The way you are

March 18, 2009 at 8:55 am 2 comments

This past weekend I was in the city where I lived for 18 years. It’s on the other side of this country. I played a concert there — the first half of my cross-country two-gig tour. (The other half will be this weekend at a local place.) Since I hadn’t been back to the city for a while, I scheduled to see several friends. There was a lot of catching up to do.

This time I only had a few hours’ free time on Sunday afternoon. After brunch with two friends, I walked around (alone) for a while, went to a museum and after that wandered some more — ending up at the little café we used to go to. That place always used to bring out serious discussions. It was nice to simply wander and let memories come and go.

But rather than rambling, let me return to brunch. One of my friends confessed that she realized she had adapted herself way too much to her husband over the years, and felt that she had lost herself. Just recently she has been reclaiming her life and self. She goes to the movies, to the theater, goes jogging. I commented that she looked much better than she did when I saw her last time — a year ago.

This type of confidence isn’t shocking, as my experience was similar. What surprised me was the person who did the talking. I always thought they had a near-perfect relationship with so much in common! No. It turns out, she even changed her line of study from Fine Art to Anthropology, just to fit in with his more “scientific” way of life. She turned 50 last year and is doing better than ever!

A young work colleague (23) recently told me that she had broken up with her boyfriend. He criticized her all the time, blamed her for things that went wrong in the relationship, put down her friends and family, expected her to fit right in with his friends and spend time with his family, and she realized he wanted her to move in with him just to not be alone — and harped the whole time about his ex-wife. Until recently. A few weeks ago, he said: “She’s not so bad after all!” That’s just not what a girlfriend wants to hear!

Listening to her describe the situation, I hesitated, but then said that there were remarkably many parallels to my early relationship with my husband. I don’t know if it helps to pass such experience on, as it seems we all have to go through these things and make our own discoveries, but I shared some of my insights and said she could be glad to get out now. If their relationship is based on him being more important than she, and on her taking on the role of therapist to help him get over his wife, I warned her that such a foundation is hard to change. After over 20 years I can vouch for that! We created a lopsided basis and didn’t manage to get it together after all this time.

I reassured her that she is fine just the way she is. There is someone out there who is just right for her. There is absolutely no need or reason to suffer as she does, to adjust herself to him in such a way that she betrays herself. Absolutely not.

If you are in a similar situation, give it some thought. I’m not saying you should run away this minute. Or at all. I simply want to say that some habits are hard to change. And the difficulties I mentioned will not go away with time. You have to actively work on them. Or leave. That is my opinion.

Listen to your heart. It knows what to do.

And what song fits this topic? Of course! Just the way you are, from Billy Joel.



Entry filed under: bad relationships, music. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. carolynlboyd  |  March 23, 2009 at 1:10 am

    This is so true! One thing I came to understand in the shock of turning half a century old is that this is always the right time to live your life the way you are meant to live it, as only you can live it authentically. I’m so used to listening to what others say about me, that it is sometimes hard to know exactly who I am, even at my age. I had a wake-up call one day when I was doing a personality quiz just for fun and I had to stop halfway through because I couldn’t decide what the answers to the questions about what way of being I liked better should be. Oneself – always a work in progress!

    • 2. diaryofarecoveredbulimic  |  March 24, 2009 at 9:40 am

      Amen! 😉


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