Sunday, October 21, 2012

Finding You in a Relationship

The other night I was at my women’s group and my job was to impart knowledge I gained through life experience to the younger women. I searched my mind hard for some wonderful information, maybe even a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, but I kept coming back to the same thing. If you can’t be yourself in a relationship then you don’t need to be around that person. If someone ridicules you for being who you are, then he does not love or support you. Remember actions always speak louder than words.

Right now, today, people are in a relationship where they can’t be real. I know I certainly was; more than once. Often men and women have an ideal mate, and try to make whomever they are with into that person. Some men will pay for plastic surgery to shape the woman into the centerfold they want. Ironically, these same men leave their altered women because in the end she wasn’t who they wanted.

The stress of trying to remake yourself to your mate’s requirements is phenomenal. First, you throw away the concept that you are okay. Every day you force yourself into a mold that does not suit. Maybe your significant other tells you this will make him happy, make his parents accept you, even help him advance in the corporate world. I imagine some people live their entire life being something they’re not, but most people break.

In a brief moment of clarity that usually occurs after the person who insisted on all the changes decamps. The relationship is full of doing things you never liked, associating with people you couldn’t stand, spending money on clothes that didn’t suit, even vacationing at places that were more about being seen than enjoyment. I realized this at breakfast yesterday.

My husband and I went out to breakfast at a pancake house on our way back from running early errands. The restaurant is located in a grassy strip off the highway in a ramshackle building, but the food is divine. It reminds of one of those places they would discover on the Food Channel.  As I dug into my jalapeno laced eggs, my husband commented that I was the only woman who would ever go to the restaurant with him. Why is that I wondered?  He explained it was in the wrong part of town; it didn’t have cachet, or name recognition. It wasn’t expensive enough. The right people didn’t frequent it.

His words made me realize his dating relationships kept him from doing whatever he wanted to do. I could understand. I’ve been out with men who only went out to nice places to work the room. On the other hand, I’ve been to dives so bad I feared for my general safety. Seldom did a man ask what I wanted to do. In case you’re wondering, the pancake place was my pick. I liked it because the food was good. I really thought that was the purpose of going out to eat.

Those other women who insisted on going to a crowded, expensive trendy restaurant in the upscale section of town were doing two things as far as can tell, maybe more. They were trying to make my beloved husband into an acceptable mate who squired them around to pricey, popular restaurants. They tried to get recognition and value through other people. Look! I am eating at the same restaurant the mayor frequents.

Ironically, while these recognition seekers did not allow my sweetie to do what he wanted, or be himself, I wonder if they even have a clue who they are. They are chasing a current recipe for success encouraged by the media, and companies that have something to sell to get you there.  Drive this car that is vastly out of your price range, and people will call you cool. Wear these ridiculous clothes and every woman will envy you. We only allow sophisticated people in this restaurant.

I learned early on that all those other people you think are so concerned with your life aren’t. You may walk into the door of a popular place, and they look up briefly. They aren’t acknowledging your wonderful outfit or that you are part of their rarified world. Instead, they wonder who let in the cold breeze. Five seconds later, they don’t even remember you.

People who are so concerned about what others think never take time to accept the people as they are; instead they want this prepackaged version. Once you accept yourself and others where they live, there isn’t this desire to run around trying to impress people who are at best annoyed with you.  In my women’s group, we have one member who tells long-winded stories of her glorious childhood, exotic vacations, important people she knows, and various honors conferred on her. I am unsure if her stories are true or not. The one thing I do know is that people aren’t impressed. In fact, they are anxious to get away. Some people never grow out of this vicious game of one upmanship.

Be the real you now. Find out who that is. You may have spent so much time denying you; it may take work to find you. You will find there are many people who like you better as you. I used to volunteer to do everything at work to make people like me. It didn’t work and just wore me out. The next year I didn’t volunteer and even refused extra duties. The result was my co-workers liked me when I was “bitchier”. They even told me so.  They felt it made me more real, a person they wanted to know. Be yourself, and you’ll attract people you’ll enjoy being around.

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