I Know What I Want!

I rarely go window shopping.

When I do it’s because I have a vague idea of what I am looking for and I want to look around to help myself narrow in on what I really want.

The majority of the time when I enter a store I know the exact item I would like to purchase and cannot be convinced to get anything else.

Before making a purchase, I have done my research, I have price shopped, read all the online reviews and even know what retailer I want to purchase the item from.

Sales people have a very hard time trying to convince me into purchasing any additional accessories or picking out another item.

If it is something that I have to save up for in order to purchase I work hard at putting money away over time so that I will be prepared to make the purchase.

I’m an informed buyer, I know what I want and what I don’t want and if a store doesn’t have the item in stock, I can assure you that I will be shopping elsewhere.

My kids see me as stubborn – but I know what I want.

I have often gone shopping with friends and they would notice that I didn’t purchase any items on our outing. When they questioned me about it I will tell them I didn’t intend to buy anything and so all I did was looked around and made a mental assessment of things that I may want in the future. They would shake their head at me but like I said – I know what I want.

So today I was laying on my couch scrolling through my Facebook news feed thinking about how I struggle finding what I am looking for in love.

I playfully went over the notion that it was because as one of my friends said “I was allergic to love”, but when I became honest I accepted my truth, I didn’t know what I wanted.

Or at least I wasn’t consciously aware.

I mean ask me what I want when it came to shoes, clothes, perfume, jewelry, makeup, food, books, cleaning products, household appliances, vehicles and a home and I can tell you everything you need to know but when it came to knowing what I wanted as far as a romantic partner I had a foggy idea but it most certainly wasn’t something I was clear on.

I guess perhaps it really is true that you can’t know what you want until you know what you don’t want.

I mean of course I knew I didn’t want a partner who was physically abusive towards me and I knew I wanted someone I was physically attracted but honestly for the most part I was feeling my way out.

Sad to say it was because I wasn’t secure in who I am. I was fearful that I wouldn’t find what I really wanted because I didn’t see myself as worthy of the ideal partner I had in mind which would result in me being alone.

I’m okay with being alone if I can’t find what I’m looking for but the concept of not being good enough for the type of person I desire is pretty disheartening.

Unfortunately, I have spent the bulk of my life not seeing myself as valuable and telling myself a lie that I had to take what I could get.

That’s how I ended up married at 18, I had honestly convinced myself that if I didn’t marry him no one else would ever want to marry me.

Surprise, surprise to my 18-year-old self I have turned down multiple offers of marriage.

Thankfully, I have grown and become aware that I am indeed valuable.

I have also learned that I must have boundaries for what I will and will not accept.

By having boundaries I stopped being a doormat.

I will not be uncomfortable in order for another person to be happy.

They are free to seek someone who will allow them to do the things that make me uncomfortable but that person will not be me.

After 32 years of not loving myself I created a huge self-love deficit that I have been consciously working on for about 4 1/2 years.

While I have a lot of work to do to reverse that deficit the good news is that I have grown by leaps and bounds.

I have the strength to walk away from relationships that harm me, and that takes a lot of self-love to do.

And so I decided to use that strength to take walk away from my scarcity mentality that if I develop a criteria of what I will and will not accept then it will make it harder to find someone.

A scarcity mentality is what causes many of us to stay in unhealthy relationships because we are afraid that if we leave that no one else is coming. As I previously posted there are over 7 billion people on this planet I promise you someone else is coming.

And with that knowledge I have decided to open myself up to loving and being loved in a romantic capacity to a higher degree.

But in order for me to do that I aknowledgeI flat-out must have standards to go along with my boundaries.

There has to be standards that a guy has to meet in order for me to give him the green light. I had blogged about it before and I had created some standards but I’m going to have to raise the bar.

For one thing he has to be sure about what he wants because I have become sure about what I want.

No more attracting people who are confused all just so we can sit there together in a sea of confusion gleefully wasting one another’s time.

Much to my chargrin my low-level of self-esteem is why I hadn’t developed more standards in the past. I was afraid to reduce the size of the dating pool out of fear I would end up with no one at all.

I simply had to develop standards because when you don’t have standards or in my case very few standards for what you want you will accept darn near anything.

You have to know what you want!

If you know what you want, you will easily dismiss what you don’t want.

Once you make up in your mind people will have a hard time trying to convince you of otherwise and it will help you know what you are looking for when you see it.

Therefore, if you want someone who has the same spiritual beliefs as you and you meet someone who doesn’t you will see it as your signal that they aren’t a match.

I’m not talking about having some inordinate list of criteria for a person to meet but I am talking about having standards for what you will and will not accept in a partner.

I realized that I simply had to outline what I wanted or else I would attract people who are just as confused as to what they want as I am.

I’ve been walking around with a fear of a broken heart since my divorce four years ago and even with that fear I ended up with my biggest heartbreak only two years ago.

So being afraid of opening up is definitely not the way to protect yourself.

Dating and just seeing where it goes without being attached to the outcome has been freeing for me, but I realize I must first do a better job of pre-qualifying the men I date before I try to see where anything goes with them.

And in addition to sticking to a higher level of standards I have also decided that the same way that I do the work of saving up so that I can afford big purchase items is the same way I need to spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally prepare myself to have someone come into my life.

And so after putting pen to paper and making my list – I know what I want!

Love,

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

The Screening Process

 

Haley

Photo Courtesy of: Haley Hickman

I was on the phone with one of my cousins who explained to me that a guy whom she had went out on a date with had told her that he was going to call her at a certain time, but he never did.

After hearing her say this, I immediately retorted, “I don’t like him”.

I do not know him as a person but I know that I do not like him to fill the role of romantic partner in my cousin’s life.

And this is why…

At the beginning of the relationship his failure to call when he said he would signals his inability to keep his word.

Recognize that it is at the beginning of the dating process that we put our best foot forward.

Therefore, his best foot is him showing that he is not a man of his word.

If this is him on his best behavior then what in the world would he be like on his worst behavior!?!

I will be honest there was a time when I have given guys a pass who obviously didn’t deserve one.

They went out of their way to show me that they didn’t really care about me, but due to my insecurities and low sense of self-worth I would tolerate their poor behavior.

When they didn’t call when they said they would I would think well maybe something happened.

You know something? Maybe something did happen or maybe it didn’t, but I have decided that when it comes to my life I am no longer accepting excuses.

Do I believe that a freak accident could happen?

Of course I do.

But I also know that if a person doesn’t show up for a job interview on time a potential employer who is well skilled will tell the candidate that there is no need to conduct the interview as they failed to show that they have the ability to be punctual for something as important as an interview.

Does it mean that the applicant is a bad person?

No, not at all.

Should the employer give the applicant the opportunity to explain why they were late?

Possibly.

But, if the position is of quality a good employer will give it to the candidate who took the time to not only arrive on time but who arrived early, fully qualified and well prepared.

So if it is unwise to give a job to someone who fails to show up on time for a job interview then why do we give a second chance to someone who fails to show up or call like they say they will in the early stages of dating?

I think we do it out of fear of things such as no one better will come along, feelings of loneliness, desperation for a partner and low self-worth, which results in low standards and a lack of boundaries.

The way I see it is that many of us when we date are looking for someone to spend the rest of our lives with. We want to share our time, energy, vulnerabilities, body, money and in many cases our children with this person.

Think of it, you are going to invite a person into your home and more so your bedroom and your screening requirements are more lenient than what a hiring panel would require for someone to work at a company that may not even belong to them?!

I have hired people to work for companies before and when it came to finding an employee I would start out by reviewing the position and then I would create a job bulletin to be advertised in order to properly market the position.

However, when it came to my own life I didn’t really take the time out to figure out exactly what I was looking for in a partner.

I didn’t do any soul searching I just wanted to be wanted.

Also, before you can hire someone for a job you should make sure that you have the wherewithal to pay them.

But when I would look for a romantic partner I never took the time out to see if I had the time, energy, love or skills to maintain a healthy relationship.

