When I hear women say: “I stayed on taking this and that from so and so only for him to do this…”, ‘ this’ being another act of betrayal, it makes me wonder why we take it in the first place and assume the person mistreating us will be grateful we suffered in silence and so reward us with better behaviour.
After one break up several years ago, I remember commenting to a friend that if I had known it would hurt as much as it did I wouldn’t have been “a good girl”, but would have done major damage.
As I thought about it, smashing the window of his car appeared to be more of a good idea than taking the bad behavior displayed by both the ex and his family in the period the relationship disintegrated.
But the truth was I hadn’t been a good girl because I accepted things as they were, I had been condoning them because I hoped my “keeping quiet”, my “suffering in silence”, my “patience”, my “maturity”, my “being a good Christian”, would make the other person change their mind or make God reward my “piety” and give me the outcome I wanted.
So when I read stories of betrayal in the media these days, while I can relate, I let it serve this reminder – ” you shouldn’t be taking anything now that you will regret taking later. And if you are, ask yourself why”. And if it is because like my example you are aspiring to the good girl image of religion or culture or because you expect your “long suffering” to be rewarded with guilt-driven affections or because you can leverage on a moral failure for some future benefit then at least know what is driving your decision to continue to take poor treatment or stay in a bad situation and deal with it like I eventually had to.
If it is because you are afraid of the alternative for you if you left, or of the consequences if you stayed but confronted the bad behaviour and insisted on better, then it is time to face the deeper problem. You might just not believe you deserve better enough to fight for it. The perpetrator knows this too and is counting on your fear of his anger, of what people will say, of how you will look, of being single, of not having his financial support or social status- those things that ensure that where you are concerned, his life remains as he wants- unchallenged and unchanged.
Sometime later when I had dealt with my hidden motives, I didn’t feel the need to”do damage” because I could now see that it was coming from a place of frustration at not getting my way and had nothing to do with love. And rather than “take” bad behavior or in this case, not take any action for fear that I would not get that person back if I stood up for myself, I used that experience in a positive way that I found rewarding.
As women, we can only take those who are not treating us fairly or respectfully, to task when we refuse to be held back by the fear of losing them or losing out in some way. If they are the real deal they will make changes rather than lose us or watch us lose ourselves and if they aren’t we will turn out okay, but first we must be brave and insist on better not only because we are deserving, but because they are capable of treating us well and we will be doing them a disservice by expecting less.
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