Permission to Demand
I’ve been tweeting some random thoughts coming to my head, which make fertile ground for today’s post.
I need yall to bear with me because I may jump around a lot today.
The first thought of my day is that I forgot that I was awesome. I’m not saying this in a narcissistic way. I’m saying it because when you forget that you are awesome. When you start not thinking so highly of yourself, you let a lot of foolishness creep into your life.
You start allowing and saying yes to things that your usually awesome self wouldn’t even consider, let alone have time for or allow it to cause distress.
You all have read the blog, (and if you are new, I’m glad you are here. But you have a lot of catching up to do if you want some context.) You have a front row seat to my relationship failures and my desire to live happily and with purpose and to just be alright with me.
I had to reread an email exchange between me and a good friend of mine. Because I needed clarity on a situation where I felt a man I just started to have interest in wasn’t really returning the interest whole heartedly. I felt like an afterthought.
I questioned letting him know that I wanted my time valued before agreeing to another date, for fear of him thinking I was angry and demanding.
I questioned whether or not it was my right to demand respect for my time by A) not planning dates and standing me up. B) not calling me late at night on a weeknight because I didn’t want to be the naggy, bitchy, angry black woman who no one seems to like. I didn’t want to be the girl making too many demands of someone too soon.
But when is too soon to tell a guy you don’t want to be called late at night because you have a job and want to go to sleep? When is it too soon to tell a guy that while you want to get to know him, you don’t tolerate being stood up or cancelled on at the last-minute or put in second place to a social group, sport, job, hobby, etc if you want to seriously consider a relationship?
I think as women we have to not lay out long, crazy lists, but when moments call for a brief, real teaching moment, you got to take the opportunity to assert yourself and lay out the rules.
Men, women, horses, cats and dogs will take advantage if you don’t lay out what’s acceptable and what’s not and actively show the person or animal you are for real. You are allowed to voice what works for you and what does not.
I ultimately made the decision to say how I felt and what I didn’t want if he wanted to really get to know me. And he basically said he understood and was looking forward to our date tonight with no interruptions or cancellations. (We’ll see)
Usually grown, confident folks get it when you break something down and do it in a way that’s not mean or nasty, but just honest.
I tend to have a fear of people’s reaction to me when I say what I don’t want or what I don’t like. I don’t want people not to like me, or to feel uncomfortable or to be upset. But if the thing that person does or says to me is something that I don’t like or makes me feel comfortable or upset, what makes them better than me not to at least let them know I don’t like it?
When did I start deciding that my opinion, my feelings should be considered last out of the both of us.
And so in some cases, people and life started treating me that way. And I kept taking it.
I’m starting to see the light a bit and the timing is fortuitous.
I’ve had to have folks I hold in high esteem write letters of recommendation for my grad school application.
Having folks talk about you through their eyes is an interesting thing because you can’t see what they see or things that were small and didn’t seem to matter in your opinion, did count for something to them. A talent or skill that you may feel has been lacking, they noticed your growth and your passion to at least try.
I took things a step further when I had a recent catch up conversation with an old ex of mine. Geez we haven’t been together in several years and we ended amicably and can call each other friend.
I told him about my difficulty dating, I told him about recently getting stood up, to which he emphatically replied, “Fuck that dude.”
Ahh. Then I told him about an article I read about letting your ex actually write your online dating profile. So we played a game. I asked him to describe me. What I like, what I don’t like, who I am, in his own words. (This is enough for another post)
And he did that. He gave me a glowing review, but he also reminded me of somethings I had forgotten. That I was awesome. That I was highly interesting and intelligent and that I had certain high expectations of everyone around me.
My heart sank when he wrote the words, “she takes care of herself.”
I knew that had changed. Yes, I recently went on a great vacation, but it took me about five years to take off six consecutive days and not visit family. Yes, I get a massage once a month. But what am I really doing to take care of me for real? Beating myself up for the past? Not feeling good about myself professionally, feeling lost, feeling like I’m not making an impact. Making excuses to not workout, gaining weight. Beating myself up for making excuses and gaining weight. Beating myself up for not being better with money. Beating myself up for letting other people beat me up. Beating myself up for things I couldn’t control anyway.
If an ex I dated about 8 years ago, who I hardly speak to can gush about how good a person I am, how beautiful, kind and sexy and smart, why wasn’t I doing that for myself?
Fantastic people can vouch for me. They can verify that I’m worthy, yet I’ve been giving myself the bad wrap for a really long time.
A dear friend of mine posted what is now my favorite profile of himself on Facebook this week. He said he liked the pic because it made him feel good, he was smiling right into the camera and he’s totally not the type to promote selfies. He basically said we have to love ourselves, feel good about ourselves and pump ourselves up.
So today, I’m saying I’m worthy.
I’m worthy and capable of having a great relationship where what I want and how I feel will be respected. I’m worthy to have the career I want and I have every right to embrace who I am as I am right now and whatever isn’t quite perfect, well I can change. I am allowed to ask for what I want. I’m allowed to demand respect. I’m allowed to feel what I feel. And I’m allowed to shut out negative voices and forces so I can get myself together.
You are too.