Moreover, I spent a lot of time creating a well thought out job bulletin because I realized that I wanted to attract the best person for the position on behalf of my employer.

And yet when it came to something as sacred as my heart, thoughts, energy, time, space, body, love, trust and care I didn’t put much thought or detail into how I was representing myself.

I am not proud to say that my self-esteem was previously so low that if I had to describe how I advertised a position to have my heart it wasn’t a far cry from:

“Hungry for love, will love for crumbs of attention and scraps of affection”.

The type of people who are attracted to that kind of position in a person’s life are not high quality. Because the kind of person who would hold that sign doesn’t know they are quality.

It took a lot of tears and a massive broken heart but I now know better.

I now understand that just like I made the position that I was trying to fill at my place of employment attractive I have to make the position to be my romantic partner attractive.

This goes so far beyond physical appearance.

For example I wasn’t happy about what I was doing with my professional life. If I wasn’t happy with it, I wasn’t going to find a person who would be happy with it, so I had to make some changes.

I didn’t feel comfortable with my physical appearance so I was going to have to learn to accept myself as I work to become my best self.

I was depressed and so I had to take steps to lift myself up from that depression.

And moreover, I have not created a space for someone to come into my home. Before I can start back dating I have to open up that space.

For example, I am not emotionally ready to get married and move in with someone. The idea of combining my life with someone else makes me uneasy.

I am aware of that and for this reason I am not open to the idea of dating at this point in my life.

There are some changes that are going to have to be made before I could bring someone into my life at that capacity.

Once I have made those changes, then and only then can I begin the dating process.

As for me and my heart, to date before that time would be like those places that take applications for a job but aren’t hiring.

They are wasting everyone’s time.

They are not actively hiring and should simply say so.

I recall that before I would have a new employee start work I had to clean out the work space that they would be working in and remove all traces of the previous employee.

This is similar to how I have to take steps to make sure my heart is completely healed before I try to date someone new.

It would not be fair for me to expect someone new to come in and have to clean up the mess that the last gentleman made.

Before I can date I am going to have to figure out what the minimum requirements are to have my heart.

I don’t have a full list but honesty, faithfulness, shared spiritual beliefs and moral values are definitely minimum requirements.

I recall the amount of time I would spend creating a well thought out bulletin including a brief background of the company, what the job duties of the position entailed what character traits an applicant needed to be successful at the position, the minimum qualifications, the preferred requirements, the benefits and the compensation.

But when it came to my own life I didn’t spend nearly as much thought.

While I had some level of standards my subliminal advertisement for a mate most likely was equivalent to this:

Female with trust, abandonment and anger issues looking for someone to fill a void in my life because I don’t love myself enough to realize that I am the one I am seeking. I am not looking for someone to share my life with because I want to make someone else my life.

Applicant must have a high school diploma, little to no experience required, I will train you and try my best to change you because I have yet to learn that I can’t. I don’t require much, I simply don’t want you to physically abuse me. I don’t want you to cheat on me either but if you do I will forgive you because I don’t realize that I have worth, so I kind of expect to be cheated on.

I prefer someone who I am truly physically attracted to but I will settle for someone who I find mildly attractive because I don’t realize I am beautiful and I figure someone like me has to settle.

With regards to compensation I am a people pleaser so I over give $$$$.  I will let you emotionally drain me. Sure, I will cry and lament telling you that I want you to give back in return but no worries, you will quickly see I am all talk as I will stick around and be your doormat.

By the way previous applicants please feel free to reapply because even though you have made it clear that you really aren’t the best fit, I am scared that no one else will take the position and I am afraid of being alone.

There I was walking around giving off this kind of energy about myself then I wondered why the only type of men who were interested in me were of low quality.

I was behaving like a low quality woman!

So of course Boo Boo the Fool filled out the application for the job.

Men of high quality felt the energy I was giving off and thought ” oh no I don’t want to work there let me see who else is hiring”.

I was so desperate for love I was making excuses for peoples poor behavior.

A person not calling when he says he will is not a quirk.

That is them showing you that they are not a person of their word.

When someone sets off alarm bells at the beginning of your interaction with them, you have to stop allowing them to proceed.

I know for myself there was a time when I would allow others to make me feel uncomfortable because I didn’t want to seem too harsh or overly judgmental.

I wanted people to like me and I figured being “nice” was the way to go.

But I wasn’t being nice, I was being irresponsible.

I was not taking responsibility for my life.

However, I now realize that I am the gatekeeper for my life.

And in order for a person to hold the position of romantic partner or even friend in my life they must go through a screening process and thorough background check.

Sadly, I have begged people to stay in my life who I knew in my gut did not mean me well.

I settled for poor behavior from men who treated me badly because I didn’t see myself for the greatness that I am.

My time, heart, energy, body, thoughts, emotions and space are sacred.

I wasn’t aware of that before but I am now.

I have decided that when it comes to something as special as my heart I will not be giving anyone else the benefit of the doubt.

Does this mean I might end up overlooking some great guys?

Perhaps, but no more than a company would lose out on a good applicant because they refuse to hire someone who is late for an interview, interrupts the interview to use their cell phone, doesn’t dress for the interview, doesn’t know why they want to work for the company, doesn’t meet the minimum qualifications, shows up unprepared or who isn’t a good institutional fit.

And by institutional fit I mean the person may read well on paper and they may score high during the interview but something in the interviewer’s gut tells them the person just is not the best fit for the work environment.

This is akin to when you are dating someone and you can’t put your finger on it but something isn’t quite right.

Our friends and family may tell us that we are just being too hard or operating out of fear.

But no, if you feel like something is wrong it’s because something is wrong.

After years of heartbreak due to not listening to my intuition I have decided I would rather error on the side of being overly safe when it comes to who I allow in my space than I would to error on the side of being reckless.

I have heard that one of the best ways to yield a different result is to do the opposite of what you are doing.

So when it comes to my life my previous behavior is no longer acceptable, I simply must be more protective of my space.

I have had a bad habit of giving my time, space, heart and energy to people who I knew deep down did not mean me well.

In an effort to prevent that behavior I realize that I am going to have to set some boundaries and have some standards.

We have to start seeing the position of romantic partner in our lives as a high value position that can only be filled by a high value person. And in order to do this we must recognize that we ourselves are of high value.

The reason distinguished companies can turn away applicants who fail to meet their minimum requirements and not look back is because a good company knows that while finding high quality people may take time, they themselves are in high demand and another high quality candidate will surely be in the job pool.

We have to stop being afraid to set boundaries and of having deal breakers.

Walking around in fear that if we have boundaries that it will turn people away is not the way to go.

This is because boundaries are designed to turn people away.

The wrong people.

But you want them to leave!

Boundaries and standards saves you from wasting time with people who are not the best fit for you.

Just like assessments prevent companies from wasting their time interviewing people who don’t qualify for the position.

Even though I am on dating hiatus, I do have men approach me. They often ask what I am looking for in a relationship and when I tell them I am looking to be in a mutually exclusive relationship they immediately stop inquiring. I don’t even have to get to the fact that I am currently not dating because the men who currently approach me are only looking to date casually.

Once I start back dating, mutual exclusivity is a minimum requirement for me to be in a romantic relationship with someone. If someone doesn’t want that then we need not waste one another’s time.

Doesn’t mean they are a bad person, but it does mean they are not the right person for me.

You have to have deal breakers. For me I have decided that if a guy says “I am not looking for a relationship right now” he is automatically disqualified from being a contender for my heart. I wish him the best of luck but it won’t be with me.

Am I suggesting that you should make someone feel like they are on a job interview when you date them?

Not at all.

But what I am asserting is that you are the CEO of your life and you have to properly vet people.

Do a background check and have a tough screening process on all applicants who are vying for a position in your life.

And also if everything seems above board but your gut tells you something is off then don’t proceed.

When it comes to your heart if it doesn’t feel right it’s because it isn’t right.

