You know you're doing alright when you can welcome a little tough love from time to time. Not always my forte though – growing up, the thought of someone being less than proud of me was a sure hit to my self-esteem. I thrived on positive reinforcement, so when it wasn't evident, I assumed the worst, thought the world to be against me and so concluded my own self-doubt.
If you knew my former self, you may be shocked to know that currently one of my 'everyday' goals is to be disarmed, unassuming and forgiving. As you can guess, this hasn't always been the case... with loaded reactions being one of my many behavioural 'norms' for years until I decided enough was enough.
A poignant moment for me was when I realised this behavioural pattern was affecting the way I loved my husband and after some soul searching I experienced a sobering truth: I had been living with double standards. I was treating Chad in such a way that if the tables were turned, I probably would have left him [cue the heaviest, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach].
So we had a chat about boundaries. I approached him and asked if we could each write out our own non-negotables–boundaries that we absolutely required the other to respect in order to feel loved–then any other boundaries we felt were important as a reference. We shared these with each other and it was one of the hardest things for me to reconcile with. I squirmed under the new found vulnerability and awareness; whilst I was feeling so far beyond my comfort zone, my husband was feeling a new found unconditional love and respect.
That was enough to shake the habit. No more manipulative efforts to feel validated. Because that is what it came down to – a constant search for affirmation. The tantrums I used to chuck in order to test his love for me... I can't express the pain that came with the disillusion after waking up to my own brokenness.
It didn't change suddenly... it was a slow, drawn out process involving many tears, irritation and discomfort, but as I grew and found healing, so did my love for Chad and others. I learnt how to love and respect myself, which allowed me to love people with so much more depth and truth.
Chad can testify to the change in heart since the day we shared our boundaries and as a result he is a stronger husband, who isn't afraid [anymore] to give me a little tough love when I need it. In fact I have since come to a place where I ask for it. He has full freedom of speech, to speak into my world and point out things that need to be addressed. I am forever grateful for that, because if I am unteachable, I am unsuccessful, stale, withered and dry.
I ask you, if you were to look at your relationships would you be pleased with how you respect and love the people closest to you? Can you easily point out the faults in others yet shy away from someone pointing out yours? Do you think the way you behave in relationships is a direct reflection of how you see yourself? Be encouraged that if you too let go and allow your relationships to breathe and be sustained by mutual respect that this will only make them richer. Let 2013 be a year of genuine, and sometimes tough, love... it is essential for any healthy relationship, as long as it is unconditional!
Love Heids Xx