Should Women Lower Their Standards?

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We get conflicting messages as women as when to lower our standards and when not to.  Sometimes, as little girls, we are told that we are princesses who must never give up and hold out for our knight in shining armor, so that’s what we do, passing up other choices along the way until we meet this imagined savior.  Other times, we are told we shouldn’t be so picky and to accept what comes our way, leading to disastrous consequences.  Because of these mixed messages, it can be hard to know what should really happen.  The truth is that we should do both.  When it comes to our expectations of a partner and relationship, we should lower our expectations if someone doesn’t quite fit the mold of who we were expecting.  If we hold out for that knight on a white horse all of our lives, we may be waiting a long time.  The truth is that most of us have some emotional baggage and/or hang-ups from our childhoods that define who we are, so that means no one is perfect and it will be hard to find someone that is. We are all persons who are constantly learning, coping with past hurt, and  hoping for a better outcome.

However, when it comes to our standards for how we should be treated by a partner and in a relationship, we should never lower those standards.  We most hold steadfast to our beliefs in how we should be treated and never expect less.  When we do lower them, we do not know it, but we are agreeing to a contract where the other person sees that less is expected of them and may treat us worse.  The worst part of this is that as young women, most of us do not know what standards we should be holding, so we blindly go through relationships until we figure out what we like and don’t like and what we can accept and what we can’t.  As parents, it is crucial to instill standards in all of our children at a young age to help them through their journey.  This starts with having standards for yourself and what you are willing to do with your own life.

Above all else, it is the standards that we set for ourselves that should matter more than anything else.  If we can’t even live up to our own standards, how can we expect someone else to live up to them?  And if we fall, we must learn to forgive ourselves as well, because many women are trapped in a cycle of guilt and remorse that doesn’t allow them to move on.  So what standards should we have for ourselves?  They can be as simple as watching how we speak about others and how we treat them.  When we can achieve our own standards, we will begin to understand how we allow others to treat us.  If we see ourselves as worthy, we know we should be treated as such.  Not all of us are looking for a mate, but if we are, we must remember to lower our standards in regards to what we expect them to be, but never in terms of how they treat us.

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Ladies, Stop Mothering Your Boyfriends

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Recently, I was discussing online the topic of handling a boyfriend or husband who isn’t motivated to succeed.  Multiple women saw it as their duty to try to reform their better halves and strongly encourage them to change their lives for the better because they wanted the unit as a whole to succeed.  However, most of these women didn’t realize that when they overstep the boundary of simply encouraging their boyfriends to actively trying to get them to move on, they are no longer treating their boyfriends as a partner but a child.  When women can’t accept that their mates don’t want anything more and are content at where they are after years and years of trying to persuade them, they are wasting their time, patience, and the relationship in the feat.  Does this mean we should never encourage our partners?  Absolutely not.  We should always encourage them to be and do better, but what we want is different than what we expect.  If we want better for our spouses, that is one thing, but to expect better means we are in for a world of hurt when they don’t live up to our expectations.

Women have been wired to be nurturers and to love unconditionally and that is the definition of what a mother does.  Mothers nurture their children and love them unconditionally so that when girls grow up to be women, they somehow think that is how they should love their boyfriends, but that is not the case.  When women do this, they relegate their spouses to the role of children and become increasingly disillusioned with the relationship, thinking that they are always doing more than their fair share when in fact they are taking on more than they should, causing them to despise the other.  Every non-parental relationship should be based on conditional love and clear boundaries.  As women, we tend to lose who we are in helping others and in the end, we resent those that we help if we don’t practice self-care.  When we enter into relationships, we must be aware of the rules of the relationship and how we are willing to help our mates.

Oftentimes, we as women do not really know what we want out of a mate until we date a few men and understand what it is that we want.  At that point, we may already be with someone that we aren’t willing to leave and realize that they are not as ambitious as we’d like.  So what do we do?  We constantly encourage them.  We go out of our way to remind them of things they have to do to better themselves.  We seek out opportunities for them that they may not have sought.  We do this because we want to shape them into the man we want them to be, but have we ever accepted them for who they are?  If your boyfriend is receptive to your advice, that is great, but if he is unwilling to change after many years, he will only see your advice as nagging and resent you for not accepting him.  What is at risk of being hurt here is not our futures, but our expectations.  We may have expected too much out of someone who has always told us who they were, but we refused to listen.  Instead, we saw them for who they could be and remained for that reason.