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Fear and Boundaries

image

I have a confession to make.

I am five months into my break from dating and the truth is a part of me was kind of scared that once my dating hiatus is over years will go by and I will still be single.

It isn’t so much being single that I was afraid of.

It is the story I was telling myself of what being single meant.

I had come up with this silly idea that if I was single it meant that something must be wrong with me, or worse, that other people would think something was wrong with me!!!

But that can’t be true because I know more than my fair share of people who are in relationships who without a doubt are coo coo for Cocoa Puffs.

I also didn’t want to have to conjure up an answer to the “why are you single” question.

For example when people currently ask me that question I can now honestly say it is because I am taking a break from dating.

But what will I say once the break is over?

Do I blow them off with some non answer?

Do I tell them I just haven’t found the right person?

Or do I realize that I shouldn’t take the question personally and recognize that my relationship status doesn’t define me?

I think I should go for the latter.

You see, I took a break from dating not because of some I hate dating, the opposite sex is crazy, I give up on love kind of reason.

No, this is an I clearly need to do some self-analysis, work on my self-esteem and learn some healthy relationship skills kind of break.

During this hiatus I am actively working on improving myself so that I can become and attract a high quality person.

In these past months I have become more aware of some of my opportunities for growth as well as many of my strengths.

I am also learning more about boundaries and how to set them as well as how to be secure in my insecurities.

But above all, I am learning that being single doesn’t mean that there is something inherently wrong with me.

Thankfully my self-esteem is much better today than I believe it has been in my entire life.

Do I still have work to do? – Of course!

But I love myself in a way that I never have before.

The things about myself that other people find weird or quirky I no longer try to change, rather I fully embrace them.

Thank God for improvement!

I have come quite a long way.

I now see those failed relationships as life’s way of telling me I was with the wrong man instead of viewing them as life’s way of telling me I wasn’t good enough.

Previously, I was at such a bad place that I thought I had to settle.

I didn’t trust that someone good would come into my life and therefore I had to put up with poor behavior if I wanted to have a relationship.

And to make matters worse I wanted a relationship because I thought that having a relationship would mean that I was lovable.

My thinking was so misconstrued that it hadn’t occurred to me that I could die single and it would have no bearing on my self-worth.

No logical person would hear about my death and think ‘Wow, she died single she must have been worthless’.

My desire for a relationship was coming from an unhealthy place because emotionally I was in an unhealthy space.

Ultimately I was aiming low, because I felt low.

I didn’t see myself for who I was.

While I have always had standards I think if I was truly honest whenever I was in a relationship there would come a time when something in me would be screaming you deserve better than this but my self-esteem was running on low and I didn’t have the confidence to believe that better would come. I have often stayed in bad relationships longer than was healthy out of fear that it was the best I could do.

I think that by the time I took a break from dating my self-esteem had hit empty and I was simply running on fumes.

I had to pull over and refuel.

Before refueling I recall being in such a bad place that I took someone choosing not to interact with me because of my boundaries as a signal that there was something wrong with me.

I didn’t realize that I should have simply been patting myself on the back for setting a healthy boundary and sticking to it.

 

When the gentleman I was previously interacting with saw that I was not going to budge on my boundaries he walked away.

At the time I interpreted him walking away to mean that if I kept enforcing my boundaries that men would continue to behave like he did and they would all walk away.

I made the mistake of thinking that the behavior of one man constituted the behavior of all men.

I had to remember that one man does not all men make.

I also had to understand that him walking away meant I had successfully set a boundary and when someone tried to cross it I stood firm and didn’t weaken my defenses.

He showed that he did not have the fortitude to behave in a manner that would allow us to both be comfortable. And I showed that I respected myself enough to stand alone rather than lie down and be a doormat.

This was an all around good thing.

Setting that boundary was me standing up for me. And it allowed me to find a way to keep people away who ultimately don’t mean me well.

The person for me will respect my boundaries and in turn I will respect theirs.

 

With that in mind a boundary shouldn’t be something artificially constructed.

By this I mean it shouldn’t be something you set because someone else told you that you should, but because you genuinely believe you need to put in place in order for you to be comfortable in a situation.

Having boundaries is my way of saying I love myself.

There are just somethings that I am not willing to fold on.

Unfortunately, I think that when it comes to boundaries many of us have things twisted.

At least I know I did.

I had this hope that when I set a boundary that people would change so that I could continue to interact with them on my terms.

But see that would be manipulation and I don’t believe I was put on this earth to control people.

No,boundaries are not about control. They are put in place to help us to screen people and to determine if they are good candidates to journey with us on our life’s path.

If someone doesn’t like your boundaries and they try to cross them and you say no and yet they continue to push the issue it is a red flag that you need to stand firm and dismiss them from your lives.

At no point should we allow them to cross the boundary or take them disagreeing with our boundary as a sign that we are being too firm.

As I mentioned before the boundaries I set are because I know that I don’t feel comfortable when they are crossed.

They are there for a reason and that reason is out of love for myself.

When someone disagrees with my boundaries it simply means they want different things at that particular juncture in life and that’s okay but we will have to part ways.

This is why I say you have to set boundaries specific to you.

If your friend is not willing to have sex before marriage but you don’t have an issue with it you will not be able to successfully maintain that boundary because it will be artificial and so it won’t work for you.

This is because it is your  friends standard not yours.

Search yourself and determine your deal breakers.

Boundaries have to be something that you know for yourself you are not comfortable having occur in order for you to stick to it.

Once you set boundaries you have to overcome the irrational fear that if you stick to them that you will never have what you ultimately seek.

Unfortunately, I have previously allowed my fears to cause me to allow people to cross my boundaries which resulted in me settling for relationships be they business or personal that I should have removed myself from.

You have to remove yourself from fear because I can assure you that if you live long enough your boundaries will surely be tested and if you are operating in fear you will allow people to burst your boundaries every time.

I for one have allowed people to make me uncomfortable because at the time I didn’t love myself enough to stand up for me.

I now see that when people try to get me to remove my boundaries they are simply showing me that they are not the type of people who are meant to be in my life.

Does this mean that I have times where I am alone?

You betcha!

But it is better to be alone with my boundaries intact feeling comfortable then it is to be interacting with someone who leaves me feeling uncomfortable.

 

We have to stop looking at people walking away or things ending as a sign that we should settle.

When things don’t go as planned be it the end of a relationship, the loss of a job or what you perceive to be a missed opportunity you have to trust that there is something better out there for you.

You have to believe that when things don’t work out it isn’t because life is trying to punish you, but because life has something better for you.

I’ll be honest as I think of some of the things I have done or allowed people to do to me I cringe.

I think oh my I definitely wasn’t loving myself at that time.

There was a time that whenever I reflected on the person I used to be I thought that my past made me damaged goods.

I guess I visualized myself with a sign on my forehead and T-Shirt that read “DAMAGED”. I felt that people knew my whole life story and were all laughing at how naive I was for all of my mistakes.

It never occurred that there was no sign and that we have all made mistakes and everyone of us has a past.

I have issues just like everyone else.

But my past behavior was to sit and sulk about all that is wrong with me and wonder who could ever love someone who has those issues. I truly believe I spent years lamenting about what I perceived to be my faults.

But thankfully I have reached a point in my life where I have realized that while I could definitely stand to improve myself the woman I am right now sitting here typing out this blog is completely lovable.

I do not have to change anything about myself for someone to walk into my life today and find me lovable and that even if no one does I AM STILL ABSOLUTELY LOVABLE.

It wasn’t until recently that I fully accepted the fact that the guys who didn’t want to date me be it because I am the mother of three teenagers, because they weren’t physically attracted to me, because my finances took a nose dive after my divorce or because they didn’t care for my personality were simply  not the guy for me and life has intended someone who was a better fit.

I had it wrong and I suffered because of the way I viewed the situation..

I falsely thought it meant that I wasn’t good enough for them.

