Here’s a question from Maria that I want to jump off of (I edited it a bit) …
“l have a question, too and it may sound as stupid as it is simple. When a man treats you bad is it HIM or ME? Meaning – was he born with (or been given) a natural ability to treat others bad or am l just a very low standard girl? Maria”
Here’s my answer:
Maria – men treat women badly for lots of reasons. They’re angry and don’t know how to deal with it…they’re afraid…but it DOESN’T MATTER.
If you ALLOW a man to treat you badly (assuming you’re not in a traumatic, helpless situation) – and this means ANY way that doesn’t feel GOOD and nourishing to you…then you must take responsibility for it.
There are lots of old sayings about this… most of them are about blame and shame and fault – and I’d like to stay away from all that.
We’re all here learning. We’re all feeling our way through our lives, doing the best we can, experiencing being triggered all the time and feeling the pressure of our old habits and traumas and fears. There’s just no point in assigning “blame.”
It’s all about responsibility, and owning your experiences, owning your feelings, and being watchful that you are in good-feeling places as much as you can. Trying to “analyze” a man so you can “understand” him often leads to making excuses for him and does you no good…
There’s a song lyric:
“Oh, oh, oh, you treat me badly…and I love you madly…you really have a hold on me…”
When I think back on my love life – how this was me so much of my life – that I had no idea that a man I liked would truly want me – that the world was divided into men who wanted me that I didn’t want and men I wanted who didn’t want me (or only wanted me for now) – I see how this PAIN of love has been drilled into us.
We were all raised on Torch songs. We were all raised on hopeless romance.
We were all raised to not RECOGNIZE bad treatment. To make excuses for it. To find underlying, psychological reasons for it. To blame OURSELVES for it – as though we provoked it (like so much you can read about what people think about Rhianna and Chris Brown – that she somehow is responsible for what happened to her by “provoking” him).
As a crisis counselor helping rape survivors – it was just heartbreaking to see (and experience) the self-blame and self-torture women who’d been abused and been at the receiving end of violence took on themselves (ourselves).
We think things are our FAULT. And they’re not. There is no “fault.” Sometimes you’re at the wrong place at the wrong time – and sometimes the lesson (because you have to see EVERYTHING as a lesson in order to transform awful-feeling experiences into better-feeling one next time) – is to take better care of ourselves.
The most major reason why we try to assign “fault” and “blame” is our need for CONTROL and MASTERY. When we’re in a situation that feels bad but we feel paralyzed and trapped and unable to move – the only way we can “compute” this in our brains is to say “It’s all my fault.” At least, then, we have some kind of answer.
But it’s NOT the answer.
This is subtle, I know – talking about owning and responsibility as DIFFERENT from fault and blame – but i want you to really GET the difference here, because it’s actually HUGE.
So – if a man is treating you badly – In a “minor’ way by not being present when he’s with you, or not calling, or not following up, or forgetting things, or paying too much attention to other women in the room, so many other ways men distance themselves, or test us, or simply display their decision to not care about us properly…or in a “major” way with insults, neglect, verbal abuse, physical abuse and cheating…then instead of looking for “fault” or “blame” – just ask yourself:
“Why am I here?”
Just make this your simple process:
1. Experience – actually, truly, totally experience how YOU feel about YOURSELF when you’re with a man.
2. If it doesn’t feel good – notice it. Write about it. Speak it out loud to yourself – until you can put it together in words to speak it directly to him: “This doesn’t feel good.”
3. Practice speaking this truth all the time – whenever things don’t feel good. This is NOT about whether or not he takes out the garbage or calls you often enough to suit you. This is not about his behavior. Not about what he does or doesn’t do. This is NOT about making a man WRONG. This is not about making YOURSELF “wrong.”
This is simply about learning to quickly and honestly answer for yourself the question – “Why am I here?”
When you can answer that for yourself no matter what’s going on – then you’ll get this whole, huge area we call “Boundaries.”
Sometimes we are “here” because it’s what we’re used to. Sometimes it’s what we “think” is right. sometimes it’s what we were taught. Sometimes we feel “compelled” to be here because of a strong chemical pull to a man, or because we’re afraid to be alone.
It doesn’t matter what the answer is as much as how deeply we’re wiling to be honest with ourselves and tell the TRUTH.
I know many women, and have worked with many clients who KNOW they are trapping themselves in a bad-feeling situation, and yet simply will not move away from that situation. But, even though they’re not moving away from the bad-feeling situation and putting themselves into places where they have a better chance of experiencing good feelings – they are taking the baby-steps of answering the question – “Why am I here?” and really, really – as painful as it is – hearing the answer.
In the end – it’s our choice, what we DO with the information we HAVE. And the only information we have is about OURSELVES.
So – if you are “here” – and it doesn’t feel good – that’s where we start.