When I think about doing what I hate a funny image comes to mind– flank steak.
When I was 22, I dated a guy who cooked flank steak for me. It was one of his two or three specialties. He would marinate this rather stringy cut of beef in Heinz ketchup and honey. He was really proud of the recipe he’d created.
It was truly disgusting. I pretended I liked it.
After lying a couple of times it seemed impossible to tell the truth. I just kept eating it when he’d make it. I couldn’t keep my feelings hidden completely. My distaste would emerge in other ways. I would get resentful as though he was making me do something I didn’t want to do. Our relationship suffered.
Finally, with advice from a wise sister, I found the way to explain my feelings and why I hadn’t said anything. I liked the fact that he was cooking for me. I wanted to support his enthusiasm. I didn’t know how to do this without compromising myself. I had layers and layers of reasons why I couldn’t come clean so I chose to ignore my own boundaries, until I finally found a way out.
Recently I recognized a new dilemma. I don’t want to share too many specifics because it’s happening right now and I want to be discreet. I’ve come to the realization that the situation is toxic to me and I must leave.
It’s been this way for awhile but I tolerated it. My reasons boiled down to these:
“I ought to stick with it.”
“If I tried harder it would be okay.”
“If I were just more loving and forgiving it would be okay.”
And my favorite:
“If I leave they won’t like me anymore.”
Recognizing what’s going on in my brain and my convoluted reasoning is like being underwater and slowly rising to the surface. Choosing to remove myself from the bad situation seems obvious and clear above the water line but it sure took me a long time to get here.
Why is it so hard? Because I do not default to self-esteem. Apparently I have to put myself second long enough for it to feel really miserable before I recognize, “Hey wait a minute. I don’t need to be doing this to myself.”
People with strong self worth don’t assume their feelings are less important than others’. They don’t swallow their objections like a bite of ketchup-covered flank steak. They say what they think knowing that openness creates the best communication.
Where in your life are you tolerating something intolerable? Where do you feel it? Is there a physical signal that something is off e.g. a headache or fatigue? What is preventing you from removing yourself from the situation? What would it take to have that difficult conversation?
We are responsible for safeguarding our own boundaries. We must first recognize them and then uphold them. Nothing will change until we stop doing what we hate.