Don’t be a afraid to set boundaries and to stick to them. Don’t take someone walking a way as a sign that you need to remove your boundaries. See it as a sign that they are not the person meant to be in your life. Don’t allow your fear of being alone to cause you to settle.

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Pattern Breaker

Photo Courtesy of Tara Blue

Red, Yellow, Red, Yellow, Red, Yellow, Red …..Circle, Square, Triangle, Circle, Square, Triangle, Circle, Square….

Oh don’t mind me I am just stuck in a couple of patterns.

It has been a year since I started this blog.

I have written about my journey and have become more aware of who I truly am.

Publicly sharing my path to things like self-love, self-respect, self-worth and self-awareness has made me vulnerable while simultaneously allowing me to grow by leaps and bounds.

Today, I am ready to make a new leap.

I want to delve more deeply into what is going on inside me that caused me to allow myself to be treated so poorly in my romantic relationships.

Saying that I had low self-esteem is not enough.

I have reached a point where I want to gain a better understanding of why, so that I can take active steps to change it.

I often have flashbacks of things that happened in my past and I find myself cringing as I think to myself ‘why didn’t I love myself enough to say this is not okay’ or ‘why did I allow myself to be treated like that’.

I want you to know that when I say cringe I mean I literally bawl my hands into fists, draw my shoulders in towards my chest like one does when going into the fetal position and I close my eyes as if I am bracing myself for impact.

Sometimes it will be a thought that I stored away so deeply that when it rises up I will think ‘oh my that really happened to me, I lived through that ‘.

Over the years I suppressed a lot of things.

I guess I did it as a coping mechanism to deal with what my younger mind wasn’t ready to process.

However, when the thoughts come up I sometimes get mad at my former self and am often embarrassed by my past behavior.

Then I have to remind myself that I was doing the best that I knew how to do at the time.

The one thing about working through the process of why you think the way you think is that you uncover some ugly childhood demons.

I have been aware that I have some unhealthy limiting beliefs.

But when did they start?

And more importantly why did I accept them as true?

The reason I want to explore these questions is because I want to pluck the lies out by the root and eliminate them from my life.

My limiting beliefs of unworthiness have led me to live a life that is less than what I have been called to live and to settle for poor treatment from people (especially my romantic relationship partners).

I don’t want to continue a path of settling for relationship partners who I know don’t value me. And the only way I know how to make that change is to understand my pattern so that I can break it.

I recognize that many of my issues with my romantic partners are rooted in my relationship with my father and other behaviors I learned from my childhood.

I so don’t want to be that person who has daddy issues, but right now if I am completely honest that is exactly who I am. And the only way forward is to accept where I am at.

This post is not easy for me. It involves publicly admitting my issues in a way that makes me feel ashamed of my past and furthermore, the notion of speaking unfavorably about my father is unsettling. I love both of my parents very deeply and it is uncomfortable for me to publicly cast them in what may be perceived as a negative light. My parents like everyone else have always done the best they can and they shouldn’t be frowned upon for that.

But I know that I am not the only person who grew up learning poor relationship skills and if I can help one person by sharing my story then it is worth me becoming vulnerable.

With that said, let’s start breaking some unhealthy patterns.

I haven’t had many romantic relationships but the few that I have had, have all been dysfunctional.

In my teenage years I accepted lies as truth when it comes to men.

A major start in my dysfunctional pattern started when I was 14 and my parents separated.

I was glad they separated because my home life was very stressful.

I love my dad very dearly but after he returned from the Gulf War his behavior simply became unbearable for me.

When my father moved out he made the decision that he no longer wanted to be a part of my life.

He didn’t attend any of my graduations, he wasn’t there when I got married or for the births of any of my children. There were no birthday cards and no holiday wishes.

To be honest I went from 1996 to 2014 without spending any special occasions with my father.

I probably saw him three times in that time frame and maybe spoke to him less than five. But when I did speak to him he told me he loved me very much.

When my father briefly came back in my life in 2014 it caused me to start dealing with my childhood demons in a way I hadn’t before.

But I am glad he came back because it helped me to realize just how much my interaction with the men I fell in love with mirrored the behavior of my father.

While I love my dad, I have grown to accept that the way my father shows love is not the way I want to be loved.

And yet I have engaged in a pattern where I go years without a romantic relationship only to find myself dating someone who I know from the beginning of the relationship doesn’t really care about me.

I will consciously ignore red flags.

That’s right I said consciously.

For example I will literally sit there and think ‘wow this guy is lying to me I should get away from him’ and yet I will remain sitting there hypnotized like Boo Boo the Fool and let him lie to me some more.

Everything in me will be screaming he is not treating you right and then later I will be bawling my eyeballs out acting all butt hurt because he keeps mistreating me.

To make matters worse I will tell the person that I don’t like being mistreated, but then stay there and allow them to continue.

I will say it nicely, I will go off on them, I will hint, then I pretend not to notice until finally they do something that wakes me up enough for me to realize their behavior is unacceptable.

Sadly, it took me until very recently to accept that the old adage is true – actions speak louder than words.

The guys in my life only mistreated me because I let them.

If I wanted the mistreatment to stop it was my responsibility to walk away.

Yes, they are responsible for their behavior but I am responsible for staying.

It isn’t their fault that I told myself that if I just kept showing them how much I loved them then they would realize that I deserved to be treated better.

No, that was a lie I was telling myself.

Just because they asked for another chance didn’t mean I had to give it to them.

Yet amazingly, even though it was me that was inviting myself to be mistreated by acting like a doormat, I would find myself resenting the men who walked all over me.

I would find myself angry at them for wiping their feet on me when all the time I was laying there saying please do it again.

Well, how on earth did I get to the point where I thought doormat was my name instead of Renata?

I didn’t want them to leave me like my dad did. I interpreted my dad’s decision to not want to be a part of my life to mean something was inherently wrong with me.

I believe I subconsciously thought that if I could just behave in a way that these men who behaved like my father would find acceptable then it would mean that whatever was wrong about me was made right.

I hadn’t accepted that my dad has his own issues that have nothing to do with me.

But to further explore my unhealthy thought pattern I want to look at a few lies that I believed which ultimately set me up for major relationship failure.

I believed all men cheated, that men don’t have any emotions and that all men mistreat women.

That false belief system allowed me to call dysfunctional behavior normal.
Additionally, the fact that my father said he loved me but didn’t want to be around me caused me to believe that love meant a relationship where someone’s actions didn’t match their words and where someone who loved me wouldn’t care to spend time with me, and would constantly disappoint me.

Thus, the perfect guy to fulfill the pattern of emotional unavailability that felt familiar to me was as follows:

  1. One who is not only a liar but an obvious one.
  2. A man who says one thing and does another. He never follows through and constantly lets me down. He is consistently inconsistent.
  3. A man who is unfaithful.
  4. A man who treats me poorly.
  5. A man who doesn’t show his true emotions to me.
  6. Someone who is verbally, mentally and/or emotionally abusive.
  7. One who is a poor communicator
  8. One who makes it clear that they don’t want to hear me/understand me and who laughs at or ignores my pain.
  9. Someone who takes advantage of me.
  10. One who made me a low priority and didn’t have time for me.

As pitiful as that list is, it was my truth.

I had convinced myself that all men were abusive unfaithful liars who didn’t value women or have emotions. And even once I started to realize thatthere are good men I had accepted the false belief that they wouldn’t want a relationship with someone like me.

I hear stories where people say women have nice men who they turn down for men who mistreat them, that isn’t my story.

I have never friend zoned a nice guy. The only men who approach me are the men who fit my belief system about men. I think that is a testament to how strongly my belief system is. I attract men who prove me right.

So when people say simply pick a guy who doesn’t do those things, for me it means being alone, because guys who behave otherwise do not show interest in me.

Why would they?

I don’t mean that as a put down of myself.

I mean I have been subconsciously clinging to a self-fulfilling prophecy that doesn’t allow me to attract men who run counter to my belief system.

