Thursday, 22 January 2009

LEARNING SELF RESPECT


It does feel somewhat strange to me to have been given all the lovely words that I have received because of my recent posts.

It might sound odd but this real liking of myself is only fairly recent to me.
It has been work in progress for years.

For many years it felt that I wasn't lovable, and that I didn't really have any proper friends. That doesn't mean I didn't have friends but they were people you got close to via work, so for a while were very important and then drifted away with a change of job.

I started to learn to like myself when I was 26 yrs old. Prior to that I didn't think very much of myself. Although I had the trappings of a successful life. I was an Orthopaedic Ward Sister. I had a flat, a sports car, I was going somewhere. But I also had terrible relationships that culminated in the one just before I was 26.

We had met when he came to work in the hospital dept I worked,although we didn't get together there. We did that when we were both up for an interview to go and do our psychiatric nurse training. He was married.... I didn't care.

He was a bastard.... I didn't care.
He behaved so badly to his wife, who was pregnant.... I didn't care.
I was drinking too much.... I didn't care.
He beat me up on more than one occasion.... I didn't care.
My sister and mates were really anxious for me.... I didn't care.

And on and on, I was addicted, infatuated, call it what you will, just as long as I got to see him, even if that was for only ten minutes a day.Even though I knew this was a really bad relationship

I completed my psychiatric training. And I booked myself on a week long drama therapy course. On this course was a particular man, he liked me and I did him. He treated me so differently to the way I'd been treated for the previous 18 months. I couldn't believe that a man could be that kind and caring. On the last night of the course we slept together. It was the door to my liberation.

The next day when we're talking over how the course has been I broke down, not wanting this magical time out to end and to back to my life in Leicester. I'd also got friendly with one of the women on the course, and she offered me a life line, and told me that I was going to stay with her in London for a couple of days. I informed my family of my disappearance and went.

To have been so nurtured by these two people was astonishing and it made me brave. So when I finally returned to my flat there were several messages as to my whereabouts from this bloke. I didn't answer them. Eventually he turned up on my doorstep, and taking a deep breath I told him it was over.

And taking an even bigger deep breathe I started the long journey to self respect. So that after a few months I met my future husband, and he was the very first man who came from the same background to me. All the other relationships I'd had and really been with men who weren't middle class, hadn't been privately educated, who hadn't known which knife and fork to use at a formal meal. Howard did.

And for the next 14 years when we were together I didn't doubt that part of myself. I still had the career, the now house and the sensible family car to fit my children in.

More importantly than that I started to make real friends, with two women I'm still proud that they are still my friends almost 25 years later.

When my marriage split up because he had found someone else, someone who understood him(what me cynical... nah, surely not!!!) I went straight back to my old way of behaving with the first man I went out with. My God was he an absolute bastard! My sons couldn't stand him, my sister and her family couldn't stand him. And for two months I let myself be treated really badly, because I didn't deserve anything better. Then my brain kicked in, thank goodness and I realised what I was doing to myself. That just because someone had a low enough opinion of me, my husband, didn't mean that I had to buy into it again, after all the work I'd done on myself, so fast exit for one horrible man.

This is not to say I was immediately transported to a place of decent relationships, I wasn't. The men were good enough, I just wasn't sorted out in myself, and used sex as a way to get validation. Which never works for women.

That part of my life didn't really start to change properly till I had breast cancer. There were suddenly so many other things that needed attending to, that relationships didn't get a look in for a while. But when I raised by head above the parapet again I knew that I would only have relationships in which men treated me equally. Again although I knew this on a thinking level I didn't know it on an emotional level. And it's taken me the last two years to work it out!!!

I know... I'm a slow learner!

But what I know now is that not only am I a good mum, sister,auntie, friend, worker, car driver, cook, care giver,whatever, but also I am someone who likes herself and is worthy of been given respect back by men if they want to be involved with me. What's interesting to me, is it it the last 16 years that I have really established my friendships with women. And even more astounding to me is I actually have friendships with a few men. Why this is astounding is, I never thought that I would feel comfortable with men in that way, as they were people to have sex with, or the partners of my friends. And know I can even go on holiday with one of them as just really good mates, just as I would my girlfriends.

So coming back to the beginning, there is still a small part of me that when given lovely comments feels fraudulent, as if you will see the unlovable me any minute. And I have to stop myself going there, because it's not true. It has only ever been me that didn't love me, and now I do.

So that when we look at people, we never think about how they got to be the way they are. We make judgement calls based on what we see right there and then. And I need at the moment as part of my journey to go and revisit these horrible places to help me understand how I got here today.... sitting at my computer with my early morning dog walking scruffs on, with my dog by my side, needing another cup of hot water!!

I would put photos up of some of my friends, but since some of them are known here I won't. But I would if I could, cause you are so important to me. The picture I have put up is one of my favourites, it is my friend in Devon and I sitting on the steps at Dartmouth Castle, awaiting the ferry with Lucy the dog to go and have crab sandwiches in the Cherub Pub in Dartmouth, which is always now part of the ritual of going to stay with her and her husband.

20 comments:

Rach said...

I don't even know you but I do, you are one amazing woman and one that can make me laugh and cry both at the same time.

I am so very proud of you and would be even prouder to be your friend.

Your writing just moves me more and more everytime....thanks..xxx

Angela said...

I wish my poor misused Russian friend could read English and learn from you. But probably we have to do the learning ourselves, at our own pace. Congratulations to your new self, Byrdie, and be sure, I love you, just BECAUSE you have suffered and raised yourself from the ashes. Who else can truly understand life? Never doubt yourself anymore! You are sweetheart!

