Honoring Yourself – Honoring what you want, what you need, what you don’t want, so on and so forth. This seems like a simple concept but I have struggled with it my entire life. Mainly because I was brought up in a dysfunctional home and subsequently two dysfunctional/codependent marriages which taught me over and over that my needs, my wants and my desires were not important. I was to self-sacrifice all the time. You’re upset, poor baby, are you just feeling sorry for yourself? You don’t want to do that, too bad, you need to make me happy. You don’t want to take on this job duty that you had already told me you did not feel you were a good fit for, too damned bad. The list is never-ending of how I have not honored myself, my needs and my wants.
As I approach my fiftieth year, I look back at all the ways that I have let people walk all over me, bully me, push me and just plain out terrorize me for no good reason at all. Granted, when you’re a child, you don’t have a lot of say in the matter. As an adult though, even though it may not feel like it, you most certainly have the right and the ability to put up those boundaries. Yes, maybe it means you lose your job or you have to a find a new but better fit. Yes, maybe you lose some friends who didn’t treat you well or at least put them so remotely on the edge of you life that they can no longer take advantage of you. Yes, you may quietly (or not so quietly) push away family members who are toxic and selfish. Yes, you may break up from a long-term relationship or marriage. Maybe it takes two divorces before you realize you’re in a holding pattern of abuse. Abuse you allow because of whatever reason.
Though not always easy to remove yourself or stop a situation where you are not honoring yourself, it usually is pretty simple. You remove yourself from that person, situation or job. Just yesterday, I was relieved from a duty that over a year and a half ago, I told my boss and the other person(s) involved that I was not a good fit to fill nor did I want to do it. I already had a full plate with my current duties. I had considered moving up into a more corporate position but mostly because I felt that I “should”. Why did I feel like I should, because everyone was telling me, you need to move up, succeed and the other truth was there were two other employees in my direct office area that were making me miserable. They were toxic and I never felt at ease or comfortable but by some miracle they had both quit within a month of each other. The power of just one person to make your life hell always amazes me. Even when you don’t engage them, their sheer presence within your vicinity is poison. I never believed all that ‘energy’ bullshit until then. You felt darkness enter the room with them. When they were absent from work, you felt joy and a lightness because their negative/evil energy was not there.
The bottom line is I like my job. I like that it is independent, my boss is in another state and I have the autonomy for the most part to perform my duties and I do so well. Not perfect, but well. But for over the last year, I’ve been so unhappy. Not because of my core job duties I had been doing for twelve years but because of this new and very visible job duty that forced me to work in a global sense. It’s not that I couldn’t perform this new job duty well, it was that I was too torn between two full-time jobs and I’m a 32-hour full-time employee. I had streamlined my main job which the person before had been working 40-50 hours a week to within 32-36 hours easily. But this new duty, the one I was assured would not get much bigger, exploded into something I could not keep up with, even if I worked 40-50 hours a week. Then there was also the fact that I had told them NO, NO, NO, NO. Work is one of those things where it’s really difficult to refuse work. because they are paying you, to work. You don’t want to be seen as the difficult, pain in the ass employee. I always try to be the employee I would hire for my own business. My supervisor doesn’t have to babysit me, I do my job, I take responsiblity for my mistakes and my work load.
Looking back though, I’ve all but made myself sick over this new job especially the last few months when it’s become way too much for me to handle. I’d been communicating with my boss since last fall that I think this duty needs someone else, I’m not able to keep up. Nothing in the corporate world ever moves fast it seems. At least not this kind of thing. But after many discussions with my boss, I was finally able to sign off giving this duty to a person who truly wants the responsiblity. I’ll still be in this arena, at least for a while and I’m good with that. Makes no sense for all my knowledge and training to just be wasted but when I got off the call yesterday, when I saw the form reducing my role to a lesser one was signed, it was as if someone had taken a 100-lb concrete weight off my back. Not that I don’t want to work hard, I do, but I was just not the right pick for this one.
Lesson learned, even if it means I might come across as difficult or even maybe a bit insubordinate, I should have stuck to my guns. I should have prepared myself to look for a new job and stood my ground. By allowing myself to be run over, I was angry and frustrated for over a year. On top of that, I was driving my husband, kids, cousin and close friends crazy with my bitching (sorry guys, but thanks for sticking with me). I could have offered to be a backup which would have been a much better spot for me because the experience breathed new life into my career, forced me to get out of my little corner of the world and work with people all over the globe. This gave me new experience, new confidence and new self-esteem as well as reminded me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. But I also know I’m not the big corporate career ladder climber. I don’t want that stress, that responsiblity or all that political landscape you have to figure out and tip toe around.
Yesterday after work, my husband left for his night shift and I retired to my exercise studio that looks over my backyard and the fields/woods behind our house. I had opened the window and rode my exercise bike, then did some free weights. I finished the routine with some yoga. For yoga, I turned off the music and opened the window more so I could hear the frogs in the swamp as they peep in unison and the many bird songs that our yard is blessed with. Once I got to my floor work, I realized that I was actually listening to nature’s music outside. I also realized that it had been a long time since I had been relaxed enough to even notice all that goes on around my home. I’m fortunate to live in the country which suits my personality just fine. The closest house is a quarter a mile away. For a good ten minutes, I remained in corpse pose with my eyes closed listening to the frogs, the birds and the occasional sound of a vehicle traveling down my road. I had lost the joy of living because I was anxious, stressed and not honoring what I truly needed.
As I laid there, I made myself a promise that I am going to take care of myself no matter what. Even if I’m afraid I might lose my job, lose a friend or whatever it may be that I’m afraid of if I don’t comply. Granted, there are rules and laws that I can’t ignore but let’s all have some common sense here, ok? There are always things we have to do that we don’t want to do like certain tasks at work, chores, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. but are necessities of life. But in this case, I honestly didn’t have to take on this additional duty. And I did say “NO” multiple times but eventually caved against my better judgment. I told myself that it was just because I was being a big old P that I wasn’t taking this on that maybe I was just afraid but this would be a good move for me. Nope, I truly didn’t want the extra responsiblity at least not on that level. I should have stood my ground, politely and respectfully of course.
That’s been the problem all my life, I’ve always been afraid to assert myself. I didn’t believe that my wants, needs and desires were not important. I should self-sacrifice always but that’s all bullshit. I’m much better at standing up for myself but obviously considering this last year or so, I needed to take it one step further. Held fast, and as always, my biggest folly – I SHOULD HAVE TRUSTED MY GUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s always an epic fail when I don’t listen to myself, my instinct or my gut. It’s always an epic fail when I let someone talk me into something that all the way down to my core, I know I do not want to do or be or take. At my job, the worst case scenario is that they fired me, though I doubt that would have happened but I could have found another job. The bottom line is that I did have a choice though not one I wanted to really have to deal with but I could have survived losing my job. We almost always have a choice, the result might not be pleasant if things don’t go the way we hope but usually they are survivable. Sometimes events or things that seem the end of the world just are new starts into something wonderful. I think had even the worst case scenario had occurred and I got fired, I would have been better off because I would have honored myself.
That said, I’m really happy that it worked out in the end and I get to keep the job I have had for over twenty years. Of course, I could get laid off or fired but for now, things have worked out.
As I approach my fiftieth birthday early next year, my mission is to always take care of, honor and protect myself regardless of the situation. Even if it means an outcome of which I may be afraid, I will stand my ground and stand up for myself. Scouts honor!