For I have done a wonderful job of convincing myself that if the only guys that are interested in me act poorly then that is what I have to accept if I want a relationship, because better may be out there but it isn’t out there for me. Therefore, if I want a man in my life I have to accept being mistreated.

In my soul I know that isn’t true but my subconscious says it is.

That’s why my pattern has to break.

My belief system is so outrageous that I was in my early twenties before I realized men could feel. I know that sounds shocking but it’s what I thought.

That belief was so heavily ingrained that when I would see a man cry instead of recognizing it as proof that men feel I would doubt the authenticity of it.

It simply ran contrary to my belief that they couldn’t feel. When I finally accepted that men do have feelings it was such a shock to my system that I remember I called my mom on the phone to ask her if she knew that men could feel.

She laughed and said yes.

I am not sure if she even knows how big of an epiphany that was for me.

To the men reading this post, I don’t mean to offend you, I was very naive and didn’t know any better.

And to make matters worse I also thought yelling and screaming was normal. So my relationships consisted of me being mistreated, yelling and throwing a fit about it, saying I was going to leave and then staying for more mistreatment.

Yeah that was crazy I know.

Believe me my ex husband wasn’t crazy all by himself I brought my own dose of crazy to the table. (I never want to give the impression that my ex husband is some horrible person. I wasn’t the worst wife but I was far from perfect and I played a role in that marriage failing as much as he did).

And to make matters worse a few months after my divorce I repeated the pattern of allowing someone to behave badly then complaining only to stay in the relationship that caused my heartbreak.

I knew from the beginning of the relationship that the person meant me no good but somehow I felt drawn.

Every time he lied, I knew it and tolerated it.

But why?

Because I had convinced myself that all men lie.

He would tell me he was going to do something then he wouldn’t do it and that felt painfully normal.

It was all too familiar to how my father would tell me he was going to do something and not do it, so this guy’s failure to follow through was uncomfortably comfortable.

I had a false sense of normalcy because my idea of normal wasn’t healthy.

To be honest I am not confident that my problem is so much that I didn’t think good men existed as much I thought that they did’t exist for me.

I felt too unattractive to attract a man that could love me in a healthy way.

As I explained earlier the mind has a wonderful way of making itself right.

Perception truly becomes reality.

That is why I started telling myself a new story. And why it is imperative I break this pattern. I want to create a new reality because my old one no longer serves me.

I am taking a break to work on me so that if I enter another romantic relationship it won’t be about me trying to subconsciously seek my father’s love and approval from a poor relationship partner or for any other unhealthy reason.

No, when I finish my dating hiatus I want to come to the table with a healthy self-esteem, sense of self-worth and with healthy relationship skills. That way I can add to someone’s life and have room for them to add to mine.

I had previously said I was taking a year off of dating. I recently decided a year is my minimum. I will take as long as it takes for me to go from an unhealthy belief system to a healthy one.

I have to stop believing the thought that no one will want to be with someone like me or that I have to settle.

Because it isn’t true and I have to know mind, body and soul that it isn’t true.

When my gut tells me to exit or to not enter a relationship I need to listen and stop thinking that being mistreated is the best treatment I will ever receive. And when I am approached I cannot allow myself to think that he is my last chance at love.

Dating is a screening process.

From my standpoint it shouldn’t be about proving that I am good enough for him, but rather if he is someone who would be a positive compliment to my life.

No one is going to come along to save me from my childhood hurt or emotional issues. I have to take active steps to work through my pain.

And I have to be patient. Waiting for someone who values me as opposed to settling for someone who mistreats me simply has to become my new pattern.

It’s either being in a relationship and emotionally healthy or alone and emotionally healthy there is no longer room for any alternatives.

When people feel comfortable letting me down I don’t need to see that as normal but as a sign that they don’t value me and that it is time to value myself enough to leave.

I need to stop trying to teach grown men how to love me.

If they don’t know how to love that is their issue and not mine.

So today I remind myself that my dad is my dad. The men I date cannot erase my childhood hurt. I have to make peace with it and stop breaking my own heart.

I am currently reading self-help books and articles as well as listening to teaching tapes so that I can find avenues to heal my pain and stop subconsciously seeking engagement in unhealthy relationships.

I want to thank you for allowing me to share my truth with you on yet another occasion. As I previously stated this isn’t exactly easy, but it is helpful. In the meantime I hope you are able to break any unhealthy patterns in your life.

As for me my new pattern is:

red, yellow, red, yellow, red, yellow, LOVE!

 

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman Smith and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Close But No Cigar

image

Photo Courtesy of Ron Frazier

I like to travel and go to places I have yet to explore. Sometimes I will just get in my car and drive with the intent of getting lost in the hopes of finding something new. When I go on walks I like to try to go down a road I have never been on with the desire of experiencing something I had never experienced.  And in the age of GPS I have the added confidence to explore without much fear of getting lost.

There are times when I make a turn and I go down some pretty dark roads, or I enter neighborhoods that don’t seem all to safe. I have turned down some roads that caused me to take the long way round and travel further than I had intended. Then there are the moments that I have to pull out my compass because I feel completely disoriented as to whether I am traveling northbound, southbound or if I am going east or west. I have had to take unexpected detours sometimes in my quest to explore, but I have always made it back home. And each time I find something new, be it a new short cut, a new restaurant, a scene in nature that makes me enjoy the beauty of life, an interesting person, a shiny coin or the understanding that I don’t ever want to go back that way again, I always find something.

When I began my self love journey I started venturing on an unexplored route for myself. I wasn’t used to valuing myself enough to let go of toxic relationships. And the idea of consciously speaking positive about myself and breaking habits that impacted me negatively was also uncharted territory for me.

I wish I could tell you that I woke up one morning and cut off all of my toxic relationships and never looked back, but if I told you that I would be lying.

I wish I could tell you that I always eat healthy, exercise daily and take care of my body and treat it only with the utmost respect, but I would be speaking untruths.

And if my story was that I no longer put myself down, or that I refuse to engage with those who do oh how great that would be, but the truth is old habits die hard.

The path to self love is simple but it isn’t easy.

Even though my journey isn’t always easy I have to admit it has allowed me to gain some valuable tools and meet some amazing people. I have also become more self-aware. I have learned some things about myself that aren’t exactly noble character traits and I have also learned some things about myself that are wonderful attributes.

And as the GPS guides me in my car I am able to utilize the literature of amazing authors, and my access to teachings of those who have made great strides in self-love, self-respect, self-loyalty and self-worth. The work that others have done has helped me not to give up my journey.

For there are times when my journey of exploration to self love makes me feel as though perhaps I should turn back because the quest is not easy. This is all new terrain for me. And when I set standards and boundaries it meant many people who were in my life no longer wanted to engage with me – at least not on the new terms I had set.

And while I understood that the falling away of those people was a good thing, I wasn’t quite prepared for the time frame that I would endure where I wouldn’t have anyone come into my life who was willing to treat me with the love that I firmly believed that I deserved.

The scenery that surrounds me is totally different than I had envisioned. I didn’t imagine having people, situations, and things come along that would try to call me back to the way I lived my life before. I didn’t imagine the stumbling, the rocky roads, the set backs and the waiting periods. I wanted to go from A to Z without hitting upon all of the letters of the alphabet, but life doesn’t happen that way.

Despite the scenery being different than I had envisioned I knew in my soul I was on the right path. Yet despite my knowing, the void that the lack of even a prospect for a healthy romantic relationship made me wonder if I had set my standards too high. I started to wonder if maybe I should settle because no one was willing to offer me the kind of love that I wanted. I began to wonder if perhaps a relationship with mutual love, care and respect wasn’t attainable for me.

It is just something about having to turn down poor relationship offers (that mean interacting with someone on their terms while my need to be treated with love and respect goes unmet) and simultaneously having long times between the substandard offers that left me wondering if there was anyone out there who was actually looking for the kind of relationship that I was looking for. I had sincerely entertained the thought of just going back to what was familiar because the road to something better simply wasn’t yielding results in the time frame or way that I thought it should.

