People are not things

I was thinking about a friend that I have not seen for a while last night, Philip. Philip split up with his wife a long time ago, yet always held a sense of grief about it. He has since remarried but although he professes to love his new wife deeply, it strikes me that he fears losing her more than he actually loves her. He does everything for her, indulges her, is almost sycophantic, despite her being fully capable. Maybe he could love her absolutely, but he carries so much weight from his last relationship, so much fear of loss, that he is unable to.

Sometimes we treat people like things and it does not lead to happiness. A few years back I was in a relationship where I was indulged. I was treated with things, with adoration and it felt empty. I could have behaved however I wanted and I knew that this was not healthy for me or for them. I could have been anyone, and that reality was hard. I was only special to them because they required someone to love.

Now I am not suggesting that my behaviour is anything less than impeccable in relationships and clearly I am an amazingly lovable person, but to be aware that my presence was only required to endorse the other person was something new. To have allowed this to continue would have put me in a position of absolute power, and if you genuinely love someone, there has to be a balance that is free from that possibility of abuse.

In other relationships that I have had, I have been the one simpering, glad for any attention. It is a demeaning place to be where you feel rapturous for the slightest praise, the slightest endorsement. It left me with a sense that I wasn’t enough, not good enough, not kind enough, not anything enough. So I would up my efforts and it was exhausting. My health suffered accordingly.  I guess the other person must have realised the power that they had. It was something so obvious, but sometimes that is easy to overlook.

When my self-esteem is in a good place (like now) it is hard to see why I would have allowed such behaviour. But when you are feeling low, it is hard to see how badly you are allowing yourself to be treated. Similarly, if I need someone to worship me, then my self-esteem is in an equally bad place. Developing strong self-esteem for me was a long process but it has walked hand in hand with an increased sense of contentment with my world. I am allowed to define the parameters as to how other people can treat me, and I am not a thing.

Map Point. Where do give and take endorsement?


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