[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Today we have a quest post from a dear friend of ours, Giovanna Burgess Geathers LPC. We hope you will be blessed with what she has to share. [/dropshadowbox]
Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing the Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella starring Keke Palmer and Nene Leakes. Although I love the Cinderella story and the play itself was astounding, it still caused me to reflect on the number of women I know personally and professionally who are still believing that they are going to be rescued by a handsome prince who will whisk them away to the land of happily ever after and make all of their dreams come true.
Image courtesy of meepoohfoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Perhaps even more sadly are the number of women who have completely trashed the concept of Cinderella and the land of happily ever after and chosen instead to reside in the land of just enough, not enough, never enough and had enough.
The reality is that although many women from different “villages”, cultures, and backgrounds may share the common goal of finding and enjoying a healthy, meaningful relationship, many are discovering that “happily ever after” really does not exist…except in fairytales.
There are many reasons as to why “happily ever after” doesn’t exist, but despite the whys, far too many women are settling for unhappy marriages, troubled relationships, and non-committed sexual unions while others continue to hope, pray and search for the ineffable Mr. Right who will ride in on his white horse and rescue her from a life of loneliness and unfulfillment. When this doesn’t happen, countless women give up on finding Mr. Right and determine to be okay with Mr. Right Now.
As I began to reflect on my own negative experiences with men as well as those of the women around me, I began to see certain patterns emerge. For years, we had been trapped in a vicious cycle where we would meet a nice guy, date him for a while until things went south, and then grudgingly move on in our continual search of “the one”.
Of course, we blamed the men. We convinced ourselves and each other that it was the men. I mean, didn’t everyone know that all men were dogs? We comforted ourselves with the notion that we just hadn’t met the right one yet and not once did we stop to consider or accept any responsibility for our own actions. We never considered that maybe our actions or inactions were contributing to the problem.
We were caught up in the name game and the blame game and it was so much easier to point fingers at men than to look inside ourselves. Perhaps we feared that we would have to acknowledge that perhaps some of the problems may have lain within us, but we also resisted the truth that perhaps the answers too lay within us. Maybe, just maybe, our relationships could change; but in order for that to happen, we had to be willing to change.
Now, I am in no way suggesting that women are to blame for all of men’s actions, but what I am stating is that we as women have far more power than we give ourselves credit for and in having this power, we are far more responsible for what happens to us in our relationships than we may be willing to own up to and admit.
Growing up, I would often hear my mother say that “women made men into dogs”. I never understood that at the time and in my rebellious nature, I vehemently argued the opposite and strongly asserted that men are grown and no one can “make” them do anything. I argued that men are dogs because that’s what they choose to be, that good men are few and women had to just keep looking until they found a good one.
What my mother was unknowingly helping me to understand in her own unique way was that we teach people how to treat us. Men also happen to be “people”. I began to ponder the numerous times I had willingly and knowingly allowed a man to disrespect me and I ignored it, denied it and explained it. How often had I overlooked the way a man had mistreated me, knowing in my heart it was less than what I deserved, but I feared being single and alone.
I recalled the countless stories I heard from countless girlfriends and associates about men cheating on them, cheating with them, lying to them, cursing them, hitting them, refusing to work, and even refusing to father their own children. While each case may have been different and each woman no doubt had different reasons as to why she stayed and why she endured it, in the end the unspoken message was loud and clear: “I am not worthy of you treating me with dignity and respect so I will blame you and assume no responsibility for my own happiness and well-being”.
I know some will argue that this is not the message they intended to send and it is far from the message I myself wished to send, yet our actions speak volumes. Time and time again, while we protested, screamed, yelled, cursed and even shouted, we eventually gave in, gave up a little more of power and remained in unhealthy relationships, all while burying a bit more resentment in our hearts towards men.
As I read back over this piece that was initially written in 2014, I am happily married to the most wonderful man and we have two amazing children. I assure you I didn’t suddenly hit the “good man” lottery nor did I win some reality show competition. It took real, inner work and growing in Christ for me to overcome the painful patterns of my past and finally accept and know how I truly deserved to be treated.
The reality is that while my mother’s way of explaining things may have sounded harsh and unfair to me, the truth is that we do teach people how to treat us and sometimes without saying a word, we send out invisible signals that reveal our low self-worth, low self-esteem and poor self- image and communicate to a potential mate how we expect to be treated. When we allow bad behavior, we are teaching someone to continue that behavior. Now, we will never find a perfect mate as that simply doesn’t exist.
When my clients ask me how they will know and recognize when a good man or woman shows up, I tell them to always trust that inner guidance and pray without ceasing for God to reveal His plan and purpose for them. I also tell them not to be afraid to walk away from someone or something that isn’t working and that it is okay to wait and to keep seeking.
Giovanna Geathers ©2015
Giovanna Burgess Geathers is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), speaker, author, life coach, workshop facilitator, and trainer with over two decades of combined education and experience inspiring and motivating others to push past their boundaries and limitations to live a full life.
She has a Masters degree in Counseling from Webster University and became a licensed practitioner in 2012. In 2013, she left her position as Executive Director of a local non-profit organization and opened Touchstone Counseling & Coaching where she provides licensed mental, emotional and behavioral health services to youth, couples, families and adults as well as individual and group life coaching.
Giovanna has experience working with various companies, organizations, schools, colleges, social groups, families, individuals, and churches. Through her various workshops, trainings, seminars, and one on one sessions, Giovanna strives to connect with her clients in a way that’s informative, challenging, practical and fulfilling.