My youngest is back on track and lines of communication are open between my spouse and me. I continued my self-care and I thought I was getting better. But like whack-a-mole, more issues popped up, one by one. I recognized my unhealthy behavior in my marriage but failed to recognize my unhealthy behavior outside of the marriage. My unhealthy behavior traveled with me. I acted the same way in other relationships with family members, friends, my job, and an organization. I went along to get along, pretended everything was Ok, said yes when I meant no, put others first, overextended myself, and suppressed my feelings, needs, and wants.

I was pestered to join an organization and said yes when I wanted to say no. I was good at my assignment and members thanked me by giving me a mountain of paperwork to do. The more I did the more I was expected to do, I felt used but remained silent. When I found out I was doing the most, I finally spoke up to an officer and was promptly met with negativity and disregard, so I quit. It’s easier to quit an organization than it is to quit your job, family, and friends.

I looked back at my job and all the times I stayed late, or volunteered too much food, money, and energy. I could never say no to the endless impositions. They weren’t additional duties part of my job description, they were extras, I didn’t have to do them, and I barely got credit for my efforts. I started easing out of the extras by making excuses but instead of being met with understanding, I was guilt-tripped. When I responded with a firm no, I fell out of favor with my boss and certain co-workers. I was ‘helping’ for all the wrong reasons.

I hosted my sister and two friends for a weekend. I prepared food, drinks, sweets, and snacks, made comfortable spaces in my apartment for them to sleep, and agreed to be the Uber. My guests were ungrateful, rude, bossy, critical, greedy, messy, loud, and referred to me as ‘she.’ I was triggered; their behavior reminded me of how my spouse treated me. I’ve allowed myself to be overruled and overrun by family and friends to please them at my expense. After they left, I ignored their calls, not because I was dodging them, but because I was processing what happened and preparing a proper response. When I returned their calls and responded to each one about their behavior, I was met with resistance, my feelings were minimized, and I was accused of being too sensitive; the same rebuttals my spouse used. I listened but stood my ground, pointed out facts, and set my boundaries of what I will and will not tolerate, boundaries I must keep if I want to heal.

I was too generous, too compliant, too needy for approval, and taken advantage of because I had no boundaries. I overcompensated to cover up my failures, lack of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-respect. I was looking for outward validation in all the wrong people. I thought I was getting better but I wasn’t and had more work to do.

Getting better means taking responsibility for my behavior in every relationship, recognizing when to say no, and focusing on my needs and wants. Getting better means cultivating healthy relationships by practicing healthy helping and healthy giving. Getting better means keeping some relationships and letting go of others. Getting better means practicing self-love by looking inward for validation, worth, esteem, and respect. Getting better is the journey, healing is the destination.