Give me one reason to stay here…

…and I’ll turn right back around. So goes the Tracy Chapman song. She’s been jilted, maybe cheated on, walked on, treated badly by her lover. We don’t know exactly what happened, but we do know that she’s tired of going through the same motions of feeling loved, then pushed aside. She wants a reason to stay — needs a reason to stay — or she’ll leave forever.

What are the reasons we stay? What does someone say, may it be a friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, neglectful family member, whomever, that make us stay and give them another chance? When do we reach our limit? What if one reason isn’t enough anymore and we need more?

Over the years I’ve thought about what makes me give in to relationships (be they romantic, platonic, or genetic) and give it one more shot. What words have been spoken, promises made, gestures shown, to make me turn around and come back and see if things get better? Perhaps it was an apology, perhaps it was the “but they’re such a good person” feeling, or the guilt creeping in, making me feel like I’m the bad person for wanting out. Sometimes I don’t know the reason, but I go back anyway…only to be disappointed again.

But none of the reasons have been worth it. That’s the whole point of the song, right? “I told you that I love you, and there ain’t no more to say.” If only it were that simple — we could just say I love you and things would get better. That the people hurting us, whether they realize it or not, intend to or not, would just magically fix things and we go skipping off into the sunset together. But the reality is that the reasons often don’t come through, and we’re left shaking our heads, turning away in disappointment, and wondering what could have been.

And for me…it’s often still not enough. I still want to fix it. I still want to be the one that makes it better, to figure out what’s wrong, why things aren’t working. It could be the meanest person in the world, and I’m the one wanting to make them nicer, wanting to know how I can be better for them.

I’ve worked hard in the last few years to realize that it can’t always be me, and it often shouldn’t be. That sometimes, there’s nothing I can fix, nothing I can make better, and hardest of all to hear — no reason for me to stay. Because staying will only make it worse, and staying won’t make me happier. So sometimes, it’s stopping and saying, hey, you asked for a reason to stay, and you didn’t get one…so it’s time to turn around — and not come back.

How do you know when that time is? We often don’t know, at least not right away. I’m famous for trying one more time, waiting a bit longer, and hoping someone will realize they’re messing up. It’s tiring, yet I’m that person still. Maybe because I have hope. Maybe because I’m a fool. In the end though, it’s as simple as remembering that I deserve better. And because I deserve better, and you deserve better, I ask for one reason I should stay — and if there is no answer, then I turn around. Because someone else down the road will have a reason, perhaps many reasons, that I should stay, and love them and be loved.

Remind yourself what you deserve

You deserve better
Photo credit: spuddybuddies.com

When we are feeling rejected by someone or something, it’s easy to get down on ourselves and come up with all the reasons why it happened to us. It’s easy to try to rationalize someone else’s actions or decisions or find ways to defend them, even if they hurt us. It’s also common for us to settle for something less than great because we just want to feel accepted or appreciated, no matter the costs.

But we deserve better. You deserve better. I deserve better.

Think about it: a friend isn’t exactly being a good friend – they never call you back, they always have an excuse, maybe they failed to recognize some major moments in your life lately. You say, “Well, but they’re busy,” or “But they usually are a good friend.” Or perhaps you went on a few dates with someone, and started to get interested, and then they lie about something, or lead you on to think it’s something more. “Well, but they’re a nice guy/girl,” or “I should have known better.” Maybe a family member has continued to let you down over the years, but because they’re family, you let it slide.

We shouldn’t let it slide, anymore. What happened to honesty being the best policy? What happened to our friends being that – good friends? What about family who is supposed to be there for you instead of against you?

It’s in my blood to want closure when things don’t work out with people in my life, whether it’s friends, boyfriends, family members, or even coworkers. I want to get it all on the table, I want apologies said where necessary, I want to hug or shake hands and be able to move on. I hate just letting things go without clearing the air, but because of that, I also tend to give people a lot of second and third, maybe fourth and fifth chances. There are some people in my life I’ve given way too many passes, and it’s bitten me in the butt in return.