So how do you stop mothering your boyfriend?  Rein in your own expectations of him and the relationship.  Your wants and needs are important and if they are important enough that he can’t meet them, perhaps you are not in the right relationship.  Sometimes, we as women blame our boyfriends for not growing, when in fact we had the choice to leave all along.  Oftentimes, people only change when they are forced to, so we see many exes blossoming into who we’ve always wanted them to be afterwards, but that change must come at the price of us leaving.  What if you are committed to staying?  Have a frank discussion with him and what you want for him.  If he doesn’t agree, you must honor his wishes; for to simply bulldoze over his wishes and blindly continue on your quest to push him towards greatness is quite like that of an overzealous mother.  And yet, we don’t see it that way.  We see it as love, but love is not pushing someone to do what they don’t want to do.  You may have good intentions, but if he doesn’t see that, it doesn’t matter.

When you rein in your own expectations, there will be less disappointment and grief on your end.  You will spend less time worrying about if he is doing the right thing and more time on enjoying the relationship.  Remember that the more duties you take on in a relationship, the more you will mentally suffer, so lessen your burden if there is nothing you can do to control the situation.  I had an ex who constantly woke up late for his job and I didn’t make it my job to wake him up on time.  His mother chastised me for not doing it as I lived with him and I retorted that I was not his mother.  She immediately sat back and realized the importance of my words.  If it wasn’t my duty to wake him up in the morning, I didn’t have to worry about him getting to work on time.  If it was my duty, I would’ve been very upset every morning.  I let it be known that I refused to mother him in this way and it was his responsibility to get up in time for work.  There were definitely other issues that led to the end our relationship, but in this small way, I refused to be his mother and agreed only to be his partner.

It may sting to try to only be their partner because so much of what happens in their life affects us, but we must realize what we are giving up to try to mother them.  We are giving up our time, piece of mind, and patience.  Then, we will have less patience for other areas in our lives.  In the end, we are really just adjusting our expectations and setting boundaries that we never knew to establish because we’ve always felt as if it were our duty to do these things.  A partner complements you and we may want certain things from them, but we should never expect them if the person has already told us they cannot do those things.  And above all else, if our needs are not being met, we must answer to ourselves before we do to them.

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The Places We Were

I don’t hear your voice anymore

Nor do I catch myself catching your face in the crowds.

I left an impression on you

While the memory you etched in me dissipates.

And yet,

I can still recall the way to your house,

Perched on top of the hill,

Reminding me of things gone by.

Perhaps you remember too,

Which is why you visit me

In the in-between world of dreams.

Hoping against hope that you can find a way back

To who we were.

To the stories we told ourselves about the future

And to something that could never be.

Because that restaurant we loved closed,

That park with the lake outgrew us,

And the house that we built fell apart.

And yet,

A part of me searches for it in the dark,

For that place calls to me as well,

Whispering that all things are possible

When I lay myself to sleep.

 

 

 

 

Coping with Corona Virus

It’s been a few weeks into our quarantine and we’ve just been told there are many more weeks left in isolation and many of us are freaking out.  Some of us want to get back to normal.  Some of us hate being told what to do.  And some of us aren’t quarantining at all.  Many of us do understand why we have to self-isolate and are doing so, but like those that aren’t, we aren’t coping with it as well as we should, perhaps because this is the first real big pandemic that we have faced and we’ve all been coddled all of our lives, living in bubbles thinking that nothing bad will ever happen to us.

We’ve been through recessions, 9/11, and other national issues, but those things never came close to what we are experiencing now and as such, we don’t know what to do.  The truth is that we’ve never been prepared as the proliferation of anti-vaxxers have taught us that you don’t have to listen to science and the government if you don’t want to.  We don’t have a social safety net to take care of millions of out-of-work citizens because we think everyone should be able to fend for themselves.  And we think we don’t have to care about the outside world because we need to take care of ourselves first.  It is precisely these ideas that have shaped how we have dealt with this pandemic and it has been disastrous.  We don’t have to blame Trump or the government because we’re the ones who think this way and we’re the ones that let this happen.