The road of something familiar consisted of emotional unavailability, disrespect, being devalued and mistreated but I knew how that road went. I knew all of its intricate details. This whole self love path felt nice but it wasn’t familiar.

Despite it’s unfamiliarity I had become acclimated to the concept of not accepting romantic relationship offers that didn’t consist of love, honesty, care, respect, and exclusivity. Pat on the back for me for not being willing to engage in anything less. I was patting a way just fine until life showed me a path that had what I perceived to be several of those attributes.

You see recently I had the opportunity to enter a path that taught me that turning away someone who appears to be everything you want with the exception that their terms for a relationship don’t match yours isn’t as easy as turning away someone who is clearly uncouth.

When life presented me with someone who seemed to have all the characteristics that I was looking for in a relationship partner with the exception that he didn’t want to be in a serious relationship like I desired it really made me question if perhaps I should yield to the left instead of going straight because the road momentarily seemed like it could possibly lead to something great.

But despite my loneliness, I couldn’t yield to the left nor could I bear to the right, not when I knew in my soul that what I wanted was straight ahead. I couldn’t deviate from the path. Not when I knew that deviating from my path would ultimately lead to where I had came from – a place of self hate and a lack of self respect.

The man was not offering me what I wanted so I had to move forward without him. It wasn’t an easy decision because old me was used to settling for poor relationship partners who I knew were not my best fit, so I had to die to self in that respect.

And also I had to reexamine my thought of ‘I like this person’. When we first meet people they are often are putting their best foot forward. It takes time to truly get to know a person and the truth is I did not know him.

I liked what I saw of him, but I didn’t know him.

But what I did know was there was a huge red flag waving in my face saying he wanted something casual whereas I wanted something serious. That red flag was bright enough to shine light on the path ahead and let me see that he couldn’t possibly be the person that I needed to be journeying with because he was not offering me the kind of relationship that met my standard. The path a relationship with him would have brought me was really a U-TURN to where I had left and I am about forward movement.

So he wasn’t the one.

I thanked him for his honesty regarding what he ultimately wanted out of a relationship with me, but the truth is I was a bit upset that life even presented me with that path.

I thought what was the point in having me interact with someone, get my hopes up only to have him turn out not to be looking for what I am looking for.

You see I just wanted to either meet a guy I could have a relationship with or just be left alone.

Life doesn’t work that way.

I needed to meet him. He was one of the best things that has happened to me.

He showed me that I am shedding away the layers of my old self and making progress.

He confirmed that I truly am serious about wanting healthier relationships.

He helped me to raise my standards because even though we were not looking for the same kind of relationship he treated me very well during our courting process. I now have a higher minimum level of treatment that I am willing to accept because he raised the bar.

He helped me to expand my vision for what is attainable for me. He had positive character traits that I had not previously encountered. And he showed me that there were better relationship partners out there than what I had imagined.

The fact that he and I wanted different things out of a relationship simply means we are not a match. It doesn’t mean he is a bad person or that I am better than him, it simply means that he isn’t the one for me.

Him not wanting a serious relationship with me simply means just that. It doesn’t mean that something is wrong with me and it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with him. It just means we want different things out of a relationship and therefore are not a match.

And as I travel on my journey I find people, places and things that aren’t a match for my best self. There were the jobs that I thought I would like to have that didn’t quite fit my personality. There were the places I moved to that I didn’t thrive in. And there were the people I hung out with that brought out the worst in me. I learned from them but it is best that I don’t continue done the road with them. In the same way that I can’t stay with people, places, situations and things that are obviously not healthy for me, I can’t let what looks eerily similar to what I want cause me to stray from my ultimate goal.

And my ultimate goal is to be my best self.

On a deeper level I think that relationship opportunity was a test from life. I think life wanted to know if I really wanted the kind of relationship that I talk, write and dream about or if I would settle for something that is close but no cigar. 

You have to know what you want and not settle for less!

It can seem like you are never going to get to anywhere. But that is when you fall back on the teachings of the wise, increase your faith, set your face like flint and dare to believe that your dream of a better you is no fantasy.

I had to reach a place where I understood that if I stay single until my dying day that it doesn’t mean that I am unloved or that I don’t have value. I had to recognize that my love for me means that while I may be physically alone I am not spiritually lonely.

His desire not to have the type of relationship I wanted didn’t mean anything was wrong with me. Alternatively, it simply meant that at this juncture in my life that he was not right for me.

Old me would have tried to fit a square peg into a round hole in an attempt to find a way to make the relationship work. I would have thought maybe if I stuck it out long enough he might come around to my way of thinking. Indeed he would have been perfect for old me. The old me who was used to having someone not give me what I need out of a relationship and who felt the need to be validated by a man would have been the perfect relationship partner for someone who wasn’t interested in a serious relationship.

But new me recognized that God has something better in store for me. New me understood that I do not need external validation in order to feel lovable.

My self-love journey has never been about finding a relationship partner who could love me to wholeness. For I had ventured down that path more than once before and found it to be fruitless time and time again. No my self-love journey is about loving myself for who I am.

And so I sent him love, bid him adieu and got back on track.

I have to believe that even if it turns out that no one is out there who will meet my standards and who will respect my boundaries than that it is better to journey alone than to go down a road that I know will lead to heart ache and pain. I have traveled down roads of putting me last. I have ventured the way of doing what makes others happy in the hopes that one day maybe they just might return the favor.  And I have purposed in my heart that I will not consciously go down those roads again.

So I travel alone without a romantic relationship partner, but I am not lonely because I have learned that I will always have me.

Love yourself enough to know that just because a relationship doesn’t work out the way you had hoped it doesn’t mean that you are unlovable. Don’t settle for less than what you know in your heart you deserve. Believe that you are valuable and that you are worthy because it is true. Even when things seem dark and lonely and you feel like turning back to the path that seems more familiar I urge you to keep the faith and continue traveling on the road to your best self.

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

You’ve Got To Set Some Boundaries!

Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Cave

Photo Courtesy of:  Stephanie Cave

My classmate from middle and high school had come over to my home for a visit and we were discussing relationships. I was explaining to her how I was struggling with putting what I know to be true into practice when it comes to the area of romantic relationships.

I could give others sound relationship advice but for some reason there was a disconnect in applying it in my own life. I simply could not figure out how I knew what I should be doing but I had no idea how to do it.

She told me what I knew to be true, she said –

“You’ve got to set some boundaries.”

I remember quickly replying “I know… but how?”.

I further explained to her that my dilemma was that while I know I should have boundaries for some reason once I finally opened my heart to a person I would have a hard time sticking to the boundaries. Which ultimately meant I didn’t have any.

She and I had some further discussion, shared thoughts, ideas, stories, food and laughs and then she left, but thankfully – her words didn’t.

I talk and write extensively about standards and boundaries, but for some reason when it comes to romantic relationships I often exercised a weak no towards a man who becomes my object of affection. I was totally aware of this weakness and had been for quite some time.

I was fully cognizant of how actions like being a people pleaser, engaging in over giving, seeking external validation, having a lack of boundaries, possessing low standards, acting out of a fear of abandonment and a fear of rejection were all things that can result in attracting poor relationship partners. And yet I was plagued by each and every one of them.

I often give advice to others in these areas and speak to my friends and family about the dangers of having low self-worth, a lack of self-love and possessing low self-esteem. I am able to give people suggestions on how to improve in those areas and many of them are able to take my advance and make positive adjustments in their life.

But for some reason, while I was improving in those areas I was still riddled by them. In my own life the improvements in those areas were moving at a snail’s pace.  It was very frustrating to know what was wrong with an area of my life but not be consciously aware of how to fix it.

I felt stuck.

I knew the problem, but could not determine how to deploy a plan of action in my own life!

