“When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”


Lately I’ve been running across Oprah Winfrey’s “Life Class” series on the OWN network and it’s all kind of been a necessary, albeit sometimes painful, opportunity to get my head straight. I don’t think there’s any coincidence that the “lessons” I’ve seen directly apply to my current situations.

I’ve told you all before I believe God speaks to us in three ways: a whisper, a “coincidence” and a brick.

The whisper is that moment when you hear something you think, “Hum, that’s interesting. Maybe that applies to me and/or my situation.” This is usually fleeting and easily ignored.

The next time the same message hits you it comes by way of “coincidence.” Now, I don’t believe in coincidence – I think that everything happens for a reason. But I call this the “coincidence” because it’s the thing that reminds you of the whisper and you think to yourself, “Isn’t that a coincidence I’m hearing this same message again…”

Hint: No, it’s not.

The NEXT time God tries to get your attention he lobs at you what I call a “brick.” This is the thing that drives the original message home in an undeniable way. There’s no longer any question at all this message is meant for you, and you better start paying attention.

Needless to say, I’ve had to wear a virtual hardhat in order to watch these life classes. One lesson in particular has really resonated with me, so much so I’ve been working on this blog since Halloween. That quote in the title comes from Maya Angelou. I originally heard this message many, many years and thought that I “got” it when I heard it. I mean, it’s such a simple message based on common sense. How could we NOT do that automatically?

Unfortunately it’s one of those messages it takes a little while to drive home because I’ve keep falling prey to the classic Girly Dilemma of hanging onto relationships even when red flags are going up all over the place. I fill in the blanks of dysfunctional relationships with what I want to be there, rather than the blunt truth: it ain’t workin’.

I do that with girls. I do that with boys. I do it with family and with friends. I’m so focused on the “potential” of a relationship I never really bother to look at the big gaping holes that indicate there really isn’t one. At least not one that uplifts my life in any way.

If I’m going to declare that this new year is one that refuses excuses, not only can I not make them for myself I can’t justify making them for others either. I can understand what motivates someone to behave like an ass without accepting the ass-like behavior.

Simply put for the people closest to me these rules are non-negotiable. So why would I add to my life anything or anyone who isn’t up to snuff?

We women are eternally hopeful when it comes to our relationships. We will hang onto substandard relationships on the basis of the “potential” of happiness, even when the other person (most typically a guy) has never indicated in any way whatsoever he wants to, is willing to or even capable of change.

In fact, they may actually be doing the opposite: they will purposely (and sometimes passive-aggressively) put us in our place by continuing behavior patterns they know are hurtful.

So in other words, if you have a man (boy) in your life who deliberately hurts you to prove his point, he’s showing you who he is.

Believe him.

But it goes even further than that. You don’t have to be in love with or actually be IN the relationship to figure these things out for yourself. If you know a man (boy) who is hurting OTHER women but being nice to YOU, he’s still showing you who he is and it’s not good. Disrespect to one woman is disrespect to ALL women… don’t for one moment think that there won’t be a day when you’ll be on the receiving end of that behavior no matter how much he’s charming you out of your boots now.

But sadly this is another common trap women fall into. For some reason I cannot fathom, women will turn on their own gender and HELP these men (boys) do their dirty deeds because they somehow think that his being nice to them demonstrates he loves them more.

As much as men (boys) need to “collect” women, women (girls) want to be collected as top prize. They care as little about the people that get hurt as user men (boys) do because for some reason by “winning” (i.e. getting a the booby prize of a user) it means they’re worth more than the people who get ground under foot.

No. They’re just not done with you yet. By using you to hurt someone else they’re showing you that they’re a selfish ass. The only reason they hang onto you is because they still get something out of it, and it isn’t “love.” These guys don’t know how to love. If they don’t have enough respect for women to work out their problems in a mature, emotionally responsible way, they aren’t willing to be self-sacrificing enough to let themselves love whether it’s you or anyone else. They’re using you now, and odds are great that one day they’ll use someone new to do the same to you.

The day is coming, it’s almost a mathematical certainty. You reap what you sow. A leopard never changes his spots. You get what you give. All the cliches apply. And no woman is going to have much sympathy for you when you’re on the receiving end of this behavior. Your own disrespectful actions are going to boomerang back at your selfish ass.

You’ve shown us who YOU are. And we believe you.

I tell my kids all the time I don’t believe what people tell me. I believe what people show me. Talk is cheap, or so they say. And maybe, just maybe, these people actually believe they are NOT what they demonstrate through their actions. Maybe… just maybe… they’re simply trying to live their lives and are blissfully ignorant of the pain and misery they spread with their thoughtless, self-serving behavior.

In which they’re fooling themselves as much as they fool others.

