One Task: How to Build Self-Esteem from my Asshat Recovery Program
Back in my Asshat days I was incredibly annoying. And I wasn’t even the Asshat. But when you’re dating one your behavior can get Bitchtastic.
I knew everything that my Asshat, Mr. Cruelly Handsome, should be doing if he were ever going to be anything more than an execrable excuse for a boyfriend.
1. He was going to have to stop picking up other women, especially when I was standing right next to him. (I’m not kidding). That was number one. And if he couldn’t manage that then he definitely was going to have to …
2. Follow through when he said he would go places with me. Especially places like my best-friend-since-third-grade’s wedding where I was a bridesmaid. And if he couldn’t manage that then he was going to have to, at the very most minimal (is that a sentence that coheres?) …
3. Give me back the key to his apartment, which he took away when he got mad at me for being mad at him for not going to my best-friend-since-third-grade’s wedding that I was a bridesmaid in. And if he wouldn’t give me back the key then he should, for the love of God, maybe at least …
4. Give me his new phone number after I hacked his message center on the old one.
Am I making my point yet? Which is basically that I was …
An out-of-control, sphincter-pinching, nipple-twisting control freak! (yes, it’s possible to be an out-of-control control freak).
The bottom line is this. What the Asshat does, or does not do, is really none of our business.
Heresy! you cry. What mad heresy is this?
How can I say that the Asshat, who is our best friend or boyfriend or girlfriend or maybe even husband or wife, how can I say what that person does is really none of our business?
I’ll tell you why. Because we cannot change them. Ever. Not even with witchcraft. People change when they want to. Period. The End.
If we are with a lover who is unfaithful and fidelity is one of our requirements, then we need to stop having sex with that person.
If we have a best friend who, for the life of her, can’t ever be on time, then we need to add an extra thirty-minute window to our expectations and accept that inconvenience as part of the friendship (if she’s worth it, which she may be).
If we rely on a colleague who never follows through, we must stop relying on that colleague and cover our own ass. Their inability to follow through will eventually bite them in their ass.
Then there are the incredibly tough situations to accept. In these situations we have to enter the black-belt level of Buddha Consciousness to thrive.
The situations I’m referring to are situations where our loved ones are getting hurt.
For instance, if we have an ex-spouse who doesn’t show up for our children. We can certainly ask the dead-beat Asshat to step up, but we absolutely have to accept that that may never happen.
Acceptance doesn’t mean approval. It simply means letting go of expectations that may never be fulfilled.
In lowering our expectations perhaps the Asshat might surprise us and do better, but chances are he or she won’t. So what to do about the injured parties?
It’s heartbreaking for a divorced parent to see how their ex-spouse’s shortcomings hurt their children. But it’s important to try to see the offending party as damaged.
Had the Asshat been in a horrible car crash that irrevocably damaged his (or her) brain, we’d be far more accepting of his failures and limits. Perhaps we can give him the benefit of the doubt and decide he must have sustained serious emotional damage if he’s incapable of showing up for his kids.
Again, acceptance isn’t approval, but it can lead to compassion that might help us let go of our anger long enough to explain to our children that their AWOL parent is doing the best he can. That his behavior isn’t a reflection on the childrens’ worth, rather a reflection on the ways in which he is limited or damaged.
We all have to learn to let go of relationships that hurt us and to GO WHERE THE LOVE IS. It’s heartbreaking that some people have to learn this when they’re little kids. But, if framed correctly, it’s a lesson that will definitely come in handy when they grow up and go out into the wild world.
Life is messy and imperfect. We sometimes make lasting connections with Asshats we can’t permanently sever, but when we can choose or un-choose, it’s important we choose what is best for us.
CALL TO ACTION: Write down your deal breakers, memorize them, tattoo them to the insides of your eyelids and hold fast. There is no greater betrayal than when we betray ourselves.
And I know that acrid taste in the mouth from my own experience. Onward ho, Warriors!
As a gift to my readers, give us your pointers on how to build self-esteem?