Want Better Relationships? Start With Yourself!

SelfI know. It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Don’t we all have that friend or family member (or maybe it’s you) who is always there, giving selflessly of her time and talents? I mean, everyone loves that woman, so don’t you want to be that woman, or just like her? Don’t you imagine that she has a ton of friends who love her right back and will drop everything to help her right back if necessary?  (I suppose this person could be a man, but yeah, not so often.) Often times, though, this friend is drained and not feeling great about her friends not reciprocating. She might just think that’s how things work, that friends just take advantage, and you either deal with it or have no friends. Does she think she doesn’t deserve friends who love her right back? Damn, I hope not.

Rlationships function best when there’s give and take. In most relationships I’ve witnessed, there’s an imbalance there. There’s generally one person who is the giver; the caretaker; the one who has it all handled. If the balance is pretty close, and both partners give almost as much as they take, the relationship is usually a good one. For example, if you like cleaning and your husband loves cooking, you care for one another that way. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you cook, clean, organize, work full time, do the majority of the child care tasks, and your partner works, comes home, throws his socks on the coffee table, and falls asleep with the remote in his hand, I hate to say it, you have an imbalance, and you shouldn’t take it.

I recently heard a quote that made more sense to me than just about anything I’ve ever heard or read. Ready? “You date at the level of your self esteem.” It’s so simple, but I look back at my life and see that it’s completely accurate. When I met my first husband, my self esteem was at an all time low. I was 20, and I realized that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was drinking WAY too much and that’s not good for anyone, but it was the only thing that didn’t make me feel empty. It gave me the social courage to meet new people. The problem is, when you make friends and the bond you share is binge drinking, those are not healthy relationships. I’d gotten out of a serious relationship with someone I thought was going to be “the one” about a year and a half prior to meeting my ex husband, and I dated some real losers in the meantime. Unfortunately, these losers and users seem to have a sixth sense for women who are down on themselves. They can somehow sense that you don’t think you deserve much. When your self esteem is at its lowest, you’re a magnet for the biggest turds on the market. My ex started out charming and kind, and slowly turned into a jealous ass who slowly isolated me from my friends. These men find ways to get you away from people who know and love you and have your best interest at heart. He has reasons, and while you’re being gaslit, his reasons *kind of* make sense. One friend smoked a lot of weed, and I was really, really not into that, so she wasn’t “good for me.” Another drank a lot and slept around, so I shouldn’t be around that, should I? Plus, he had a good group of friends. They were almost all really good people who had absolutely no idea what kind of an emotionally abusive ass he was in private. Still, I really couldn’t sack up and convince myself that I really, truly, deserved better than that.

Of course, looking back, would I change anything? I mean, he’s my son’s father. I’d never trade my kid for anything. Still, if everything happens for a reason, usually the reason is that you make bad decisions. I think if I’d had more self esteem, more belief that I had power, I could have changed that relationship for the better. It ultimately wouldn’t have worked out, but it might not have been the lonely, isolated, living hell it was, especially at the end. I’m actually glad it got so bad, because that lead to me GETTING OUT.

Look at your beautiful, talented, hilarious friend. She’s this strong, amazing woman and she’s dating one of these toxic turds. Why? She may not really grasp it, but she probably thinks Todd the Terrible Turd is the best she can do and she’s lucky to have him. She’s not dumb. She knows he’s not a very good dude, but when a woman has a low self esteem, sometimes being with Larry Loser seems better than being alone. She equates being alone with being lonely. I can tell you from experience that when you feel like shit about yourself, the last thing you want is time alone to think about it, so you stay with Alexander the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Dude and make excuses for him.

STOP THAT SHIT RIGHT NOW.

So wait, what am I saying here? If your husband is a lazy ass that fully takes advantage of you, should you just up and leave him, or kick his ass out? Probably not. If he’s a good man and he’s not an emotional, financial or physical abuser and your relationship is pretty good, besides your constant resentment brewing, take charge.

Find what makes YOU happy. Find what makes YOU feel good. I see a lot of this when I’m working on my fitness coaching business. I talk to women who are super disappointed with the their weight and their lack of energy. They want to be healthier, look better, and be able to chase after and play with their young children. Do you know the reason I hear most often? These are women who are sometimes in tears when they decide not to join my 30 day challenge groups. They want to do it really badly, but they say they DON’T. HAVE.TIME.

