So many societies paint women in unflattering terms when we draw lines and hold boundaries. It takes many of us decades to figure out we are humans who are entitled to the same love, care and respect we’ve been giving to everyone else who crossed our path.
We don’t show it to ourselves and we don’t expect it from others.
We have been indoctrinated — subtly to serve.
Gillian Sisley wrote a positively brilliant piece about the “Emotional Labour” women do — by default in relationships. In nearly every relationship we become The Keeper Of The Details. All. The. Details.
Even grown-ass independent men have a tendency to revert back to a child-like state of dependency upon the woman in their life to see to The Things.
Of course, it’s complete bullshit. The man who made his own dentist appointments six months before his wedding now suddenly can’t find his car keys without asking his wife, “Honey, have you seen my…” It’s as if they just shut off part of their brains once a wedding band is placed on their finger.
My Best Friend — the very most responsible man I know — freely admits that six months after he became a widower, he was stunned to realize he would have to assume this role. He would have to make the appointments, etc — even though he was firmly entrenched as the primary caregiver of his family. He did not Keep The Details. He Did The Things he was told. His wife had kept the plates spinning.
So where does that leave women? When all the humans in your life are counting on you to navigate the ship? Through all the storms — no matter the weather and no matter what else is going on? With no thought to your own emotional, mental, or physical health?
Is it any wonder women walk away from marriages as soon as the kids are out of the nest?
We are done. We can hang on until the humans we birthed have grown up but at some point in time, we are finished raising children.
And raising our mother-in-law’s child is just one straw too much.
We may have enabled that man-child for the entirety of a marriage. But when the domesticating effects of estrogen are removed — we will become “Selfish”.
We will draw boundaries around ourselves and insist on the self-care we should have had decades before.
We will no longer protect our partners from their missteps with their families and friends. We will insist they take responsibility for their own lives and we will do it without an ounce of guilt.
We will walk away from relationships with partners who cannot change or who attempt to fit us back into the boxes of our former selves. We will insist on our freedom.
We will not suffer indignities, abuse, or fools any longer — anywhere — any time. We will insist on moments of happiness and love. We will pursue joy.
We will pack up everyone else’s emotional baggage we have been carrying since forever and gently (or not so gently) hand it back to them.
We will ‘selfishly’ only do our portion of the Emotional Labour which is fair and just. And then, we will stand back and let what needs to go — go, just to make room for what needs to come. Even if it all unravels right before our eyes.
Because in doing so, everyone knows the end result is this:
You become Free.