Looking up the criteria for a diagnosis got me thinking. For one particular diagnosis you had to have 9 of the 11 sypmtoms. For another you had to have been presenting symptoms for 6 months or more. You have to fit the criteria to get the diagnosis.
For most of my life, loving me seems to be the only criteria I made for myself as a reason to keeping someone in my life. “But he really loves me!” How can I break up with him when he loves me? Never mind that he does drugs, is abusive, and treats me like garbage, when he LOVES me! I have a few others too. “We’ve been friends forever, ” and ” I can’t lose a relationship I’ve had for so many years!” My reasons were flawed because they didn’t take into account the ME in the relationship. Just them. How they really make me feel was never even put into perspective. I set my relationships on permanent cruise control.
I keep people in my life that hurt me. I always have. I have never had boundaries. Only after a person has gone above and beyond to hurt me do I finally see who they really are. I make excuses for people and I give chance after chance. It seems desperate now that I give it more thought. But it has just been a way of life for so long I saw no other way.
If I put a positive spin on it, I do this because I see the good in people and I choose to ignore the bad. The negative spin would be that I do not value myself at all and therefore allow people to take advantage of me. The middle ground is where the real truth lies. It’s both. I love people and I assume they love me back. But that is not enough.
After my best friend’s husband locked me in his garage and tormented me, I stayed friends with her. She said she loved me and didn’t want to lose our friendship. Our friendship lasted only a few more weeks. 2 more weeks more than it should have. Her loving me ended up not being quite enough when she demanded that I forgive him. It took her telling me to forgive her sex offender husband for me to say, “That’s it, friendship is over!” The day she told me she couldn’t leave him but still wanted me to come over probably should have been an indicator that the friendship was never going to work, but I didn’t see it.
This repeated behavior must have been extremely upsetting to my husband who has to endure watching me get hurt repeatedly because of my inability to value myself more than making excuses for others.
There are a LOT of behaviors that manifest after a childhood of abuse. We are used to ignoring the bad, because it was a survival mode skill. But as adults we have to recognize these behaviors as ones created in a time that has now past. We nolonger need to just “get through a moment” by pretending the bad is not happening. That skill served us well but is detrimental to our growth now.
How many of us have allowed our boyfriend, spouse, or significant other to berate us? Betray us? How many of us have allowed our friends or family chance after chance because we feel we owe it to them for one reason or another? How many of us are so accustomed to allowing repeat hurt that the cycle continues on?
I was talking to my husband about a friend who has really let me down. I was telling him, “But she really loves me, I know she does.” Then in the same breath I said, ” But so did the man who molested my whole childhood.” And so did that last guy I dated who was incredibly abusive.
So is loving me the only criteria for having someone in my life? Has someone loving me entitled friends and family to stay past their expiration date? YES!
I’ve now adopted and instilled a new criteria. This criteria has nothing to do with love. Love is a word easily spoken and not often acted upon. Having someone say they love me is nolonger a qualifier to stay in my life. My new boundaries have less to do with how others feel about me, and more to do with how I feel about myself.
We nolonger need to settle. We nolonger need to excuse the inexcusable. We deserve better. So without further adieu…
To fit the criteria of a person who I trust in my inner circle of life, a staggering 9 out of 9 attributes must be present:
1. I will feel valued.
2. I will feel respected.
3. I will feel safe.
4. Promises to me will be kept.
5. Honesty will remain constant.
6. Trust will be a priority.
7. Our relationship will have integrity and loyalty.
8. I will be treated with gentleness.
9. I will be spoken to and regarded with the utmost kindness.