Val said...

a truly inspirational life story. why is it so hard to learn to love oneself enough to have self respect? it is said that love comes from the inside out - so you can only know love once you have it inside for yourself. You have walked a tough path, but you have left markers to make it easier for those that walk the same route. your blog is incredibly powerful - thank you x

Mel said...

Well, I'd hope you know that I'm proud for you.
I know the journey from self loathing.....from no respect to the awakening of all that I AM--and all that I always have been.

It's a very peaceful place to be. But not a place of complacency, eh?

Forever stretched....it's a good thing.

((((((( the byrdie ))))))))

You do yourself proud!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

You have learned from the mistakes of your past and that is the important thing. We all carry within ourselves a history of who we are and how we got here. True friends look beneath the surface for that.

About the dog: my advice is get the insurance NOW. Do not delay. As you know, we did, to our cost. Then get the hips checked out. He could just have overdone it, but possibly not.

Ronjazz said...

You, my dear, have apparently been farther along the path of learning these lessons than I am. So much of what you share here echoes in my own spirit. With your permission, I am going to write a note to you. It is in thanks for your own words here, and it is in reaching out to SOMEONE at a pretty difficult time. And I desperately cry for this kind of peace.

Fire Byrd said...

Rach, hon I do consider you one of my blog friends, and hopefully one day we'll meet up if you get well enough to make it here for one of my parties.
xx

angela, we definately have a mutual admiration society going on here, cause I think you are just great.
xx

val, those are such good words about our journey. Thank you for the compliement as well...You're good opinion matters to me
xx

mel, I love you to bits and I'm just so pleased that we are in each others life.
xx

wake up, as ever very sound words on both counts. your pic was definately one of the ones I would have put up this morning.
xx

ron, hon you know you don't have to ask me, and you should know by now that I'm there for you.
xx

Lady in red said...

You are trully a good friend.

I am pleased you are learning to love yourself as we all do.

I too have been learning to love myself, I have succeeded with the me inside it is the outside of me I haven't quite managed to love yet.

I would like to share with you something I was given a few months which helps me.........

I never need to stand in the light of anyone else because I have enough light of my own.

anya said...

You are so....real, Byrd. Is authentic an overused word these days? Well you know what I mean. Your bravery in telling your stories moves me always and often shines a light on something I have gone through or am going through, or some way I have also been.

muchos hugs to you today!

karen said...

dear FireByrd, yes you really do deserve all the lovely comments & words that are always attached to your posts! x

Mei Del said...

i love you xx lots and would put more x's except that someone once suggested that more thna 2 would attract unwholesome attention on the net (!!)

why is word veri lesses ???

anyway i think it doesn't matter if a bloke isn't from the same class/background - i firmly believe i am classless but know at the back of my mind i am a princess lookng for my frog (soz gin and t speaking) which explains what i'm doing with the darling

i now understand why word veri is lesses - comment only when less alcohol has been imbibed!

maybe i'll come back and delete this snesless entry but in the meantime, i love you and everything you write makes an awful lot of sense!

Picsie Chick said...

Byrd, you are a reliable inspiration! And you are so brave and wonderfully open, sharing yourself with all of us!

We all have something we learn slowly, but what is important is that you have learned and that you do love yourself now and today.

Each of us is exactly where we should be in the universe.

I am grateful to have found you and am proud to consider you my friend.

Hugs and many butterflies who so remind me of you,

~PC~

Fire Byrd said...

Lady that's a good line. it does help when we can stop beatingourselves up cause we're no perfect doesn't it?
xx

anya, muchos hugs gratefully received and your words, made me smile.
xx

mei glad you didn't get rid of the words, I think you're wonderful too. Hope you haven't got a hangover today! The class thing doesn't matter, it was then more about having someone in my life who knew where I was coming from culturely.
xx

picsie, I am pleased that I am your friend too, you brighten my every day.
xx

Lori ann said...

Dear Byrd, you are such a wise,brave and generous soul, and an amazing Mom too. I love all your stories because of the way they connect us, you make it safe to share, in your own special way. Thank you for being there.
I keep forgetting to tell you I LOVE your waterfall photo!
xx lori

Live and Learn the Hard Way said...

What a touching post. I saw so much of myself in your writing today. It really touched me and reminded me to continue working towards building an authentic self, someone I enjoy spending time alone with. Thanks.

cheekydani said...

Ms Firey Birdy, you give so much in your writing. It's lovely to be able to share your journey and admire you in the process, thank you x

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

What a very special post, so honest, so heartfelt - and you know what - good for you for waking up and becoming aware, for realising you are special and deserve to be treated in only the best way. We're all slow learners, that's why we're given a whole lifetime.
xxx

standing still })|({ said...

hey there,
i saw your journey in your words of wisdom without telling.... some live life and some have yet a life to live... you are the first of the two... it shows in every word; your true self shows... so you couldn't convince me you have a negative side unshown... your honest self is just too, too real and great for that to be possible!

thanks again for sharing you!
lovingly,
~coral

ps which one are you in your picture? ;O)

Barbara said...

Friends are indeed what get you through the rough times. I have just had that demonstrated. This is a heartfelt tribute to your success in loving yourself. Congratulations! I hope you can remember this for the rest of your life.

Pam said...

Fire Byrd I have something for you in recognition of the amazing posts you share.Admirable that's what you are - and gutsy - and yes, beautiful I'd say too.Congratulations to you, on discovering more about you, and explaining the journey so well and with such honesty.Come visit and collect!