But then my lovely friend K reminds me that I deserve better. She says I’m too hard on myself. She tells me that when something doesn’t work with a guy, it’s because he’s not the guy for me, and that it’s not about me. She urges me to not deal with people who don’t want to put in the effort, who don’t appreciate me in the way I deserve to be appreciated. And it’s not because I’m more special than anyone else, or deserve more than anyone else, but it’s because I deserve the same things, really, that you deserve: respect, and honesty, and integrity, and love, and time. Because I’m a woman who lives and loves just like everyone else, with dreams, and goals, and good days and bad days, and because I should get something in return from my relationships, like we all want and need.

Remind yourself what you deserve. Remind others what you deserve and ask for it. It’s like I said before, if you want something, you have to go after it, and this is just as important as anything else. And don’t forget to give others what they deserve, too.

Letting go

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person who seems to have weeks with recurring themes — a phrase, issue, or conversation that comes up again and again, sending you a message (and for me, a blog post idea). But I talked about it with my friend tonight, and she has the same experiences…feeling like after we’ve heard something at least twice in a week, it’s a sign.

This week’s theme happened to be letting go. First it was one of those chain emails that gave all kinds of examples of why if someone walks away from you, that you should just let it go. That they’re not meant to be part of your story anymore. I had never thought about it that way before, and it was suddenly so enlightening. As I continued to read through the email, I found myself thinking again and again how obvious it all seemed, and how magical the idea of “letting go” is when it comes from someone else.

The second instance was in a conversation with someone new. We came across a commonality related to our families, and the dialogue turned into how our past and the baggage that often comes with it doesn’t always have to be that way…baggage that is. It’s all a matter of how you react to it and deal with it — and if you just let it go, it puts life in an entirely new perspective.

So as I think about the different things in my life, and broken relationships (of all kinds) that I have held on to or worried over or cried over, or gotten angry about, it’s suddenly so easy to just look at all of that and say, “That’s not meant to be a part of my story. They are not meant to be a part of my life.”

And let’s face it — it hasn’t been easy in many ways. But when things seem out of our control and we’re left wondering what happened or why me, we have to remember that it is in our control to let it go. It’s in our control to recognize that moments and people and memories and love and friendships and even family come and go for a reason, and that the only way we can live our best, healthy, happy lives is to let it all go.

A great big world out there…for me

It’s been one month since I made a life-altering decision — to end my 4-year relationship with my boyfriend. Those of you who read this know that I’m pretty transparent about my life, but in this instance, I want to keep things relatively brief as it pertains to “what happened.” Bottom line: we were at different stages in our lives, and need to figure out what we want for ourselves and our futures – and it wasn’t exactly matching up. No one did anything wrong. The truth is that he’s been my best friend for seven years, and neither of us want that to change anytime soon. But the reality is that now, after a roller coaster four years of long distance, I am on my own – really on my own.

One of the most empowering things in this whole process was realizing that there is so much out there for me. I can go anywhere, do anything that I want. I can move to Chicago or San Francisco or London, I can plan for myself and only myself, and I can, to an extent, be a single gal in the city.

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Want something? Ask for it!

There are hundreds of books and audio tapes and sermons and suggestions out there on how to get what you really want…how to succeed in business…how to get the love you want, etc. Pretty much anything you want or need, there is something out there for you on how to get there. Except maybe more time. Because we can’t ever get more time – time is what it is.

But without reading all the books and sermons and pamphlets and attending all the conferences and seminars, the bottom line is that to get what you want, YOU NEED TO ASK FOR IT. This applies to all facets of your life. Some examples:

Work

  • If you think you deserve a raise, title change, promotion, or more benefits, you won’t always be lucky enough to have it handed to you. You might have to make a case for it. And even if you don’t get it, it will be noticed that you went for it, and that might make a difference to start.
  • If something is missing at your office, whether it’s a team dynamic that needs to change, an HR issue, or you think there isn’t enough budget for office supplies, put in the request. Do the research, put together a one-page memo, and pitch it to the boss. You might be surprised at how quickly the answer is yes.

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