop forcing the fit. Wait for the person who aligns with your core so you can live happily ever after.
“I will not lose me to keep you.” Feel that fully.
And that’s my not so sexy truth.
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