Most of the points were pretty superficial, in my opinion. Not to say they weren't valid...I just think they were no-brainers. Things like "they know what makes you happy" or "you have mutual respect for each other" topped the list of things that I believe anyone would nod their head to. But, there was one that stood out to me as a little hard to swallow, but so very true. Are you ready for this?
The Writing is on the Wall:
It is so disappointing when we find someone -- and our friends and family are lukewarm in their reception of them at best. When the people who know you best are in complete support of your relationship, they will let you know. And you will likely know that this person is very good for you... and may be "the one."
Ouch. How many times have I felt as though my friends and family were 'picking on' me...or my someone special...because they didn't seem to support the relationship. And how often have I allowed my righteous indignation to kick in? How dare they not trust my judgment? How dare they not see how wonderful this person is? How dare they not want me to be happy?!?
Of course, right off the bat, I realize that there is something about him that they don't like or approve of. And, of course, my first reaction is to defend him with all of the tenacity of a Doberman Pinscher. "You don't know him like I know him!" True. They probably do not. Perhaps they "know" him from a completely objective standpoint and recognize things that my love-goggles have filtered out.
More importantly, however, is that most of them do know...and love...ME. And what they are really looking at is how *I* am when I am with him. Am I truly happy? Am I fulfilled? Am I at my best? Or am I compromising the very things that make me the person that they know and love just to please this other person? You see, the truth is, our loved ones want nothing more than for us to be happy. They do want what is best for us. Granted, they may err on the side of caution and may be more critical than others. But, they often see what we do not...or what we choose to overlook. When we are "in love" (yet another blog topic...stay tuned), we see exactly what we want to see. And, even when we recognize what others have pointed out, we find a way to justify the issue(s). After all, isn't that what true love does? (Don't even get me started...)
Okay, too late...I've already gotten started. Love is not about making excuses for someone. Yes, love is forgiving and kind and longsuffering and all that wonderful stuff...but, when one person is doing all of the forgiving and suffering, perhaps it's time to step back and gain some perspective. Listening to what others observe is a great way to get that. I am reminded of a painfully awkward moment a few years back when I was having lunch with some co-workers...all men, incidentally, whose opinions and approval meant an awful lot to me. During the general conversation, I mentioned something about the man I was dating at the time...and a hush fell over the table. Everyone dropped their gaze and began focusing on their lunches with intense fervor. "What," I asked. "You don't like my boyfriend?!?" A few moments of awkward silence hovered over the table before my boss put his arm around me and lovingly said, "Mel, it's not that we don't like him. He just doesn't adore you the way we do."
Sledgehammer. to. the. chest.
I remember going to my mom's that evening and sitting next to her, sobbing, "My boss adores me and my boyfriend doesn't! What's wrong with that picture?!?" How was I the last one to notice? Oh, sure, I could have laughed at them and denied it all by claiming they "just don't know him the way I do"...but, I would have been lying to them. And to myself. The truth of the matter is, if he adored me, everyone would have been able to see that, and especially those closest to me! Those men had nothing to gain by telling me that. They were just calling it like they saw it. And, had I allowed myself to be completely honest, I would have admitted that I knew they were right.
I confess, I did not end the relationship right away. I pushed through for several months, convinced that if I stuck it out long enough, he'd come to his senses and realize that he did adore me! He didn't. But, I'm not bitter.
Not much. ;)
Actually, I only harbored bitterness toward myself for settling for a relationship that was not what it should have been. And, sadly, it was neither the first nor the last of such relationships. Why do we allow ourselves to become so emotionally entangled in a person that we accept sub-par treatment? And before you get all huffy with me, just cool your jets for a second and hear me out. I know there are some who are reading this who just threw your hands on your hips and said, "It's not like that! I know he/she is capable of treating me the way I want." I know this, because I've said it. I have literally waited years for some people to show me the love and affection that I knew they were capable of. Why? Because they used to adore me. They used to make me feel good about myself. They used to....
The difficult pill to swallow was this: if they are not doing it now, they are not going to do it. Why would someone, if they truly care for you, put off treating you the way you want when they could be doing it now? I hated the moment I came to that realization. HATED IT, I tell you! But, it was true. And the worst part was, everyone else knew it before I got it. I should have listened. But, I was too determined. Too tenacious. Too convinced that I knew what I was doing.
Allow me to back-pedal just a smidge and say that some people in our lives are just going to doubt us and criticize everything we do. I am not suggesting that we should listen to those individuals. In fact, I suggest you remove them from your circle of influence as much as is humanly (and legally) possible. Likewise, be careful not to surround yourself with those who only say what you want to hear. They will do little more than cause emotional atrophy. However, pay attention to what the 'multitudes' are telling you, even when (especially when!) it is not what you want to hear. That's when your soul will be tested the most. If you can stomach the truth, you'll be stronger for it. And, if you are wise enough (I'm talking to YOU, Willetts!) to actually listen and acknowledge the very possible reality of what they are saying, you will ultimately be happier.
Happy....hmm....yet another BTC (blog to come).