Once, to endear myself to a man, I feigned indifference to one of the great loves of my life…Eddie Vedder. The object of my affection rolled his eyes and said something to the effect of, “Those meathead summer tourists, always blasting Pearl Jam…” (He emphasized “Pearl Jam” as if they were the bane of our existance).
I nodded in agreement while I died a little inside from my lack of loyalty to Eddie.
This may have been when I first noticed that I was willing to shrink for men.
It didn’t stop there.
When I was on my first date with my future husband (my future-future ex-husband, as it turned out) I had been a vegetarian for a year or so. He wanted to order chicken nachos for us to share. I didn’t want to seem high maintenance, so I neglected to mention that I no longer ate meat. (I didn’t actually eat the chicken, but I quietly picked around it. He seemed not to notice.)
Later, I told my mother about our date and she said something sagely like, “No good relationship starts out with dishonesty.” I bristled at that because I hadn’t lied.
I had just failed to offer my authentic self.
Over the next decade, this failure to be authentic about myself and how I was feeling – this shrinking – gradually sucked the life right out of me.
One day I woke up and realized that if I kept shrinking, soon there would be nothing left of me at all. I barely recognized myself.
I was so very small.
This awakening led to my becoming an entrepreneur, and ultimately, a single mother of two. I am proud of the life I have built.
I’ve become stronger. Independent. Full.
But…confident as I feel, when it comes to dating, I’m afraid the Shrinker will sabotage me once again.
Whenever I’m afraid to say how I really feel..I can hear the Shrinker whispering into my ear…
Don’t say that.
Don’t do that.
They may not like it.
It’s the only way to be loved.
Shrink, Little One.
Eckhart Tolle wrote, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.”
I know I keep being offered (yeah I’ll say offered) life experiences – relationships and interactions in friendship, business, and romance that challenge me – for the sole (soul) purpose of teaching me that it is okay to use my voice to express my actual feelings even if that means saying things that the other person may not want to hear, such as…
Your words/actions upset me…
Your words/actions are unacceptable…
I don’t think you’re being honest…
I won’t let you treat me this way…
So, Universe, I say keep serving these opportunities up so I can continue to reenforce my backbone.
Even though I know the Shrinker is wrong, she is very seductive.
I hope, with a little more practice, when the next Object of my affection appears, I will be able to stand tall and say…
“Whatever you do…don’t disparage Eddie.”