Whether it’s part of my personality, a byproduct of being a Scorpio or just a defense mechanism I’ve honed after years and years of mistreatment (or all the above,) I am an over-analytical person who is ever watchful if someone is matching their behavior with their words. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. And most of the time it saves me quite a bit of heartache because I can spot a douche bag a mile away.

I don’t even really have to meet them first.

Back when I first got together with Steven we worked at a retail shop called the Game Keeper. It was a fun environment with young workers, one in particular was a little heavier, insecure girl we’ll call Susan. One day when we were staying late closing up shop and just chit chatting while we did our duties she mentioned something about her haircut and how her boyfriend – we’ll call Satan – didn’t allow her to cut her hair because he liked her hair a certain way.

Red flag.

I told her that she should be able to wear her hair however way she wanted to since it was, you know, her hair.

She then told me that he kept pictures of Britney Spears on his computer and would make disparaging comments to Susan about her appearance, i.e. her weight.

All these little comments said completely in passing as a friendly confidence stuck in my head and I told Steven that the guy was a douche and emotionally abusive.

I got a ten minute lecture on how he didn’t think it was fair to judge someone before I ever met the guy, and so I said fine… we’ll meet him.

We spent that New Year’s Eve with her and Satan and within the first few minutes of meeting him I knew my instincts – which are usually flawless – were right on target. By New Year’s Day Satan and I even went a few rounds on feminism, and I got an apology from Steven who said he’d never doubt me or my instincts again.

Needless to say I don’t give away my trust easily. If I do and I find out it was misplaced (or rather, I was fooled into thinking someone was something other than what I believed) then I get really REALLY upset. It feels like a lie, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand is being lied to.

Lying to someone about who you are or what you do takes them out of the relationship. It doesn’t give them a fair shot to say, “Hey… I didn’t sign up for this. Thanks, but… no.”

That’s why I can’t stand cheaters. I’d much rather be told an uncomfortable or painful truth than a ceaseless string of pretty, sweet but ultimately useless lies.

I’m funny that way.

Yet oddly, when I have invested my own heart into people I not only NOT believe what I’m being shown – I MAKE EXCUSES for these people to justify their doing what they’re doing. It’s part of a self-deprecating pattern I’ve followed my whole life thinking I had to earn the right to be loved by being the “good” girl… the “nice” girl… the one who never asked for anything but gave it all willingly. You know the one, who would never make any waves even if she was drowning. I needed the approval of those I want to love me, so I never really challenged the mistreatment. Instead I’m sympathetic, I’m forgiving – I go out of my way to justify why someone I felt was worthy of my time and attention could thoughtlessly discard or use me.

In the end I’m just a fool. Looking back I clearly see these people never promised to be anything other than what they are… my disillusionment is my own. And I really have no one else to blame.

In the past couple of years I’ve run afoul of those who would use me for their own purposes and then toss me and my feelings aside when they got what they wanted out of me. I’ve had people talk behind my back to other friends and call me names but tell me they love me right to my face. I tried to play peacemaker for the greater good but my feelings mean something.

If someone is going to treat me like I’m disposable that’s because they think I am. There’s no excuse to justify it. It doesn’t matter what kind of trauma they went through as a kid or how they were abused by a significant other…I’m only as good as my last favor, but when it comes time to repay any kindnesses I get put dead last on the list. Hurt people may hurt people but good people don’t make you feel like it’s your fault.

So the excuses have to end. I’ve got too much I gotta do and I need a team behind me that cares about my success and invests themselves in my journey. I’m tired of casting my pearls before swine, allowing the neglect of inconsiderate people determine my (lack of) self-worth.

There is one condition to love: abide by the rules of love. This means you gladly give when you get and you don’t treat people like they’re disposable. If you want to be my friend you will show me you’re worthy of the title.

My doormat days are over.

And you can believe that.

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One thought on ““When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

  1. I thank you for this message.
    Yes, I too have learned this message, time and time again, with the men in my life.
    I keep thinking I have keener senses and have developed a greater sense of self-worth and awareness, until I am (again) in the same situation, different circumstances.
    I tend to blame others for their mistreatment of me, without accepting my role in allowing it.
    I also make excuses for their behavior, and sugar-coat it, to prevent accepting that it is time to
    do something against/about it.
    I am realizing that I view my value through their view of me.
    That “good girl” you speak of is me. Of course, until they do not reciprocate accordingly, and then loathing them (and me) begins, and I am the “bad” girl, now undeserving of their love.
    Funny, as I write this I realize that I work too hard to try to “earn” their “love” and lose it in a moment’s notice, when “I” (yes, ironically “I”) don’t meet their standards.
    Usually, by then I don’t even respect them, which only screams louder how I must feel about
    myself.
    I am learning how I developed these feelings of unworthiness, in hopes of reprogramming me, and my thought process. Clearly, I am at the root of allowing this mistreatment of me, because I keep allowing the same offense, albeit by different aggressor.

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