“Own your vagina. Never let a man make your decisions.” That about sums up the underlying theme of episode three of The Carrie Diaries (an 80s charged prequel to Sex and the City). Graphic mental imagery aside, the episode drove home a valid point— If you don’t choose who you are, someone else is going to do it for you.
There was this guy— one of those off again on again blokes— who, during one of our “on” moments asked me to move in with him. Domestic drama spurred me to jump at the offer. To make a long story short, in the month and a half that I ended up living with him he had a drunken make-out session with another guy days after my arrival, engaged in pseudo-cyber relationships with people on dating sites (proclaiming himself to be single despite asking me to be his boyfriend), and lord knows what else that slipped passed my faulty radar at the time. I say faulty, but in reality, I didn’t want to know.
I was so scared of going back home, and so desperate for his love and approval that I rationalized his behavior. I became someone who allowed myself to be cheated on, disrespected, and disregarded. And do you know what started to happen?
I began to treat myself as such.
Standing up for yourself goes far beyond protecting yourself from those who would push you around. When you take a stance, you are saying “This is me. This is who I am.” Conversely, when you let things happen to you, especially those you don’t agree with, you are not only telling others that it’s okay to treat you that way, but you’re also telling that to yourself.
Gradually, I became a shadow of myself— bitter, reckless, misdirecting my unexpressed anger. And even though I had every right to be furious with him, the person I was most miffed at was myself. I let someone mold me into a person that I didn’t like; someone who withheld the truth to get what he wanted, someone who put his body and soul at risk because he was too timid to speak up, and worst of all, someone who justified his own immoral acts based on the ones being done to him.
It happens so quickly; before you know it you’re doing what you swore you’d never do, being what you swore you’d never become. You’re that guy you used to judge (another entry for another day).
I know it can be tough figuring out who you are and where you stand, especially in the face of life’s complications and others with seemingly stronger personalities. But as I mentioned above— If you don’t choose who you are, someone else is going to do it for you.
And I don’t know about you, but they don’t know me well enough to do that.