There are no easy answers and no magic solutions that will happen overnight and that scares a lot of people that are used to instantaneous results.  We’re a nation that runs on fast food and faster coffee, so when we’re told that they don’t know when life is going to return to normal again, we cannot comprehend that.  There is a lot of uncertainty right now and so people are trying to regain some measure of strength by protesting, acting racist, and breaking rules; for in doing so, they feel they are taking control of something that they can’t control.  This in turn creates more chaos and fuels narratives that people fashion into their own liking.  We have to accept that there is nothing we can do about the virus right now, but there is a lot we can do about how we treat one another.

So how do you cope with everything that is going on?  You take it one day at a time.  Stand up for others.  Help where you can.  Keep your hands busy.  And above all else, understand that how we view ourselves and others must change.  What we’ve been doing barely worked before and the virus has laid bare the inadequacies of our rules, policies, and ways of thinking.  Sometimes, change comes quietly and at others, it comes in on the back of a tidal wave.

How To Let Down Your Guard

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Someone asked how you let someone in after a considerably hard break up.  How do you break down your wall and allow another person to truly see you?  The real question is not how to let your guard down, but how do I overcome this hurt that impacted me so greatly.  Once we tackle that question, the first one becomes much easier.  After a break up, we punish ourselves for feeling the way we did.  We think that we made a mistake in letting someone into our most inner spaces, so we push others out.  On the surface, we are upset and angry, but internally, we are deeply hurt and sad.  Thus, it is easier to blame our choices rather than accept what happened to us.

This hurt can be so tremendous that we build walls that no one can scale, but the truth is that the wall only exists so that we never can blame or hurt ourselves again.  In the end, we are the ones who lose out.  So how do we accept what happened to us instead of blaming our choices?  We need to own our own actions and what brought us into that situation, but also recognize that there were things we could not control.  This will allow us to have a fresh perspective on our experiences and guide us towards peace, for peace is acceptance of what you can’t change.  Speak to the other person as if they were there or write them a letter and never mail it.  Talk about your pain.  Acknowledge your guilt and shame and then ultimately, learn to forgive yourself.For when we blame our choices, we tend to shy away from making them again in the future or constantly think about if we made the right choice.  However, if we can learn to accept what happened, we can slowly move on.

If we choose not to acknowledge the pain we have endured, they become chains that we carry with us into each new relationship and interaction, always hindering us from seeing with fresh eyes.  We can let this hurt destroy and change us into someone we don’t recognize or understand all because we can’t process the hurt.  Pain happens, but we must acknowledge it and move forward in order to grow.  If not, we will always remain hurt and scared.  At the surface, we may lash out in anger or internally, we may always feel a sorrow that never goes away.  We are quick to ask how we can move on, but we don’t ask how we can deal with the pain, because the process of that is much harder than simply letting your guard down.

Change Comes at a Price

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The process to tackle issues that you’ve been battling your entire life is terrifying, nerve-wracking, and anxiety-producing.  The fact that you have to face these demons from the past may cause us more hurt than we’re willing to deal with right now, so what do we do?  We push it away so we can remain sane for a moment.  We deny it so we don’t have to deal with it.  We use drugs, sex, and food to self-medicate.  We end up lying to ourselves because we can’t face the truth.  When we refuse to ever look at the underlying issues, we become a shell of who we once were.  We are trying to protect who we are now from what happened to us before, not realizing that we are damaging ourselves more in the process.  However, change comes at a price

Change is messy, painful, and scary.  We must be ready to face change if we want it, but realize it is not in the cards for everyone.  Change can only be done if we’re in a relatively safe place.  If we are constantly in a state of flux such as homelessness, being battered, or on drugs, change will be very hard to come by.  For some, change means confronting terrible things done unto them that they must revisit, bringing even more shame, anger, and fear, so they don’t change.  We shouldn’t judge those that can’t change because we don’t know what they are going through.  If someone never chooses to change, that is their decision and we must make peace with it.

But if they do decide to change, they will revisit all the hurts they have experienced before and bring back the ghosts that have haunted them all their lives.  This painful experience may cost them relationships or undue hardships, but that is what comes with change.  There are a million of us out there who refuse to change or acknowledge our pains and as such, we continue on, carrying this hurt and trying to cover it up, only for it to spill out in our lives in ways we could not predict.  What we don’t realize is that even if we don’t face the hurt, the hurt will always be there right beneath the surface and if we don’t do anything about it, it will change us so much that we won’t recognize who we are anymore.

