My swim coach is in her mid to late twenties and she’s engaged to be married. On several occasions, I’ve noticed from the way she talks, that she does not seem to be happy in her relationship. Today, I didn’t see her engagement ring on her finger so I asked her about it. She said she had taken it off because she was afraid of losing it in the swimming pool.
I mentioned that I thought she had broken up and she confided that she had been on the verge of doing so the day before. She looked so sad and I understand how she feels. She is desperate and disappointed, she loved her fiancé but as he doesn’t show his love she said that she doesn’t feel anything for him anymore and she believes that sooner or later the relationship will be over.
I found myself telling her to think only about her happiness and about making herself the first priority in her life, that she must stop being the only one to give and that she has the right to receive. I expressed concern that by being the only one giving in a relationship, she may find herself, after a few years, frustrated, disappointed and unable to give anymore.
While talking to her, I found myself thinking about how women in my community, as well as in many other communities, grow up with the belief that a woman is created to only give. Everybody around her expects to receive yet no one thinks about what she needs or that she even has needs that must be met. A woman’s role is to make everybody happy even if she is not. Her husband, her children and even her parents expect a lot from her but no one cares about what she expects.
For many long years, I lived with the people surrounding me expecting too much from me. I was giving so much but at a certain point I could not go any farther. I could not accept the idea of burning myself for others while nobody thought about me. My reaction was a little bit aggressive. I could not bear anymore the idea of being a good girl, good wife and good mother.
Being good to my parents meant being obedient to my mother even if she was intruding on my personal life and imposing her beliefs as to what I need to do and what I should not do. Being good to my husband meant I had to take responsibility for everything, take care of his needs, be kind to him, work, and take care of the house all the while never having my needs met. Being a good mother meant taking care of the kids’ needs, studies, training and entertainment.
You may ask why my husband didn’t do his share in all of this? The answer is that we have different values and backgrounds so he always said that none of those things are his priorities, so if I wanted them I had to do it myself. For years I did, but after nine years I exploded and that was a turning point in my life. I got divorced and I lived, as a single mom, with my kids, for five years. Those years were the transformation years.
I finally realized what my mistake was. I was not making myself a priority. I was allowing everybody to make decisions for me. I was not happy yet I was expected to make others happy. I never thought about my needs, I was only focusing on the needs of my family. I reached a point where I couldn’t give love anymore. How could I do that with my emotional tank empty? To give love to others you need to get your emotional tank refilled. Only then will you be able to give love to everybody around you.
It took me years and I’m still working on it, learning to constantly refill my emotional tank from different resources in order to be able to give . That’s exactly what I told my lovely and kind swimming coach in my conversation with her today. Get your emotional tank refilled, do your best to find your own satisfaction and fulfillment. Do whatever you can to make yourself happy. Only then will you be able to give love to others . You will feel happy even if you don’t receive love from others because you already have your tank refilled.
I really sympathize with women in my community because they are taught lies about what it means to be a good wife and good mother and they believe it. They live internally unhappy but do not dare to object or ask for what they need. They feel that they must accept what they’re given. They are looking for approval from others and they are afraid to reject the beliefs they were bought up on.
What beliefs in your community hurt women’s well being yet they don’t dare to reject them?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Nihad from Alexandria, Egypt. Nihad blogs at Aurora Beams Life Coaching.
Image courtesy of “Young Woman Under Depression” by David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net