Sadly, I was still allowing myself to be a doormat and for the life of me I could not figure out how to get off the floor!

I was very emotionally vulnerable and while I knew better mentally – emotionally I was a wreck!

It is my firm belief that my failure to be true to myself wasn’t just showing up within my romantic life. In all honesty I was going through turmoil in almost every area of my life and I was desperately clinging for a sense of normalcy. I wanted better for myself, I wanted the chaos that was surrounding me to ease. And I knew that it all started with me. I had to work through the chaos within myself.

But how?

After much reflection, I have come to the conclusion of why I had a weak no. I had a weak no because I didn’t really see my worth and value.

The reason I could encourage others to see their worth and value and not myself was because I thought that everyone was valuable – well, everyone except for me.

Understand that I knew I was valuable, but I did not believe I was valuable, therefore I did not feel valuable. I could not act upon what I did not believe or feel to be true, even though deep down I knew better.

Understand you can know something in your spirit but not believe it in your mind and then you will feel such away about it, that your body will act contrary to what you know to be true. 

I am not really sure where it started but somewhere inside of myself I decided that I had to take scraps from the men I cared about because I wasn’t worthy of more. I remember at one point my self-esteem was so ridiculously low that I actually thought I was too ugly and too much of a burden for any man to ever want to be with me. I would try to push men away because of this.

However, I erroneously believed that if a guy was crazy enough to like someone as insignificant as me and I felt attracted to him then I had to do practically anything to keep the relationship before he realized how worthless I was and left.

And yet simultaneously I possessed such a strong fear of rejection that at slightest hint that he might be thinking negatively of me I would try to leave him before he could leave me.

I was living in a mess of emotions dictated by my own internal thoughts.

One major experience that pointed my thought process in that direction happened back when I was 15.  My parents separated and my dad decided that he no longer wanted to be a part of my life. I remember thinking, my dad has known me for 15 years and he doesn’t want to know me any more. I thought who could be better at making a judgment call of my value to men than my father – the male blood relative, who helped create me and who was one of my house mates of 15 years. If my own father doesn’t want to know me why on earth would anyone else?

In my warped 15 year old mind the seed was planted that if my own father doesn’t want to spend time with me, attend my graduation, walk me down the aisle, be there for the birth of my children, for holidays and to support me emotionally then why on earth would any other man?

My 15 year old mind had made a false assessment and I carried it for 18 years. 18 years is the length of time it takes to become considered an adult in American society. Interestingly enough, that thought become a full grown adult concept in my mind by the time I really began to gain clarity on the weight of its destruction.

My assessment that my father would be a good judge of my worth was a major fallacy in my line of thinking. I define my self-worth, self-value, self-love, self-respect, not my father! I set the standard. My vessel was intricately designed by our Divine Creator God, I am fearfully and wonderfully made! My worth and my value cannot be gauged by my earthly father, because my Heavenly Father has already determined my worth and He has already spoken who I am and His word shall not return void.

I had to cast down the false premise that there was a direct correlation between my father not wanting to spend time with me and other men not wanting to.

I reached a point where I started to believe no man would want to be with me – and it came to pass.

I thought I wasn’t valuable – and no man saw my value.

I thought I was worthless – and that is exactly how I was treated.

For, I started living a self-fulfilling prophecy based on that belief.

I became pregnant at 15 to a guy who couldn’t care less about me if he tried. I met a man who was to become my husband at 16 and we were married from the time I was 18 until I was 32. Ironically my interaction with my ex husband lasted about as long as the one with my father.

My ex husband was as emotionally damaged as I was, and in time he grew to not want to spend time with me either.

I later developed romantic feelings for someone after my divorce, who really didn’t care anything about me and made that perfectly clear through his actions.

When men would show me attention, I would pull away and put up walls. The walls went up out of fear of rejection and out of fear of abandonment. But the truth is, I desperately wanted a man to love me enough to tear them down.

It wasn’t until I really sat down and did some deep self-analysis that I came to realize I had to be the one to tear my own walls down. For it was I alone who built the wall up, brick by brick.

I was so afraid that no man would ever love me, so much so that when I did finally develop feelings for someone after my marriage ended, I came into the interaction with such low expectations for how I should be treated that all I was, was mistreated.

I didn’t ask for much and he gave me less than that. I loved him and it went unrequited. I could know he was lying and I was so hungry for affection that I would do mental summersaults to convince myself that what I knew to be a lie was true. Just so I could say my object of affection loved me.

I knew he did not love me, but I didn’t want to accept that I could be so emotionally invested in an individual who could take me or leave me – and who for that matter would much prefer leaving me.

How on earth was I in love with someone who didn’t love me? I had put up the walls! I had rejected the advances of men as hard as I knew how. But there I was in love with someone who treated me like trash.

I was so ashamed but I was drawn to the hurt. It felt painfully familiar having a man not want to spend time with me and so I felt comfortably uncomfortable in that awkward pattern of behavior.

I was behaving pitifully and it had to stop.

Thankfully God allowed some amazing things to happen to help me to break through from my pain. For one thing He allowed my father who left me when I was 15 to return back into my physical presence on my 33rd birthday. God allowed things to play out in such a way that the gift my mother purchased for my birthday did not arrive in time. Therefore, the only gift I received on my actual birthday came from my father. He gave me a gift of $100, bought me a cake, card and a balloon and sang happy birthday to me.

That day was bittersweet – sweet because after 18 years my dad came to spend time with me, bitter because I saw how hard life had been on my father. No matter what my dad had done, I only wanted well for him. My father loves me the best he knows how.

You see, I had already decided at 17 to forgive my dad for leaving me. Shortly, after I graduated from high school I sent him a letter explaining how his decision had hurt me, how I wanted him in my life, how I loved him, how I missed him and how I forgave him. He never replied to the letter – it was simply cathartic. I knew that my father’s decision to leave my life was not normal behavior and I decided he didn’t know how to do better and I took the steps to let it go.

Nevertheless, his visit on my 33rd birthday was a crucial step in my healing process. I thank God for it. Because overtime it helped me to grow to realize there is a huge difference in me loving my father who is emotionally unavailable and me romantically loving men who treat me badly and are emotionally unavailable.

For those men or those men, and my father is my father. Thankfully, I got that clear!

I respect my father deeply, however I do not allow my father to act up in my life and so I have decided that I will not find it acceptable to consciously interact with or expense my energy on anyone who feels comfortable demeaning and devaluing me while I lay down like a doormat for them to dish out the abuse.

So now I know how to have a standard for the treatment that I deem acceptable for my life. I learned the root of what was preventing me from setting boundaries. I had to fully accept that I am worthy of having boundaries.

Much to my chagrin I feel compelled to confess that my self-esteem was so low that I actually thought I deserved to have men mistreat me. I rarely interacted with men because I associated men with rejection and pain.

I expected men to do what my father did, get to know me and leave. So I didn’t want to open up to a man. And after my divorce when I did finally allow a guy to get to know me, he didn’t care to know me any further.

He didn’t want to spend time with me, because he didn’t see me as worth his time. Mentally I knew I deserved better than what I was accepting, but emotionally I still had all that childhood hurt that I needed to work through and the pain felt normal.

Some would argue pick better men. However, the truth is it wasn’t really about the character of the men I was attracting and allowing into my life.  Because if I am completely honest, my truth is that I held such a negative thought process about myself and about men that my self- fulfilling prophecy that men who got to know me for who I was would decide to leave me ultimately caused me to behave in such a way that a man of any caliber would have no other choice but to leave because I have determined that prophecy had no other destiny but to be fulfilled.

Clearly, work would have to be done before I would be emotionally ready to engage in a healthy romantic relationship.

So I am doing the work it takes to free myself from that horrible mentality and thought process that I had been engaging in.