 

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

What happened to Aaron Hernandez?

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The new documentary on Netflix entitled Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez offers a look back on the NFL player’s life and insight into his mind with interviews from childhood friends and jailhouse recordings of his calls with family members, but does it ever really answer why?  Why would a successful, professional athlete with a 40 million dollar contract involve himself with unsavory characters and murder people?  They and the whole world over are asking the wrong question by focusing on what he was giving up instead of asking what caused him to not care about a human life.  The documentary focuses on his life-long involvement with playing football, which ultimately resulted in a diagnoses of CTE after his death, his undercover lifestyle of being gay, and his strict upbringing, but never really nails down what motivated him.  What happened to a person that they thought killing was an acceptable response to minor issues in their lives?

The truth is that he was already who he was long before he started playing football in Florida.  At that point, he had already formed the basis of who he was and everything else only magnified the situation.  The one point that was most striking to me from the documentary was that he scored 1 out of 10 in the category of ‘social maturity.’  Although CTE contributes to impaired judgement, impulse control, aggression, and depression, I feel that the damage done to his brain exacerbated an already existing problem of immaturity.  Coupled with the fact that his father forced him to become the athlete that he wanted instead of teaching him how to grow into a man, he never learned how to accept responsibility, how his actions affected others, or had empathy for others that he hurt.  After his father died, he was free to be himself and as he had never been taught to be responsible, he became even more irrational.  Although he had varying feelings for his father, his father was the one constant in his life and it was now gone, leaving him to feel abandoned and even more hurt.

As a child, he experienced the dual nature of his father, who strived to be a community figurehead but was also secretly physically abusive in the home, which Aaron unknowingly emulated.  He had no one to turn to as he could not trust his mother after she essentially abandoned him in order to pursue a relationship with his cousin’s husband.  Because he had no one to trust and no example to model himself after, he chose to become his father.  Hernandez’s brother, DJ, also writes that he may have been sexually assaulted at an early age for a prolonged period, which may explain his confusion on his sexuality, his promiscuous lifestyle, and his drug habits.  He was clearly abusing drugs as a cry for help, covering up deep pains from his childhood from sexual and physical abuse, feelings of abandonment from the death of his father and his mother, with no emotional outlet because it wasn’t valued.  He grew up in a middle class family and neighborhood, but sought out those who were involved with drugs and destruction because he couldn’t control what was happening to him and he thought that if he achieved a certain image, he could control those around him.  He wanted others to acknowledge him and accept him while never divulging who he truly was.

In one jailhouse recording with his mother, he states that he had to go to college, and it is reported that Urban Meyer appealed to his high school principal to let Hernandez graduate early so he could attend college.  Although he had experienced a lot of trauma already, this may have been one of the more triggering traumas for him because he was truly alone and said so to his mother.  He felt that his mother was not there to protect him as he was spirited away to a school he didn’t’ know and people who had no understanding of who he was simply so they could use him for his physical prowess.  A 17-year-old boy who was emotionally damaged and using drugs to cover up for it with no support would not fare well and he didn’t.  Because he never learned about becoming mature, he handled the situation as a 16-year-old boy, perennially  stuck in the age he was when his father died, did.  He was rash, moody, angry, and everything else that described a teenaged boy while everyone else saw a 6’ 2” man.  For the first time in his life, he was on his own and tested the limits.  He eventually came to see that he could get away with many things because of who he was.

He hid being gay because he was ashamed of it.  He hid his personal life from his professional life because he learned it from his father.  He sought out multiple sexual encounters because he was still emotionally scarred from being molested.  He never learned to trust others because his mother had betrayed his, so he carried guns and knives and hired bodyguards, seeing problems at every turn.  He caused domestic strife to his girlfriend and child because he had experienced it as a child.  And through it all, he didn’t have the emotional maturity to deal with it, so it all came boiling out in various ways where he self-harmed, harmed others, and destroyed his own life.  He killed others not only because he didn’t value their lives but mainly because he never learned to value his.  He killed others because in a world where he couldn’t control the outcome of his life or the game he played in, he could control this.  To him, he was only worth what he did on the field.  Without football, he was  nothing.  And that may be why he killed himself.

None of these reasons excuse his crimes or exonerate him in any way, but they shed light on a troubled person who may have been helped if caught early on.