We've all been there -- feeling victimized by a friend, a boss or a lover who has treated us poorly or unfairly. However, in my relationships with men, I've witnessed myself apply a different system -- if you can even call it a system.
It took me 28 years of being hungry for love, even desperate for it at times, heart aches, heart tramples, picking up that phone when every cell in your body knows it's the unhealthy thing to do, obsessing, infatuating, idealizing, you name it, for me to finally wake up and realize that my most important relationship is the one with myself. I can't go back in time to correct my mistakes, but I can today share what I've learned with younger women, some who may have a misconstrued idea that giving their body away carelessly can equal love. Among the thousands of photographs I had snapped over the years, I found only a handful of me with my daughters. At first, I blamed the lack of mother-daughter footage on the fact that I’m usually the one behind the camera.
At the computer, I copied and pasted those precious few photographs into one file folder—like a little treasure box that held rare jewels. I grieved the Christmas mornings when I, with mussed hair, scooted out of the shot that my husband was framing up. Oh, I wouldn’t have dared utter those words out loud, because I have never wanted my girls to hear their mother complain about her looks or weight. As I grew older, I always figured the photos could wait until another day, after I lost 10 pounds, toned my upper arms, had a zit-free chin. Even in the best photos, I found flaws—for instance, the fact that one of my eyes is bigger than the other.
That night at the computer screen, I saw how scandalously critical I’d been about myself, and how I’d missed the opportunity to capture unrepeatable moments with my girls.
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CommentsThere are currently no comments on this post, be the first by filling out the form below. It's an easy and common tendency to blame the other, make yourself out as the innocent one, while seeking out particular people who will reaffirm that pain body within that encourages a "woe is me" mentality. I've tolerated men who don't appreciate me, who don't value my heart, who take and take, who don't call back, who have disrespected me -- I've allowed men to not treat me what I'm worth.
And while I'll always be a perpetual student in this journey, I've made the decision to apply my successful method in dealing with friendships and business to how I do my relationships.
In the words of my wise friend Sima Kumar, "Be the gatekeeper." Your heart is a precious gift.
Now, I don't mean to start going out there with unrealistic expectations, demands and a sense of entitlement.
But if you start to look back and analyze a bit, you may realize that the there is one common denominator in each scenario and situation. I know many women who have settled for less, and simply "accepted" cards dealt because deep inside, they don't believe they deserve more.
Some will be lifetime friends that are next to family, some are social friends, some acquaintances.
This is all a matter of self-esteem and my sense of self worth in the realm of being a woman in a romantic relationship. I've stopped apologizing for who I am and have learned that I am "perfect" the way I am, right now, right here. So I sat in the blue glow of the computer screen, scrolling through files and folders, looking down deeper and deeper to find photos I was certain were there.

I'm sure you know of someone who seems to have it all together in their life, but when it come to relationships, they just can't seem to shake the habit of dating douche bags and douchettes. I've learned to appreciate the various types and unique forms of value each friend brings, and as well as a system of how much and what kind of energy I invest to whom. I've made excuses, justified and eagerly re-entered the game of push and pull with men who clearly don't really value me much at all. I will constantly be growing, evolving and working on bad habits, but those flaws, those imperfections are part of the beauty that makes me, me. I am in very few pictures and in the ones we do have together, the girls are strategically placed in front of my bulging still-haven’t-lost-the-pregnancy-weight belly. I am blessed with the best friends ever, but that inner circle is sacred and thoughtfully selective.
And you know what, it sucks and feels pretty crappy at the end -- chipping away the low self-esteem that got me there in the first place even more.
Change for yourself and of course, friends and partners are great mirror reflections that help you grow.
But don't change out of the wrong reasons to appease someone or in hopes that they will like you more. Where were all the photos of us together? The sad truth dropped like a weight in my gut: The photos were never taken.
It you don't respect and love yourself first, building a healthy relationship with another is like building a house with no foundation -- eventually the cracks and lack of a strong base will eventually cause it to crumble.

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