I will take the advice I give to others, I will enter relationships with expectations of how I should be treated and if a man is not willing to meet or exceed those expectations than there is no need for me to further interact with him. I will set standards and create boundaries and demand they be met before I allow myself to emotionally invest in people. I will not need walls around myself because I will have a gate to my heart and I will be the gatekeeper. I will show men that there is a criteria that someone must meet for them to possess the key to my heart. I will require reciprocity because I know and believe that I am truly worthy of it.

When in a relationship I will be free to give 100% of myself and I will give good love. I will feel comfortable letting someone know me. I will act out of love and not fear. I will feel completely comfortable doing these things because the person that I interact with will do those things with me because that will be his true desire. Reciprocity is a new standard of treatment that must be met. And I will do whatever it takes to no longer feel comfortable being or for that matter wanting to be in the company of a man who doesn’t care to be around me.

If someone doesn’t believe that I am worth the effort to treat me with love, care, trust and respect then clearly that someone is not worth my time. This is not just something for me to say, this is something for me to believe.

And it doesn’t mean they are a bad person but it does mean they are not the person for me.

The reason I was unable to set standards and boundaries was because I thought being in a romantic relationship automatically included disrespect. I had a fear of falling in love because I thought the men I love, would come to know me and leave me.  My thought processes about men caused me to attract the worst behavior in men. Thinking that no man would want me and that the woman I am made me unworthy of a man’s time was the ultimate set up for romantic relationship failure.

I don’t know your story, but if you are allowing anyone to mistreat you like I did, please love yourself enough to do the work it takes to figure out what is broken on the inside of you to where you find abuse acceptable.

Renata Nicole

© Renata Pittman, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Just Say No!

Photo Courtesy of Linda Pittman

Photo Courtesy of Linda Pittman

I was lying in bed mentally preparing myself for my day when I received a phone call.

On the other end of the phone was someone who called to ask me if I wanted to accept a particular work assignment.

I asked them what it entailed and after they explained it to me, I said “no”. They said, “I understand, and for future reference under what conditions would you be willing to do what I had requested?” I then explained to them what conditions I would be willing to do the job and hung up the phone.

After I completed the phone call I smiled gently. I smiled because I knew I had grown in a huge area where I previously experienced great weakness.

I said no because the volume of work requested would have cost me more to do the job than what I would have earned. And it was not my desire to over give.

I said no, and I said it without feeling bad.

There was most certainly a time in my past when that phone call would have went an entirely different way. I would have said yes even though I didn’t want to. And even if I had said no, I would have tried to explain why and I would have felt very guilty for saying it.

I was such a yes person that if someone asked me if I would do them a favor, I would automatically without hesitation say “sure” before even knowing what the favor was.

I had huge self-esteem issues that led me to be big on people pleasing. I wanted people to like me and I wanted them to be happy with me so I would say yes in the hopes that they would be pleased with me. Additionally, one of the reasons why I was such a huge yes person was because I didn’t have many boundaries. As I started to say no, I began to set boundaries and I am much happier since doing so.

I now recognize how unhealthy people pleasing really is and I now say no to doing things that don’t please me, as evidenced by my phone call.

Since I have started saying no, I have not had people leave my life in mass exodus like I had imagined. For whatever reason, I thought if I told people no I wouldn’t have anyone around. But that was based on a false premise where I was making some pretty negative assumptions about the people in my life. I was under the false assumption that people were only in my life for what I could do for them.

That false assessment was not an accurate reflection of the people in my life but rather a reflection of how little I valued myself. My value of myself was so low I couldn’t fathom anyone else valuing me for who I really was, especially since I didn’t like who I really was.

It occurred to me that I had made all of these assumptions and yet I never had given them a chance to show me what would happen if I said no. I just assumed the worse of them.

So, one day I mustered up the courage to say no. I will never forget it.

I was in my office and my friend came by and asked if I wanted to go to lunch with her.

I said, “no” and it startled her probably as much as it did me.

You see, I really liked going to lunch with her. But that day I had a personal errand I needed to run. Unbeknownst to her for quite some time I had been putting off doing things I really needed to do and going to lunch with her instead. After I said no, she paused and let out a slow oooookaaaaayyyyy.

I smiled shyly and said, I have to run errands today but I would love to do it tomorrow.

She cheerfully said “oh, okay” and walked away.

I thought, ‘why hadn’t I done that sooner’.

So, I tried it again in different situations and now I have begun telling people no without much afore- or afterthought.

I am starting to do what I want to and say no to what I don’t want to do and most of the times my noes are starting to come out with me feeling no guilt. I hope to one day achieve guiltless noes and I am doing the self work to get there.

It is never about trying to be mean it is about the fact that I have made a decision to no longer purposely do things that I truly don’t want to in an attempt to please others. Especially when I have been given the opportunity to decide whether or not I would like to do it.

My noes have caused some people to get mad at me. Not very many, but some.

They would ask me if I would like to do something and I would say no, and then they would become very upset with me.

However, I recognize I have to stand firm in my “no-ness” <—- (yes I made that word up, but you know what it means).

A person should be able to say no to doing something they do not want to do especially when they were specifically asked if they would like to do it. I have had a very minute number of people leave me over my “no-ness”. And that is okay because those people were not really for me to begin with.

Furthermore, I have witnessed some people’s negative reaction to my “no-ness and I have in turn left them.

But I can lay my head down and rest easy because I was true to myself. I didn’t do anything that I regret, I didn’t over commit myself, I didn’t over-invest, I didn’t give energy I did not want to expend. I did what my heart, mind, body and soul wanted to do.

As I say no it helps me to ensure the people who are a part of my life are there for the real me. Not some me that I pretend to be in an attempt to keep them around.

I have also noticed that since I went on my personal “just say no campaign” and begun to spread the “Power of No” in my full “no,ness” I have found that I have more people in my life who are giving me positive energy, loving the me who I am and who are simply around for my company than what I had in the past.

To think, I said all those yeses and was struggling when I could have been spreading out noes and relaxing!

Don’t lie to other people and definitely don’t lie to yourself.

If you don’t want to do something tell them no. Why lie and say you want to help them move, when you know you feel like you’re coming down with the flu?

Tell the truth, tell your truth.

If they really care for you, they wouldn’t want you to do something that you genuinely don’t want to do.

If you knew someone you cared about was doing something for you that was causing them to go without sleep, not be able to pay their bills, miss out on something important to them, or made them feel uncomfortable most of you would not want the person to do it. Because you genuinely care about them and you don’t want them to suffer for you.

Well, you have to love you that much. If you wouldn’t want someone else to suffer for you, why in the world do you want yourself to suffer? Why would you value the comfort of someone else more than your own?

Stop running yourself ragged for people, over giving, over sacrificing and overdoing!

Stop pretending to be someone you aren’t and life will get easier.

Will some people get mad at you when you say no?

– Sure

But you will find that when it comes to those types of people you will never be able to please them. Because people who don’t care if you are doing something that makes you unhappy for their benefit will have no problem asking you to do more.

So don’t worry about those people.

Put your first concern in your own well-being. As you hold yourself in a higher regard the people around you will as well.

Additionally, I think you will find what I did. The people who stayed genuinely loved me for the me I was, not the things I did for them through acts of service.

As you do the work of loving you, you will also find yourself not feeling guilty when others choose to throw a temper tantrum and roll on the floor while you exercise your no-ness.

Just say no!

Say no to anyone or anything your gut tells you to say no to.

Say no to anything that you genuinely have no desire to do.

Say no to anything that goes against your core values.

Say no to anything that deprives self.

I am still working on me and I want you to love yourself enough to work on you.

Renata Nicole

“You have a right to say no. Most of us have very weak and flaccid ‘no’ muscles. We feel guilty for saying no. We get ostracized and challenged for saying no, so we forget it’s our choice. Your ‘no’ muscle has to be built up to get to a place where you can say, ‘I don’t care if that’s what you want. I don’t want that. No.” – Iyanla Vanzant
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/i/iyanlavanz519952.html#GDiqkiOftZ0wGoCB.99

© Renata Pittman and RenataNicole, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.