A number of people have reached out to me since reading my post Ultimately, Why I Chose To Have A Baby. Aside from an incredible amount of love and support, I also received a number of comments and thoughts reflecting on my experience. Many women told me how they felt that they didn’t exercise enough of a choice when it came to this decision. They shared how they had believed “that’s just what you do when you get married” (an email from one of my aunts underscored this, sharing how “back in the day” she didn’t feel like there was a choice). Others felt that they wished they had had more time between getting married and having a baby, but again felt that they didn’t really have a choice due to age or spousal pressure. Others just wished they had thought about it more.
The comments and emails reminded me of a realization I had come to a while back. Through a few situations, I came to realize that the worst betrayal one can experience is neither the betrayal of a friend, nor the betrayal we may do to others and the anguish that follows. The worst betrayal we can experience occurs when we betray ourselves. When we make a choice despite knowing that we truly, deeply, want something different. Unlike other situations, no matter how much we try we will never be able to justify the choice to ourselves. After a self-betrayal you are left knowing you had the answer in your gut, but you didn’t have the courage, self-confidence, strength, self-respect, self-love, self-worth, self-care, self-value, to not betray yourself. The result is a betrayal deeper than you can experience any other way. It’s a betrayal to your soul.
Every day we have to make choices as life is filled with them. From big ones (“Let’s have a baby!”) to smaller ones (“Let’s go to your parents for the holidays”). For a very long time I constantly betrayed my soul. I was more concerned about other people’s wants, needs, feelings, and dreams. Often (almost always) at the expense of my wants, needs, feelings, and dreams. Through lots of work, I’ve gotten better at not only not participating in self-betrayal, but also allowing for the flexibility to make space for the wants and needs of those around me. This is a fine balance and art that changes with each relationship, yet with three key points as a must:
- Recognize when you are about to betray yourself. Call it whatever you want to call it, you know the difference between a battle not worth fighting and a flat out self-betrayal. Recognize when you are crossing over and be honest with yourself.
- Speak up. Voice what you want. It is so hard to do, but so necessary. Just often voicing “I need more time”, “I want this instead of that”, “What about going here?” is the first step towards not betraying yourself.
- Work towards a better solution. It doesn’t have to be 100% what you want, but it sure as heck doesn’t have to be the one that leaves you in self-betrayal. There’s always another choice. Even if the choice is “We can’t make a choice right now, let’s wait for more information”.
When you spend time strengthening your muscles behind these steps, you get more comfortable being at choice. And then you start taking responsibility for your life, so that you are more than happy with where you are tomorrow. The people around you get used to this and adjust. They learn to work with you for a better option other than the one that betrays you. They begin to respect your “No”, your “Yes”, and your “Maybe”. And through the creativity that opens up, everyone wins.
What are your thoughts? Have you had the experience of self-betrayal? I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below. If you enjoyed this post, share it with your friends and family!
Lots of love,