OK, single working mamas to little ones. I was one of you, and I KNOW that sometimes your days are packed from dawn til dusk and beyond and you’re probably not getting much sleep. I get that. If there’s a way that you can trade childcare even 1-3 times a week with another single or married parent, or if you have a friend who would be happy to spend a little time in kid-land, take that time. Fill your cup.

The majority of these women, though, are married to the fathers of their children. They tell me that they have no idea when they’d find 30 minutes, 4-6 times a week, to work out and work towards their goal. Even with all they’ve told me about their fitness goals, they don’t think that they can leave the kids with the husband for 30 minutes to work out in a different room of her home. I just wonder. Does Mr You have time to tinker on an old car that hasn’t run for 9 years? Does he golf or bowl or play hoops with his buddies? Does he run? Does he sit in a chair and watch TV for three hours a night?

Now think about this. Do you deserve 30 minutes to yourself, to work on yourself? Even if you’re not using it to work out, do you need that time to center yourself? To meditate? To go have a drink with your girlfriends?

Here’s another thing. If you see yourself in what I’m writing, and you can hear that man snoring on the couch while you read this a few paragraphs at a time in between loads of laundry and dishes, I have a hard truth for you. This man, this sleeping man who lives in your house, probably has NO FUCKING IDEA that you feel this way. I mean, he’s aware that you’re pissed that your jeans don’t fit, but he really, truly, doesn’t know how you’re feeling and what you need unless you TELL HIM. Turn off the distractions. Ask to talk to him for a minute when the kids are in bed or elsewhere. If you do all of the cleaning and all of the cooking and all of the other bullshit on autopilot, all but the very best of men who are vying for sainthood will LET YOU. You bet your ass they’re going to keep that status quo. After all, it works for him. If he’s a good man, he wants to know. He wants a happy wife, but homeboy has no freaking clue how to make that happen.

Decide. It’s up to you. Decide that you’re worth it. Decide that your kids don’t need Pinterest lives every day. Your Elf on a Shelf doesn’t need an elaborate set up every day. If that brings you joy, then great. But if these things are draining you, take back your power! Tell that man that you’re feeling tired and down, and that you need time for YOURSELF every day. For some reason, over the course of your life, you’ve decided that you don’t deserve it. You don’t deserve self care? I think you do. I think we all do. For me, that means I MUST have time home alone, just me and the dogs, for several hours at least twice a week. I need to move my body. The JOY that pumps through my bloodstream with that release of endorphins can’t be replaced by organizing someone else’s underwear drawer or vacuuming under the feet of a grown ass man. The clarity of mind I have when I’m eating clean, healthy foods 90% of the time can’t be replaced by hate-eating leftover macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets my kid didn’t finish.

So this is my purpose; my manifesto.

I DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.

I DESERVE TO TAKE TIME FOR MYSELF.

I DESERVE A PARTNER WHO GIVES AS MUCH AS HE TAKES.

I DESERVE TO FEEL AMAZING.

I DESERVE TO FEEL STRONG.

I DESERVE TO BE HEALTHY.

I DESERVE SELF CARE.

I LOVE MYSELF.

I DESERVE JOY.

I DESERVE STRONG, CARING FRIENDSHIPS.

I DESERVE ABUNDANCE.

I DESERVE TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF SO I CAN TAKE CARE OF MY FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND CLIENTS AT THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE LEVEL.

CALL ME SELFISH. I’LL WEAR THAT BADGE WITH PRIDE.

And guess what? YOU DESERVE ALL OF THAT TOO. Not when your kids are grown. Not when your career is established. Not at some arbitrary point in the future. There will always be demands on your time, on your energy, on your body. There’s never a magical time when your world stops and you can do all the things you always wanted to do. Do it now. Take back your self esteem and power and realize YOU DESERVE THIS.

I can’t decide what that thing is for you that builds you up, recharges your battery, and makes you feel amazing about yourself and your life, but whatever it is, don’t delay. When you’re a happier human, you’re a happier mom, a joyful wife, a  caring friend, an energetic employer or  employee.

Love, power, and light,

-Selfish Mitch

 

 

 

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