It’s Not Okay

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I was talking with some folks a *bit* younger than me about the blog, and one of them said, “You should write about how it’s not okay for guys to push females around or be forceful with them.”

Ummmm.  Okay?

I listened to the stories, and I know that she knows it is not okay.  I know she can take care of herself.  And for that I am thankful.

But I’m sad that this is something she thinks needs to be written about.  Very sad.

I’m no expert on the subject of dating violence.  However, I think we might be doing the whole world a disservice by calling it dating violence, because I highly suspect it doesn’t start off as violence.  I think it can start off as disrespect.

And that’s not okay either.

Let me say that again.

Disrespecting another person, whether you are dating or not, is not okay.

But disrespect is where it begins.  An unkind word, a put down, a demand on your time or resources that is just that–a demand.  Getting frustrated when you want to spend time with other people.  Getting frustrated when your world revolves around anything but them.

But no, the violence hasn’t started, so it’s hard to feel like it’s not right.  Because the demands and frustration and disrespect are usually followed by a reminder of why you started dating the person to begin with.

They’re funny, charming, kind, handsome, gorgeous, silly, goofy, smart, dark and brooding–whatever.  You second guess yourself.  You start thinking that maybe they’re right–you should want to spend more time with them.  You shouldn’t be so serious about your education or your career or YOUR dreams and goals.  After all, it’s sweet they want more of your time–that means they love you, right?

Wrong.

Anyone who loves you LOVES you.  Supports you.

Not only is disrespect not intended, it doesn’t happen.

Unfortunately, because the violence often does not happen at the beginning of the relationship, it is easy for young people (and older ones too) to rationalize about the disrespect and continue with the relationship.

Because “at least he/she doesn’t hit me.”

NO.  Just no.

We have to raise our daughters and sons to know what disrespect looks like and that this is not acceptable or okay in any kind of healthy relationship, friendships included.  And we have to empower them to have healthy relationships.  We need to hear whatever story they bring to us, and let them know it’s okay–we love them no matter what.  And then we have to help them define disrespect and set boundaries.  And to let go of the bad stuff and the bad relationships, no matter how long they’ve been with someone or how long they’ve been friends, no matter how nice it was in the beginning, no matter how many promises the other person has made.

No means no.

Disrespect is the gateway to violence.

I really believe that.

I’m not sure what my young friend wanted me to say.  Sweet girl, I hope this does what you asked me to do.  I see you there, being so strong, and letting the guy know what is not okay.  And I am thankful you are able to do that.  But know this, any guy–any person–who isn’t in awe of you and all about celebrating all that is you–just keep on walking.  Because you are better than that.  You deserve someone you can respect to the end of your days and who will spend every breath supporting you and your dreams.

It’s a bumpy ride, and there will be disagreements.  Misunderstandings.  Hurt feelings.  Many times.

But there should never, ever be disrespect.

Be particular, as my Granny used to say.  And be cautious.  If they can’t respect you, they don’t get to be with you.  Dating, friendship, whatever.

And that’s pretty much it.

May you find the one you are meant to be with, but in the meantime, may you grow to be your own biggest advocate and dream big.  The one who will appreciate walking that path with you will come.

Love and respect to all.

“No, I don’t think so”

There are people who walk into our lives, pull up a chair, plop down with a satisfied sigh, look us in the eyes, make us laugh, and it’s like they’ve been there forever.

Isn’t it fun when one of those folks comes into your life?

Two years ago a pretty special somebody walked in.  She took my world by storm, at a time when the only storms we’d had in the past few months were bad ones.

But she was a good one.

The kind that clears the air, gives you a rush with the great breezes, and leaves everything brighter and clearer and fresher once it’s blown through.

That’s what being with her is like.  The air is charged, the conversation always lively, and best of all, she’s the kind of friend that takes you on as family.  She is a loyal one.  Once you belong to her, you always belong to her.  And when she laughs…..we all get tickled.

She is a beautiful, strong woman busy loving on folks and raising two strong young men.  And she never lets grass grow under her feet.  She inspires me with her energy, her courage, her humor, and her honesty.  She calls it like it is, and she sees with a clarity I wish I had.  She makes me wish I could be very much like her when I grow up.

This evening as we sat around the table way past mealtime (don’t some of the best conversations happen around the table?), she was listening to Aub share a story of some of the goings on in her life.  She held up a hand as if to stop her and said, “Wait.  Hold up.  What you should have said right there was,” *clap* *finger pointed*”‘No, I don’t think so.'”

Wow.  I like it.

I like what it says.  And its flexibility for different situations.  It sets up boundaries with no room for misinterpretation.  “No, I don’t think so, you’re not going to treat me that way.”  “No, I don’t think so, I’m not going to be your pawn anymore.”  “No, I don’t think so, I’ve got enough on my plate right now.” “No, I don’t think so, I’m not going to let your issues become my issues.”  “No, I don’t think so, I appreciate your offer of help–but I’ve got this.”  “No, I don’t think so, I’d rather not share this with anyone.”

These words just might be my new magic words.  Pair them with “Isn’t that nice?” and we’ve got a winning combination, I think.

Beautiful.
Just like my friend who made the time to visit and abide with us today.  Who listened and shared her wisdom with me and my girl.  Who laughed with us, teared up with us, and who loves us.  Her laughter filled more than our home today, it filled my heart.  And bless her, she even rolls her eyes with us and for us.  We may not get together very often, but she is a true sisterfriend, and she and her family have shown up for each of the joys and the heartbreaks in our lives ever since our meeting two years ago.

When you’ve got a friend who rolls her eyes for you, don’t let her go.  And if anyone tries to mess that up, you just clap, snap, and point, and let them know, “No, I just don’t think so.”

A real treasure…..and I am thankful for her.

For those of you praying for and thinking about Aub’s friend, Miss K, she is getting stronger.  She is still in hospital and has a long way to go, but she is awake and alert and sharing her own thoughts and updates on Facebook.  Please continue to keep her and her journey in your thoughts and prayers.  But thank you for traveling this far with her and all of her sisters at Wesleyan.  They will be so happy when she is able to return.  As will we all.