Years ago my mom sent me a Joan Didion essay titled “Self Respect.” It was so damn long. And I felt so much resistance to reading it.
I knew it was her way of encouraging me to re-evaluate the relationship I was in at the time (with a narcissist). And she wasn’t the only one who dropped the self-respect bomb. Many friends begged me to drop this man out of respect for myself.
For anyone who’s ever been involved with a narcissist, you know how difficult it can feel to get out. And with this particular relationship, it took him nearly getting us into an accident and driving recklessly to seal the deal for me. I had a shred of self-respect to walk away from that relationship without question, no turning back. No getting back together for the umpteenth time.
But I’m not here to bash on narcissists or our relationships with them. I’m here to talk about self-respect. Enough space and time and healing has transpired to take accountability for my role in this relationship – I chose to stay for as long as I did. I chose to turn down the volume on the warnings from friends and family. Even from my own heart. I did things during this time that I wasn’t proud of. Mostly things that harmed myself.
I share this now because I’m noticing something in my life. I notice how I so deeply value myself in a way that I never have before. I guard my time like a hawk and refuse to engage in any social activity that does not serve my heart.
Spending time with anyone I don’t jive with and who doesn’t revive me is no longer an option. Sleeping well and waking up feeling good are more important than any party or late night or great sex.
My morning and evening rituals have become my rock, my home base, returning back to my sense of belonging.
Because I know what it feels like to be deeply cared for. And it’s occurring to me – this is what real deal self-respect feels like.
THIS is what my mom so desperately wanted for me. THIS is what I avoided reading about in Joan Didion’s essay.
I live daily from a space of love, while maintaining boundaries. I protect and stand up for the little girl inside me with all I’ve got. I’m still figuring it out. I’m not perfect, I slip up from time to time and spend hours at an event that just sucks the life out of me. Or I’ll go on a date I’m actually dreading.
And it’s ok. I forgive myself after and I move forward.